Monthly Archives: October 2011

KloutBlurred

Klout score goes from 0 to 72 in a month, but system is broken.

The new Klout score is really broken.  The numbers are no longer clear or useful, just like the image to right.

I say this as someone who saw Klout scores go up for most of the accounts I manage or consult for. A couple client accounts had small  to medium drops and my own personal account dropped 5 points. So my opinion is far from sour grapes.

The Problem With “True Reach”

And as best I can tell, one big problem (there are many) is True Reach numbers. If an account you run gets mentioned even once by a high follower Twitter account, your score will go up like crazy (and I don’t use the word “crazy” lightly). I don’t consider a one-off mention by a popular account to be particularly meaningful. Yes it can lead to new followers (or in many cases not), but a mention is not influencing other people’s followers in most cases.

If you thought Klout had a problem when Kenneth Cole’s Klout score went up after a poor choice in taste and hashtag usage, that “controversy bump” would be compounded under the new system.

I manage one account, @universifree, that is less than one month old. It has Klout score of 72. Jay Baer (@jaybaer) is a leading social media practitioner and thought leader. He has been working in marketing for 20 years, he is a leading user of social media tools, he seems to speak four times a week and has contacts and connections in almost every industry. His score is now 68 (down from mid 80s). Look at his @mentions. He regularly gets a mention a minute. There are actually many examples of this. Leading venture capitalists, who are active in social media and hold the purse strings to millions of dollars, saw there scores drop 20 or more points. And yet my one new account, less than a month old, has a score of 72.

Here is why:

  • The account was seeded with followers from a my mildly popular @free account that has similar demographic.
  • The account ran a sweepstakes that required a retweet and follow to enter. (It got a lot of retweets.)
  • The account has gotten mentioned by a couple popular accounts due to good editorial but also long standing relationships.

I would love to say our Klout score is because we offers amazing engagement, which we do (@haleygate has done a good job running it). For the 60 tweets we have made, yes 60, I think we did a good job. Even if I believe that a year from now, we have an opportunity to be mentioned among some of the best student/education accounts in social media, we aren’t there yet (and it may takes years to get there), but our Klout score would make it appear like we have arrived.

The nuances of the new system are I am sure many, but with this new account, we haven’t even got to explore them. We are just a Twitter account (granted with a good start on followers) getting going and figuring out what we can best share and accomplish. So Facebook, Tumbler, et al, doesn’t figure in.

“Quit worrying about Klout.” — The Internet

Many are going to say, “Quit worrying about Klout scores; they were never meaningful anyway.” To that point I have to disagree. While I wouldn’t say Klout scores were a true measure of influence, I did use them as a valuable metric, particularly for Twitter engagement as well as general Twitter influence. I could look at almost any Twitter account, and using bio, follower/following numbers, Klout score and their last 10 or twenty tweets, get a good feel for how this account fit into its own ecosphere as well as the Twitter world at large. I can’t do that anymore.

I have looked at multiple Twitter accounts in various verticals I follow, in my own community of Lawrence, Kansas, as well as at national brands, and pretty much the only scores that reflect true influence are those in the 90+ range. Before the Klout switch, I could get a general impression of activity and influence by a score in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Now many of those accounts have all been squeezed into a range between 40 and 60, and I don’t find the Klout numbers meaningful even when amplifying the value of each point difference.

I acknowledge that this part of my critique may come from my heavy focus on Twitter. Perhaps the 60-80 range needed to be cleared out to allow for YouTube video creators and Facebook subscriptions. I  hope that this is the case. And as I finish this mini rant (but hopefully informative), I can only say that unlike many, I thought Klout numbers actually had some value. That is why it is more difficult for me to see them become almost useless. If this is Klout’s Netflix moment, I say end Qwikster or give us something new and meaningful fast.

Since you read a whole blog post about Klout (thanks by the way), I would be interested to hear your impressions of the new score or any other thoughts.

 

questions

Use your social network accounts to help make editorial decisions.

I spend a considerable amount of time work on the @free Twitter account and related sites. @free is an inclusive but increasing a youth oriented brand. Certainly we have readers from all age rangers, but the majority of our audience in under 25. And while I have learned a considerable amount about our readers tastes, I am the first to admit that as someone who spends my days dealing with communications and marketing issues, I have to rely on the members of our team, who are actually living the high school, college and young adult lifestyle, for insights.

But I also have another technique that helps the @free team create a relevant editorial calender for content. I ask questions of our audience. Questions have the obvious benefits of creating engagement especially if social media account managers follow up with personal responses, but they also can give you valuable insight.

On one our secondary accounts that focuses on deals I asked:

Resulting answers with key words in red boxes:

Halloween was such an obvious choice that I even mentioned it in the question, but homecoming wasn’t something I even considered. I also learned about an upcoming video game release, and was surprised that no one mentioned football, but the baseball playoff were mentioned.

Actionable insights.  Based on answers I . . .

  • Asked our iPhone and Android contributors to write up a blog post on Halloween apps.
  • Suggested to our @universifree contributor that she ask readers about their homecoming memories.
  • Put out the call to our volunteer contributors for someone interested in researching and writing up a blog post about the best places to find pumpkin carving templates.
  • Made note of the haunted house trend, and am considering a way to use that information to have readers send photos of that experience.
  • Am now more aware that our audience may have an interest in the baseball playoffs as well as future video game releases.

Your audience will likely have totally different interests, and that is why asking questions can help you make decisions about what types of content will be most meaningful and popular with your audience.