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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Analysis: Offline Influence is Deeper Than Online Klout

Spoiler Alert: If you base your entire self worth on your Klout score, you may want to read something else.  Try these instead.

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Klout says I’m less influential the past few weeks because my focus has been on some new projects and the opening talk I’m presenting at a conference tomorrow.  I haven’t been tweeting much.

Am I less influential?

It appears as though I have to choose between offline and online influence.  If I have to decide, I’d like to give this some thought tonight.

Here’s what I’m seeing:

  • Online influence can affect offline relationships.
  • It doesn’t seem to go the other way as effectively.
  • Most business leaders I know aren’t blogging or using Twitter and Facebook.
  • My influence with them has no effect on my online influence.  The worlds are very separate.

If you accept that we each have only 24 hours a day, then it is necessary to choose what we do with our time (scarcity).  Should we focus on building online Klout or offline influence?

Let’s look at one situation:

I’ll use the example of Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE and author of several top business leadership books.  He has been one of the most influential people in the business community for years.

I know with 100% certainty that I am NOT more influential or important than Jack.  I laughed when I saw this:

Is that how Jack and I “stack up” in the offline world?  Do I really have 19% more influence than Jack Welch?

Nope.

Would I rather have his offline influence?  Would I prefer to get $100,000 speaking fees and million dollar advances on my next book?

Or, would I rather have a higher Klout score?

Definitely not.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, but here are four conclusions I’m coming to:

  • I always give up some online influence when I focus on offline relationships
  • I give up an lower proportion of offline influence when I focus on online relationships
  • I make more money from offline relationships
  • Many of the most influential people I know have lower Klout scores than me

After looking at the issue, it looks like we’re wasting time online when we could be building more lucrative offline relationships with people who aren’t on Twitter or Facebook much.  Why are people like me so focused on Klout scores?  It looks like higher online influence means lower offline influence.

Do I feel conflicted because there’s a score for online influence and no “Standard for Influence” in the offline relationship world?  I still believe Klout scores matter.  When people are keeping score, I like to win.  It’s why I like business so much.

However, I have yet to book a speaking engagement or new consulting project because of my Klout score.  Even though I’m now less influential online, hopefully my “real life” influence goes up tomorrow morning.

Wish me luck!

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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5 Discoveries About the New Klout Topic Pages (Screenshots)

If you’ve never heard of Klout, click here for my thoughts on why it should matter to you.  There is plenty of debate, but I think Klout matters for leaders, teachers, and anyone who sells ideas through the internet.

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Klout allowed me to preview the new “Topic Pages” this morning and here’s what I discovered along with my predictions about it’s impact.  I’d love to get your feedback.

To help with the discussion, I grabbed some screenshots (below). While browsing, I discovered that according to Klout I have the honor of being the #2 most influential person about Justin Bieber.  

Please don’t click off because of that.  It’s not my fault.  

Others are accidently influential too. In fact, Danny Brown is so influential in sheep, he was able to leverage his Klout score to land a huge interview on “Talk is Sheep” hosted by Dino Dogan.

Maybe I can now get an interview with Dino too?

Anyway, let’s get back on track. Here’s what I discovered this morning.

Five Discoveries About Klout Topic Pages:

1. Limited Relevance for Major Topics:

The lists are not very deep.  The new topic pages will only matter to a select few people and the PR/Marketing firms looking to target those people.  Only 10 people make the top list for each topic and there are no real subtopics (i.e. “Video Blogging” as a subtopic of the huge “Blogging” category)

2. Limited Number of Available Topics

My understanding is that topics are driven by advertising objectives at Klout headquarters.  It’s their site and they can do what they want.  However, I am surprised to see that Leadership is no longer a topic that anyone is influential in.  Too bad for leadership bloggers.

3. Potentially Positive Impact on Niche Topics

If you are a niche blogger or tweeter, you may find the topic pages helpful when looking for validation.  Danny Brown may be approached to give a speech about sheep. I might be asked to write a book about Justin Bieber.  Unfortunately, if you write about ultra small niches (such as leadership?), you’re out of luck.

4. New Content Discovery

If you write or share a really great article about a specific topic (and it gets reactions), you may be discovered by anyone browsing the topic page that features it. I’m curious to see how well it works.  We’ll see if it offers another alternative to content hotspots like Stumbleupon, Digg, etc.

5. +K Votes Don’t Help You Make the “Top Influencers” List

My friend and founder of Bundlepost, Robert Caruso, made the top 10 most influential in “Klout”, however he had no +K’s for Klout until I gave him one. The little meter was nearly empty. Writing a couple great blogs about the topic was enough.

 

The Announcement

When you log in, you’ll see something like this when it goes live.  All topics will then be clickable with a link to the new topic pages feature.

 

 

 

The Best Content Tab

Not only is Klout featuring the most influential people about each topic, but they are featuring the most influential content about each topic as well.

In this case (see below), they’re featuring Danny Brown’s rant against Klout on the Klout topic page.  Nice to see they aren’t censoring yet.

