Yesterday I sent an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to disable my account.
I received a nice automated email back from them saying that they will get back to me in 3 days if my question isn’t on their support site, which it isn’t, because I didn’t ask them to disable my account there.
We’ll see what happens in three days. But until then…
In this post I’m going to explain exactly why I did it. And I’ll tell you this, it ain’t for the PR my friend.
Here’s the skinny.
First Things First Though
Before getting deep into it I want to express my thanks to you for gaving me +K on a variety of marketing and business topics on Klout. That shows me that I am helping you with the information I publish here, and I appreciate your showing me thanks. I understand it can be daunting to post a comment on a blog post – we’ve all been there.
I want to urge you to read this post in it’s entirety and read the posts I link to as well as other posts on both sides of the Klout topic. Be your own person and make your own decision.
Now lets bring some thunder!
If You Aren’t On Top, You Aren’t Getting There
When I joined the NISM I talked with you about the distaste that I got for certifications while being in the world of Agile development consulting/teaching. Well it’s happening again only this time with a company named Klout.
I have made countless friends and connections thanks to blogging and seeking people out on Twitter and other social networks. I’ve run Twitter searches for keywords, used Twitter profile searches to make new connections, and asked other people who they recommend I follow and connect with. When someone said something interesting I’d strike up a conversation and get them on Skype if I could. In 2007 it was a great way to meet people, and now that Twitter and other platforms have millions of users it’s an even better way to meet new people from all over the globe.
Never did I look to see how influential any of these people were online before deciding whether or not to connect with them. I let their actions and the knowledge that they shared dictate my decision to connect with them.
Some might say that that’s a naive way to go about things and isn’t the way you “play the game” or some other drivel. I say it’s the way you do business, and the way that I do business. It’s how I built my last business and how I’m growing Dempsey Marketing. It takes a lot of time and effort, and it works.
And then here comes a company that’s telling us that someone their application says isn’t influential isn’t good for us to engage with on social media because they have a “low score” that will bring ours down.
Exhibit A – An Email From Klout
I submit for your reading pleasure (or horror) an email that Jure Klepic received from Klout concerning a question he had about his score:
That email is embedded in an excellent post from Jure titled, “Have you been put in Klout timeout?”
The way I read that email is like this:
If you are engaging with less influential people then your influence is lessened as a result.
So basically if you’re not being retweeted, reshared or re-whatever by top dogs you aren’t influential.
But perhaps I’m not reading that correctly. Let’s look at a comment from the same Megan of Klout of the above email. This comment was on the same post from Jure. We’ll call it Exhibit B.
Exhibit B – A Comment From Klout
Allow me to quote part of that comment:
As for the example you bring up here in particular — your network impact score was going down, which does indicate that fewer highly influential people were engaging with you. If you are regularly getting your content retweeted by top influencers and that stops, yes it will impact your Score — but it’s not because you are being penalized for the engagement from others (any action driven based on your content helps your Score), it’s because of the lack of action from top influencers.
The emphasis was added by me because I want to point that particular part out.
In this comment what I read is that you can engage with people with lower Klout scores however if you’re talking with top dogs and that stops you are no longer an influencer.
Combining this comment with the email from Exhibit A we can see that:
- In order to gain more influence and therefore a better Klout score you need to connect with people that already have influence
- In order to maintain that high influence you need to continue to engage high influencers
Sounds like a big old influencer clique to me.
So would the advice be to never engage people of influence so that when you speak with the “less influential” – the 95% we always talk about here that you must nurture around your business because they make up the largest percentage of your community – your score won’t be impacted?
But perhaps I’m being a bit harsh. Poor Megan is being bombarded across the Internets about the non-transparency transparency post Klout published when they updated their rankings and many people’s scores dropped by 10 or more points. And you have people of actual influence doing great work like Geoff Livingston and Pam Moore urging everyone, especially companies, to ignore these flawed pseudo-metrics.
So I submit to you Exhibit C.
Exhibit C – Klout Login Message
This is the last message I saw when I logged into Klout to disconnect all of my social media accounts before sending the “please disable” email:
I blurred the names of people that Klout says lost influence. One of the people on the list influences me greatly, has helped me increase revenues, and has had enormous impact on many small business owners.
And this dear reader was the final straw.
So I Man’ed Up And Disconnected Everything
Merely disconnecting your social media accounts from Klout isn’t enough. You need to go into each site and revoke the access of Klout, or any app for that matter, so there is no way they can get back into your social network data. My friend Jure Klepic has a post on how to do that. It was greatly helpful.
