How Klout is Clouding Real Influence with Influence Level Perks

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A few months ago, Klout rolled out brand topic pages for Klout Perks and got the ball rolling with special perks for Red Bull influencers. My hubs loves energy drinks, so I add Red Bull as topic on my Klout profile and set out to share content about the brand across my network so I could snag up a sample of Red Bull as well as their publication the Red Bulletin. Without a single +K on the topic, I earned my perks but I began notice a trend spreading like wildfire.

+K me Please!

Asking for +K is not a new phenomena. In fact, people do it all the time amongst groups of their peers in groups, forums and so on. For the most part, a fair representation of topics that a user is influential about will appear on their Klout profile, but for some, they are getting +K out of people that have never read their blog, interacted with them on twitter etc… It is a flaw in the system, but it wasn’t one that was detrimental in a brands understanding of who their influencers are until the recent boom in brand topic page +K ing.

Testing the Theory with DALLAS

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After Red Bull, TNT jumped into the game adding the anticipated return of the TV show DALLAS as a topic with specific perks for influencers. For the top 1,000 a DALLAS Quickies book with the original series summed up in slew of quirky tweets. The top 100 would receive a sneak peek of the first and second episodes via DVD before the premier of the show. Finally, when the season wraps up, the top 10 influencers will be honored with a visit to the set of DALLAS.

Remembering my mom watching the show when I was a child, my interest was piqued and I added the topic and set out to see how high I could get my influence to go. I tweeted about the show regularly, shared on facebook and even asked for +K a time or two. I’ve managed to stay in the 300 area as far as influencers go, but could never get any higher. Why, let’s take a look at the top 10 influencers.

A Bunch of +K Junkies    

  • 8 out of the top ten use their bio to ask for +K with no info about themselves.
  • 7 of the top ten have an influence level of high or more in all of the 20 available topics pumped up with lots of +K
  • 5 of the top ten links to content they create, but 0% of that content is related to DALLAS or even television or entertainment.
  • 4 of the top ten’s twitter feeds content is ruled by +K request & interactions
  • Only 3 of the top ten can claim television or entertainment in general in their top five topics

I don’t know about you, but I don’t see any particular reason why I should trust the opinion of anyone on this top ten list in regards to the DALLAS TV show. If there isn’t trust in brand social media advertising, what is their?

Tridents Decent into the Cloud of Fake Klout

Trident’s new topic page just went live and in just one day the Klout junkies will be at it again, running a fake +K marathon so they can get their hands on some free concert cash. Hey, they have been at it for weeks already with the anticipation of an upcoming perk.

The crap part of it, I received a Klout Perk from Trident and really loved the gum. I have shared my love too, but I will never see the light of day in the influence contest because I prefer to present truthfulness to those that I influence, as all should.

My advice for Trident, take your top influencers with a grain of salt. They are fake and likely could give a rat’s ass about your product or brand.

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My Advice for Klout

Brands were capable of picking out influential networkers before you introduced your service with hard work. If they are wise they will continue to do so until you get the +K fiasco under control. You are doing a disservice not only to the brands you are promoting, but also to the consumers and real social media influencers across the web.

Klout in theory is awesome. I have loved my Klout perks and the ability to give brands a quick reference number. With all of that being said, it is a difficult to put your support around a model that is allowing freebee seekers all the glory rather than those who are actually passionate about the brands.

What do you think, is Klouts +K game out of hand?