Last week, the much-maligned Klout app that infamously attempted to rank our influencer status across all social media channels disappeared from the digital landscape forever. Conspiracy theorists might question the coincidence of closing on May 25th which was also the day that GDPR came into force, but the effects of Klout on our lifestyle are still very much alive.
When Klout first arrived on the scene, the platform proudly incentivized attention-seeking on social media and we all know the mess that created. There were also many embarrassments along the way such as US President Barack Obama being less influential than tech blogger Robert Scoble.
Even though the platform has now disappeared, don’t be fooled into thinking that the concept of reducing people to a mere number based on an arbitrary algorithm have been retired with it. New iterations such as Skorr are waiting in the wings and Lithium are also working on a new social impact scoring methodology based on Twitter.
Protecting Your Reputation in a ‘Rating’ Society
The big questions that remain are how do you ensure that your digital footprint doesn’t affect your reputation? And how will marketers measure social influence in a post-Klout digital world?
Maybe it was Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror and the famous Nosedive episode that gave self-obsessed social media users the much-needed wake-up call they needed. But the effects can still be felt all over the world. For example, China’s social credit system takes things to another level where your social score could determine your next job, hotel stay and even your internet speed.
Anyone with a low Uber rating will also tell you the inconvenient truth that the score against your name already determines the quality of service you receive. Whether it is eBay, Airbnb, Tinder, Amazon, or even the dreaded corporate appraisal system, we are all surrounded by ratings.
Ironically, for ten years Klout attempted to rank people with a cold robotic quantification, but it disappeared at a time when it was needed most. More than ever, marketers need a tool that will help expose fake influencers along with the infamous army of self-proclaimed experts, ninjas and gurus. There is an argument that Klout was ahead of its time.
The Rise of the Micro Influencer
Klout was often accused of encouraging its users to be fake or conniving and game the system to achieve higher scores. But, as our online behavior has evolved, content creators no longer need approval from a third party social media metric score to obtain a stamp of approval. The cost of entry into the influencer bracket has slipped from 500,000 Facebook fans or a viral YouTube video to 5,000 followers on a platform to get your hands on free stuff on sites such as Famebit.
Just because you call yourself an Instagram or LinkedIn expert with your 87 followers doesn’t mean that you are. Can you trust someone that introduces themselves as an influencer? But, maybe this is the point. In a digital age of ruled by algorithms, does the demise of Klout indicate a new beginning where we celebrate the complexities and richness of the human condition?
Engagement, Not Follower Counts
Rather than chasing huge numbers against a profile name, many marketers were forced to learn the hard way that the influencers with a large audience often received much less engagement on their posts. There is now a trend towards working with multiple highly engaged micro influencers than an individual with a meaningless two digital metric against their username.
In a world of fake accounts are littered with bot followers, engagement has become much more important than meaningless follower counts. Hopefully, the days where marketing departments would seek and only engage with Twitter users that had a Klout score of over 70 will be retired along with Klout.
As a marketer here in 2018, can you genuinely put a number against a fellow human to determine if they are worthy of an interaction with you or your brand? Hopefully, you answered no, and this must be considered progress, right?