Influence. In the world of digital marketing, influence is a currency quickly becoming almost as valuable as actual money for brands. Who is an influencer in this brave new world? How can you measure influence? These are questions that have spawned several different services aimed at putting a number on influence. The most well known of these is Klout. An ongoing debate has raged for a while now, centering on how you can put a single number on influence. And whether or not you should actually lend any credence to that number.
Recently, Klout changed its algorithm causing some scores to go up, some to go down, and everyone to question just what was going on. I’ll let others break down the nitty gritty of that. I want to tell you why you’ll not find my profile on Klout anymore. I was inspired to delete my account by Danny Brown‘s post earlier this week. That’s not to say his post is what drove me to delete my account; more like the final point in an argument. I’ve long said that you are responsible for your online privacy, however, that premise assumes that you signed up for an account on a site. If you agree to someone’s terms and conditions, you don’t have a whole lot of room to talk.
Klout has been pulling information for a very long time about people to determine their score. However, these people hadn’t signed up for a Klout account. This information is public info; tweets, Facebook posts/comments etc. but there’s something about a company using that information to create a profile on their site without permission that crosses a line in my mind. That’s the main reason why I quit Klout. I’ve attempted to defend Klout in the past to a certain extent, but I can’t in good conscience do that anymore.
Klout’s goal is an admirable one; trying to make online influence easy to understand and measure. After all, comparing numbers between 1 and 100 is pretty easy. However, many marketing and PR pros had begun to look at a Klout score as a be all/end all for online influence. Ignoring potential sources because their score was under a certain number or even refusing to interview certain candidates because their score wasn’t high enough. If the algorithms were more transparent, I might be able to buy that but Klout remains far too easy to game. An example: I’m from Iowa. I tweet/post CONSTANTLY about the Iowa Hawkeyes. Yet, I was more influential about hurricanes than about Iowa when I deleted my account; and I had no idea why.
I still think Klout has a place in the discussion of online influence, and I’ll probably be back at some point in the future once they get everything straightened out. I’m rooting for Klout. I hope this whole mess is a bump in the road and they are able to accurately and reliably measure online influence in an easy manner some day. What do you think? Will you be sticking with Klout? Are they being shady in your mind? Let’s hear it in the comments.