Pop Goes the Klout Influence Bubble

Remember the dot com bubble?

Webvan.com and Pets.com were nice ideas, but they didn’t deserve the levels of investment or credibility they received. At best, they were ahead of their time.  The dot com bust ensued.

Wherever there is hype, a bubble is right behind.

Klout is getting a lot of hype right now, and we may be facing an “online influence bubble”.  It’s a bubble driven by passionate people like me that wanted to believe our hard work and social networking success could be easily measured with an algorithm and score.

I wanted to believe in a shortcut, that technology could accelerate a rise to the top, that I could use content and engagement to bypass the old waiting game.

Sadly, it’s not there yet.

It simply can’t measure influence correctly.  Yes, those with high Klout scores are usually influential people online, but what about everyone it misses?  What about Jack Welch?

Online influence is not the main type of influence, yet.

Until it is (I believe it’s headed that way), we must remember offline influence is still how most decision makers make decisions.  This doesn’t mean that Klout is irrelevant, it just means that it’s not a mission critical issue for leaders right now.

Unless you are an internet marketer, social media consultant or blogger, Klout is not something critical to your career.  That may change, but first the bubble will pop and we’ll rebuild this online influence measurement idea without the hype.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Here is a brief overview of my personal thoughts:

  1. Due to it’s growing power, Klout needs to self regulate itself
  2. Web 3.0 is here and Klout matters
  3. Offline influence is deeper than online Klout
  4. We have probably over-hyped Klout now (this post)

I hope this is my last Klout post for a while.   Scientific measurement of human influence is a relatively new concept, and I appreciate your patience and comments while I develop my position.  I realize it seems like some flip flopping, but I can assure you I don’t have bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Have a great night

Aaron@Biebert

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Published by Aaron Biebert

I'm a director, film/video exec producer, leader & 8pm Warrior. I am passionately chasing my goals at all times. I'm listening. Let's talk!

51 comments on “Pop Goes the Klout Influence Bubble”

  1. Great post. I would rather have family and friends “Klout” that “Klout Klout.” Funny that I nose dive on weekends. No way I am taking time away from my kids to prevent a 1/2 slip. Not a chance!

  2. With all this influence touting, I keep thinking, “Where’s the beef?” Sure, I can buy the notion that the medium is at least *part* of the message, but ultimately there’s got to be some meaningful content behind it. When I read a “big gun’s” blog and see “5 tips for time management” and “10 ways to get your blog read” and no solid product or service being offered, I’m thinking, “How does this guy come up with all this stuff and still put food on the table?” Oh, well I guess I should read more of their blogs to understand that, huh? And it will boost their influence scores, ‘specially if I Like+ them.

  3. Aaron,

    It’s ok to flip flop. It’s ok to have mixed feelings. Your honesty is relevant to me. From time to time, we are all tempted to get behind what we’d like to take home the win. What’s important is that you can admit that your confidence was founded on all the right and wrong reasons.

    Triberr, for example. I’ve been a fan and cheerleader since early on in the game. I still want to see Dino and Dan get the gold and the glory, but I’m having my doubts.

    I continue to believe in Triberr, in the vision, and the value of the service. I will continue to be a huge fan, cheerleader, and supporter of the dynamic duo. But I don’t see things happening like they must – the team is not expanding, funding is not being pursued, and there just isn’t enough hours in the day for Dino and Dan to do everything by themselves.

    I’ll still hope for a Hail Mary now and then, but my doubts will multiply.

    Good play, Aaron.

    Recently on my blog: Reading The Desiderata. http://wp.me/pbg0R-mr

    1. Stan, the mixed feelings are difficult to deal with. Thanks for the support.

      As for Triberr, like you I’m also a support from early on. It will be interesting to see what happens with it.

      Thanks for the comment, support, and overall great connection. I appreciate you.

    2. Stan, the mixed feelings are difficult to deal with. Thanks for the support.

      As for Triberr, like you I’m also a support from early on. It will be interesting to see what happens with it.

      Thanks for the comment, support, and overall great connection. I appreciate you.

  4. Aaron,

    It’s ok to flip flop. It’s ok to have mixed feelings. Your honesty is relevant to me. From time to time, we are all tempted to get behind what we’d like to take home the win. What’s important is that you can admit that your confidence was founded on all the right and wrong reasons.

    Triberr, for example. I’ve been a fan and cheerleader since early on in the game. I still want to see Dino and Dan get the gold and the glory, but I’m having my doubts.

    I continue to believe in Triberr, in the vision, and the value of the service. I will continue to be a huge fan, cheerleader, and supporter of the dynamic duo. But I don’t see things happening like they must – the team is not expanding, funding is not being pursued, and there just isn’t enough hours in the day for Dino and Dan to do everything by themselves.

    I’ll still hope for a Hail Mary now and then, but my doubts will multiply.

    Good play, Aaron.

