The Klout Drama Kontinues

October 28th, 2011 | Shonali Burke | 73 Comments

Maxwell's Silver HammerI cannot believe how much drama there is around Klout’s most recent changes.

I mean, come on, people, it’s only a number.

How many times do any of us have to say that?!

Let me tell you a little story. 

Last week, I clicked through to an email Klout sent me telling me I had new notifications (yes, now I’ve realized that they’re doing that every day, and I’m not going to fall for it any more; suffice it to say I wasn’t having a particularly smart day) on my profile.

When I looked, I noticed something funny. Literally funny, not weird funny.

You see, Klout had decided I was (am) influential on bacon. Also Kim Kardashian.

I started laughing. The bacon I could somewhat understand, since the last couple of weeks I’ve been having fun by tweeting (and Facebooking) about bacon, and people played along. Sometimes it’s literally been just one word. “Bacon.” Nothing else.

(Where Kim Kardashian came from, I know not.)

When I was doing this, Jen Zingsheim jokingly asked if my goal was to become “influential” on bacon, so it tickled me to see that, as far as Klout went, this had apparently happened. Note that this screenshot was taken at 8:21 am ET on October 21.

I was joking around about this online, and next thing I knew, some of my friends decided to really pull the other one.

So at 12:59 pm that day – just a few hours later, guess who was listed among the top +K recipients for Kim Kardashian (click on the image for a larger version to enjoy my “art”):

who's influential on kim kardashian?

Note the devil horns I gave Gini Dietrich and Joe Hackman, because they made it their mission in life that day to get as many people as they could to give me +K on Kim Kardashian.

Then, at 6:31 pm that evening, here’s where bacon and Kim Kardashian stood, as far as my alleged influence goes:

the final konflct

I took these screenshots because I was enjoying the game, and I thought I might be able to use them later.

Turns out I was right. Ha!

(And, by the way, my score has dropped since then as well.)

You know as well as I do that I am not influential on either of these topics.

I mean, if I told you to eat utterly, butterly, delicious bacon, day in and day out, would you really listen to me?

Conversely, if you’re a huge Kim Kardashian fan (God have mercy on your soul), and I told you to not do a single thing to support that (IMHO) heinous excuse for a family empire, would you really listen to me?

And doesn’t the fact I (currently) have a higher Klout score than Richard Edelman - one of the true leaders and influencers in our industry - speak volumes?

Mark Schaefer made an excellent point when he said things like Klout scores and follower numbers do matter from the point of social proof. He also made it clear that he doesn’t buy into this, and that we are living in a “very, very weird world.”

Do I buy into it?

I understand that some people do. And as much as I’d like to take Klout and throw it out the window, I understand it’s not going away any time soon.

But I do not, for one moment, believe that your relevance, or influence, or importance is determined by a number. Especially not a number that can’t even tell activity from influence. Faugh.

Think Traackr would come up with those results? I highly doubt it.

Since I have to live and work in this “very, very weird world,” as Mark put it, I know I have to keep an eye on it.

That doesn’t mean I have to like it.

So please, let’s stop the madness.

It’s just a friggin’ number, for heaven’s sake!

Top image: lguanasan via Flickr, CC 2.0

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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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68 comments
chronicbehavior
chronicbehavior

@corey_smith I finally had a chance to look at these. Thanks for sharing the info... funny and informative. The video was great..

Ari Herzog
Ari Herzog

Let's cut to the chase, Shonali.

Have you and Kim tweeted?

EricaAllison
EricaAllison

I agree with @Marcus_Sheridan , what a train wreck. And really, how sustainable is Klout and their 'standard of influence'. I think it's all well and good to keep an eye on it, but this whole discussion has gotten way out of proportion with what really matters in life and who or what really influences. I think it's a vanity game to pretend to know or understand it. I'm not referring to you, @Shonali , just the whole exercise and the collective group of online media mavens and mavericks who so desperately want to yield true influence and in doing so, support efforts such as Klout (could they not spell it correctly?) because it supports their case. Sorry for the rant; I've had some time to reflect lately and I'm bothered! ;)

Great to see you however!

CyberlandGal
CyberlandGal

Great post, as usual, Shonali! As one of the people that publicly gave you Klout for bacon influence, I am half wondering if Klout didn't just turn around and punish me for mocking the integrity of its ratings. :( I've had a most bizarre week in Klout. First, my Klout sank from 54 to 38. Then I somehow got renamed after a Facebook page (I am one of several administrators) and recategorized as a brand influencer. That caused me to delete my Klout Facebook connection, which oddly enough caused no change in my Klout score. Just for fun, I then deleted all my other connections as well (LinkedIn, Foursquare, etc.). That too had no impact on my Klout score. I guess Klout has programmed me at 38, and that score has no connection to my LinkedIn connections, Facebook friends, etc. It's very strange and not very transparent at all (my Klout history reads that my record high was 40, lower than I recall it ever being). I like the explanation this week at http://www.centernetworks.com/klout-ad-network speculating that Klout is really a cleverly disguised ad network. I know it's just a number, but I have to admit I am upset about it. I'm human!

mdbarber
mdbarber

Great post my friend. Klout has produced both evidence of its uselessness and it's ability to provide some basis for review & evaluation. The system is far from perfect but none are in this fast changing profession we love. The best we can do is continue with smart, strategic programs that we measure as best we can. Is Klout part of that? Maybe but it certainly isn't the 100% answer.

