Seems like I struck a nerve with my earlier post about Klout. Binh Tran, the CTO of Klout, Megan Berry, marketing manager at Klout, and Klout itself are all now following me on Twitter. In addition, I received a lengthy response from Ash Rust, the Director of Ranking at Klout, which I have included in full at the end of the post.
Ash’s three main points were:
- Klout is just beginning and has flaws
- Your Klout Score is about quality not quantity
- Adding additional networks should increase your Klout
I appreciate Ash’s candid response. On the first point, he’s right. It’s unrealistic for me or anyone to expect perfection of Klout or any of the competing metrics/companies, especially at this relatively early stage of Klout. Think about Google 2 years afters its launched and how far its come since then. Still, companies need to know what users find wrong with their products to iterate and improve. I didn’t receive hundreds of RTs because my writing was so exceptional or witty; I received them because I articulated a set of issues seen by others in Klout.
Ash’s second and third points seem to contradict each other. Categorically stating that adding another network will always increase your score, seems to be a victory for quantity, not quality. In the Klout Chat yesterday, CEO Joe Fernandez announced that Foursquare and LinkedIn will soon be added. Without the proper Twitter/Facebook balance in the current system, I worry that adding two additional networks to the mix, will exacerbate existing issues. Additionally, I wonder how Klout will deal with identical individuals across multiple networks. My Foursquare friends are a strict subset of my Facebook and Twitter friends. Do they double count? Should I get any credit at all for adding friends already accounted for elsewhere in the system?
As I have time over the next few days, I’ll gather a few unanswered questions from the #Kloutchat in addition to others I have. I’ll send Ash a list that they will hopefully answer. Let me know if you have a few to add to the list.
As promised, here is Ash’s full response:
I’m the Director of Ranking here at Klout and wanted to respond directly to some of the points you raised here.
1) Thanks a lot for writing this.
It’s great feedback on the understandability of our score and mirrors a lot of the (intense) debates we have internally around how the score works and what data to deliver to our users.
2) Klout is just beginning.
We believe we’re at the very first stage of development for this paradigm, much like online document search was in 1998 when Google was founded, so we can expect some growing pains especially given the volume of data we process. That said, we know we need to do better and we’re working hard to improve, we have a team of excellent scientists working on improving the score.
3) Your Klout score is about quality not quantity.
While some users may have amassed many thousands of friends and followers, those people may not be listening or may not even be real people at all; this is why we use our own audience metric: True Reach. We also assess the influence of each person in your audience, so if someone you interact with is very influential that can have a much larger impact on your score than a group of people with lower levels of influence; for example if @BarackObama retweets you, it’ll increase your score more than if I do.
4) Adding additional networks to your Klout should increase your score.
We can only measure the data we have. If you add a network, like Facebook, and are influencing people on that network, then it should increase your score; assuming you’re influencing people on that network. If I influence 10 people on Facebook and then add my Twitter account, where I influence 3 people, Klout can now see me influencing 13 people, hence the score increase.
I hope this answers some of your questions and please feel free to follow up with me directly.
Director of Ranking | Klout
ash [at] klout dot com