In Defense of Klout

Lego Elite I’ve watched Klout evolve over the years from a cute little Twitter hack to a real startup business with VC funding. Lately there’s been some recent backlash to Klout’s approach, their claims, their marketing and their business model. (You can see more links that I’ve collected here http://bit.ly/KloutBundle.)

FULL DISCLOSURE: Waggener Edstrom, where I work, have slightly competitive products like Twendz Pro. I say that it’s competitive only in that we have our own metrics and measurement for Influence not that they’re the same kind of tool.

Approach:

I understand, and don’t disagree with, most of the concerns and complaints that people have about Klout. But I would like to put some things in perspective. Klout put themselves out there. They put a stake in the ground and did something that people (mostly marketers) really, really wanted: a way to measure influence. Is it a perfect measurement? Hell no. There is no perfect measurement of influence. There never has been and there never will be.

Claims:

Klout is providing a service based on metrics and analytics. You may or may not agree with their terms but that’s semantics (literally). No one likes to ranked and scored, even if you get a high ranking. No one will ever agree on that so I don’t think Klout should pay too much attention. You can’t make everyone happy.

Marketing:

To the point some are making is around their approach with Klout Perks. Why do people have a problem with it? Just read their line about Perks:

Klout believes that influencers deserve to be treated special. Register for Klout now to see what perks you are eligible for.

It’s a popularity contest. It’s one PR and social media are built around but we don’t say it quite that bluntly.

Business Model:

I don’t know but I can almost guarantee that PR and marketing pros are already using Klout’s score to identify influencers to give them rewards and perks.  Why shouldn’t Klout get the benefit of brokering that relationship? They have a robust API and a lot of partners who are using Klout in their services. They’re a startup, I say they need to go after whatever they can get.

Finally I would just reiterate that I am just really, really glad that there are companies out there putting a stake in the ground and coming up with other metrics marketers can use beyond the CPM! We may not agree with everything about the way companies like Klout are approaching metrics but I for one think it’s better than CPM.

Photo credit by tuxstorm

About Tac Anderson

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.
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  • http://richardrbecker.com/ Rich Becker

    Tac,

    I think if they called it a popularity/activity contests, mostly confined to Twitter, which is what it is, no one would have much to say about it. The issue most people have is that it claims to measure influence when it does not.

    Best,
    Rich

  • http://tedweismann.posterous.com/ Ted Weismann

    I attended one of Klout’s meetups this week and had a really good conversation with Megan Berry of Klout. I brought up the fact that the echo chamber has been throwing darts at them, of which she was well aware (of course). To your point about putting a stake in the ground, she said they welcome the chatter and made it clear to me they are taking it all into account. She was the first to admit it’s not perfect and all the criticism helps them make it better.

    To me as a PR pro, Klout is ONE data point — one of many — to help understand relative influence of those individuals that matter to my clients, whether they are customers, partners, industry experts, etc. There are others, including more subjective data points based upon actual interaction.

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  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    Exactly! Klout scores are A data point.

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    Yeah but that’s not very compelling from a marketing stand point :)

  • http://twitter.com/geoffliving Geoff Livingston

    I have been one of the larger critics of Perks, not as a market offering, I think that’s fine. My issue with it is when professional communicators like you or me take them and then tout Klout. Without necessarily vetting other solutions such as Twendz Pro and by possibly losing objectivity and definitely losing credibility (even with disclosure, IMO) in this manner, these communicators hurt the industry. So, communicators should tout Klout if they want to, and for many a good reason stated here, but not because they got Perks. That’s the issue…

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    I actually totally agree with that. I don’t think communicators should take part in marketing/influencer campaigns. I think it’s a conflict of interest professionally, regardless of client or employer. Kind of like journalists not taking monetary rewards.

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  • http://richardrbecker.com/ Rich Becker

    Yeah, I suppose they could say all their office molding is lined with gold too. But you know. :)

  • http://www.sharelomer.com SharelOmer

    Thanks Tac, social media marketing ROI is hot and tools who measure influence and engagement are getting more and more needed.

    The thing with Klout is that it gives a rank relative to all twitter users, no MY users… Are you familiar with such a service, who analyze my twitter followers and give me the top influencers in relation to my community ?

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