Comment – Is it time to opt out of Klout?

Klout logo, is it time to leave on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

This site is not about social media, I have never intended to comment on blogging or social media. One reason is because I do not feel I have the knowledge, experience or expertise to do so, the other because it is intended to be a travel site.

However this post is going to be an exception as every worthy rule deserves a worthy exception.

“Klout has proven to be unreliable”

Klout is a company that compiles information about you whether you have an account or not and professes to be the “standard of influence.” It creates a profile which is ‘scored’ is supposed to represent your influence and is available for outside agencies to view.

In theory this may seem like an effective way for PR agencies and tourism boards to select suitable site publishers to help promote their clients or regions. However in recent times Klout has proven to be unreliable with almost every persons score going up and down without any justifiable reason and without any understandable explanation being given.

Klout is a company, they are a business and they are making money from what they do. Their product is us! Regardless of whether you agree or not they benefit from scoring and basically placing you on a popularity table.

They recently changed the metrics they use which resulted in almost everybody waking up to find their score dropped by anything from ten to fifteen points or more. This was also accompanied by an online statement declaring that their metrics would be more transparent.

“sceptical about Klout”

However scores have continued to go up and down erratically without any explanation.

I have been sceptical about Klout for many months and have been questioning how they operate via numerous emails. I have enquired about the reasons for these erratic metrics and to date have not received any real explanation. The replies I have received have usually been condescending and have not really provided any substantial answer. My last email from them said:

“ It looks like your Score increased recently. http://klout.com/#/MalloryOnTravel/score-analysis Thanks!”

The implication being that there was not any need to answer, now it has risen again be happy and shut up. However there was not any explanation why it had dropped by several points initially or why it had suddenly shot back up.

I have requested several times to have statistical evidence provided which demonstrates the reasons behind the huge swings in ‘influence’ shown on my account profile. To date they have not provided any such evidence. That does not appear very transparent.

“it is not an exact science.”

This disregard for the people that are in fact their product, the very people that are enabling them to profit from sponsors and advertising is pretty arrogant.

Another site publisher stated to me recently “it is not an exact science.” Why? They use metrics, they have access to our accounts, have all our information, they know how many followers/likes we have, they are aware how many tweets/retweets/mentions/comments we get, why aren’t their algorithms more accurate and reliable?

Most of us do not really pay much attention to Klout scores anymore, we have realised long ago that they cannot be trusted. The unfortunate truth however is that some agencies do still put credence in the ratings they provide. The score they provide could affect your ability to get on a press trip, obtain sponsorship or possibly even future employment.

“it is about ego!”

Your score is affected by several factors not just the number of retweets/comments you receive but also the influence of the people that engage with you. There has even been some suggestion that certain ‘influencers’ do not communicate with those with lower scores to prevent an adverse effect on their own score. If there is any truth in this, it is not about influence it is about ego!

Klout has asked us all to link several accounts to them including Google+ and Flickr, both of which have been ‘linked’ for several months. The premise being this will provide greater accuracy of your influence but Google+ has only recently been included and metrics from Flickr are still only for ‘authorisation token’ purposes. What does that actually mean? If they are unable to use these accounts as yet it is hard to understand why they are needed.

There have been several high profile ‘influencers’ that have opted out recently and a number of posts including Lori Moreno and Robert Dempsey explaining why.

Klout does not appear to have much regard for how it does its business, is far from transparent in its dealings but seems unlikely to change. The only way change is likely to come about is if they are forced to do so. It is possible to opt out of their metrics, although they have not made it an easy prospect of course. Details of how to do so are in Jure Klepic’s post.

Up to now I have mainly just regarded Klout as a minor irritation, not to be taken seriously. I have attempted to take them to task on several occasions however just out of my own curiosity. It is time to consider my own participation in the business of this company.

Maybe it is time for many of us to take a stand and “opt out of klout” I am hoping this will produce some lively debate, please contribute and leave your opinion here.