    Recently on my blog: Reading The Desiderata. http://wp.me/pbg0R-mr

  5. Aaron,

    It’s ok to flip flop. It’s ok to have mixed feelings. Your honesty is relevant to me. From time to time, we are all tempted to get behind what we’d like to take home the win. What’s important is that you can admit that your confidence was founded on all the right and wrong reasons.

    Triberr, for example. I’ve been a fan and cheerleader since early on in the game. I still want to see Dino and Dan get the gold and the glory, but I’m having my doubts.

    I continue to believe in Triberr, in the vision, and the value of the service. I will continue to be a huge fan, cheerleader, and supporter of the dynamic duo. But I don’t see things happening like they must – the team is not expanding, funding is not being pursued, and there just isn’t enough hours in the day for Dino and Dan to do everything by themselves.

    I’ll still hope for a Hail Mary now and then, but my doubts will multiply.

    Good play, Aaron.

    Recently on my blog: Reading The Desiderata. http://wp.me/pbg0R-mr

  6. When I saw that my Klout was higher than Welch’s (which I discovered prior to reading this!), I was distraught. Here I thought I was “influential” and now had proof is was bogus! ALL measurements, especially when programmed and not actually “considered,” have large probabilities of errors. So, you have to just add Common Sense into the mix.

    Jack Welch probably doesn’t spend much time with Social Media – his influence is not measured outside of it though with Klout.

    Take it all with a grain of salt…or pepper!

  7. When I saw that my Klout was higher than Welch’s (which I discovered prior to reading this!), I was distraught. Here I thought I was “influential” and now had proof is was bogus! ALL measurements, especially when programmed and not actually “considered,” have large probabilities of errors. So, you have to just add Common Sense into the mix.

    Jack Welch probably doesn’t spend much time with Social Media – his influence is not measured outside of it though with Klout.

    Take it all with a grain of salt…or pepper!

  8. When I saw that my Klout was higher than Welch’s (which I discovered prior to reading this!), I was distraught. Here I thought I was “influential” and now had proof is was bogus! ALL measurements, especially when programmed and not actually “considered,” have large probabilities of errors. So, you have to just add Common Sense into the mix.

    Jack Welch probably doesn’t spend much time with Social Media – his influence is not measured outside of it though with Klout.

    Take it all with a grain of salt…or pepper!

  9. When I saw that my Klout was higher than Welch’s (which I discovered prior to reading this!), I was distraught. Here I thought I was “influential” and now had proof is was bogus! ALL measurements, especially when programmed and not actually “considered,” have large probabilities of errors. So, you have to just add Common Sense into the mix.

    Jack Welch probably doesn’t spend much time with Social Media – his influence is not measured outside of it though with Klout.

    Take it all with a grain of salt…or pepper!

    1. Bruce, it’s certainly an eye opener when we compare Klout scores with people we know deep down are more influential.

      I see that Jack uses twitter some, but that he isn’t very active. Maybe Klout is more like the standard of activity, not influence.

      Time will tell.

      Thanks for the thoughts. Always much appreciated.

    2. Bruce, it’s certainly an eye opener when we compare Klout scores with people we know deep down are more influential.

      I see that Jack uses twitter some, but that he isn’t very active. Maybe Klout is more like the standard of activity, not influence.

      Time will tell.

      Thanks for the thoughts. Always much appreciated.

  10. Aaron, that’s called disillusion. And while you may feel that Klout has failed now, I’m not at all sure that it will fail to grow even more significant.

    Then again, I was never particularly enchanted with Klout in the first place, but I thought, and still think, that it fills such a basic need that it will not fail even if it is flawed in many ways (unless a better competitor appears).

    Here are two paragraphs from my comment on your earlier post on Klout, and I think they are still appropriate here:

    “I suppose it is a basic human need to categorize things into easily distinguishable brackets, and a simple influence score or very few such scores will be tremendously significant.

    Another thing to note is that I don’t think such a system will ever be perfect. When a thing is simplified enough, something of the original is always lost in the process. Therefore, there will be plenty of complaints for years to come.”

    1. I believe that it will grow. I agree with you that Klout is not going away.

      I just think people’s belief in Klout will burst temporarily until reality catches up. Klout’s value is the bubble I’m talking about.

      We’ll just have to wait and see. I’ve been wrong before.

  11. Agreed, it has many flaws and probably gained credibility before it was ready. That being said, it has grasped some things we love: a simple metric and competition. We love football because there’s one number that matters in the end. If all the little stats had to be considered and debated in order to determine the winner, we wouldn’t care. One simple number that matters and in the end determines who’s better, is something we can’t get enough of.

  12. I have to say I am not sold on clandestine methods of tracking, the “Don’t Look Behind the Curtain” style of rating where you get what you get and accept it for what it is.

    I’ve efedded before and I know you have to appeal to whomever is judging because those people matter the most. You’re opponent may hate your style and so could everyone else but if a few key people love it, you’re on top (forgive random wrestling reference, old habits die hard).

    All that said, it is much like Empire Avenue or any other site that tends to gamertize everything. What I want to see is HOW you came up with your rating, WHAT was the thought pattern or programming used to generate this and WHY it was determined that this goes here and the other goes there.

