Out of Klout

Updated on May 30, 2014

The kerfuffle about Klout, the self-styled ‘standard for influence’ service, that blew up last month has largely settled down now as most online kerfuffles tend to.

Yet the storm that erupted following Klout’s change in how they measure an individual’s rank focused a great deal of attention on what Klout’s business model really is – just a marketing scheme for its perks programme? as I wondered – and on some of its practices in how it captures data and how it markets its perks to users.

A key aspect of the sense of unease such revelations provoked in me was knowing that you had no means of removing yourself from Klout if you had an account. That’s now changed as Klout enabled a way to opt out of its service. Cancel your account, in other words. (You find the link to start that in your Klout settings.)

Since then, I’ve noticed a number of people whose opinions I respect saying that they’ve left Klout. Lynette Young, for instance, who says it bluntly:

I no longer feel dirty and hypocritical

I’ve just done the same – opted out of Klout. Cancelled my account. Revoked access for Klout to interact with all the other online places I’d given it permission for.

kloutoptoutsm

My comment on Klout’s opt-out form as to why I was cancelling out was a simple one:

Thanks, but I no longer believe your service offers me any value.

With that, I hit the ‘Submit’ button.

kloutoptoutsuccess

The tipping point for me to do this was a highly-critical post by Rohn Jay Miller a few days ago uncompromisingly entitled Delete Your Klout Profile Now!. This blunt comment in his post caught my attention:

[…] The fundamental evil of Klout is that it’s a venture capital-backed company looking to leverage into a big IPO payday  and the only value proposition they offer is their ability to identify, train and exploit people they can sell to advertisers as “key influencers,” in a taxonomy of business interests.

What do these “key influencers” get for their efforts?  Pennies.  Swag. Chocolate bars. Little discounts.  These people are the entire sum of the Klout value proposition.  Klout exists for the benefit of advertisers, not for the people Klout measures and then chooses to engage.

Heavy stuff indeed. But it added greatly to my sense of unease about Klout. How could I trust them? Whywould I trust them?

Well, I don’t, simple as that.

So I’m out of Klout. And moving on.

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

    • Neville Hobson

      In a word, Tammy, no I haven’t opted out of PeerIndex. I’m far more comfortable with PeerIndex as I don’t see them in the same light as I do Klout. Sure, PI also has a perks programme, yet I believe there is genuine value for users from the influence-ranking point of view. In other words, I don’t see PI as purely a front for advertisers or suchlike.

      I’ve also met founder Azeem Azhar and some of the PI team; undoubtedly that is part of my positive view.

      • Tammy

        Hi Neville,
        Thanks for the quick reply. In the spirit of full disclosure I actually don’t mind influence scoring, and my dashboard, MarketMeSuite, integrates with both (and also offers the option to turn it off completely). I just think that it’s been a bit blown out of proportion with Klout. A lot of people lost influence with the algorithm change, and to me, it seems like there is a bit of a spiteful reaction to it on places like SocialMediaToday, etc. I am not grouping you in with this. You have made plenty of valid points. But I have spoken to the guys and girls over at Klout, and I have to say, they do seem to be a nice bunch. As are the team over at Peer Index. But I do think they share a common goal — to turn influence data into money. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

        Peer Index takes a different approach I think — more of a leader within your niche, which I have always respected, but it does seem like Klout is moving that way with the +K in subjects and list curation. When we first integrated with PI and Klout they had felt different. They are now feeling more similar, even with their perks programs. I for one don’t mind them, I am all for both companies making a living and it’s nothing new… Airlines have been always treating frequent flyers to “perks.” Ok, they would measure it based on how often you fly, and in what class, but is it really so different? I appreciate that with both Klout and Peer Index, it’s not how rich you are that gets you special treatment, but something else. As someone who has never once seen the inside of a “gold member lounge” I guess I like that I could get into a few things. I’ve already seen it with my executive perks card from Peer Index… got given a free fantastic starter at a michelin rated restaurant! (Thanks PI!) If there’s one thing I can criticize Klout for, is there lack of perks outside of the US. I am american, but i live over here in the UK. It sucks when the perk doesn’t translate to different countries.

        I also appreciate PI and Klout as a metric. I am tweeted at and contacted a LOT by people asking to do joint promotions, etc. I don’t solely rely on them, but a quick glance at the influence score does give me an idea of reach. I also glance at alexa, google page rank, followers, fans, etc.

        Anyway, thanks for replying.

        Tammy, CEO @MarketMeSuite

        • Chris Hambly

          “but a quick glance at the influence score does give me an idea of reach.”

          and for me there lies the fundamental problem – it doesn’t really, or shouldn’t, because it’s not true.

          Some of my hang-ups may be concerning syntax. For example using the term “influence” amounts to lies, and false representation completely.

          If it said “trophy contacts” it would be a closer term, and factually far more accurate.

          • Tammy

            Hey Neville, Last point/question….
            My Klout and PI score are pretty much the same. So if PI is doing it right, and it’s a worthy measurement tool, all I’m saying is Klout might not be such a throw away metric. So I guess what I’m asking is… do you not rely on influence at all, or just from not from Klout? (regardless of how nice PI is, just wondering if you feel it’s a worthy measurement, period)

            Thanks!
            Tammy :)

            • Neville Hobson

              Tammy, I do pay attention to metrics that fall under the label of ‘influence’ or ‘opinion leadership,’ from my own perspective as well as from the pov of my looking at others’ ratings.

              Whereas before, as a user, I would have given Klout a lot of attention, now that attention is zero.

              I would focus far more on what tools like Radian6 and the intriguing new one, Adobe SocialAnalytics, can do for me in the area of analyzing influencers depending on how I’ve defined that word.

              Enjoying reading and responding to your pov, btw :)

            • Chris Hambly

              Yes Neville, absolutely, though to be frank even “popularity” is not necessarily a guaranteed result of sheer numbers of “friends”.

              I could easily employ a team of outsourced workers to amass 250K followers – but would I be popular? – no, of course not. Would a % of my interactions “reach” people, of course, but quite how much notice they’d take or how influential my message would be is altogether nothing to do with numbers.

              Regarding “influence” it is how these services use this as PR spin that really irritates me.

              Influence is a study in psychology sociology and other ologies where considerable research exists. In addition it changes radically on a message by message basis.

              That said I think if we look at the way G+ is using ripples this is the best visualisation yet to see how far a “social” message has flown. (again individual messages).

        • Neville Hobson

          Thanks Tammy. Let me say that I do not share your positive view of Klout and how it operates. I guess I did originally but certainly no longer, for obvious reasons. And I do not believe for one second that the kerfuffle is anything blown out of proportion.

          On the contrary, it focus all that is amiss with Klout if you only read the accounts of the two individuals who I linked to in my post.

          So good luck with your continuing Klout account. Me, I’m gone!

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