When #measurePR met Klout

June 28th, 2011 | Shonali Burke | 44 Comments

klout perksLast week, the special guest on #measurePR was Megan Berry of Klout. Given how vocal I’ve been about how problematic I find many elements of Klout, it was pretty decent of her to be willing to participate.

As I anticipated, it was one of the Cyprus (Cyprus? WTH?! Sorry!) most active chats, with a lot of people asking questions, sharing their own views and lurking as well.

Here are a few of the questions and Megan’s answers:

1. Why should we take Klout seriously? It doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of rhyme or reason right now, other than tweeting a lot (this was from Matt LaCasse).

Megan: “[The] best way to answer is talking about how we DO measure. It’s not based on tweet volume, but [the] ability to drive action.”

Sandee Jackson pointed out, “Because it’s the most recognized measure of social influence. Even those who doubt it, recognize it.” And  Ted Weismann remarked that it sounded a lot like PageRank, to which Megan replied, “We often say we are like PageRank for people.”

2. Does the addition of LinkedIn & Facebook scoring improve professional credibility or make it more personal? (from Harrison Kratz).

Megan: “Our goal is to measure everywhere people are creating content and influencing each other online. For most Facebook is more personal and LinkedIn more professional, but we see influence happening in both platforms.”

To which, Mary Barber commented, “The difference between how people use each network seems to make measuring multiple networks for one score really challenging.”

3. How do you stop people gaming the system? E.g., posting nonsense on Twitter [resulting in] increased activity & score? (from Justin Goldsborough).

(This was a very popular question, and Katie Paine had asked the same of Megan earlier in the chat.)

Megan: “We look at the influence level of those responding to you, so getting RTed by a bot will likely not help.

“Also, we are working on bot and spam detection systems that will discount any influence signals from them completely.”

There were many more questions (and answers), but for that, I hope you’ll download the entire transcript of the chat with Megan; they ranged from the usefulness of Klout Perks (the photo is of the first Klout Perk I ever received), the networks they plan to incorporate into their scoring, “Klout bombing” (yes, apparently people do this!), and much more.

I really didn’t add too much of my own opinion to the chat; when I’m moderating, that’s what I focus on doing. I think Megan handled the questions with grace, but I still think Klout leaves a lot to be desired. (For a good related read, check out Justin Goldsborough’s recent post, where he asks whose fault the influence misperception is anyway.)

Megan will be coming back to #measurePR on July 19 (12-1 pm ET), so if you have more Klout-related questions, do leave them as a comment below, or shoot me an email or DM. And I very much hope you’ll save the date and join us, wherever you are; given how many questions she was peppered with last week, it seemed to make sense to ask her to come back, and I’m very glad she agreed.

Incidentally, this chat will take place during my workshop for IABC/Houston, so if you’re in Houston, I hope you’ll participate live by signing up for the workshop!

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Shonali Burke
Head honcho of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke is President & CEO of Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc. Based in the Washington, D.C., area, she loves helping for- and non-profit clients, both small and large, turn corporate codswallop into community cool™. She also loves ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
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42 comments
SteveS1
SteveS1

First of all, I want to join #measurePR. Accountability in marketing is the center of what I do!

Last week I accepted a Klout Perl. The key for me is whether they'll gain social (media) acceptability. Am I embarrassed to blog about a perk? Are you embarrassed to get a tweet from me about it?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

I am tagging @debce so she can see about attending the IABC/Houston event where you're speaking! Deb, you'd LOVE it!

commammo
commammo

Shonali - good stuff, madam. I have no intention of recapping my misgivings about Klout -- and frankly, I'm tired of repeating them (unless I'm giving a presentation, in which case the audience is my captive and I can begin my evil indoctrination process, mu-ah-HAHAHAHA!) Influence has a ton of intangibles, a lot of which emerge from outside the social net. I still hope to do some research as to the viability of using the Grunig/Hon relationship management theory as a basis for measuring influence. The idea is that people with whom you have strong relationships will tend to be more influential. I remain unconvinced that simply observing social activity can reveal influence --it varies too widely.

ExtremelyAvg
ExtremelyAvg

Knowing the risk of being mocked, I would like to give my reasons for liking Klout.

I use it to look up people, on occasion, to get an idea if they are a pretender or not. It isn't my first measure, but sometimes a good 'Tie Breaker', when trying to decide if I should 1) Block New Follower , 2) Block and Report, 3) Do Nothing 4) Follow

As a rule, the Listed:Follower ratio is telling enough. Under 5% usually gets blocked, Under 1% Spam. But on occasion there is someone, who is clever in their bio (using the word snark or bacon counts for a lot), they enjoy something I like too, but they have 2% ratio. What to do? I check their Klout. If it is over 50, I probably follow, if it is 32, then ties goes to 'Block'.

