Monday, November 28

Scoring Social: The Rise And Fall Of Klout

You all know the story, because it's all very true — there are plenty of marketers who dream of the day that they can give us all scores. It would make their lives easy, terribly easy you see: if they could base who gets what for which price or what fee.

If we only had scores to sort out their big mess. Never mind names or merits or interests or lives, just a list of our scores and a button to click. That would be enough, it's painfully clear. One score to determine who gets what prizes and perks, what service and more.

The Crazy Story Of Blogs And Social Media.

Then one day it happened, some will remember, when Clout-Belly bloggers were sometimes called stars. Everyone else, those without content on thars, were called Plain-Belly people, their reach not so far.

Now, being an online blogger wasn't always so special. Compared to actors and inventors or directors and authors, it was really quite small. In fact, you would think such a thing wouldn't matter at all.

But it did. Because they were stars, all the Clout-Belly bloggers would brag, "We're the best of all people on social media beaches." And with their snoots in the air, some would sniff and they'd snort. "We'll have nothing to do with the Plain-Belly sort."

When Clout-Belly children went out to play ball, could Plain-Belly kids get in the game ... ? Not at all. You could only play if your parents stayed up and blogged through the night. And those Plain-Belly kids had parents without any online might.

So when the Clout-Belly bloggers received their frankfurter perks, or picnics or parties or free root beer floats, marketers never invited the Plain-Belly people. They left them out in the cold, behind the red ropes. They kept them away, dashing their hopes. And that's how things went, year after year.

And then one day, it seems ... while the Plain-Belly people were tweeting and talking, sharing and squawking, some of them daydreaming of the day they might start a blog to earn more clout, a stranger zipped up with this new thing called Klout.



The Brief And Sordid History Of Klout.

"My friends," he announced in a voice clear and keen,"My name is Joe Fernandez. And I've heard you're unhappy, but I can fix that. When my mouth was wired shut, I became the Fix-It-Up Chappie. And I've come here to help you, I have what you need. My price is quite low and I work with great speed. Better than that, my idea is one hundred percent guaranteed."

Then, very quickly, Fernandez did shout. He put up his algorithm and started to tout. "You want to be stars like the Clout-Belly bloggers ...? My friends, you can have them for a price pretty cheap. Just give me access to your data, feeds, and friends when you tweet."

"Just open your accounts and hop right aboad!' So they clamored inside and signed on the line. And the algorithm bonked. And it jerked. And it burped. And then it bopped them about. They didn't mind, because the thing really worked! When the Plain-Belly people popped out they had Klout scores. They actually did. They had Klout upon thars.

And then they yelled at the ones who had clout at the start. "We're exactly like you! You can't tell us apart. We're all just the same, now, you snooty old smarties. We don't even have to write a stitch, you crazy old coots. We just share and type nonsense, and we get all the perks, like new shoes or new boots!"

"Good grief!" said the ones who had worked right from the start. "We're still social medial gurus and they're still just the masses. But, now, how in the world do we know it? If this kind is what kind or that kind is this kind and this kind is what kind then I think we need glasses!"

Just then, up came Fernandez with a very sly wink and he said, "Things are not quite as bad as you think. So you don't know who's who? That is perfectly true. But come with me, friends. Do you know what I'll do? I'll make you, again, the best kinds of tweeps with real social media reach. All I have to do is change my secret formula."

"Clout-Belly bloggers are no longer in style," said Fernandez with a smile. "What you need is a trip through my Clout-to-Klout dumb-it-down kettle. This wondrous contraption will change clout to Klout, and we'll score you the same, but with a nod to your mettle."

And that's what he did, lickity-split. They signed up for Klout with the same conditions and poof. Their once Kloutless accounts suddenly earned scores through the roof!

"Ha ha," they declared, with yell of great triumph. "We know who is who now, and there will be no doubt. The best kind of online gurus are those with high Klout!"

Then, of course, those who had just gotten scores were frightfully mad. To have a lower score was now frightfully bad. But in like a flash, Fernandez was there. He invited them in for a transparency fair. He told them all they needed to know about scoring, or so he said. Keep busy online, today 'til you're dead.

"That's right. It's all very easy," he said with a grin. "I'll change the influence scoring here and there on a whim. You just keep typing and sharing and shouting. I've got the contracts to put you in marketing."

And then, from then on, as you can probably guess, things turned into a terrible mess. All the rest of the day and on through the night, the Fix-It-Up-Chappie played them like a kite. Tweet this, post that, plus this, and add that. And through the networks they charged, opening them all to get better scores. They kept tweeting perks, posting plugs, and adding plus ones; no time for friends or thinking or fun.

And soon, the whole thing was confusion, their heads spun up on a spool: which one was this one or was this one really that one. Or which one was what one ... and what one was who. But none of that mattered. Because all through the night and all through the day, Fernandez was raking it in on the backs of those people who stopped talking to friends. And he laughed and he laughed, from his perch of free perks, "you can teach them new tricks, but you can't teach them about worth."

Now, I would like to say that it all ended that day. That people became just a little bit smarter. But unfortunately for us, humans aren't like Sneetches who learned something new. That the size of your worth is based on the friendships you make, and not your score, status, or hue.

Related Reading From Around The Web. 

Why I Quit Klout by Schmutzie

Why I Quit Klout by Matt LaCasse

Why I quit Klout by David Kaufer

Why I Quit Klout by Ben Loeb

Why I Quit Klout by Botgirl Questi

How To Get Your Profile And Data Completely Disconnected From Klout by Danny Brown

Feel free to add a link to your own "Why I Quit Klout" post in the comments. We'll approve them. Special thanks to Dr. Seuss, whose original story "The Sneetches" inspired this satire about online influence. The Klout story is amazingly just like it, maybe exactly like it if people let the concept get carried away rather than focusing in on what's more important in life.

Then again, a few people won't have it. After quitting Klout, some have even suggested banning marketers who participate. If that ever happens, then Klout will learn about scoreless influence.
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