One aspect of social media that is widely understood but rarely discussed is the ego-boost through empowerment that it allows. In most cases, the “empowerment” is perceived more highly than the reality, but it’s present for many of those who have never had a public voice but who now can use social media to reach people.
Klout changed its algorithm earlier this week and there was (apparently) an outcry. I checked mine when I heard about it. I wasn’t sure whether it went up or down (I hadn’t checked it in months) but it has never been important enough to follow. For others, it really struck a cord. People were removing buttons from their blog, writing critical posts about it, questioning its real worth, and sounding generally angry on Twitter, Facebook, and even in replies on the Klout blog.
“They have, in fact, made a serious mistake in attempting to redefine influence and may soon be paying a price equivalent to that of Netflix,” said John McTigue at Kuno Creative.
The mistake, somewhat akin to Netflix but definitely separate, is that the service was used to boost people’s egos and stroke their emotions. When you make a change to slap most of them down (particularly those who actually cared about their scores) you’re heading down a very dangerous path.
There are people who actually work on getting their Klout scores up. To push them down (even if they’re pushed down at about the same rate as everyone else) is asinine. Barack Obama has no idea what his Klout score is, but Calvin Lee does. As a member of the “Klout Squad” and an extremely active social media addict, having his score apparently capped at 69 (which seems to be the highest anyone outside of Washington or Hollywood can get) is a move that will turn much more people off than it will attract.
This was a big mistake. They were cruising. I was predicting that they would be approached by Google before the end of the year. If the response continues to be hostile and the sentiment continues to trend towards negative, Klout will end up being one of those could-have-been-great companies that squandered its chance over a very poor decision.
There are very active, engaged, influential people who have scores below 50 when they were in the high 60s just a few days ago. These people will no longer be looking at Klout. They won’t be alone in this decision.