Saturday, October 3, 2015

Why Klout Shouldn't Do Away With Perks

If you follow social media sites very heavily, chances are good that you have heard of Klout. Klout is a website that measures the influence of users across several social media platforms. This is done primarily through the Klout score, a numerical value from 1 to 100. To arrive at the Klout score Klot relies upon one's activities across such social media sites as Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Instagram, and so on. Klout was also well known for offering free services or products, known as Perks, to its users. Essentially, companies would pay Klout to do so. Needless to say, for many people the appeal of Klout was not so much in getting a measure of one's influence on social media sites as it was on getting free stuff, or "Perks".

Unfortunately for many users, Klout has decided to discontinue Perks. In a statement to TechCrunch, Eric Channing Brown, vice president of Lithium Technologies Inc. (who bought Klout in 2014), said, "Klout's real strengths lie in its algorithm and wealth of social data. Perks is not core to this, and so we have decided to invest more in other areas of Klout's data assets and on further integrating Klout into the Lithium product portfolio." Here it must be pointed out that Perks will not end all at once. Klout will honour any Perks that users have already earned, and any ongoing Perk campaigns will be allowed to continue to their conclusion.

Personally, unless it is Lithium's intention to entirely shut down Klout at some point in the future, I think they could be making a mistake in ending Klout Perks. Quite simply, I think Eric Channing Brown is wrong. Most people I know who use Klout do so for the Perks. I really do not know of anyone who takes it seriously as a means of measuring one's influence across various social media platforms. Indeed, from my experience and having talked to others about Klout, there is very little reason they should do so. Quite simply, Klout's algorithm for determining one's Klout Score appears to be seriously flawed .

 To wit, I have two friends on Google+, one with over 57,000 circlers and another with over 122,000 circlers, far more than the approximately 12,450 people who have me circled. Both are active on Twitter and one is active on Facebook (the other one does not have a Facebook account). Despite this both of my friends have always had lower Klout scores than me, even though they have far more circlers on Google+ and as a result get a good deal more engagement. Sadly, I know of others who get far more engagement than myself on various social platforms, and yet have lower Klout Scores.

Of course, I suppose that my higher Klout score could be explained by the fact that I am active on several  social media sites beyond Google+ and Twitter (I even post to LinkedIn, the ghost town of social media sites, once in a while). What cannot be explained is how one's Klout Score seems to fluctuate with no real relation to how well one is doing on social media. I have had it happen. My friends have had it happen. One has a very good week on the various social media sites, getting a phenomenal number of plusses on Google+, a phenomenal number of retweets on Twitter, a phenomenal number of likes on Facebook, and yet one's Klout Score will somehow drop precipitously. At the same time, one can not post at all for several days and one's Klout Score might actually rise. If Klout is actually seeking to measure one's influence across the various social media sites, it would seem to make sense if one's score rose when he or she was doing well (getting lots of plusses, rewteets, likes, et. al.) and fall when he or she posted nothing at all. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case.

Anyhow, as a result of all this, most of my friends and acquaintances ceased taking Klout seriously as a measure of influence on social media long ago. Those who maintained their accounts did so primarily for only one reason: Perks. Without Perks, there really won't be much reason for such people to continue to maintain their Klout accounts. I suspect a few might actually delete their accounts, while most will probably just abandon them. Either way they won't be using Klout. Lithium may regard Klout's algorithm as one of its "real strengths," but the average user certainly does not seem to.

In the end I think Klout discontinuing Perks may be a rather grave error. Perhaps they could do so if the average person regarded Klout as providing a reliable measure of one's influence on social media sites. If Klout was respected and taken seriously by most users, it would not matter if they discontinued Perks or not. At least in my experience, it would appear that the average person regarded Klout Scores as not being particularly accurate and maintained accounts only for the free stuff. In that case, I have to seriously wonder if Lithium might not announce the closure of Klout in a few years.

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