Prisoner of Klout

Klout sucks. Not because of what they’re trying to do, in measuring your online influence (although I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a fan of that approach for a number of reasons).

Nor do they suck because they’ve engendered a mindset among people to try and grab Klout Perks, based on that perception of influence. Heck, you’ll always have folks that do nothing but want everything for free, so may as well have somewhere for them to spend their time and energy.

No, they suck because they’re stuck in the mindset that opt-out is better than opt-in.

Meaning, they don’t give you a choice when it comes to having a “profile” of you. It doesn’t matter if you sign up to the service or not, or whether you connect your accounts to grow your Klout score.

Because Klout automatically gives you a basic profile anyway.

No permission – there you are, as bright as day online, with whatever score they deem you fit to have based on their perception of you.

Note: I understand that by accepting the Terms of Service on the likes of Twitter, etc, your information can be shared. I’m not sold on that being turned into a full-on profile on another site, though.

I’ll admit, when Klout first came out, I was curious as to how it worked. As someone who needs to connect clients with perceived influencers for outreach and promotional programs, it seemed an interesting way to find those that could help.

Then the flaws appeared.

Just using my account as an example, I recently disconnected all my accounts from Klout, with the exception of Twitter as it wouldn’t let me disconnect that. As a result, my Klout “score” (or influence) dropped from 75 to 63.

So, even though I was still active on the networks I’d disconnected; even though I was sharing the same amount of information, and interacting just as much – if not more – on blogs, Klout felt I was less “influential”.

What they were really saying, though, is that because I wasn’t participating by their rules, I was less influential. Never mind the fact I was still getting “reactions”, if you like, for my interactions online – if Klout didn’t see them, they never happened.

Because I’ve written a fair few times about my lack of “trust” in how Klout perceives influence online, I thought it’d be hypocritical to keep an account there. So I went to delete, which is where the fun began.

I followed the instructions on their site to delete my account, and received an email from Lan at their contact centre advising my account had been removed. This was almost a week ago, and I was advised it could take a day to clear their system.

A week later, and I’m still there, even though I have no desire to be part of the Klout game anymore, nor do I wish to be “on display” on their site, since I (initially) never gave permission.

This is where the opt-out bullshit needs to stop.

It’s more than 10 years since Seth Godin wrote about Permission Marketing, and yet here we are, still being added to things we didn’t have a say in. Fair enough, I added details to Klout, but the initial permission wasn’t there. As it isn’t for anyone.

The Standard for Online and Internet Influence Klout

And to remove yourself, you have to go through hoops to get it done? That’s crap.

It’s not just Klout. Facebook is as bad, as are many other social networks. I had the same issue with Hashable, and got into a debate on Twitter with that service’s founder, who decreed, “Hashable’s not the kind of service people leave, hence there’s no need for an option to delete your account.” (This option was later added.)

Yes. There. Is.

You don’t add people to something and not ask them their permission (unless there’s some legal reason to do so). Especially when that information is there for anyone to see, and make a snap judgement on.

For example, some companies are using Klout scores in the hiring process. If someone has a low score because they don’t know they’re on Klout, and get passed by for a job even though they’re the best qualified, that makes your system screwy (it also doesn’t say much for the research angle of the company in question).

So, please, Klout, and anyone else that puts people onto their platform then makes it almost impossible to get off – be smart. Make it easy to leave. I was able to delete my Empire Avenue account with a single mouse click – why should it be any more difficult than that?

After all, it’s not like you’re just looking to have numbers to show off about your platform to possible investors. That wouldn’t be a reason to keep people on there that want to leave.

Right?

Update 26.10.2011: Seems the link to remove yourself from Klout is now showing an “invalid request”. You can try this one instead. 

Note: This post is about Klout and its practices. I have nothing but good words for its CEO Joe Fernandez, who’s always responded to criticism about the service and looked at ways to improve.

