May 04

Much Ado About Nothing. Nothing To Do About Klout

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Usually I try to keep these posts about influence, more specifically online influence. Not today. This is all about shameless promotion of my company, one of our partners and

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some awesome work we recently completed for the Seattle International Film Festival which opens tonight with a modern take on Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”.



Apr 18

Full House Klout Memes. Just Because.

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I grew up on Full House. As children every Friday night my brother and I feverishly tuned into ABC’s TGIF to catch the latest episode. Blake also grew

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up on the show, however being born in 1985 (the first episode aired when he was two) he had

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couple of decades later we found ourselves reminiscing about our favorite TV family and thought “Let’s make some memes. Klout themed ones”. About 20 minutes later and here they are.

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May 14

Feel Good Klout Perk with a Flaw

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Last week I got an email from Klout offering me a Perk from American Airlines. Nice, I thought. Free anything from an airline would be pretty sweet. The offer was a free one-day pass to the American Airlines Admirals Club® Lounge. Not bad I thought again. It’s no free round trip ticket to Paris, but who am I fooling, I’m not that influential.

Screen Shot 2013-05-08 at 4.52.40 PM

I spend a lot of time flying between Seattle and Portland for business, so after collecting my perk in the form of a downloadable coupon I excitedly took to to see if I could use the voucher at either of my regular airports. While there are 37 Admirals Club locations worldwide, neither of which are in one of my most traveled cities.

While I enjoyed getting the Perk, I wont enjoy using it. Because I probably wont get the opportunity. If I were American Airlines or Klout, in this case I would have geotargeted the Perk to people residing in cities where the one-day passes are accepted, or perhaps to people influential in those

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locations, travel or other relevant topics.

You never know, maybe someday I’ll be in LA on business and take a nap and sip a gin and tonic at the Admirals Lounge. Until then I’ll just save the PDF coupon and dream.



Making A Movie, Doing Good With Influence

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Influence. Everybody’s got it, but in varying strengths and reach.

Bill Clinton = a lot, and wide reaching.

My neighbor Randy = a little, and none over his wife.

Rush Limbaugh = too much, and with too many people!

When people with influence use it to help others beautiful things can happen — like in the instance of Free Throw, a documentary film by my employer WDCW.

free_throwFree Throw
, now available free on Hulu was the brainchild and passion project of Court Crandall, Executive Creative Director and the “C” in WDCW. In this case Court us
ed his well earned influence (as described in this TED Talk) to help raise the profile of deserving students from Compton High School who may have otherwise gone unnoticed.

To secure financing Court went to his friends, many of them influential in

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Hollywood (he wrote the movie Old School, among other things) to raise the funds. Many calls, emails, power lunches and generous, generous people resulted in the movie being made, but more importantly some very smart kids with better GPAs than me got to go to college.

Now is your chance to do a little good this week. Watch this free film then do something nice

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for someone with less of a voice than you.





May 02

Original “Mad Man” on Leaving Madison...

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One of my professional heroes, Lester Wunderman, father of direct marketing and all around industry innovator is leaving Madison Avenue, but not the game. And not just him. The whole Young & Rubicam crew including Wunderman (my previous agency) and other WPP agencies just left the advertising mecca, Madison Avenue, for newer upscale digs at 3 Columbus Circle, just across the street form the Southernmost point of Central Park. Check out this video of Lester talking about the move, part one of a series about leaving their

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historic spot on the ave. Its the end of an era, but just another chapter for a 50+ year old agency that keeps on kicking ass.


Nov 15

Red Bull Klout Perk

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Two comments on this perk:

1) I love that Red Bull sent a four-pack of full sized product instead of coupons, other types of discounts or sample size. If a brand is going to tell someone they are special, doing so with a %15 off coupon just doesn’t cut it.

2) This is the first perk that I’ve received (I think) that wasn’t Klout branded. The note mentions Klout but doesn’t come with the standard note from Klout founder, Joe Fernandez. Not good or bad, just an

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Nov 11

The Sound of Silence is Worth Paying For

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It’s been a long time since my last post. Life has been busy. Life has been loud. September 13th marked the end of my nearly 6 years with Wunderman Seattle, a company I owe so much to and who rarely offered a dull moment. After taking off one business day I started at WDCW agency September 17th and was quickly introduced into a fury that is an advertising new business pitch (which we won!). As exciting as this can be, the long nights and working weekends leave little time to reflect, and thus little time for blogging.

