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Clobbering the Klout Score

Clobbering the Klout Score

Imagine this scenario. You’re boarding your flight, and an announcement is made that there are three free upgrades to First Class. Free. For those whose Klout scores are 50 or higher.

Or you complain to a company about some defect in their product, and you never get an answer. But other people do, you learn. Why? The brand opts to reply only to those customers with high Klout scores, because, they reason, those are the true influencers of public opinion and are the one worth spending time on.

Wired Magazine reports that these examples of Klout scores driving successful transactions are very much in play, like, for instance, the report that clerks at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas quietly check the Klout scores when guests check in. And give those high scorers instant room upgrades, without the guests often even knowing why.

Wired says that Klout’s VP  Matt Thomson, says many companies are already deep into discussions about how best to use Klout scores. He predicts that people with high Klout scores will board airplanes earlier, get free access to VIP lounges, stay in better hotel rooms, and receive deep discounts from retail stores.

The three-year old company’s successful venture into running people’s lives by algorithms is not universally applauded. For example, Jaron Lanier, author of You Are Not a Gadget argues, among other things, that people’s lives are “being run by stupid algorithms more and more (and) the only ones to escape it are the ones who avoid playing the game all.”

Wired’s author, Seth Stevenson, queried Klout in an attempt to boost his scores. He learned the following techniques:

• Tweet much more than he had been
• Concentrate on one topic, be focused
• Develop relationships with those people who have high Klout scores
• Keep things upbeat. Apparently positive content is more appealing than negative

The problem seems then to be that once one backs off from this kind of compulsive behavior, Stevenson learned, Klout scores drop. Fast. So the question remains, do Klout scores finally matter.

It seems they do, if you’re in the business of being “important” which is not the same thing as being interesting, or relevant.
Consider that Justin Bieber has a perfect 100 score, while President Obama, a much more important figure, we would argue, weighs in at 91.
Stevenson also found himself drawn to Tweets from people with low or no Klout scores because their stuff was more provocative.

So, while its true people with Klout scores of 50 or higher may well get perks like free washing machines or the coveted penthouse suite, it could be these people have swapped perceived “influence” in the form of high Klout scores  for real influence in the form of engaging people with ideas and useful information.

Still, an upgrade to First Class is a very attractive carrot to dangle.

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