BarbYouchah
BarbYouchah

This is great! We talked about bacon & shoes one day! I think they are both good for your Klout :)

pierreloic
pierreloic

This is awesome Shonali! I'll make sure to remember I know who to call if I have questions about Kim Kardashian eating bacon :)

bdorman264
bdorman264

Yes, I would eat bacon everyday if you said to.............no on Kardashian however. Did you know @skypulsemedia killed my Klout score because he dropped off of Facebook? I do like their perks however, I did get a new car.............that's pretty cool, don't you think? Hopefully I will get my license back soon so I can drive it; for now I'm just living out of it...........

I think it is humorous to see the lively banter on it. Maybe I can come up w/ some kind of measurement tool that will be controversial and it will be only one that Howie endorses as the only true measure of influence and the twitterverse will blow up with all the posts and comments and I will get to go on Conan and stuff. And then everybody will be hatin' on me because I'm so famous and then I will drop my 37 followers and quit replying to comments and everybody can say 'hey, who is that with Bill Dorman?'..........

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

The sad thing is, it seems to be more than just a number now. Klout are adding profiles to their system where it clearly violates their Terms of Service. From the Klout website:

"Our Policy Towards ChildrenThe Site is not directed to persons under 18. If a parent or guardian becomes aware that his or her child has provided us with personally identifiable information without their consent, he or she should contact us at privacy@klout.com. We do not knowingly collect personally identifiable information from children under 13. If we become aware that a child under 13 has provided us with personal identifiable Information, we will delete such information from our files."

Source: http://klout.com/corp/privacy

And yet users alerted to accounts being set up by Klout from scraping profiles are including ones from Facebook where the person is 13 years old.

Nice approach, Klout...

hackmanj
hackmanj

For the record everything is better with bacon and not with Kim K.

By the way when I saw the Klout number change, I did a quick double-take. I then checked a few other profiles and noticed they had changed a similar amount, shrugged and went back to giving vanity +k's :)

@Shonali If they invited you to meet Kim K. would you do it? Would you go on their reality TV show?

Marcus_Sheridan
Marcus_Sheridan

I have a feeling many, many folks in 5 years are going to look back and say, "Do you remember that influencer thingy called Klout? Gee, what a train wreck that was..."

I've personally decided not to pay any attention to my klout score at all. I have no idea what it is and don't plan on paying attention any time soon.

Good stuff Shonali,

Marcus

Cision
Cision

I love this post Shonali! And I agree, it's just a number and it's not going anywhere so all we can do is keep an eye on it.

barryrsilver
barryrsilver

Nice post. So how do I get a date with Kim?

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@CyberlandGal I think there is also something very interesting going on where people get upset (as you did), and try to figure out what they did "wrong." Of course you're human, we all are. I don't think they're necessarily doing anything "wrong," but I think we should all be focusing (myself included) on the actual outcomes we are trying to achieve. So someone has a Klout score of 68... so what? What does that mean in the larger context of the actions we're trying to generate for our clients/businesses? So far, I have seen no correlation at all. Have you? Btw, what account(s) do you currently have connected to your Klout?

Latest blog post: curry powder | Spicing Out

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@Danny Brown That's what's so irritating about it - that people are taking it for more than what it is. And the potential privacy issue is really troubling...

Latest blog post: curry powder | Spicing Out

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@hackmanj And what's her name's soon-to-be ex probably agrees. Oh wait, no, he said he's heartbroken or something like that...

No, I would not go on their show unless they donated a ton of money to charity for me to appear, or something like that. And honestly, even then, I think it would depend on the context. I understand that they are playing to ratings, but it's pretty sad, IMHO, that this is what passes for entertainment these days.

Latest blog post: curry powder | Spicing Out

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@Cision It's one of the most enervating exercises in the world. Sigh.

Shonali
Shonali moderator

@barryrsilver You'd want a date with Kim? Oh dear. I have nothing to say.

Thanks, btw!

CyberlandGal
CyberlandGal

@Shonali I suspect Facebook's new algorithm is more weighted toward Facebook, where I am less active. I don't use Facebook for networking, just keeping up with my friends. I did notice a former colleague of mine (who I am connected to on several accounts) gained 8 points under the new algorithm and now has higher Klout than say Kellye Crane. He makes a lot of sports updates on Facebook, and Klout has him as a a football expert among other things but makes no mention of his real expertise in public relations.

I could point to this and other crazy examples (I wrote a blog post about a marketing professor who grades based on Klout but has lower Klout than most of his star students at http://www.eventuresincyberland.com/2011/11/video-clip-of-the-month-branding-prof-eats-klout-crow/) and say "so what?" I do see little connection between Klout score and actual influence (or at least influence as Klout categorizes it). But I am concerned less informed potential clients could use it as a hiring factor.

hackmanj
hackmanj

@Shonali I guess this is just another case of truth being stranger than fiction. I mean who would dream this story up?

What a great idea... (re: charity) but ratings and divorce seem like they shouldn't be together. If Kim took a leave of absence from the show that would make a lot more sense than making it continue to be a for profit spectacle. We'll see.

CyberlandGal
CyberlandGal

@Shonali

P.S. Oddly enough, my Klout is now 40. It's gone up 2 points in the last day. I am unsure if my Facebook, LinkedIn, and Foursquare accounts were hurting me (I've kept them deleted and only have Klout linked to Twitter) or if it's because I live tweeted a Hubspot webinar and received more retweets than I normally do.

barryrsilver
barryrsilver

@Shonali@TheJackB Actually I'm concerned she heard I was interested and that was the cause for divorce. I was only kidding. Sorry, Kris. Lil ol' marriage wrecker, me.

barryrsilver
barryrsilver

@TheJackB@Shonali I doubt he would even see me, I come up to his kneecaps. Besides, I'm not stupid, I'm getting ready, just incase.

Trackbacks

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  2. [...] previous influential moments rather than predicting them) – but his anecdote on being a “Bacon” and “Kim Kardashian” ”influencer” got me [...]

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