“Social Media is the New Currency.” We’ve all heard that in some form or another. We’ve opened Facebook accounts we can’t tear ourselves away from. We compulsively post all of our pictures to Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, and any new flavor social media service that crops up. LinkedIn accounts are created if we’re business people.
We tell people where we are with Foursquare/Swarm (“I’m not home – please come rob me”). Pin cool stuff with Pinterest. We probably still have no idea how to work Google+. Our ears are to the ground for the latest and greatest social media product and we sign up, ask/beg for invitations, etc.
Then we tie it all together with an RSS aggregator (Feedly, Reeder, etc.), subscribe to a ton of feeds, try desperately to make time to read as many articles as we can, then use a tool like HootSuite or Buffer to post to all these accounts. Then we open an account with Klout and link as many of those accounts to Klout as possible. Whew. That’s a lot of work.
And we still haven’t spent one billable hour for our clients. We still haven’t learned a new skill (unless that skill is social media or being popular) that we can turn into money. If we have a book to sell (on my to-do list), or a white paper, that might help. If someone is going to invite me to speak for a hefty sum, okay. But neither of those are on my horizon. Yet.
Then There was Klout
I’m going to talk about Klout in the past tense. You’ll understand why shortly.
Invented 10 years ago, Klout was purchased by Lithium Technologies in 2014. “With Klout, Lithium fully delivers on its vision of building a trusted online connection between consumers and the brands they care about,” said Rob Tarkoff, Lithium President and CEO. “Trust is the currency online. For consumers, a trusted expert provides greater confidence in making purchases and getting advice. For brands, building a trusted reputation allows them to better find and keep customers.”
The more you posted, the more you engaged with what you read by retweeting and responding and liking and such, the higher the Klout “score” you’d get. Woo-hoo! You’re popular!
Klout was a cruel taskmaster that required me to breathlessly post stuff to all these different social media accounts during all my waking hours to get a higher and higher Klout score. That meant posting and engaging posts and photos through my lunches and weekends and evening hours. And for what? The score got me squat. They used to have perks.
“Klout was supposed to be the barometer of influence and purveyor of real world value for any given consumer on social,” says Ryan Detert, CEO of Influential. “At one time, hotels would give upgrades based on people’s scores since they were quantified as important.”
“Klout was largely based on who was most active on social versus who had an engaged audience that fit a brand’s consumer base,” Detert says. “And influencers saw that someone who simply tweeted more often than them could have a higher Klout score, so they didn’t put much stake in it.”
Klout’s Score Dropped
This past week, Klout’s shuttering May 25 was announced by the media. It didn’t help that over the years, the site and app got buggier and buggier, and would just stop connecting with various social media products. Days later, still not fixed. The loss of perks also didn’t help.
Klout’s shutdown coincides with the launch date of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), taking effect in Europe, but affecting a lot of U.S. companies doing business in Europe. That’s another blog post (I’ll have to roll up my sleeves and study it throughly so I can write about it), but it’s a pretty big deal and has webmasters stressing out. It concerns collecting and using consumers’ data, and getting their permission from consumers. Apparently it’s more complicated than that.
Lithium CEO Pete Hess stated, “Recent discussions on data privacy and GDPR are further expediting our plans to phase out the Klout service, giving us a chance to lead on some of the issues that are of critical importance to our customers: data privacy, consumer choice and compliance.”
Klout was collecting data from its users, and the new rules would create a big problem. Lithium will deconstruct Klout and use its AI (artificial intelligence) technology in their other products.
How Will We Cope?
Klout was a fun, yet exhausting, way to gamify marketing and popularity, but now marketers, business, owners, and popular people will have to find other ways to measure their popularity. We might have to dust off old-school marketing practices. Something new will come along anyway. It always does.
In the meantime, hey, get back to actual work!
If you’d like to discuss other marketing solutions, give me a call.