Tag Archives: Klout

Does A High Klout Score Mean That Your Tweets Are “Good”?

For the past week, I’ve been grousing over Michael Arrington’s sudden about-face in regards to the website Klout.  For years now, Arrington has been happy to relegate Klout to the pile of irrelevance, and I was in agreement with him.  But then he released this blog post last week that not only says he “likes” Klout now, but he’s also invested in the company.  I lamented so much that I spent 20 minutes complaining about it on last Saturday’s show.  I then called into Michelle Ray’s show last night and lamented again.

The reason is this, and it’s a simple one:  Klout cannot determine whether tweets are “good” or not, and a lot of people seem to get the idea that it can.  The service claims to measure how much influence you have, but all it really does is measure how many people reply to you on a social network site.

Users might think that a high Klout score means that they’re important or influential or that they say really good things, but all it really means is that people respond to them on sites like Twitter and Facebook.  And in a lot of ways, it rewards bad behavior.

Don’t believe me?  Below is the Klout score of a notorious (and some would say racist) troll on Twitter.  This is a man who has a relatively small number of followers, and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks he contributes anything “good” to Twittter, but he has a higher score than most people I follow, and it’s only ten points off of the highest scored Conservative tweeters I know.  He did this by insulting pretty much anyone he comes across and watching his Klout score climb as they respond to his vitriol.  It’s just that easy.

 

 

This is not to say that the only way to attain a high Klout score is to spam and insult people; there are plenty of good folks on social media who contribute good things and are rewarded everyday, but it is dangerous, if not reckless to conflate high(er) Klout scores with good tweeting, or even good behavior.  We have to use our brains and try to keep track of the worthwhile tweeters, ourselves.  We can’t just assume that high scores equal good contributors.

It’s not just trolls you have to consider, either.  Another reason that Klout can’t be trusted as the end all be all and arbiter of who is a good tweeter is that it has no way of knowing which tweeters have been blacklisted.  I discussed blacklisting of tweeters on Saturday’s show, but I can offer some examples here too.

Simply put, when well known or influential tweeters want to shut down someone they see as a rival, they often put out ultimatums to their followers to not retweet, follow, or reply to certain people.  While I primarily spend time in Conservative circles on Twitter, it’s not just politics where this happens.  Just today, I saw a comedian discussing how comedians put the same kind of pressure on people in their circles to freeze rival comedians out.  I’m sure this takes place in plenty of demographics on social media, but Klout has no way of knowing when this has happened to someone.  As such, Klout can never be trusted as a tool to point you to the “good” people on social media.  It can only point you to who is “popular”.  And a lot of people have become “popular” by either trolling or being manipulative.  Again, a higher Klout score does not mean that the person or their content is any “good”.

So what do we do?  Should we dismiss Klout altogether?  That’s a tough question.  Because even if Klout did perfectly determine who was providing good content, you’d be doing yourself, and everyone else, a disservice by using it to discriminate in favor of or against people based solely on a Klout score.  In my gut, I feel that there could be good uses for a site like Klout, but when pressed to tell you some of what they might be, I come up empty.  So, as things stand, I can’t recommend the use of Klout as tool for determining good tweeters or content, but I’m not ready to completely give up on the site either.  My advice is to take Klout scores with a grain of salt, or better yet, a ten pound bag.  We still have to determine where good content is coming from for ourselves.

Klout, Retweets, and Why Neither One Really “Matters”

KLOUT

At the bottom of this post is a link to listen to a segment from last Saturday’s episode of Married to the Game.  This segment discusses thoughts on Klout and Twitter and old school “RT’s” versus the “new retweet”.
The text in this post is meant as a supplement to flesh out some of the thoughts shared in that segment.  While this post, in its whole, is designed for you to both read the text and listen to the audio, it is possible to take something away from just doing one or the other.  Feel free to read and/or listen at your leisure.

