Klout: Double Standard for Influence?

June 29th, 2010 § 24 comments § permalink

I want Klout to do well. From an obvious standpoint (according to their scale of 1 through 100, I am a decent influencer worthy of free prizes!), but more importantly from a social media and technological advancement perspective. The world is starting to appreciate Twitter, and finally realize the power and impact it can have. It seems like Marketing and PR agencies are just getting on the “blogger” wave, while Klout has already skipped past that and is on the new wave of 140 characters (or less).

Yes, it no longer requires a long 500-1,000 word blog post to influence people or to gain trust from your audience. If anything, I trust people on my Twitter feed more than I do a blog post; on Twitter, the person behind the account has no other option but to communicate and converse with their followers, while a blogger can stand up on a soap box, spew out hundreds of words, then sit and watch comments flow (or, trickle) in and approve or deny based on their preference. On Twitter, you get to see who does similar things as you, goes to similar places (yes those Foursquare check-in tweets are annoying, but it can tell you something about a person), and has similar interests. There are certain people who I follow on Twitter that may not have a blog (or I might feel weird emailing out of the blue), but I would look to them, just like I would look to a friend, for their opinion on something because I feel I have gotten to know them and I trust them.

Okay now this just seems like a Twitter love post. Back to Klout.

The thing about this campaign is, it successfully exploded, as they wanted it to. However, like many progressive campaigns, they may not have gotten all their ducks in a row that would prepare them to answer the inevitable questions that would arise regarding their grading system, and even more importantly, their Virgin America golden ticket winners. Now, I am not one to bite the hand that feeds (err flies) me, but I wouldn’t mind sharing a few things Klout may have wanted to consider before launching a high profile campaign (beyond free yogurt and coffee):

1. Iron out all the kinks in the Algorithm.
I received one of the first flights and I was made somewhat of a poster child for this program when Mashable contacted me about the ticket I was given, as well as for information on my Klout score. What they didn’t ask me was, “Is it accurate?”. To be honest, I wouldn’t even have known as I had never even looked before they asked me for the screenshots. Upon further review, I noticed the topics it told me I tweeted about most frequently were odd ones like ‘Voodoo’ (I ain’t no witch!), some of my apparently most clicked on tweets had never even come from my fingertips (and bit.ly tells me what my most popular links are, so this I know), and all-in-all my score seemed low relative to other people who didn’t receive flights immediately (apparently my score needed to be refreshed and recalculated and is now at a 63? Whatever that means, again I don’t know. By this point I probably should).

2. Be transparent on how the winners were selected.
If you are going to be the standard for determining who is an influencer, then you need to set a standard process for how winners are selected. Was it at random? Was it people who had a Klout account? Was it at random over a certain threshold? Hand selected – if so, based on what criteria? The people who win the ticket won’t ask these questions (although I am, I guess), but those who didn’t win certainly will.

3. Know the community.
I don’t know about other communities, but the Toronto Twitter community is a pretty tight knit crew, and that crew is partially (if not fully) responsible for everyone’s “Twitter Influence”. I’m a bit of a floater, but I do know that most people in this city are friends on Twitter and in real life, and they have more influence because of this – their followers aren’t exactly followers at all, but friends, so of COURSE they have influence over them. Knowing this, it’s easy to see how people would get offended, or hurt even, if they are snubbed in a program in which they feel they are partially responsible for their friend winning. I even read one post which referred to the program as feeling like “high school” and “Mean Girls”. If you hear a Lindsay Lohan analogy for a marketing program, you know you might be in trouble! If number 2 happened, then I don’t think the “Mean Girls” comment would be able to come into play, as it would be based on a specific criteria, removing all room for apparent bias.

4. Have a cut off point.
This is a bit of column 2 and 3. The initial invites, for the most part (and I’m not just saying this because I was included) made sense. Celebrities People like Scott Stratten and Casie Stewart received invites and it made sense. Then, once the cries of “why didn’t I get one” came out, it seemed as though all you had to do was tweet the right hashtag or @ reply, and bam, you would magically see a tweet saying “I’m going to LA or SF, THANKS VIRGIN AND KLOUT”, and they would stop complaining. That’s when things got confusing, and a bit fishy. I saw people who had a Twitter account for maybe a month, and less than 200 followers receiving it, when well known Toronto personas weren’t seeing the love. This is when people started to question a) the validity of number 1 up there, and b) more importantly, number 2.

5. Use Hootsuite
Okay, so this is a bit of a weak one but I just noticed a flurry of retweets regarding a Klout meetup tonight at the Gladstone. The meetup has come and gone (it was last night). CoTweet scheduler is a bit wonky, so they should use my pals over at Hootsuite.