Even vacations can leave little time for relaxation. I recently spent 3 nights vacationing in New York City. Nothing is relaxing about New York City. Not even a vacation and especially in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Now I find myself sitting on a couch, looking out over the calm waters of Orcas Island at the beautiful Rosario Resort. This is silence. This is relaxation. I like this. The only sounds I do hear are the crackling from a fireplace and the occasional rustling of leaves that come courtesy of an ocean fresh gust of wind. Interestingly enough, this little mansion turned resort was built as a result of Seattle millionaire shipbuilder Robert Moran’s terminal diagnosis. He was given two years to live. After retiring and moving to the island he lived another 40 years, and died at the age of 83. It turned out he was simply a victim of work related stress. Moran paid millions for silence and it saved

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his life.

Coming off the recent political election with recent of money was spent on advertising and daily, polarized Facebook rants it’s been hard to escape and find silence, even on the internet. This is the first time I’ve managed to do it in a while.

Social media and other forms of digital marketing are becoming even more invasive that traditional advertising in my opinion. Maybe because I’ve come to expect television ads and billboards? Maybe because they TV ads have become a form of entertainment? What I know for sure is that constant email SPAM and unwanted offers clogging my social media timelines are getting tired. I applaud companies and services like Klout that don’t sell their customer data and don’t spam their lists. Bravo to you. Companies that provide value will get people to come to them for content, not the other way around.

This relaxing weekend was proof to me that people will pay for silence. I am right now. And as a marketer I’ll do my best to only provide consumers with messages that are relevant to them, not too often, and maybe sometimes not at all. In the words of the “turn off your damn cell phone” pre-movie messages – “ Silence is golden”. True that.




Sep 29

Klout + Bing = Win Win

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The following is a guest post by SEO extraordinaire, Stephen Hall.

bing klout logosMicrosoft’s Bing has recently announced a partnership deal and investment in Klout. A lot of people may be wondering why. Here is one explanation. Klout, like Bing and Google, tries to create some yardstick for authority. Each is looking to understand what is the most authoritative page, video, picture, news article, and yes, person, for any given topic.

I have written before about the way that search is evolving to include social sharing as a signal for search algorithms, but the problem is that currently, search engines seem to make the assumption that you trust your whole network equally as an authority on ALL topics. And this, simply, is not true. The point is that not everyone in my network is trusted by me equally on all subjects, and this is where Klout’s usefulness in search could come in – it could allow Microsoft to understand what topics any given user in a network is authoritative on (if famously inaccurate…), so when I search for a new TV, only the opinions of those in my network that post regularly and are deemed to be authoritative on TVs would be delivered to me, rather than my long lost cousin who just posted that there was “nothing good on TV”. The interesting part is that Klout stand to gain too – their understanding of influence / authority will be influenced by the search volume data they get from Bing, which will allow them to understand who is important, that does not have a lot of social activity.

For instance, Warren Buffett is not active in social media, but with Bing data, they can understand that he is still an important influencer, as people are searching for him by name. As such, Klout improves it’s scoring algorithm, as it accounts for people with real-world clout

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that are not active in social media.

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For now, the Bing integration seems to be more focused on delivering those with “Klout” on topics overall, rather than specifically aiming at people within your network, but that, to me, is the next step that makes personalized social search really advantageous – although you probably want the ‘real’ experts too.

Bing should be able to deliver improved results – or at least give justification in the form of a Klout score – to their social authority selections. And Klout will reap the benefits of the treasure-trove of Bing data to better understand influence overall. Time will tell if Klout can tune their algorithm enough to be effective at delivering the authoritative person on a topic in each network, but for now, it seems like an interesting partnership with the ability to improve both products – hey, isn’t that what partnership is all about?

My verdict: Win-Win.

What do you think?

Stephen Hall


Aug 16

Get a Raise at #SXSW

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What? Ya. @abelmind and I are up for a speaking gig at the 2013 South by Southwest Interactive Conference. What about? Well, we’re planning to share some tips, tricks, and tactics to get you more visibility in your workplace and/or industry. Check out the SXSW Interactive Panel Picker and if you like what we’ve got to say, give us a vote. We’d truly appreciate it.

View and vote here:


Garth & Blake


Aug 14

Klout Announces 3 Major Updates – New...