Frankly I’ve been feeling a big hypocritical about this Klout score thing. One one hand I’m railing against how their score is attempting to measure the impossible – online influence. I’ve found that the people that never comment on my blog or “engage” with me on Twitter are the people that become my paying customers. Obviously I’ve had enough influence on them that they’ve decided to pay for my assistance.
How do you measure that?
And what of the person in the “lost influence this week” list Klout gave me that has a major impact on many small businesses that are now profitable and thriving?
How do you measure that?
And what about the person who reads your tweet, or Facebook update, or blog post, and makes a change in their life that impacts the lives of those around them? What if they never mention you?
How do you measure that?
You don’t. You can’t.
I’ve thought about this for days, read tons of posts, had many conversations. The arguments for this are thin.
The “But Google…” Argument
I’ve read a number of arguments comparing the Klout score algorithm to the Google PageRank algorithm. Here’s the holes in that argument:
- Google gets absolutely zero benefit from any website being ranked on any page of their results
- If you try to game Google you will get beat down. Panda did a nice job of that recently
- Google is not claiming that they are the standard anything
And this is one I’ve heard used in a lot of cases.
The “I Don’t Have Time To Figure It Out” Argument
This argument comes in many formats but comes down to one thing – shortcuts. Our brains naturally create association shortcuts for us, so why not use them with everything? It’s just so easy to use a number given to us even though we really have no idea what it means:
To which Geoff replied:
I understand this dilemma, but I also feel like companies that aren’t wiling to invest in learning a community and only want to invest minimal resources, don’t really care about a community. There are other forms of marketing that may make more sense than social for them. – Geoff Livingston
What Geoff is saying is that you and I have a choice. We can choose to go for meaningless mass or we can choose quality of interactions.
Which are you afraid to choose?
It’s Dangerous To Create Accounts For People
I’ve got to hand it to Klout, they have created an application full of game mechanics and psychology. Well played.
One thing that’s hard not to notice is how if Klout believe you influence someone not only do they suggest you invite that person they have a profile already waiting for them! This reminds me of another company that created profiles for people called GetSatisfaction.
GetSatisfaction is a social support site I’m familiar with from my web development days (not too long past). The long and short of it is this – GetSatisfaction created accounts for a number of companies, without their knowledge and without their consent. One such company was 37Signals (37S), founded by Jason Fried and also for a web framework that changed the development world – Ruby on Rails.
Well GetSatisfaction decided that they would both create an account for 37S and use their logo. What happened next is that people thought that 37S had created the account and started logging support tickets. After their requests for assistance went unanswered they started to complain publicly about it online, which is when 37S found out about it.
Needless to say GetSatisfaction was publicly slammed for creating these accounts and using the logos of companies without their consent and had to reverse course.
That was 2009. History it seems is repeating itself.
Now you can argue that a Twitter account is publicly available and I’m no attorney so I’m not sure what the legalities are of Klout using your Twitter profile picture and creating an account on their service without your consent. Perhaps someone will find out for us.
Either way, even if you’re not signed up for Klout, you might be there and people might be noticing. Not cool at all.
But what do you expect from a system that needs mass to work? After all, if you don’t have a lot of people using the system how can you rank them?And if you can’t rank people then you can’t say who is most influential? And if you don’t have that then how can you get revenue from advertisers looking to improve (buy) more word of mouth marketing?
Opting Out Of The Game
Mass is an outdated and dying notion. Quality and meaningful interactions is the future. If the Occupy Wall Street movement, Middle East rebellions against dictatorships, and protests around Europe have showed us anything, it’s that people want change, and are coming together to help make it happen. And there are people that are very much fighting against that change, be it with words or with force.
What that change will look like is anyone’s guess, but this much is clear – people do want change.
Klout is not change. Klout is more of the same – the same outdated and dying notion of mass.
I for one am opting out.
Will you join me?
UPDATE – LEAVE KLOUT
Here are the steps:
- Sign into Klout as usual
- Go to your Profile Settings
- At the bottom there is a link to Opt-Out. Click that.
- Go to step two, skip all their yadda yadda and click the link to continue opt-ing out
- Finally on the last page you have to digitally sign that you want to leave. Do that and then click the final opt-out button.
After all that you see a message like this one telling you it will take quite a few days for your account to be removed from their system:
An even BETTER version of these instructions have been written by Martijn Linssen, a reader of this blog, in his post: Completely drop your Klout account in 30 seconds. Lot’s of great pictures walk you step-by-step on completely removing your Klout account.
A number of commenters here and on social media have asked why I don’t simply ignore Klout. I’ve outline why in this post – Why I Won’t Simply Ignore Klout.