A curious change has been taking place on Twitter over the past six months.  It used to be that in Conservative circles on Twitter, when people wanted to stand out, they would try to make sound and logical arguments, and they would interact with as many people as they could to share them.  It was the very definition of grassroots, and that mentality is one reason that I believe Conservatives were able to so soundly defeat Progressives in the midterm elections.  For lack of a better term, Twitter was organic, and most of the discussions felt natural.  But as with most good things, it seems that that more natural order of Twitter is in danger of coming to an end.

And who do I blame?
FavStar and
Klout

I say FavStar, but that might not be fair.  It’s more like the “FavStar” mentality.  And what is FavStar, you might ask?  It’s a handy website that tells you which of your tweets have been favorited and/or retweeted.  It also has a counter to tell you how many times each tweet has received this treatment.  While FavStar is tremendously popular on Twitter as a whole, it’s very rare that you’ll see someone of the #TCOT persuasion actually invoke the name of this service.  While they don’t say “FavStar”, specifically, they do seem to put a lot of stock into the statistics that FavStar tracks, such as favorites and retweets.

While “FavStar” may not be in the average Conservative’s lexicon, Klout, most likely, is.  Klout is a service that tries to determine how influential of a personality on social media you are.  You sign into it with your various social media accounts, and it spits out a number that tells you how “important” you are.  It sounds like I’m being facetious, but if you listen to an excerpt from my radio show below, you’ll see that having a high Klout score can grant you special privileges like renting luxury cars for “free”.

So, why would Conservatives want you to pay attention to their Klout scores or how many times they’ve been retweeted?  To put it shortly, there are THOUSANDS, if not tens of thousands of Conservatives on Twitter vying to have their voices heard.  A few years ago, it was fairly easy to follow all of the really “good” Conservative tweeps and not be overwhelmed.  But today, you can follow nearly 2000 tweeters and still be missing out on solid voices.  It gets to a point where you simply cannot keep up with it all.  And a lot of influential tweeters know this.  So they tell you that they are the ones you should listen to, and their high Klout scores or the number of times they’ve been retweeted are proof of this.

The problem is that, while they are trying to find a way to distinguish themselves, they’re practically knocking the ladder down before other good tweeters can reach a similar point of prominence that they enjoy.  Now there is a small catch to this:  Prominent people who have been trying to knock the ladder down *do* help some smaller tweeters up the ladder.  The problem is that they are generally only willing to help someone up who basically parrots their views.  They do this for two reasons:
1.  Brown nosing has been the quickest path to the top since the dawn of time.
2.  They create more power for themselves in the process.  The person who parrots them knows where their meal ticket is, so they will continue to parrot the prominent tweeter’s views effectively “forever”.  And the more influence this smaller person gains, the more useful they are as a parrot.  In a lot of ways, this scenario resembles crony capitalism, or just general cronyism.

So, why should you care?  If you use social media sparingly and you have no ambition of ever becoming prominent yourself, then you have very little reason to care.  You still do have reason to care, but not as much as some other people would.  However, if you have a website to promote, or you want to feel like you’re effecting conversation, then it helps to develop some sort of prominence for yourself.  As recently as a year ago, you could do this fairly easily by just talking to people and making good points.  It was as simple as that.  Today, it seems that the only way to amass any amount of prominence is to have an already established person vouch for you.  This can be done in many ways, but when you boil it, it usually comes down to some variant of brown nosing.  This is not to say that you can’t develop prominence on your own, but if Twitter is a marketing tool to you, then it will really only be useful if you can get the bigger fish to help get your links clicked.  (or your thoughts heard)

The text in this post was written as a supplement to the audio in the link below.  While I don’t expect this message to be received with open arms by everyone, this is definitely something that has been discussed (privately) for a while.  Last week’s article, where TechCrunch founder, Michael Arrington, espoused on why he now supports Klout was the real motivating factor for me expressing these views out loud.  As more and more people join social media and become politically involved, the scenario that I’ve outlined above and below will only become more of a problem.  As I said on the show, right now we’re witnessing a snowball that is rolling down a hill and soon to become a boulder.  I’m speaking out now, before that boulder has a chance to knock some really good tweeps out.

CLICK HERE TO HEAR WHY
I DON’T PUT MUCH STOCK IN KLOUT