It’s also interesting to see who was influenced about each piece of content. Obviously they have some bugs to work out because I doubt only one person was influenced by the featured content.  In some cases, I saw featured content that had no one in the “influenced” column.

 

 

The Top Influencers Tab

PR and marketing firms are very interested in knowing who would be a good person to endorse or share their product.  This is Klout’s answer.

Looking around at various topics, it seemed to be fairly accurate about the serious topics.

Here’s where I learned that I’m second only in “Justin Bieber influence” to Mr. Bieber himself.  It’s too bad I’m not a teen girl.  I’d be in heaven! (You can see I have some friends who think they are extremely funny)


 

Visit the 8pm Warriors Facebook page if you’d like to see the top 10 most influential people for Blogging, Marketing, Klout, Politics, Social Media, and Technology. I uploaded multiple screenshots and I’d love to spark a discussion. Are these really the right 10 for each topic?

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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King Klout and Why Its Power Makes Me Nervous

This post takes a deep look at Klout.com, which aims to be a credit score type metric of online influence.  If you haven’t heard of a Klout score before (or hate Klout), first read my post about why Klout scores matter.  I do believe the topic will affect all 8pm Warriors to some degree.  It’s hard to lead without influence.

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We are giving Klout a lot of power.  A lot of time.  A lot of credibility.

Klout scores matter because we believe they matter, and the momentum is only growing stronger. They have something very powerful.

Now I’m getting nervous about it.

It all started when I noticed that my topics and endorsements (+K votes) on Klout.com disappeared last night.

I was not alone.

Glitches happen in online businesses and they usually get fixed.  Since I make mistakes too, I tried to move on.

However, this morning I had a brief conversation with Megan Berry (Marketing guru from Klout) on Twitter.  She told me it was normal that several of my topics and +K endorsements had disappeared and that I could always “get more”.

I wasn’t buying it.

I got irritated and ran my mouth a bit (sorry Megan).  Why tell us this is normal when it was clearly screwed up?  A lot of my friends had no topics or any of the +K endorsements I gave them recently.

When I give someone an endorsement on a topic, I expect it to be there.  Otherwise I am wasting time.

Believe it or not, but people are taking time out of their day to show appreciation, support, and respect to others that influence them and they’re using Klout to do it.  Instead of sending an email, letter, or phone call of appreciation, some are actually using the +K feature to send a quick note of thanks.  I do that myself sometimes.

With the disappearing topics and +K endorsements last night, I think many people felt cheated and angry that their interactions were erased without warning.  I know that’s how I felt.
Here’s what I said.

Since I wrote a complimentary section about Megan Berry and Klout in my last post, I was embarrassed that this was taking place right before my eyes.  It seemed like a cover up and others were calling/texting/tweeting with me about it because they were irritated too.

I was wrong.

Megan sent me this email explaining what happened (Disclosure:  I let her know I would be using her response in my post):

You’re right, this was something different today. We were experimenting with new ways to display +K’s.  All of the +K’s are backed up and we will be restoring them soon. Sorry for the confusion, we definitely appreciate your support. Let me know if you have any other q’s I can answer.

-Megan

Sounds like case closed right?

Apparently not.  Later in the day, I noticed that my Klout scores took a rather unprecedented dive after my negative tweets in the morning.

I’m not going to say that my Klout scores took a hit because I was saying something negative about Klout.com.  That would be crazy.

But what if it was true?

 

What’s anyone going to do about it?  Absolutely nothing.

This matters if you are focused on social media or online marketing for a career. Klout scores matter when selling yourself as a consultant.  A reduced Klout score may pose a problem, just like a reduced FICO credit score poses a problem for anyone looking to get the best rates on a new mortgage.

One of my friends (Albert Qian) who does social media consulting  is labeled a “Dabbler” by Klout, even though he has 15,000 tweets.  That’s quite the dabbler!

Who wants to hire a social media “dabbler” to help them with social media?

No one.

Who has helped Albert with this?

No one.  (Even though I’ve asked)

Who can keep them from abusing their newly acquired power to punish people who tweet or write blogs criticizing Klout?

No one.

This is why I’m nervous.

This is powerful stuff and growing by the day!  In 10 or 15 years, many some positions (sales, marketing, leadership, etc.) will be hired in some way based on scores like the ones found on Klout.com.  Sure, it might be PeerIndex, Tweetgrader, or even Empire Avenue instead, but it will be something.

Some are already screening candidates this way because the next step in the evolution of the web is taking the data from billions of tweets, posts, and updates to aggregate and evaluate them to improve the ways businesses and savvy leaders make decisions.

Let’s be proactive!

Klout should self regulate themselves, work to correct errors like incorrectly calling someone a Dabbler, and avoid making manual adjustments to someone’s score.

If that doesn’t work, then regulations may need to be put in place as more people use Klout scores to make decisions.  It’s no different than credit scores, except controlling someone’s reputation is probably more significant.

Maybe we need to start using an average of scores, similar to how banks use three credit bureaus.  Maybe we need three influence bureaus?

I don’t have all the answers but I sure would love your thoughts on this matter.

Congrats.  You made it to the end.

Have a great night!

Aaron@Biebert

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