Of course, there are exceptions, I give noobs a lot of lattitude.

Do I think of it as a single answer, which can solve every question on earth? No, that answer is 42...Duh!

I think that Klout should be used, in combination with other available information, to decide if the person can 'move the needle', or if they are just going to be an annoying ipad link sending pain in the virtual butt.

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

I just torched them today in my blog. I know it is easy to cherry pick but when Mashable gets less than 100 retweets in 2 hours from tweets with their 88 Klout and 2.3mil followers they are not influential on Twitter for anything! But they are influential and I bet their articles are linked and directly tweeted by people thousands of times per main article. Which then brings in who is the influencer? Mashable? No they aren't tweeting. It's the individual people grabbing the link and uploading to twitter. Another one had a woman tweeting a free webinar by someone named Guy Kawasaki. She had 100,000 followers and only got 3 retweets. She had i think a 77 Klout.

I give Klout credit for two things. First they are not afraid to jump in the fire and take questions. And secondly they have created a Brand with their name.

But the fact is even someone who has lots of influence the retweet levels of these influencers is really really small. What I would think more important and I have no idea if Klout can measure this is clicks. If @ginidietrich @Shonali or @ShellyKramer with such big networks could just get people to click links they post (to hell with retweets!) that is mega influence. I would rather have the clicks (which I am pretty sure Klout can not measure) than the retweets because Tweets really are just connectors to content. What if there were thousands or millions of retweets and no one clicked the freaking link to see what the content was? Then there is zero value in the influence.

So in the examples I used maybe there were lots of clicks? Then they had influence even though no one retweeted the tweets. Does Mashable care that no one retweets them if they get 100,000 clicks on their article posts? Probably not. But that means they are doing push marketing successfully on twitter nd have zero influence when it comes to moving things socially.

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

Totally with you @PattiPalmer1 (and Mary's comment in the chat) about FB being irrelevant to my 'influence.' Just blogged about it today, it's not my place for that. I also used to use LinkedIn more - the groups and Q&A, but haven't seen as much benefit or relevance lately, less discussion when I share news articles or stories; everyone's sharing, but not a lot of talking. IDK.. I did add it to the Klout as it IS about business, but it'll almost certainly bring down my score.

Regarding the chat, I really want to know how they'll define a bot. There are new tools all the time that add tweets and RTs via RSS feeds, systems designed for automation and such that IMO should be filtered or modified on the sliding scale to account for gaming. See also, rapid follows/unfollows/refollows, etc. I'll give them this: they're listening and working to make it better. All of which may help them more accurately describe my style of tweeting, but it's only one small measure of my online influence. FWIW.

PattiPalmer1
PattiPalmer1

Thanks for this insightful post, Shonali. I have issues with Klout, too. One of them is that I choose not to use LinkedIn and/or Facebook with my Twitter account, which will lower my Klout score. But I don't like Linked In and therefore don't use it, and I don't want my locked-down FB account linked to other social media accounts because FB is the one place left where I can enjoy my high school friends without worrying about how much influence I'm creating or not creating. I left all that popularity stuff back in high school. ;)

jenzings
jenzings

Looking forward to next week's chat--if anyone has questions, please pass them along!

Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke

PS, don't miss next week's chat (12-1 pm ET, Tuesday, July 5), when Jen Zingsheim Phillips will be guest-moderating.

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@SteveS1 You're welcome to join #measurepr anytime! The chats are bi-weekly on Tuesdays, 12-1 pm ET. Next week (July 5) @jenzings is hosting it, and then I'll be back on July 19 when we're actually going to incorporate it into a workshop I'm doing for @iabchouston . Or did you mean the Facebook/LinkedIn groups? Just do a search for the hashtag & you'll find it (them).

I'm not embarrassed to get tweets about Klout Perks. They're usually useless, though, and yes, I know one actually has to sign up for the Perk, so it's not like they're shoving something down my throat. I always wonder if this (next) Perk is going to do the trick, but it doesn't/so far, it hasn't. The only one I really wrote about was the Lone Star perk, and I thought the show would fail... which it did. From what Megan said, a lot of people do write/share about their perks... which just makes me wonder why I get pinged about perks I don't really care about...!