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Comments 35

    1. Post
      Author
      Iain

      Maybe you have joined at just the right time Keith, there really is an undercurrent of disatisfaction with klout right now and maybe they will be forced to change their operating system and provide a much more transparent and reliable product. Perhaps we are about to see a change, it is part of the reason I have not totally decided to completely cut myself off from them. Although I am suggesting that maybe we should opt out, the truth is those that do will also be out of contact with what is actually happening with them. Even so I am ready to opt out if things do not change soon.

  1. Johanna Bradley

    Don’t like it at all. Signed up then wished I hadn’t bothered and have so far been too busy/lazy to opt out. It feels like bullying tactics to me- decided I don’t need them. (but hope they don’t read this in case I end up with a minus score!)

    1. Post
      Author
      Iain

      Bullying tactics maybe exactly right too Johanna as when I mentioned opting out to them a week or two back they replied with a long and detailed email regarding how difficult it would be to reverse. They went to great lengths to explain that it may actually take several months for scores to stabilise for anybody that decides to discconect their accounts. It was basically a threat.

  2. Nora

    I’ve wondered and tried to research how they calculate scores (and in turn, how we can affect them) without luck. I’m glad I’m not the only one who is confused!

    A couple of weeks ago, I logged in after a long absence from the site and was dismayed to see my score had gone down without reason from what I could tell. And I noticed a friend of mine (not a blogger) has a much higher score than mine, and I asked him how he does it. He said he has no idea but he’s really busy on FB.

    So I thought I’d “play the game”: I gave (and received) a bunch of +Ks, and since then I’ve tried to engage more on FB and Twitter. I just logged into my account today, and my score has shot up 6 points. I don’t know if it was the +Ks, or just logging on to the site and doing stuff, or getting busier with social media.

    And even since I last logged in a couple of weeks ago, the site seems to have changed. So hopefully it’s for the better.

    1. Post
      Author
      Iain

      Thanks for your comments Nora, I am glad you have managed to have your score increase, you are one of a few that has.

      There are probably quite a few reasons and they are also likely to be complex, your addtional engagement on FB will certainly be a factor. The +ks are not supposed to be taken into account as far as influence and this is exactly as it should be. Those with large followings could simply request their followers to +k them regularly and this would produce a false ‘influence’.

      Klout is already fairly wide of the mark as far as the whole influence thing is concerned, thankfully it has not gone down that route or potentially it could be even worse.

    1. Post
      Author
      Iain

      That for me is the real issue Gerard there is not any transparency, they do not explain it other than the basics of mentions/likes etc and that the ‘influence’ score of those that you engage with can affect your own.

  3. Bret @ Green Global Travel

    I realized Klout was utter nonsense the day I saw that my site’s score on “Environment” was almost as high as WWF’s. I tend to look at like most people’s opinions: They’re worth considering, but I don’t waste much time or energy worrying about them, and they damn sure don’t influence how I run Green Global Travel.

    1. Post
      Author
      Iain

      Your score on ‘environment’ being higher than WWF’s is possibly because WWF from my experience does not really engage with anybody therefore from a social media perspective is possibly quite accurate. I totally agree with your standpoint, there is not any point concerning ourselves too much with it and definitely should not have any influence how we run our own sites.

  4. Trans-Americas Journey

    We all like to have our egos massaged and I guess that’s why we’ve all been on Klout. However, in the past few weeks I’ve also experienced a number of inexplicable point yo-yos of 3 & 4 points at a time, In the past week I’ve given up looking and should opt out…but probably won’t.

    1. Post
      Author
      Iain

      A very honest comment. It is indeed always nice to be appreciated and receive some praise. I am not totally convinced yet about opting out, still need want to see how they react to recent criticism and ‘opt outs’ and best place to witness that is stil from the inside. Time will tell.

