[05.04.12]
41 great comments!

Is @Klout Losing Credibility?

klout, lipton tea, brand strategy, fruits, perks, worries, lipton, losing, influence, lost, credibility, popularity, measuring I’m not trying to be negative about Klout. I’m not a hater. In fact, I’ve largely been a supporter of Klout as a way to measure the effectiveness of a brand or person to engage others. As a life-long brand marketer, I appreciate ways to better understand effectiveness of a brand strategy.

I like it when people tell me I have influence.  A little validation goes a long way.

I’ve written about Peer Index and Empire Avenue as other ways to understand your ongoing influence.  Although don’t get me started on Empire Avenue’s inability to throttle the faux blogging of many of its highest value members (no one writes 64 blog posts each week, do they?)

But here’s my problem with Klout lately.  It’s become too mainstream and perhaps has moved toward a profit driven business model too soon.

How?

Klout launched a cool program early on called Klout Perks that allowed people with Klout in different areas to receive perks.  Rewards for being an influencer.  Some really influential people were getting cars to drive for the weekend, trips to Europe and other really cool opportunities.

And I think those people deserved it.  They worked hard to develop an expertise as a travel blogger, Apple app lover or Microsoft Xbox game reviewer.

But now we are just getting silly.  Maybe Klout wanted to include more people – so they went from cars and plane rides to Qtips.

Klout perks, at least the ones I’m seeing,  are now just PR opportunities for big companies.  Here are some I’ve seen recently:

  • I got a tiny bottle of Axe (I think) hair gel in the mail
  • I was offered (but was too late) for 10 sample packs of Lipton tea

Sorry, these are lame.  I was embarrassed to get these offers. I didn’t feel rewarded for my influence but rather I felt “advertised to” – a very different feeling.

Maybe my Klout doesn’t warrant a better perk.  And that’s fine.

But here’s the worst part:

The perks page featuring the small sample packs of tea was full of member reviews that made me want to lose my lunch.  Here’s a sampling:

“I LOVE Lipton teas! I can’t wait to receive my sample for Klout. Thanks, Klout!”

“It was very tasty and refreshing. I was wishing that I had more!”

“I LOVE Lipton tea, I can’t wait to get mine in the mail!”

“Tea is the perfect perk for me! haha”

“Tastes GREAT! My fiance is a HUGE Tea fan and he could just die for this!!! YUM”

Really?  Was this a cure for a critical disease? Nope.  It was a few sample packs of tea.  A street value of about $2.99.

It’s almost as if the entire PR/Marketing team at Lipton got in there and chimed in.

This reminded me about when a famous blogger writes an average post and gets showered with hundreds of supportive comments within a few hours.  Everyone clamoring for a chance to be seen and heard in the stream or to be recognized by the blogger in some fashion.

Has Klout become so popular that gushing over spices is worth any recognition that comes as a result? Am I missing something about the value of a few tea bags?

So what to do now? Maybe we all need to find a big harbor somewhere and dump the evidence.

And move on to something more important. 

What do you think?

Tim Tyrell-Smith is the creator of Tim’s Strategy. As a blogger, Tim has been a regular contributor to U.S. News and World Report, interviewed twice on NPR and is the author of two career books (“30 Ideas” and “HeadStrong”). Become a fan at http://facebook.com/TimsStrategy and follow on Twitter (@TimsStrategy). He lives with his wife and three kids in Mission Viejo, California.

Tim Tyrell-Smith – who has written posts on Tim's Strategy®.



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  • Glen Loock

    Tim, I tend to agree with you on this. I found out about Klout in Feb. 2012 then my Klout score was 27, today it is 40. (I have tracked my score daily since early Feb 2012) And all I have really done is concentrated on how many Tweets I send. thanking each new follower, Tweeting #FF on Fridays. Now the #FF lost I send are important to me, and I want to support my friends. I get thank you replies but is that really influence? Not to me but it increases my Klout score. I know people who have a much more focused and brand on the and use twitter and Facebook for their brand and their score is 42, Not sure how that works. And PS I just received my Klout perk golf balls. Not sure that a Klout score in its present form is really measuring anything useful.

    • http://timsstrategy.com/ TimsStrategy

       Thx Glen. Yeah the algorithm is very hard to fathom some days. :-)  Congrats on your golf balls.   BTW I was just at the grocery store – just an update, the street value of the tea is actually $2.50 (on sale).  :-)

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  • http://twitter.com/megadisrupter megadisrupter

    This is very funny, nice article. I just turned Klout on yesterday, so this is good timing. If the algorithm is simply counting activity without regard for how influential it really is, then I’m not going to put much time into it.

    • http://timsstrategy.com/ TimsStrategy

      Klout’s algorithm is not just about activity. They try (I believe) to look at how often you are retweeted on Twitter and how often people act on (click on) your links. My issue is more with how commercial and popular it has become vs. being a source of helpful data.
      While I don’t have a problem with them having marketing/advertising partners, I wish it were a little more subtle.

      • http://twitter.com/megadisrupter megadisrupter

        Okay, I checked it out and figured out the formula. It is largely based on what I would label “activity” – retweets and mentions for twitter, likes on facebook and shares on LI. Nothing to universally rank influence from one person or brand to another. It also assigns “influential topics” to people based on random words in their tweets, which is just dumb. “My assessment is that it is just terribly flawed right now, but it will be really useful someday. I would love to see Klout become a self-service tool that people and companies can use to tailor metrics they know are relevant to them and create their own internal scores that they can improve.

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  • Glen Loock

    Just a follow up. I received the attached tweet (names change to protect the sender)

    I gave @Glenloock +Kred in the Recruitment community on @ SSSSSSScom/Glenloock #SSSS | Please reciprocate   SSSSS

    I do not know the person who gave me K+ Not sure that I have ever read anything by them so why would I give K+ to someone I do not know? Not sure, While I appreciate the K+ not sure that returning the favor is something I want to do.

    Is this how you build KLOUT?

    Just my thoughts

    • http://timsstrategy.com/ TimsStrategy

      Hey Glen – Looks like spam to me and like is not Klout but rather “Kred” – another influence site trying to do the same things as Klout.

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