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.
First, 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 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 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.
Next, 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?
While looking at the new site and talking to Mr. Fernandez I saw another update (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 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?