Klout has never not been controversial, but recently, users got their unmentionables in a twist over algorithm changes that caused just about every score to drop, some more significantly than others. Some people were upset about the changes, but I saw even more people upset that others care about the changes. In the past few months, I’ve seen more people virtually yelling, “Klout doesn’t matter!” than yelling about any other topic. And in this industry, people like to yell, so that’s saying something.
Klout’s also been under fire recently for creating profiles for any user interacting with another Klout user on Facebook – but they didn’t have age verification in place, which means they created profiles for countless minors. Partially as a response to that incident (and partially, I suspect, because users were asking for it), the company also made it easy and clear top opt out of Klout, even if you wanted a profile in the past.
And so began the wave of opting out. There’s no shortage of people willing to talk about why they’re doing it, and why they think you should as well.
The line has been drawn in the sand – Klout users and non-users. For transparency sake, I want to note that I am still a Klout user as of writing this post, though I wouldn’t classify myself as an avid user, since I only remember to log in a few times a month. I’m firmly a fence-sitter on this one – but I think I might be in the minority.
Let’s Quit Klout: The Grand Exit
I think the need to quit Klout, at least for many people, can be neatly summed up in a recent post by Liz Strauss entitled, “Klout, My Story & Why Opting Out Was My Only Choice.” In the post, Liz writes,
People who had started using their measure, who had trusted it enough to include it in their client work, woke up one morning to find Klout had changed the algorithm without notice and with abandon.
It was at best a naive decision to move without thought to the people who were building on what Klout offered. Those people who were putting Klout scores in their marketing plans and on their resumes were building Klout’s credibility.
Still I stuck with them, because who hasn’t made a bad decision, especially when starting something new? But I watched with new interest in what they would do.
I became more aware that my data, your data, our stories are their product and they seemed to become less aware of the responsibility that might come with a offering product like that.
The Klout perks I was offered — especially the invitation to audition for the X-Factor — were all about my number not me. The additional unannounced tweaks to the algorithm that made it unpredictable and unstable did more damage to a sense of credibility.
What I think it most valid about Liz’s argument is that if the numbers are constantly shifting and the data is never full correct, those who use these numbers to rate you or form opinions about you are going to be doing so without proper data. I’m the same today as I am tomorrow, but my score might drop significantly as a result of an algorithm change. That’s not a very fair way for a potential employer, client, or advertiser to rate my social media value.
In other words, having a Klout score is an invitation for those getting to know you professionally or personally to be lazy – and it might not be to your advantage.
Klout Doesn’t Matter
On the other side of the debate, you don’t exactly have the opposite opinion. Instead of people championing for Klout (which is a sentiment I don’t see often), you have people exasperatingly arguing that Klout doesn’t matter and that the only thing these numbers are doing is giving people who otherwise don’t really matter an inflated sense of ego. The people on this side of the argument aren’t exactly encouraging you to continue using Klout. Instead, they’re encouraging you to stop ranting about it or making proclamations of your need to quit.
A very good example of someone on this side of the argument is Jason Falls, who recently write, “Please Don’t Quit Klout. Or At Least Don’t Announce It.” In this post, he writes,
And canceling your Klout account means nothing other than you were upset your score went down. The algorithm changes attacked your sense of self-worth and you can’t face another day being a 37 rather than a 42.
Guess what? 99.9 percent of the people you really care about in the world don’t measure you with a number. Neither do most people who have half a brain. So why be a 0.1 per center? Ignore the score.
Jason goes on to make a very good point that if people leave Klout (as they have been doing recently), the platform is even less useful than it is now. Measuring tools like Klout need data to be successful. If you really don’t care about your score, don’t care about it…but don’t ruin things for people who do find use in the score. Or, at the very least, stop belittling them with a “I’m better than you because I don’t care about Klout” attitude (something that I don’t think Liz has, by the way, just so we’re clear).
The Klout Advantage
What I think is interesting about this debate is that everyone seems to be talking about how others are perceiving their Klout scores and few people are actually talking about how they’re looking at their own score. That’s how I’ve always used Klout, and why I’m hesitant to leave. I find it extremely useful in this way – in fact, I’m going to write a post for tomorrow about how I use Klout that you might be interested in reading.
In any case, I find the whole Klout debate one of the most important and interesting topics in our industry right now. Which side are you taking? Are you still using Klout or did you quit?