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Today Klout released what may be its biggest update since the site launched back in 2009. Yes, even bigger than “Kloutpocalypse” or whatever you want to call it. Last week @abelmind and I spoke with company founder Joe Fernandez to get the scoop. Here’s what we found out – There are three major updates, aiming to address user feedback in regards to the accuracy of the algorithm, transparency, and those unpredictable and often comical topics.

barack obama bieber klout scoresFirst, there has been a significant update to the algorithm, so significant in fact that Justin Bieber has been dethroned as the reigning top Klout getter to President Barack Obama, and not just by a point or two. The US President now weighs in with a hefty 99 Klout score while America’s favorite teenage heartthrob has dropped to 91. More importantly, Seattle’s #1 heartthrob, yours truly, jumped from 60 to 67! So, Joe, what’s the deal? “We have gone from 100 signals we measure to over 400, and added a new source, Wikipedia…+k has also been added to the overall score” said Fernandez. This update was partially in response to many detractors claiming the algorithm failed to accurately measure influence due to social

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networks like Facebook and Twitter’s inability to measure offline influence. Of course Wikipedia is online, but it does help round out the score by counting inbound links, and how often it’s updated and other inputs from the site’s API. Adding +K to the score is another attempt to measure offline influence, but for now I have to disagree with this move. I think many of the other updates Klout has made to the site and algorithm help limit the “gaming” of Klout, and I see this as a step in the wrong direction. Maybe it’s just me? Let me know in the comments.

After doing a little (emphasis on a little) snooping around on the new site, I haven’t come across any friends or colleagues with scores that have dropped, quite the contrary actually. They’ve all gone up and by more than just a few points. My sneaking suspicion is that Klout is trying to raise the average scores of average people (like you and me) to make

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them feel better about themselves, resulting in more time spent with the site, and a more favorable sentiment towards it. It will be interesting to see what the fallout is (or isn’t) with this update. I doubt Bieber will care, but I’m sure if the scores of any “social media gurus/experts/mavens” out there go down we won’t hear the end of it. Let us know in the comments how your score has been affected.

klout social interaction layoutNext, in an attempt to address the transparency issue, Klout has made a very visual update to the site that now shows users in a Facebook timelinesque layout their “social interactions over the past 90 days”. This allows people to see each action they have taken on social media that has resulted in other people taking an action. Got it? No? Let’s say you post a picture of your three year old and nobody comments, likes, or shares the pic. Is it because your baby is ugly? I can’t be sure without seeing the picture, but I can say with certainty that it’s not going to raise your Klout score. But when you tweet a pic of your meaty pasta bolognaise and you get 50 retweets and 10 replies, Klout will show this to you in chronological order with your other influential social actions. I see this update making people come back to Klout more often, and for different purposes based on personal preference. The most obvious and pure purpose is to see what content is creating the most action. I’ve gotta head to work in a minute, so I’ll take the easy road out of this paragraph and end with a quote from Joe, “What’s special are the things you say, the conversations you create, we wanted to highlight that.” Well put, eh?

klout topicsWhile looking at

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the new site and talking to Mr. Fernandez I saw another update

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(see image to the right) that got me excited (really!). I asked Joe, “Hey Joe (in Jimi Hendrix voice), over there on the right, are you now allowing people to approve their topics before they go live?” “We want to give people more control over their influence…we’re giving you control to add them [topics] yourself” he told us. While this is the most simple update of the bunch, Klout’s move to hand over control of what topics are associated with a user’s profile TO THE USER will be very welcomed I’m sure, accept of course by those dreaded Klout Bombers.

In closing, as a marketer I don’t see anything but upside with this release. They should fend off many of the haters with the topics control. The algorithm in my opinion will always be argued, so the only thing Klout can do there is continue to do what they’re doing. That is tweak it like crazy and continue their hiring spree of crazy smart scientists (have you ever looked at their job board?). Assuming the updates don’t tank in the eye of the tech / developer communities we should see more use of the API, which excites me a ton. The

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social interactions feed should get people to the site more often, which is good for Klout Perks, and should also help strengthen Klout’s brand and give it more acceptance beyond social geeks and the Bay area. Speaking of Klout Perks, I’m interested to see if Klout targets this program as well with their Brand Pages in the next major public release.

So, what do you think of all this? Will you boycott Klout again or spend more time on the site checking out your social interactions feed?


Garth Knutson


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