Yes, yes, yes I know… just a few short weeks ago I wrote about Klout and generally supported them — not so much pleased with what they do, and how they do it, but acknowledging their ability to market themselves and make Klout relevant.

But since then things have changed.  I have watched my Klout score, and many others, go up and down almost by the day, and then they had another big “glitch” this past weekend, all of which really shook their credibility with me and many other Klout users.

While the volatility has been frustrating (and by this point, quite frankly, ridiculous), it’s not what disturbs me the most.  I’m more upset about the way Klout is handling their communication in the social arena about this issue… or as it seems to be right now, NOT handling it.  I did get one response from Klout when I tagged them in one of my Facebook comments, but this can hardly be called explanation… much less engagement:

Klout: Hey Ted, the issue this morning (https://support.klout.com/customer/portal/articles/262929-12-3-facebook-score-issue) only happened today, we’re happy to help you with any other issue you’re having if you email us at [email protected] Thank you!”

In my opinion, Klout is falling into one of the most dangerous traps for a company in the social media sphere – NOT BEING SOCIAL!  They need to be PUBLICLY transparent, upfront, and authentic about what is happening, even if the “issue” (especially if the “issue”) is that Klout is struggling as they try to wrap their arms around social influence measurement and figure this out for the rest of us.

Ironically, the one way that Klout might be able to save credibility is by admitting what their current weaknesses truly are.  There’s no excuse for hiding behind the label of “Beta” any more, especially when Klout has been claiming their scores to be “The  Standard for Influence.”  Better yet – this line from the Klout website: “When we’re measuring your influence there’s no room for error.”

I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Kelby Carr, social media consultant, SEO expert and founder of Type-A Parents, said in one of her Facebook comments:

“…there were new tweets every few seconds this morning complaining about Klout, yet no response from their Twitter account. We would trash any business that didn’t respond like that, but a business IN social media? Astounding.”

Klout should take lessons from one of their Advisory Board members, John Nosta, who jumped right into the Facebook discussion and quickly did one thing that Klout has yet to do:  HE ASKED FOR FEEDBACK, requesting commenters to “post specific questions” for him to take to Klout, followed by this:

John J. Nosta Follow me on twitter for more updates. I’m in contact with Klout all the time. I would love to echo your concerns. @johnnosta

John is a great example of what I mean when I talk about the need to engage… while being authentic and transparent.  I thanked him for his attention and responses, and he shared this – publicly on Facebook:

John J. Nosta My pleasure Ted!!! I am pissed too!! My Klout score was the same as my some dabblers with 80 FB friends and almost no twitter activity. My clients and peers felt that my clout was no longer valid and the whole thing was Krap!! (my use of “k”).

I will try to figure it out and post.

Maybe a blog entry?

Warm regards,

John

So, thank you, John – I hope the folks at Klout learn from you!

Another, possibly even bigger issue I have with Klout is there seems to be a conflict of interest as Klout earns their revenue as a Marketing/Agency business, so how can they be the ones measuring influence for everyone else?  It seems a little like the wolves guarding the hen house!  The continuing fluctuation of the scores just makes it seem even more possible that there is too close of a connection between Klout’s revenue and their scoring algorithms.

I do understand, however, that it “is” difficult to break new ground and devise a method for analyzing something like social influence.  I still applaud Klout for stepping up to such a huge task and making a strong attempt.  Unfortunately, their social silence in the face of issues has made it difficult for me to keep applauding them.

What I (and others) would love to see… Klout being acquired by a solid analytics company like Webtends or Nielsen, giving them the chance to become a true measurement resource.  The fact that there are so many conversations going on about Klout issues shows that there is a huge need for a reliable measurement of social influence!   I just don’t see that Klout, as a stand-alone entity, has a chance of giving us that.

I’m eager to see where this all ends up – what are your predictions?

 

P.S. You can read the complete Facebook comment threads I reference from last weekend here:

On my wall

On the Klout wall

On Kelby Carr’s wall

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