  5. cheryl

    I stopped worrying about my Klout score a very long time ago. I once received a free Virgin flight from Toronto to San Fran … which was awesome, but it was shortly afterwards I realized that their system was seriously flawed and easy to game in order to get a high score.

    I wish that PR agencies would realize this and hope that they have other ways to measure someone’s online influence.

    1. Post
      Author
      Iain

      Nice perk Cheryl 🙂 yes it can definitely be ‘played’ and think most savvy PR companies are aware of this, only possibly usuing it as an initial ‘guide’ but loking into the individual in much greater detail afterwards. Unfortunately there are still some agencies that take it as the main indicator because they are too lazy to do any background checking.

  6. Natalie

    I have not looked at it in a while. The score business made me lose interest but there was also another thing. One of the topics listed someone with a score of 14 and claimed them to be the top influencer, therefore their own techniques cause doubt. There is another one coming out called Kred and another one has also started called peer Index. Do you feel that they are all starting to jump on the band wagon and lose their appeal.

    1. Post
      Author
      Iain

      Hi Natalie wise decision deciding to not pay too much attention to their erratic metrics. Kred is a Travellll initiative which is promising to provide true influence metrics, only time will tell, as for PeerIndex I do at least like the fact that their ‘scoring’ seems more stable and does not show such wide fluctuations as Klout. There are a few others too such as ProScore, they maybe jumping on a bandwagon, but hopefully one will at least come out with a reliable system which can actually provide useful data for agencies to use.

    1. Post
      Author
      Iain

      The perks can be useful sometimes Jade. Triberr is hopefully just a glitch will will be resolved and resurrected soon as do believe it was useful for getting greater exposure for posts. I have not really noticed any difference to my score but then with the erratic nature of their metrics it is difficult to document any true trends.

  7. Michelle

    I am on the verge of opting out. the fact that joining klout alone seems to bag you 10 points made me a sceptic from the start. I can’t make heads or tails of the score they give me, or why it drops 10 points during a day I’ve been active and jumps when I’m quiet.

    I have come to the end of my patience trying to figure it out, after less than a month. It has very little value to me after seeing how erratic it is.

    Great idea, poor execution.

    1. Post
      Author
      Iain

      Interesting to read you opinions and experiences Michelle especially when you see changes which should be in contrast to anticipated changes. Klout will tell you it is not about how active you are but how much engagement you receive. We are all aware however that the more active you are the greater your engagement is likely to be!

  8. Jim O'Donnell

    Thanks for this Iain. I was wondering about Klout. I signed up awhile ago but could never figure out how I got my rank and why it changed so I just stopped using it. Havent even looked over there in a few months. This helps clarify what I was already thinking. Much appreciated.

    Jim

    1. Post
      Author
      Iain

      You are welcome Jim, I am glad it has been able to provide a little clarification for you, though still hoping for some myself 😉

    1. Post
      Author
  9. Kirsten

    I opted out of Klout some time ago and believe it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in social media. I have far more time on my hands and far less stress. I can then spend more time doing what I do best, being social. On social media. I don’t give a f*** about my Klout score and I am now better for it.

    1. Post
      Author
      Iain

      Sounds like a great move Kirsten and one many others seem to be opting to take. Worrying about klout scores etc does seem to be a waste of time and energy, glad you are finding many more productive ways to waste your time 😉

  10. Christine Peets

    I first heard about Klout a few months ago, but didn’t have time to investigate it, and/or sign up at the time, and I soon forgot about it. Then last week I attended a really good workshop on social media, and Klout scores were talked about. Again, I haven’t really had the time to look into this.
    After reading all of the comments on here, and the LinkedIn group where this subject was posted, I don’t think I’m going to bother.
    If someone decides based on my Klout scores, and not on my abilities as a journalist and instructor whether I “qualify” for a certain position, press trip, or other work, then so be it.
    I wasn’t the most popular kid in school and I turned out just fine. I think I’ll manage not having a Klout score. There are many more ways of my knowing if or how I’ve influenced people that are more important and more relevant to me than a popularity contest, which in the end, is all Klout really is.

