In 1999, while we were still riding the up-curve of the dotcom boom, the industry was full of frenzied talk about the launch of Boo.com. This exciting technological revolution would propel online shopping into the 21st century, we were promised. The resultant site collapsed because of that very same technology being too hard to use and making the site so cumbersome that it never got out of the starting gates. Millions of dollars of investment went down the pan and hundreds of people were laid off.
Today, we no longer fall for fanciful stories of future success without proof of concept. The bursting dotcom bubble taught us that, but we are experiencing a new kind of bubble where emperors are appearing with their new clothes in the form of big players that will ultimately fall down.
I nominate Klout as one of these. The website shows you how influential you are across different social networks. In principle it’s a nice idea, but in execution it is hopelessly flawed. The Twitter account of Big Ben Clock is, according to Klout, highly influential about drugs. Why? Because the only thing Big Ben Clock ever posts is the word “bong”.
When the US Masters golf tournament was on this year, Klout told me I was highly influential about US Masters, despite the fact that I had never mentioned the tournament, or golf. The link was in my surname.
Aside from the scoring system on Klout being iffy, another problem is its reliance on a defined list of social networks, excluding others and individual blogs. Many influential journalists who haven’t even heard of Klout are now ignored by PR companies who have fallen for the notion that a Klout score is THE measure of importance.
Klout, though, creates profiles for people who haven’t even heard of it. If you retweet something by someone who is a Klout member, Klout then gives that person a score. So it’s full of people with low scores. Why? Because those people aren’t interacting with Klout – nothing to do with them being influential or not.
A growing number of commentators are cynical about Klout, going as far as to say it’s worthless as a measure of influence. I think either Klout needs to improve its methodology or it will die, to be remembered (just like Boo.com) as being ahead of its time.
- More proof that Klout is ridiculous (Monty’s Outlook)
- Nope, I still could not care less about your Klout score (Heliade.net)
- Klout gets clobbered for tweaks to scoring system (Internet Revolution)