    I know it is all proprietary and a key feature in the marketing of Klout but I honestly can’t say I am influenced by the influence rating. I write short stories, flash fiction and whatever else comes to mind. If I have one person tell me they loved my writing, that’s much better (at least to me) than my current 65 rating (at least that is what it was two days ago).

    I agree, this bubble will burst and the pieces recovered will make an impressive system that will help us balance the social value and personal value we put in our writing/sharing/knowledge.

    Sorry, that rant was longer than I thought. I blame Klout possession. THE POWER OF KLOUT COMPELS YOU!

    1. Leif, your comment influenced me and I appreciate it. It is hard to trust something you don’t see (like their algorithm). I find it especially hard as I begin seeing more and more people I know and trust ranked so low on Klout.

      That’s how I know it’s wrong.

      It will burst and come back stronger, smarter, and more useful. For now it’s just like a game to me…

  13. I checked my Klout while waiting for this post to load. After I comment I am going to check it again.
    If my score isn’t high then I need to tweet some important people to make it higher.
    What did we do before Klout….okay seriously, we all love being ranked. 12 seems to be a number I dig :)

    Nice post Aaron.

  14. I agree that there are flawed aspects to the current rankings and the system can be gamed, but there are many other aspects of influence/authority that can and probably will be measured: certified credentials, speaking engagements, books authored, etc. Over time I would expect the Klout algorhythm to improve just as have the Google ones, etc. The promise behind Klout is you are no longer a an unquantifiable blogger vs offshore SEO poster in a sea of millions, I could easily see your Klout (or similar) vetter authority impacting your search rankings, value to your employed/clients, etc.

    Course maybe I’m just hopeful, I did own Webvan stock.

    Mary

    1. Mary, I think it will improve for sure once the bubble bursts and people step back and reassess. That’s why I compare it to the dot com bubble. Websites still made sense and had potential back in the late 90’s, just not as much as people said they did at the time. Webvan.com or Pets.com might be hugely successful today.

      Also, I agree that SEO may be affected by Klout someday. Artificial intelligence will drive so much in the future and Klout-like metrics will help drive that.

      We’ll have to see what happens.

  15. Some people might consider a changing position the equivalent of “flip flopping” but in this instance, I the change is the result of keeping an open mind. Sharing your change in stance is a sign of integrity and that’s something I respect. Kudos!

  16. I don’t care about numbers when it comes to soft metrics like influence. Reach/share of conversation/click thrus….yes. But I don’t care about my Klout….and it shows.

    Klout is way, way too easy to game anyways.

  17. I think we need some type of social media success measurements, Klout may or may not be the Great One. Remember the panic when Klout was down for an entire day? People can get too caught up in their Klout scores and not focusing on their actual reach and influence. That’s what I prefer to track, find me a better tool that does that, please.

  18. Klout is really a tool designed to increase addiction to social media. Hmm I’ve been working on a project so less FB time. Down a couple of points. Upload way too many grandson photos to FB, up ten and now a specialist in photography. Hmmm add a slew of contacts to linked-in. Down a notch.

    Yes it’s a bubble and yes, it may make some difference in the fields you mention, but is the elephant wearing any clothes. (Don’t ask where the elephant came from.)

  19. Perfect example… I’m a C-Level exec with a large circle of influence with focus. Yet, my wife has a higher Klout score – because all of her posts are generally about family/kids via Facebook with great reactions and feedback. Measuring influence is wonderful if Klout measured the influence of just one topic. Until it gets smarter, we need to be. Bottom line for me: if it’s not ringing the cash register then it’s not a top priority right now.

  20. You know my thoughts on this topic Aaron. It’s only one measurement in our bag of measurement tools. If we’re going to be looking at metrics we should focus on the metrics which validate if our content is working, are our methods working? Are we doing the right things both online and offline that is helping us meet our objectives.

    For our blogs it should be data such as unique visitors, bounce rates, time on site, top content, shared content, who’s sharing etc.

    As several have stated here it is impossible to measure influence. I believe we are truly in our infancy in regard to social media and influence measurement. Someday we will look back at the tools of today and laugh.

    What bugs me the most about Klout are two things. First is how easy it is to game. Second is when people let the influence scores drive their behavior online. If I avoided talking to people who had low Klout scores I’d be missing out on some of the best friends I have met online along with strategic biz partners.

    Glad to see you’re opening your mind to this Aaron. I respect you for sharing publicly. And yes, have to admit I do think you flip flopped a bit. However, you admit it and that’s good. We’re all learning and growing together. Trust me, I am sure i have flip flopped on several things and I am sure there will be more.

    My 2 cents.

    1. Thanks for your 2 cents Pam. As always, you have a brilliant way of breaking down complex issues like this one.

      I particularly like your thoughts on the “bag of measurement tools”, blog data, and letting me off the hook for my flip flopping. I did it…

      Thanks for the comment. I enjoyed it so much.

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