~ Update: As of November 1st 2011, you can now delete your Klout account

image: remuz

Sign up for free weekly content

Subscribe to my newsletter and get a weekly email with the latest blog post, recommended reading, quick tips and more. I respect your privacy and will never spam you.

Alternatively, click here to subscribe to the RSS feed instead.

Danny Brown
Co-author Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing. #1 marketing blog in world as per HubSpot. Husband. Father. Optimist. Pragmatist. Never says no to a good single malt. You can find me on Twitter - Google+ - LinkedIn.
308 comments
conradfly
conradfly

You're giving Klout WAY TOO much credit here. It's not MAGIC. It's math. Your Klout score is based on a mathematical algorithm. So when you disconnect networks from Klout you are excluding information from their calculation. Of course your score would change - because the information being used to generate the score is not the same. 

 

By the same token - when I ADD Google+ to my Klout account my SCORE ACTUALLY DROPS.  Why?  Because I rock on Facebook and Twitter but I suck on Google+ and Klout knows it. 

 

It has nothing to do with the ideas "that because I wasn’t participating by their rules, I was less influential" - it's just math.

conradfly
conradfly

You're giving Klout WAY TOO much credit here. It's not MAGIC. It's math. Your Klout score is based on a mathematical algorithm. So when you disconnect networks from Klout you are excluding information from their calculation. Of course your score would change - because the information being used to generate the score is not the same.    By the same token - when I ADD Google+ to my Klout account my SCORE ACTUALLY DROPS.  Why?  Because I rock on Facebook and Twitter but I suck on Google+ and Klout knows it.    It has nothing to do with the ideas "that because I wasn’t participating by their rules, I was less influential" - it's just math.

blogbloke
blogbloke

I'm not saying that I agree with Klout (because I emphatically don't) but if I may add some clarity .. the bottom line is anything you put online is up for grabs.

So your best policy is to NOT put it up in the first place. If there is anything we've learned over the years, it is when you use someone else's site they can change the rules any time they want (aka Facebook et al). There is nothing truly safe or sacred when it comes to the internet .. and that includes social media.

I know that I've had to learn this the hard way myself, and anybody (or organization) can fall between the cracks and scrape it.. Like I've said time and again (and I can't stress this enough) -- DON'T give it up in the first place is still the best policy.

Having said that, and like I said earlier, I disagree with Klout and they should change their policy. But in the end it is up to each us as individuals to police our own data because we cannot depend on someone else to do it for us.

Cheers,

BB

blogbloke
blogbloke

I'm not saying that I agree with Klout (because I emphatically don't) but if I may add some clarity .. the bottom line is anything you put online is up for grabs. So your best policy is to NOT put it up in the first place. If there is anything we've learned over the years, it is when you use someone else's site they can change the rules any time they want (aka Facebook et al). There is nothing truly safe or sacred when it comes to the internet .. and that includes social media. I know that I've had to learn this the hard way myself, and anybody (or organization) can fall between the cracks and scrape it.. Like I've said time and again (and I can't stress this enough) -- DON'T give it up in the first place is still the best policy. Having said that, and like I said earlier, I disagree with Klout and they should change their policy. But in the end it is up to each us as individuals to police our own data because we cannot depend on someone else to do it for us. Cheers, BB

meganberry
meganberry

Hey Danny and all,

I wanted to follow up on this post. Klout is about empowering individuals and showcasing their influence. We value our users first and your privacy is very important to us. We have recently strengthened our privacy controls and want to share what options we have available. Specifically:

*Registered users can choose to opt-out of Klout at any time from our profile settings page

* We use public data to score users (similar to a search engine), but if at any time a user wishes to opt-out of being scored they can do so from our privacy page)

I want to let you know we take feedback like this very seriously and have worked to address it. Thanks for your time.

