Sips from the Firehose
A blog that seeks to filter the internet into a refreshing, easily-gulped beverage


Feb 02

Brainwashed User Confesses: “I Was a Human Bot-net for Klout”

Posted: under Digital Migration, New Marketing, Sip With Caution.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Industry-leader social management tool Hootsuite “deprecates” Klout – but who’s next?

Klout, you were mean to us and made us like it. You made us feel inadequate, and spend far too many hours indulging in unnatural behaviors to please your algorithm. And all we got were inane “Perks” like bland business cards that look like they were spat out of an old dot-matrix printer …

… or 1/2 off a crate of Sooper fREEKy POWer Drinkzzzz (aside: WhenTF are we going to collectively decide that replaces “S” with “Z” no longer denotes hip & outlaw status?) that magically combine the lovely taste of licking the sludgecrust from the bottom of a riding lawn mower with the sensation of a myocardial infarction and COPD. Yummy!

But all along, there was a sneaking suspicion that Klout scores were not all they were cracked up to be; that the “social media influence” they purported to measure&deliver was flawed, at best. Still, we went along with it, because, well, there really wasn’t much else. (Kred came and went and the less said about the brief spring of Empire Avenue, the better.)

Now comes the hardcore notice from Hootsuite that they are no longer including Klout, because “we put our customers at the forefront of every business decision.” My oh my. Whatever could that mean? Maybe that Klout does NOT do so? That they are, in fact, preying upon customers by snarfing up all our actions, interactions, posts, updates & etc. and selling them to the highest bidder? Or something worse?

BTW – do a quick Google search on “Why quit Klout?” and read through the posts. Most date back to 2011, but their objections still seem … unpleasantly valid.

Hootsuite deprecates Klout

This is what you get when you click on the Klout link. In corporate-speak, this is pretty much a bullet to the back of the head.

Embarrassing admission: I totally bought into Klout. For a time, I was even clicking like a lab rat hooked on blow on the “Share Our Content Now!” features on Klout. Yes, I was that kind of dingbat. I gave over my social media profiles to Klout and let them hijack my voice and suggest things that my friends and colleagues should read, all wrapped up nicely in a Klout-enabled URL shortener.

Mea culpa. Sorry. Won’t make that mistake again.

In my defense, when I obediently shared Klout’s suggested content, I saw my Klout score shoot up. But when I checked out all my shares, likes and interactions? Not a big change. Which obviously made me suspect that Klout was boosting its number to try to keep me incentivized into using Klout’s content and shortener.

I was becoming a human bot-net. 

It made me uneasy months ago, and so I quit sharing Klout’s content. But I still had in the back of my mind that I should pay more attention to Klout, that the score is essential to building and maintaining “your personal brand,” etc. etc.

But then I saw the above notice when trying to use Hootsuite. I can only read between the lines as to what’s going on here, but if Hootsuite, the industry leader when it comes to managing social media profiles, removes a feature that seems so essential to what so many community managers, social marketing execs and wanna-be YouTube stars are trying to do (i.e. identify & interact with “influencers” to thereby achieve business goals), then there is definitely Something Really Heavy going on behind the scenes.

Maybe it’s all the old objections finally coming home to roost: inaccuracy, lack of transparency, encouragement of inauthentic behavior …

…or maybe there’s been some business fight going on, over who should share what money with whom in exchange for what. But the bottom line is: with Klout out of Hootsuite, we are going to have to start using something else.

Here are the suggested alternatives to Klout:

First, Right Relevance claims to ” helps you better engage your social audience by letting you search and share the most authoritative content currently trending on the social web. We achieve this by mining the social web to identify and rank topical influencers. The inherent trust of the influencers communities is applied to finding the most relevant articles.”

This app breaks out the "share relevant content" features of Klout.

This app breaks out the “share relevant content” features of Klout. As with so many other “content suggestion engines,” the danger lies in the possibility that they will recommend content that benefits THEM more than it benefits YOU. I will be poking this one with a stick very carefully. 

Next up, Riffle Twitter Insights says that they are an “easy-to-use efficiency tool that helps you build an instant rapport with anyone on Twitter. With a simple, intuitive dashboard showing users’ social patterns, networks and interests.”

What, no Perks for using? (sigh) OK, the big downside here is right in the title: it’s only for Twitter. Klout claimed to bring in Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, FourSquare, and any other bright-shiny-jingly-key-social-media-network.

Riffle Twitter Insights

They make the interface look so very cool. But I rather suspect that you don’t get these kinds of charts, graphs & sophistication with the Free level of service.

Unnoticed to most casual users of Klout: many of the high-end social media measurement and management platforms (such as UberVU, RavenTools, Radian6 and others) scraped Klout scores and put them right next to usernames in the dashboard. It was a quick shortcut to identifying “influencers” without having to built your own algo or develop that side of your business.

I’ll be interested to see if any of these alternatives gets any traction – or if Klout starts showing more signs of distress (other than the inconsistencies in their dashboards, UX, features or all the other quirks that have surfaced in the past year or so).

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Mar 30

Bad UX: Klout malfunction is getting on my nerves

Posted: under Uncategorized.
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Quick hit: It’s been about 2 months now, and all I see on Klout is this message:

klout broken malfunction dialog box

Well, this is helpful. Anything else we can do about this? No? K THX BYE.

Not that I’m obsessed with my Klout score or anything (no, that would be terrible), but at some point, it would be nice in terms of UX/UI to have something a bit more useful here in an error message. Particularly if it’s something that lasts since, oh, I don’t know, JANUARY.

I’ve been doing a long rundown of social media tools that’s set to get published on our main DigitalFamily.com site, and this is unfortunately something that I’m gonna hafta mention. I’ve seen increasing signs that Klout is struggling with its business model; thing is, most of the social media management tools are piggybacking on its numerical rankings in their “influencer-spotting” panels.

Kred kind of came and went. Is there some other social tool startup that purports to measure influence out there? ‘Cause I’m not seeing it at this juncture. Guess I gotta do some more research (sigh).

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May 08

Turning “Likes” into Schwag: American Airlines and Klout

Posted: under advertising.
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One in an occasional, erratic and occasionally erratic series

Time is money. Image is everything. Manners maketh man. Your reputation precedes you.

And now, having a high (enough) Klout score wins you entry into the American Airlines first-class lounge, where you can look down your nose at the hoi polloi, and raid the “Continental breakfast with liquor” setup before your flight.

American Airlnes Klout score

I know this is going to result in me getting spammed mercilessly by American Airlines for the next millennium. The question, as always, is – is it worth it?

The mutability of your online reputation, as measured by any of the upstarts trying to put a wrench onto this social media/word of mouth monster, into actual real-world rewards is a very tricky thing. Having a lot of YouTube followers (or blog readers) gets you onto the red carpet for movie premieres.  Mommy bloggers get to test-drive new models of minivans.

But in the past, these kinds of corporate reacharounds usually had the intervention of a PR agency. This iteration goes through Klout, and asks you to connect AA directly with your Klout account (and thru Klout, to all the social media sites you included in Klout to try to boost your score).

Insidious? Evil? Useful? I guess it depends on how sanguine you are to turn over all your personal data & connections to friends in return for something that can run a couple hundred bucks, and make waiting for your flight a lot more pleasant. Certainly a consideration, if the sequester cuts ever kick back in, and we face 8-hour delays again.

Still: “When you don’t know what the product being sold is … the product is you.”

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