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Why I Quit Klout and Why You Should Too!

By Eric Miltsch on Dec 13, 2012

DrivingSales dScore PreviewVery rarely do I ever rant about something, but enough already with the obsession about Klout and your score. This debate continues to drone on and I'm simply tired of hearing about what Klout "means" - I'll tell you what it means: Nothing.

Sure, it's very easy to complain about something. I learned at a young age that if you're going to complain about something, you better be prepared to change it. Otherwise, keep you mouth shut and deal with it. That's why you don't often hear from me in this tone. My experiment is over, I've learned a ton and I believe I've made something that can have the same natural impact as it relates to your professional activities. (More on that shortly.) 
I understand we all desire adulation and some form of self-actualization. Ask yourself, is getting Klout and seeing your score fluctuate truly satisfying these needs for you and is it beneficial in any way?
This has created a non-productive behavior modification with everyone playing along. Stop giving +K, stop thanking people for giving you +K and stop trying to get more perks. I've heard people justify a high score by saying that it represents your "overall understanding" of how social media works, how the tools can be leveraged, how to understand people. Oh, just stop. I'll tell you what it means. It means you know how to post a ton of crap in a lot of places. (And I know that because that's what I did.) 
I've played with Klout long enough (three years+) to understand the mechanics of the platform, how to game it and to realize that it hasn't provided an ounce of benefit to me within it's intended scope. Sure, I got some free stuff. A four-pack of Red Bull is nice, but Red Bull doesn't need me telling my friends about it. They had a guy free fall from space, they don't need me or anyone else telling you about their brand. I got some herbs to plant in three cute Bing planters. Two of them sprouted, one died; I still don't use Bing. I got a cool t-shirt from Subaru, unfortunately it's the same size shirt I wore in 8th grade. All I can really do is tell people I got a t-shirt from Klout. That is, if I want to sound like a complete tool and cause an abrupt end to the conversation. 
Let's review the basic elements of Klout. They claim they're the standard for influence measurement. My beef with this claim is that it's so difficult, near impossible, to measure true influence online. (As do Kred, Naymz & PeerIndex) Measuring influence online involves tracking the change in behavior, or actions, that one person creates in another person. There are only a handful of people this can actually work for. One great example is someone like Trey Ratcliff. He's one of the most famous photographers in the world, due in part to his social media efforts and mostly due to his amazing photography skills. He's influential. If he mentions how he does something, people listen. If he shares what equipment he uses and recommends it, I'll buy it without any other consideration. That's influence. But he doesn't need Klout to tell him, or anyone else, that he's a hot commodity. 
Now let's look at a flawed result created by Klout due to the broad stroke measure of its algorithm. London's Big Ben clock has a twitter account that tweets out it's "bongs" - it's influential on the topic of drugs. Relevant? Hardly. 
In order for you to become influential, you need to have experience. Gaining experience means you need to have relevant activity. Malcolm Gladwell says the golden rule of becoming an expert in your field dictates you need 10,000 hours of relevant activity. Seth Godin pushes it out even further saying you need 20,000 hours, depending on your segment and other factors such as competition. 
So, what's the solution? With the help of the awesome people within DrivingSales, we're introducing the dScore. This is intended to be the first activity and experience measurement tool for automotive professionals. Our algorithm will simply monitor and measure your activity within the DrivingSales community as related to your specific activity and contributions. The formula is simple: (Activity + Experience)Relevance = Influence.
This wasn't designed to be a popularity contest and can't be manipulated. This was designed to help you. Over time, the measurement factors will grow and adapt. For now, the goal is simply to measure and reward you for your activity. Your activity will contribute to your score. Initially, the rewards will come in the form of an improved score and visually by unlocking different achievements. Each activity can impact your score differently. Here's a few examples of the activity measured and it's impact on your score: 
DrivingSales dScore Preview
  • Contributing original content (High impact, unlocks achievement)
  • Receiving comments (Moderate impact, unlocks achievement)
  • Having your content shared (Moderate impact, unlocks achievement)
  • Sharing content (Low impact, unlocks achievement) 
  • Completed your profile (No impact, unlocks achievement)
Unlike Klout, we want to be extremely transparent with regards to why we're doing this, how it works and what this means to you before we publish the new feature to the site. You can expect to see this live by next week.
First, we're doing this to raise the overall level of quality activity within the community. You want better content and we want to provide that to you. We don't want content that is diluted and posted to every other online community. This doesn't help other users and it doesn't help your brand whether you're a dealer or vendor. We also want to continue building our position as a premier destination for the best performance improvement content in the business. 
Second, here is the initial list of activities that will unlock achievements and/or impact your score. No surprises, standard community activity, while including offline activity as well.
  • Joining
  • Your length of time as a member
  • Connecting with other members
  • Contributing original content (Blogs, forums, strategies, videos, etc) 
  • Receiving comments on your content
  • Having your content shared
  • Sharing content   
  • Completed your profile  
  • Contributing to the Dealership Innovation Guide (DIG) 
  • Appearing on the cover of DIG 
  • Speaking at DrivingSales Executive Summit (DSES) 
  • Attending DSES & President's Club events
Pro Tips: If your activity involves contributing content (writing a blog) and generates engagement (receiving comments) - that will improve your score. If the activity involves a basic community function (completing your profile) - that won't affect your score. There's also a time decay element; dScores will decrease if there is no activity. Again, the goal is to encourage timely activity and current experience. 
Lastly, we want to help provide you a visual validation for your contributions, reward your activities and help you build your professional brand. As these activities increase and user experience grows, we can begin to leverage the power of the community's influence to help other users gain access to more helpful information about vendor products and services as well. More activity will allow us to provide the most relevant rewards for your activity - rewards that you can actually use and benefit from. (Vendor rewards, discount prices, meaningful products, etc) Sharing your experiences within our incredible community online, in print and at our events, benefits everyone. 
I welcome your feedback. I love this industry, the wonderful people I've met over the years and truly want to see everyone continue to improve. Doing so helps yourself, your business and our industry. Let's focus on productive efforts rather than time wasters. 
(Thanks for reading my rant too!)


But will you send me free Red Bull like Klout does? :-)

Dec 13, 2012

Ed, I'll send you whatever you want:)

Dec 13, 2012

Forget the Red Bull, I want a vintage Subaru shirt that would only fit Larry Bruce!

Dec 13, 2012

The last time I saw Larry he was outside of a Ikea in a really sharp little coat...

Dec 13, 2012

Where is the 'like' button when I need it!!

Dec 13, 2012

Great article Eric, sorry you spent 3 plus years on the experiment, but now we can all enjoy your findings.

Dec 13, 2012

Love it Eric, I wrote about this recently as well. Couldn't agree more, great article! (and btw, this comment will put your dScore over the top...)

Dec 13, 2012

Thanks Kevin.

Enjoyed your article as well. I had hoped to publish this sooner, just needed a bit more time to get everything in place.

Dec 13, 2012

Thanks Carl - definitely learned a few things about the platform, but even more about our behaviors.

Dec 13, 2012 (Last Edited: 2012-12-13 12:37:13)

Its yours Glen!

Dec 13, 2012

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