    1. Post
      Author
      Iain

      Well said Christine and what is more it is a flawed popularity contest. Thank you for commenting, and pretty sure you turned out just great.

  11. The World of Deej

    I signed up for Klout a while back, and despite higher education I’m not entirely sure I “get” the point. I mean I get it, but really who are they to really say who infuences me and vice versa? I’ve pretty much stopped paying attention, and would not have logged in had I not seen this post:)

  12. Deb

    Hi Iain, I stopped paying any attention to Klout quite awhile ago. When they added FourSquare into measuring influence that was the final nail in the coffin for us. We can’t be bothered to “check in” everywhere just to be popular on facebook or twitter. Klout rewards those who are busy. Tweet like mad every and retweet influencers like Nat Geo and CNN regularly and your score will go up. People inevitably retweet you when you rt high influencers. It’s ridiculous and so easy to game.
    Like Nora said, we played the game for awhile thinking it was needed, but we stopped a few months ago. First of all, it was exhausting, I refuse to spend my entire time on my iPhone or Blackberry checking in, tweeting twitpics and doing updates, I spend enough time working on the Internet, I don’t need to take my social media with me wherever I go out. We are back to scheduling our tweets like we used to, sharing what we think is interesting, supporting our peers and promoting our posts.
    However, I am wondering why you are giving them power still by putting your klout score on your blog? Doesn’t that just enable them and make people think that you think they are an important measurement? If we display our Klout Scores prominently, then PR companies and tourism boards will think that Klout is important. That’s just my thought, You know I think your great.

    1. Post
      Author
      Iain

      Hi Deb

      Thank you for the comments I appreciate your input as always, and also your straight forward approach. I am still learning the whole process and playing catch up with many of you on social media and travel publishing, not having been around as long. I am maybe making the exact mistake you are talking about with spending too much time on here as the computer is on 15/16 hours a day, probably working on a post, but also on social media, but to be honest still feel this is necessary for me at my stage of development.

      As for my klout score being displayed, again being honest i removed it for several weeks but a source I trust, that has helped and advised me questioned this. Their view was that PR agencies, travel companies and tourism boards still pay attention to Klout/Peer Index etc even the goods ones will often use it as a starting point for finding suitable people to work with. I feel 2012 is a big year for me, so far I have not actively attempted to monetize the site, seek sponsorship, partnership deals or much else but need to start that soon. anything which may assist me there is gratefully accepted.

      The piece was wrtitten a month or more back when things were at their worst, this may seem like a cop-out and I may even be playing their game, but right now that is the position I find myself in and although it would be nice to stand totally on principles and say to hell with them, I need to make a living too. If the relevant agencies still take note of klout then I feel I need to also and will do so until either that situation or my own changes.

      Incidentally I also feel obligated to thank those prepared to give me +ks as they have taken the trouble to do so, again it is probably enpowering them even more and the simple way out is to opt out, but having considered it long and hard decided against it.

      Thank you again for taking the time to comment, oh and you already know I think you are great.

  13. Jewel Simmons

    If the relevant agencies still take note of klout then I feel I need to also and will do so until either that situation or my own changes. Time will tell.

    1. Post
      Author
  14. Iris Dillard

    We are back to scheduling our tweets like we used to, sharing what we think is interesting, supporting our peers and promoting our posts. I wasn’t the most popular kid in school and I turned out just fine. After reading all of the comments on here, and the LinkedIn group where this subject was posted, I don’t think I’m going to bother. It’s still a mystery to me on how they come up with the K score.

    1. Post
      Author
      Iain

      Hi Iris, sounds like a plan, I’d suggest just not becoming too caught up in any of the social media analytic sites. If you are engaging with your audience you will be successful ad an influencer.

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