Clout Vs. Klout: They're Not The Same, And Never Will Be
Guest post written by Tony Greenberg
Tony Greenberg is founder and CEO of RampRate Sourcing Advisors.
There’s been a lot of noise lately about Klout, which creates a single numerical value designed to encapsulate your online influence.
Marketers trying to connect with social-media “influencers” love this idea of One Number to Rule Them All. Klout explicitly tries to emulate for individuals what Google’s PageRank system does for website reach and reputation.
But lots of people complain vociferously about Klout, even as its corporate partners dish out “Klout Perks,” such as free entry to events and early peeks at hot products, based on its scores. Complaints include:
- The score algorithm is opaque. You know, kind of like Google’s PageRank system.
- The system can be gamed. One skeptic used Twitter bots to artificially generate a strong Klout score with a couple of months of “work.” You know, like what can happen with PageRank.
- The system doesn’t measure off-line influence (or even most blog services). As one writer put it, Klout can’t up Marc Andreessen’s score just because the dude helped found the modern Internet. Basically, Andreessen’s clout far outweighs his Klout. But again, the inability to factor in many sources of influence is hardly unique to Klout. In fact, PageRank faces many of the same challenges.
“I have as much authority as the Pope, I just don’t have as many people who believe it.” – Geroge Carlin
But I’m not here to slag Klout, whose CEO says the company is constantly trying to improve. The real issue is the true nature of influence, and what that means for marketers and others trying to leverage it.
Klout outrages some in ways Nielsen, comScore or other media-measurement services never have. Why? Because, in this era of self-created media/social networks, Klout isn’t measuring some distant and massive media corporation. Rather, it’s measuring you.
In The Search, John Battelle details the Google Dance, the Darwinian tech tango caused every time Google tweaks its ranking algorithms. For site owners, such algorithmic shifts can make the difference between living on a yacht and living on the street, fueling an endless evolutionary minuet of action and reaction between Google engineers and SEO gurus.
Klout makes this tango personal. In Your Brain at Work, David Rock describes how neural circuits and brain chemicals influence our capabilities for status, connection and fairness, resulting in inexplicable behaviors such as why people spend so much on designer items, or battle ferociously to be “mayor” of the corner coffee shop.
Mix the Google Dance with the hunt for status, and you can see why Klout conjures such strong opinions. As Cloudonomics founder Joe Weinman observes, Klout combustibly mixes rational economic decisions with “lazy, hazy, and crazy” behavioral economics.
“The history of American politics is littered with bodies of people who took so pure a position that they had no clout at all.” - Benjamin C. Bradlee
But why are we online, tweeting and posting and sharing? What’s ourmotivation? Are we trying to influence others when we post about our life, or products we like, or stuff we find interesting? Are we shilling when we’re sharing?
To put it another way, is the most influential and powerful person in a room the one with the most keys (or most widely shared social-media posts), or the one who can get the most doors opened for him/her?
At the heart of these rather cosmic questions is a really important truth that a Klout score can’t quite capture: other people grant power and influence toyou. You only have influence when someone else gives it to you.. cont.
Article from Forbes...read more