-Megan Berry

Marketing Manager, Klout

meganberry
meganberry

Hey Danny and all, I wanted to follow up on this post. Klout is about empowering individuals and showcasing their influence. We value our users first and your privacy is very important to us. We have recently strengthened our privacy controls and want to share what options we have available. Specifically: *Registered users can choose to opt-out of Klout at any time from our profile settings page * We use public data to score users (similar to a search engine), but if at any time a user wishes to opt-out of being scored they can do so from our privacy page) I want to let you know we take feedback like this very seriously and have worked to address it. Thanks for your time. -Megan Berry Marketing Manager, Klout

Collectual
Collectual

Influence without context is not particularly valuable. I can see how a measure of influence might be useful if you are trying to identify consumers, who use social media and have expressed a certain intention or preference for your product or service. But alone it doesn't provide enough business value from which to a make decision nor does tying it to another metrics, like sales, improve it much. I think you sum it up when you wrote "I wasn’t participating by their rules, I was less influential". For a business looking to reach their customers or prospects, the only set of rules that really matter are the ones those consumers help define.

Collectual
Collectual

Influence without context is not particularly valuable. I can see how a measure of influence might be useful if you are trying to identify consumers, who use social media and have expressed a certain intention or preference for your product or service. But alone it doesn't provide enough business value from which to a make decision nor does tying it to another metrics, like sales, improve it much. I think you sum it up when you wrote "I wasn’t participating by their rules, I was less influential". For a business looking to reach their customers or prospects, the only set of rules that really matter are the ones those consumers help define.

david_heath
david_heath

Weird, I signed in to Klout using my Twitter account (haven't posted there in months!) to find I'm a very valuable 13! Too bad that although having a relatively high influencing level in the outlets I use (I write for ARNnet and iTWire - where I broke the Steve Jobs numberplate story )

Checking out my profile, they seem to make some very off conclusions: "You don't share very much, but you follow the social web more than you let on. You may just enjoy observing more than sharing or you're checking this stuff out before jumping in full-force." How on earth do they know that? Other than the fact that have an account but post rarely!

Basically, this is crap in technicolour!!

david_heath
david_heath

Weird, I signed in to Klout using my Twitter account (haven't posted there in months!) to find I'm a very valuable 13! Too bad that although having a relatively high influencing level in the outlets I use (I write for ARNnet and iTWire - where I broke the Steve Jobs numberplate story ) Checking out my profile, they seem to make some very off conclusions: "You don't share very much, but you follow the social web more than you let on. You may just enjoy observing more than sharing or you're checking this stuff out before jumping in full-force." How on earth do they know that? Other than the fact that have an account but post rarely! Basically, this is crap in technicolour!!

ASegar
ASegar

Klout's recent scoring changes are the straw that breaks the camel's back. I've disconnected my accounts and asked Klout via email to delete my profile information (hey Klout—providing no web interface to opt-out is SLEAZY).

My social media day-to-day connections and conversations are what's important to me, not a Klout number.

Ultimately, the metric that concerns me is how many people visit my website and blog, and that number has been rising very nicely regardless of what Klout says about my popularity on social media.

ASegar
ASegar

Klout's recent scoring changes are the straw that breaks the camel's back. I've disconnected my accounts and asked Klout via email to delete my profile information (hey Klout—providing no web interface to opt-out is SLEAZY). My social media day-to-day connections and conversations are what's important to me, not a Klout number. Ultimately, the metric that concerns me is how many people visit my website and blog, and that number has been rising very nicely regardless of what Klout says about my popularity on social media.

roniweiss
roniweiss

sickontheroad told me to come here, as I've been defending Klout for a while. How do you feel about Alexa's "opt-out" policy? http://bit.ly/u6a1QQ

EdwardBGreen
EdwardBGreen

Klout have just changed their scoring - now Facebook seems to have a far greater influence, making it of far less use to me as a metric of engagement. Klout has jumped the shark.

EdwardBGreen
EdwardBGreen

Klout have just changed their scoring - now Facebook seems to have a far greater influence, making it of far less use to me as a metric of engagement. Klout has jumped the shark.