Despite the rough patches, I think there are a lot of valuable lessons learned from this program that will only help Klout be stronger and more successful going forward. The Toronto Twitter community is a tough crowd, and can be ruthless at times, but we can also be understanding. I’m excited to visit Klout while I am in San Francisco this coming weekend (on a FREE FLIGHT), and I will be sure to share some of the constructive feedback that I have here, and also that I have heard from others. In the end, I think we all really do (or SHOULD!) want Klout to succeed, and I think any help we can offer will benefit them.

Private Parts

May 23rd, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

If you were to mention the big P word, coupled with the F word, in any bar, restaurant or coffee shop these days, you would most certainly have some sort of debate on your hands. The F word in mention is not of a four letter variety, but, of course, Facebook. At f8 they recently announced a number of changes to their current security (err, information sharing) model, and boy oh boy, are people up in arms about it. But why? Do they have a right to be? Does anyone actually have a grasp as to what the big changes are?

I will admit, I jumped on the “OH MY GOD FACEBOOK YOU ARE EVIL I WANT MY PRIVACY” bandwagon before I had a chance to really look into it. I’m guilty of going with the masses (baaaaaah sheep) if I haven’t had time, or interest. Since then, I have read a countless number of breakdowns, and have seen this infographic being tossed around at least two dozen times, and I’m still not getting it. I understand WHAT changes are happening, but what I don’t understand is the big fuss over it. When you put stuff on the internet, it’s not private. It just isn’t.

Have you ever had those moments where you’ve spent an unknown amount of time on Facebook, probably stalking an ex, and when you snap out of it you realize you are looking at pictures of a complete stranger’s children? You have no idea who this person is, but they were in the same album as the girl who was recently in a picture with your ex boyfriend’s best friend who was in a picture with your ex and his dog, so you obviously clicked deeper.

So how are the new Facebook changes going to change your stalking habits? Will you be able to stalk more, or less?

  1. Facebook has changed the default settings to be more open. Okay. The people that will be affected by that are new Facebook users.
  2. Stalker Verdict? Rejoice, until they realize anyone worth stalking is already on Facebook.

  3. Facebook is opening up our interests, with the default set on. As a product manager, I understand the struggles of releasing new features and having to hide them at the same time. This is where Facebook ‘f’-ed up. 100%. If they had left this setting to be set off, I doubt we would have as big of a war on our hands.
  4. Stalker Verdict? Helpful if they manage to get a date and can pretend to have the same interests, but otherwise yawn. Boring.

  5. Facebook is actually remembering who I don’t want to see my status updates.
  6. Stalker Verdict? Cue Stalkers moaning.

  7. Facebook is setting my albums to be open to the public by default, but prompts me in the album creation to ask if I want to restrict it.
  8. Stalker Verdict? Stalkers rejoice temporarily, but then retract. Still hold out hope that we will forget to change the settings.

  9. Facebook removed the ability to control what is posted to your wall. This is a huge issue for me, and probably the change I dislike the most. I loved not having to broadcast when I wrote on someone’s wall at 2AM. It has created an excess of noise, which is a nightmare for Brands and Marketers, but this noise also makes those certain relationship status updates, or pictures you don’t want to see, a lot less prominent.
  10. Stalker Verdict? They can see your every move on Facebook.

Personally, the two things that I keep extremely private on Facebook are 1) Tagged Pictures of me and 2) Friend’s posts to my wall. The underlying theme of those two things? I don’t have control over them. My favourite books and movies, what religion I am (I have, by the way, Vancouver Canucks listed as mine so good luck with that one advertisers), does it really matter if advertiser’s have access to this information? Ads will be more tailored to my interests now, which can be helpful since we are in the world of an ABUNDANCE of information. I would love it if my favourite products and interests can come to me now instead of me going and searching them out.

The best way to handle the new Facebook privacy settings is to not fight it, and be grateful that it’s received all this attention so now you are being more careful what you put out there. We all know that if they tried hard enough, anyone would be able to access it regardless. I have embraced the chaos, I have allowed random people I don’t know that read my blog to add me on Facebook and they are the best filters.  I am forced to behave myself when I don’t know who might be watching, whether it be potential employers, potential boys to date, or my mother’s best friend. This is not new information, this has always been the case, we were just happily ignorant before.

Remember folks, if it’s on the internet, it’s best to assume it’s not private.

If you want to know more information on this matter, I highly suggest reading the following (comprehensible, I promise) articles: