5 Primary Problems with Klout

Alex Rodriguez Delivers a Home Run Against the Orioles

Update: Klout CEO Joe Fernandez commented below and has asked to set up time on Tuesday morning at 11 a.m. EST to chat. Kudos to Mr. Fernandez for a great and prompt response.

As Klout gains steam online, the market needs to examine the platform’s actual merits, instead of buying its marketing program. Ace Blogger Conversation Agent Valeria Maltoni has decided to up the ante on her blog and rightly so.

This week, the DC Klout-up was an interesting get together of local digerati, but lacked any program or substance, and instead relied on free Pop Chips. What was hyped as Klout coming to DC turned into nothing more than a tweet-up. And this empty feeling, matches much of Klout’s actual delivery on influence measurement.

Here are five problems that have arisen with Klout:

1) It lacks qualitative analysis, and instead is an algorithm based formula that doesn’t accurately measure relationships and their ability to sway particular communities of interest. Anyone who has done a content scan online for influencers and has to manually qualify those posts and interactions will affirm that the devil is always in the details.

2) Speaking of details, from a qualitative perspective, it’s a broken algorithm that doesn’t work. So many people are supposedly influenced by people they barely mention. See Klout versus reality. Further, even with Facebook integration, Klout is still too Twitter centric.

3) The problem with Klout’s use by business lies in what makes it popular. The first of these is as friend Susan Murphy so well pointed out, it tells people what they want to hear. They are an influencer, they matter, providing outside affirmation for inside needs. We all want to be important, but marketing self esteem to people to prop a platform doesn’t necessarily match reality, per items one and two. Worse, it seems predatory to some extent.

4) The marketing of Klout is extremely questionable. In addition to people touting their esteemable rankings, the primary marketing revolves around buying people with Perks, plane tickets and tweet-ups/parties. What this fails to do is demonstrate that the influence metrics actually work. Instead, a dot com like bubble is being built around hype and Perks.

5) Criticism has not been met with substance. Whether it’s critiques of parties held by PR representatives or more importantly, criticism of its platform, the response from Klout has been returned comments (and very polite ones, to Klout’s credit), increased scores, Perks, or in the worst cases, affliliated influencer’s cries of self righteousness.

Klout definitely wants to be the primary influence measure in the marketplace. And as such, it has an opportunity to really hold that position. Its marketing has helped it achieve that place, right or wrong.

But this marketing will hit a wall in the very near future as more people look at the actual platform. For every person that touts Klout, there are three questioning it. That was a big takeaway from the DC Klout-up.

To actually cement its place, Klout will have to stop dodging criticism, and focus on brass tacks. Klout needs to resolve issues around its actual product so that it meets the promise it offers the marketplace. That includes positioning itself as a qualitative measure, and resolving issues with its algorithm.

Openly discussing and achieving a strong product development road map would be a great start. Klout also may want to consider tightening the ethics around its marketing practices, add some more meat to the marketing which supports the actual platform, and affiliate with spokespeople that have less of a personal branding axe to tout. This combination could provide the grand slam Klout seems to want.