Bojan
Bojan

Unlike some of your previous articles, I strongly agree with this one. And what is this Klout mania going on everywhere? I am not a number, my influence can't be measured the way you want to. I see people scheming the Klout results, but have little or no influence what so ever. It's completely unreliable tool.

Bojan
Bojan

Unlike some of your previous articles, I strongly agree with this one. And what is this Klout mania going on everywhere? I am not a number, my influence can't be measured the way you want to. I see people scheming the Klout results, but have little or no influence what so ever. It's completely unreliable tool.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@meganberry Megan, I understand how the information is gathered. That's not really what the post is about. I've followed all your instructions to remove my details and yet there I am, still. Even taking into account the possible legalities of hosting my information without endorsement, and when I've removed your permission to do so, the ethical and moral point of respecting someone's wishes to leave is where Klout is missing the boat. You mention Twitter and Google - ironic, given that these allow you to close your account completely. So why can't Klout offer the same grace?

meganberry
meganberry

@DannyBrown It's actually based on Twitter's policy. When you create a new account on Twitter, your Twitter profile is public by default. Unless your account is changed to protected from your account settings, your Tweets are publicly visible on your profile page, in Twitter search, and through the Twitter API. As soon as they have been made publicly available, third parties (such as Google, ourselves, and other search engines) have access to these publicly visible Tweets—like other information on the internet. If you want your Tweets to only be available to approved followers. you can set your account to protected. Tweets posted by a protected account are only visible to approved followers and not otherwise publicly available to third parties. Twitter has a help page with more information about public and protected accounts here: http://support.twitter.com/articles/14016.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@POTUS31 Maybe I'll start putting my Boy Scout badges on my resume... ;-)

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

@blogbloke Hi mate,

To a degree, I completely agree with you - we *do* give up our privacy once we go online. The problem with Klout, though, is more than this.

~ Their advice to not be profiled is to make your feeds private. So, for an individual or company whose primary income stream is from online business, this is commercial suicide. Since the Klout model is flawed, I can understand why people or brands would want to opt-out their service - but saying they have to go invisible to do so is crazy (though they have since updated).

~ There's since been an issue with Klout setting up profiles for minors, even though they've made their settings private. This is wrong on so many levels it would take a complete post to go over. Just as well there is one. ;-)

http://dannybrown.me/2011/10/27/is-klout-using-our-family-to-violate-our-privacy/

Again, they say they've fixed this, but as of yesterday people were still finding their kids on Klout.

I'm all for companies trying to make sense of purchase and emotional triggers, amongst other things. But there's a right way to do something, and then there's the other way. Unfortunately, Klout seems to be determined to be the other way (or at least it seems that way).

Cheers for the thoughtful comment, sir.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@blogbloke Hi mate, To a degree, I completely agree with you - we *do* give up our privacy once we go online. The problem with Klout, though, is more than this. ~ Their advice to not be profiled is to make your feeds private. So, for an individual or company whose primary income stream is from online business, this is commercial suicide. Since the Klout model is flawed, I can understand why people or brands would want to opt-out their service - but saying they have to go invisible to do so is crazy (though they have since updated). ~ There's since been an issue with Klout setting up profiles for minors, even though they've made their settings private. This is wrong on so many levels it would take a complete post to go over. Just as well there is one. ;-) http://dannybrown.me/2011/10/27/is-klout-using-our-family-to-violate-our-privacy/ Again, they say they've fixed this, but as of yesterday people were still finding their kids on Klout. I'm all for companies trying to make sense of purchase and emotional triggers, amongst other things. But there's a right way to do something, and then there's the other way. Unfortunately, Klout seems to be determined to be the other way (or at least it seems that way). Cheers for the thoughtful comment, sir.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

@meganberry Thanks for the heads-up, Megan, nice to see Klout listening to feedback.