ExtremelyAvg
ExtremelyAvg

@HowieG @ginidietrich @Shonali @ShellyKramer

I think your example of the 100,000 followers and 77 Klout, is an indicator of a 'Pretender'. I would guess they are listed under 2000 times, probably have tons of spammers and bots in their follower list, and if Twitter ever does a 'Purge' again, would be back down to 34.

Yes it can be gamed. I don't care that much. One doesn't need to judge only on Klout.

Go ahead, walk down the street and ask 10 people if they are on Twitter. If you get 1 yes, you are doing well. Now ask until you get 10 people to say yes, and ask them if they follow Klout, they will all say, "What is Klout? Please step away from me, before I call the authorities."

Though we all live and work in Social Media, and CNN crawls tweets, we are still not close to the tipping point yet. Follower counts can be gamed, which is well known, but gaming Klout is much less prevaliant, because most people don't even know about it yet.

If a company is judging you or your company based upon 1 single factor, and you aren't able to concisely make the case why you do have the ability to move the needle, then you may be in trouble.

Just my 2 cents...but I only have a 1500 followers and a Klout of 68...what do I know?

bdorman264
bdorman264

@HowieG @shonali Just stop it Howie, Klout is my friend because it's the only score I know and I'm damn influential; just ask me.............and yes, I'll be over to your post to set you straight there too.

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

@HowieG @ginidietrich @Shonali @ShellyKramer Wrote about that today as well.. those posts that have great headlines, gets TONS of RTs, but no comments and probably no one really clicking or reading them either; everyone's just recycling a clever Mashable or Copyblogger headline. Why? For their own numbers. Clicks and reading are actions, getting someone to comment is another big action; I'm not 100% sure it's influence or relationships that often motivates me to read, comment, RT a post; sometimes it has nothing to do with the "clout" of the author, it's simply about the quality/content of the post and if I think it benefits MY followers.

MattLaCasse
MattLaCasse

@HowieG @ginidietrich @Shonali @ShellyKramer Pretty solid analysis Howie. It's not that I think Klout doesn't matter, it's that the definition of influence online is much more than just SM networks. It's about driving action or being a trusted resource of information. I don't think Klout does a good enough job of measuring all those factors, and I tend to think the answer to my question was a bit of a tap dance.

That said, Klout is somewhere to start in the effort to define and measure online influence. I'd trust Klout a lot more if it would admit it's current shortcomings.

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@3HatsComm So it's NOT just me (re: LinkedIn)... phew! I thought I was going crazy. That's a great question re: "how to define a bot." I'll add it to my list for the chat - thank you! @PattiPalmer1

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

@3HatsComm @PattiPalmer1 Facebook is my private social life. So a consumer brand would be more interested I share or post something of them to my friends and family. But I don't use Facebook for business. LinkedIn I have a network but I almost never on the site. Probably something I should change since I am possibly missing a great source for clients.

lunacielo
lunacielo

@shonali of course! I love reading your posts in the morning - great way to start a day in the agency life! Have a great Tuesday!

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

@PattiPalmer1 I refuse to link my networks. I refuse to log in to sites requiring I use Facebook for commenting and I almost never allow apps to access twitter or facebook for privacy concerns. Facebook is my private social network. I won't even click Like off their site. Not even for my friends like @Shonali because I don't trust Facebook. I will tweet like hell though in support since that already is a 100% public forum.

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@PattiPalmer1 It's so weird about LinkedIn. I used to use it a lot and now I'm barely active on it, though I do keep my profile updated, since it helps with search. As to popularity... y'know, I thought I'd left all that back in high school (or at least college) too...! Thanks so much for stopping by - I'd love you to check out #measurepr next week when @jenzings hosts it. I know she'll bring oodles of smarts.

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@3HatsComm Nicely put, my friend. And were you in my head, or was I in yours? Usually that's @kmueller62 's domain....

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@HowieG I'm starting to wonder whether I should re-evaluate LinkedIn as well. I keep my profile updated, but i've more or less stopped participating in Groups, Q&A, etc. - it just seemed so much "same old same old" for me. But if @ginidietrich is flying around the country giving presentations on it, there must be something more to it...

PattiPalmer1
PattiPalmer1

@HowieG I couldn't agree more. Both FB & LI have had privacy glitches and FB owns my content (not sure if that's true for LI). And of course, unless you protect your Tweets, everything you say is a Google search away. With employers and others now "reading the feed," everything I say and do is public. Where's the fun in that? :)

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@Shonali @HowieG This was a very specific training for a very specific group who requested I teach them how to use the tool. It was very basic, but each of them left there with five new leads. It works really, really, really well for biz dev and for recruiting.

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