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.
I hold a rather unpopular opinion currently. It’s my opinion that it is in Facebook’s best interests to make as much of your information public as possible. Facebook is a for-profit corporation that trades in the information of its clients; namely, you and me. The only information they have to trade on though, is what we give them.
The expectation of privacy on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress, or whatever other social media or Internet site you use is a fallacy. ANYTHING you post online should be considered public information. Updating your Twitter feed or Facebook status is exactly the same as issuing a press release, or even turning your microphone on at a radio station.
Facebook started out with strict guidelines on the privacy of its users. That was when Mark Zuckerberg was in college, just starting his company. He’s now 26-years old, a multi-millionaire, and interested in growing his company. Protecting the privacy of his clients is not in the best interests of his company, so why would you expect him to do that?
By now, you’ll have guessed that I believe the cross is yours to bear. Maybe it’s because I was in the public eye as a reporter for several years that I treat what I consider “private” differs from most people. My birthday? Readily available (and gifts are always welcome). The city I live in? Readily available. Who I work for? Also, readily available. I’ve made the mistake of posting my home address online, and that’s available too if you know what to Google.
Is it any of those site’s fault that I listed my information? No. I did that, and I’ll have to live with the spam and junk mail that comes my way as a result. I’m willing to stand up and take responsibility for what I post online. In America, we have a great distrust of large corporations. Was anyone REALLY surprised when we learned that Toyota was putting profits ahead of customer safety? Or that BP didn’t have the best safety mechanisms in place in the Gulf? Why would it be any different with a large corporation like Facebook?
Mark Zuckerberg wants to make money, and frankly I find it difficult to blame him. That’s what this country is all about. Building the best, smartest, quickest, widget to meet a need and/or desire. Facebook is his widget. And you’re complaining about a service that costs you nary a dime, assuming you don’t advertise on Facebook.
Don’t shirk your responsibility of protecting your privacy. The onus is not on Mark Zuckerberg. It’s on you and me.