Question about the profiles - what about non-registered users that you still create profiles for (at least, profiles that encourage sign-up)? Unless I'm wrong, the current set-up means they have to sign in via Twitter to opt-out of Klout.

So, isn't that still giving Klout more information before opt-out, thus adding to the numbers, and meaning that these folks are on your database until your cache catches up to their deletion?

Wouldn't it just be simpler to make Klout opt-in from the start?

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@meganberry Thanks for the heads-up, Megan, nice to see Klout listening to feedback. Question about the profiles - what about non-registered users that you still create profiles for (at least, profiles that encourage sign-up)? Unless I'm wrong, the current set-up means they have to sign in via Twitter to opt-out of Klout. So, isn't that still giving Klout more information before opt-out, thus adding to the numbers, and meaning that these folks are on your database until your cache catches up to their deletion? Wouldn't it just be simpler to make Klout opt-in from the start?

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

@Collectual That's the perfect point, Jennifer, the issue of context. Cool, you might be influential in marketing; or I might be influential in social media. But for what customer?

Is my social media-only experience going to be useful when it comes to managing marketing budgets, KPI's, pain points and adjustable strategy?

Is your awesome marketing knowledge going to be useful at launching a product specifically for Chinese basket weavers?

Influence is such a very small part of an overall package, that this whole "we're super important" BS is getting pretty dangerous from a real-world business angle.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, appreciated!

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@Collectual That's the perfect point, Jennifer, the issue of context. Cool, you might be influential in marketing; or I might be influential in social media. But for what customer? Is my social media-only experience going to be useful when it comes to managing marketing budgets, KPI's, pain points and adjustable strategy? Is your awesome marketing knowledge going to be useful at launching a product specifically for Chinese basket weavers? Influence is such a very small part of an overall package, that this whole "we're super important" BS is getting pretty dangerous from a real-world business angle. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, appreciated!

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@david_heath Now, now, David - Klout knows exactly what they're talking about. They tell us so... ;-) And love your example, mate - perfect way to show the things that really matter when it comes to cause and effect. Cheers!

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@ASegar The more Klout ignores the opt-out requests, the sleazier it becomes, Adrian - perfect word to use.

NCompass
NCompass

Ah good someone to argue Klout's case, sorry Danny, but you are naive in thinking that opting out of services like Klout is the answer to your privacy concerns. The term is Social Media and it implies an aspect of social.

I tell people that Social Media is like entering a 24/7 cocktail party wearing one of those plastic name cards where you only know a few of the people... you might meet anyone.

All Klout is doing is what other have been doing for years... The good news is that Klout is exposing some of the information you are sharing and that then allows you to lock down your data more effectively if indeed you do not want to share it.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@roniweisssickontheroad At least they have an opt-out option and more than one way to delete. The difference is, Alexa doesn't claim to be "the standard for influence", nor does it affect someone's job potentials. Different beasts.

NCompass
NCompass

Ah good someone to argue Klout's case, sorry Danny, but you are naive in thinking that opting out of services like Klout is the answer to your privacy concerns. The term is Social Media and it implies an aspect of social. I tell people that Social Media is like entering a 24/7 cocktail party wearing one of those plastic name cards where you only know a few of the people... you might meet anyone. All Klout is doing is what other have been doing for years... The good news is that Klout is exposing some of the information you are sharing and that then allows you to lock down your data more effectively if indeed you do not want to share it.

Bernadette Jiwa
Bernadette Jiwa

@DannyBrown@meganberry Hi Danny, I've tried contacting Klout via various channels, email, Twitter and Megan Berry directly and have had no response about, how, if and when my profile will be removed. I've obviously disconnected as many applications as I can. Can you give me some idea how long it took for you to have your profile removed. What is the next step for me to take? Thanks.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

@Bernadette Jiwa Thanks, Bernadette, and completely agree, the option to be removed should be available, and simple to achieve. All the hoops and excuses about "make your social profiles private" doesn't quite cut it... @meganberry

Bernadette Jiwa
Bernadette Jiwa

Hi Danny and Megan,Thanks for opening this topic up for discussion.I know that permission and privacy are huge concerns for everyone these days. As Danny points out this is about our right to choose. We may want a public profile on Twitter to support our friendships, clients, businesses and ideas but not want the distraction of keeping score using numbers.I for one have just emailed Klout today to have my profile removed and disconnected the account from my other networks. I'll keep you posted on how long it takes them to get back to me.The point that Klout, and I think Facebook are missing is this. Some of us don't want to be your product. Some of us want to focus on serving our clients and connecting with our audience in meaningful ways that can never be measured. High scores don't always mean you're doing work that matters, far from it.Here's a post I wrote about this for the audience over at Pushing Social in January. It's more relevant than ever today.http://pushingsocial.com/how-do-you-measure-influence

blogbloke
blogbloke

@Danny Brown I guess the word I should have used was perspective rather than clarity.

I think we are both in agreement here. I was just trying to paint a larger picture for your readers.

Thanks for a good post and letting me put in my two cents worth.

Give em hell Danny.

Cheers,

BB

blogbloke
blogbloke

@DannyBrown I guess the word I should have used was perspective rather than clarity. I think we are both in agreement here. I was just trying to paint a larger picture for your readers. Thanks for a good post and letting me put in my two cents worth. Give em hell Danny. Cheers, BB

danieleagee
danieleagee

@Danny Brown Maybe sometime soon, Klout will drop the awful CS script and actually answer the questions you're asking? Nah, I bet Joe is still on vacation.

meganberry
meganberry

@Danny Brown Hey Danny,

For those with public profiles (i.e. public Twitter profiles) they do need to auth to opt-out. The *only* thing we do during that process is ensure you are the actual owner of that account and you're not trying to remove mine for instance. We do not take any other information.

As for doing an opt-in only solution -- we do that for any account that is private. If you choose to create a public Twitter profile, that profile and your tweets are public and shown on many sites including search engines, social crawlers etc. We're using the same information they are. It's similar to the fact that as soon as you create a website you open it up to Google indexing it unless you explicitly opt-out. Hope that helps!

Thanks,

Megan Berry

danieleagee
danieleagee

@DannyBrown Maybe sometime soon, Klout will drop the awful CS script and actually answer the questions you're asking? Nah, I bet Joe is still on vacation.

meganberry
meganberry

@DannyBrown Hey Danny, For those with public profiles (i.e. public Twitter profiles) they do need to auth to opt-out. The *only* thing we do during that process is ensure you are the actual owner of that account and you're not trying to remove mine for instance. We do not take any other information. As for doing an opt-in only solution -- we do that for any account that is private. If you choose to create a public Twitter profile, that profile and your tweets are public and shown on many sites including search engines, social crawlers etc. We're using the same information they are. It's similar to the fact that as soon as you create a website you open it up to Google indexing it unless you explicitly opt-out. Hope that helps! Thanks, Megan Berry

roniweiss
roniweiss

@Danny Brown@sickontheroad Blaming Klout for affecting someone's job potential makes no sense. That's totally outside of them. I can guarantee that Alexa scores have come into play for many a travel blogger, whether or not they've received a press trip.

What am I missing here? This doesn't sound like opt-out:

"Can I remove my site from Alexa’s Site Info pages?

No. Alexa provides free, traffic metrics for all websites."

roniweiss
roniweiss

@DannyBrownsickontheroad Blaming Klout for affecting someone's job potential makes no sense. That's totally outside of them. I can guarantee that Alexa scores have come into play for many a travel blogger, whether or not they've received a press trip. What am I missing here? This doesn't sound like opt-out: "Can I remove my site from Alexa’s Site Info pages? No. Alexa provides free, traffic metrics for all websites."

Trackbacks