By Elissa Stern, of Dress With Courage
Last week, Klout stunned users by announcing big changes to its scoring algorithm. Accordingto Klout, these changes represent the biggest step forward in accuracy, transparency and ourtechnology in Klout’s history. The changes, earlier described by Klout CEO Joe Fernandez asa “the biggest improvement to the Klout Score in our history” are likely to aggravate many who use the service.
A Klout score is based on how many people you influence, how much you influence them, and how influential they are. For those of you unfamiliar with Klout, it’s a sort of online ranking system that aims to determine how influential people are by measuring their social reach. It uses information from your Twitter feed, Facebook, LinkedIn and 35 other signals to give you an overall score and graphs that plot to show just how influential you are online. It is impossible to know how Klout generates its scores, because the company keeps their algorithms a secret for competitive reasons.
The biggest change to the Klout scoring algorithm is that is that scores will now be easier to understand. But unofficially, many have seen their scores fall – in some cases significantly. Although Klout denied that this would be the case on their blog, stating that “a majority of users will see their scores stay the same or go up but some users will see a drop,” many have seen their score decrease by as much as twenty points. The backlash was so bad that a #OccupyKlout movement got off the ground on Twitter.
Here’s the good news: A number that was formulated by an algorithm doesn't directly change how you're able to engage with others or the way people respond to you over social media. My score fell 9 full points from 67 to 58, which was enough to take me out of the “Pundit”category and classify me as a “Broadcaster” instead.
Truthfully, both of those categories are meaningless to me, because they don’t take into account whether I’m smart, or creative, or create content that affects my blog readers. My score is strictly a measurement of how strongly I am heard on certain social media sites. It doesn’t measure the relationships I have with my blog commenters. It doesn’t care about the informative YouTube tutorials I tweeted, because YouTube isn’t a category Klout chooses to measure my influence with. It ignores the real connections I have with people – the emails, phone calls, direct messages and face-to-face meet-ups. Klout scores are only important if you decide that a large arbitrary figure has anythingto do with how relevant or successful you really are.
While Klout might still be valuable to small business owners eager to promote their services,and those who make quick judgments of people who produce online content, it isn’t theonly measurement of connection. Focus more on responding to blog comments, community meet-ups, and email communication, rather than an arbitrary number. And don’t let a number define your social media presence.
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