Tag Archives: twitter

3 Reasons Klout’s Algorithm Is Bogus

Labeling itself “The Standard for Influence,” Klout has worked to become a relevant influence-measurement tool for businesses and individuals.

While every marketer would love a way to quantify social media influence, is there really any substance behind Klout’s numbers? Does a high (or low) Klout score really have an impact on whether you can influence others’ behavior — or is Klout simply an imprecise  measurement of one’s social media prowess? Here are three reasons Klout’s algorithm is probably more alchemy than science.

Measuring the Wrong Things


One of the main problems of Klout is that it relies on third-party APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to get data from the networks it scans — and those APIs have limits. A good example of where this falls short is that Klout has no way to monitor click-through rates. The service has no way of knowing what volume of traffic flows through the items a member posts, or if these posts actually lead to any action offline. How can a service claim to adequately monitor influence with such a huge blind spot?

Another issue is what Klout actually tracks and how it tracks it. With Twitter, scores are determined by monitoring things like follower counts, mentions, and retweets. However, it doesn’t give credit very well for those using Twitter’s native retweet system. When a member retweets something, Klout gives credit back to the original account, even if another user’s retweet exposed it to a larger audience.

Some Twitter members don’t like this and have devised ways to game Klout’s handling of this metric. These individuals choose to use the older manual “RT @name” style retweets instead of the native Twitter system. This way, when the post is retweeted by their audiences, they get the score boost and increased visibility instead of the original user. This is essentially a way of stealing influence and Klout’s algorithm (as it is today) encourages it.

An Ever-Shifting House of Cards

In February of last year, an infographic made the rounds on the web highlighting a Justin Bieber Twitter spam account with an astoundingly high Klout score. This illustrated some major flaws with Klout and served to embarrass the company briefly.

To combat the loss of confidence in its service, Klout has attempted to iterate and improve its scoring dramatically over the past year. However, it has often done this without notice or explanation. It was not uncommon for members to log in and find that their scores had plummeted by tens of points without explanation. These changes, while aimed at improving the service, essentially stomped all over Klout’s credibility and gave the company a boy-who-cried-wolf reputation with each new algorithm upgrade.

Perhaps most damning is the way Klout has de-emphasized and removed certain metrics in its latest redesign. For example, the latest revision has removed things like user classifications and score analysis. The company has even hidden the ability to track changes to certain metrics over time. If Klout felt more confident in its algorithm, it would expose more of this data, not less.

Topical Misunderstanding

Klout’s system of topics are, in many cases, baffling. For example, having one tweet including the words “Paparazzi” and “Matt Damon” retweeted by someone Klout deems of greater influence can get you labeled as influential on those topics. This can happen despite that tweet being the only time you ever mention those topics. It doesn’t matter if you have many other tweets pertaining to broader topics, such as politics or technology, that achieve a broader reach.

It appears that Klout matches its “topics” to keywords used in social media posts alone, instead of using actual, objective, topics. It also appears that Klout’s algorithm is not smart enough to understand and classify posts based on context — without the usage of such keywords directly. These are some of the flaws of automation. Algorithms cannot understand things like sarcasm and tone, and they have an especially hard time with nuances of language and meaning that only humans would pick up.

At the end of the day, Klout is trying to quantify something as inherently subjective as influence. But while some metrics can be helpful to understand audience reach, influence cannot be distilled into single number. While Klout’s promise is tantalizing for marketers, it will always need to rely on a certain amount of assumption and fabrication to seem legit, thus leading its value to be questionable at best, and bogus at worst.

[Image credit: Peter Roberts]

London Part 2

On Sept 15th, 2011, I began the lifestyle that will define me for the next few months; that of a backpacker. My goal is to explore the world, learn about other cultures and meet new people all through the aid of digital tools and social media. Armed with an unlocked iPhone and 7 days worth of clothes I am making my way based on recommendations of friends and followers.


I got up Monday morning and Blair was determined to show me what she claimed was “the best place to get bagels” in Europe. A claim I was instantly skeptical of, having grown up in New York, I’ve been spoiled for much of my life with great bagels.

It turned out that the place Blair wanted to take me to was somewhere that Lis Rock had already suggested via Twitter from her travel experiences and interestingly there is a competing bagel shop right next door as well so we decided to try both and decide which I preferred.

In the end I preferred the second place’s butter better and they did have poppy seeds which the other did not. These bagels had little in common with the American style bagels I’ve been used to. They were smaller, softer, typically plain (as opposed to seeded or spiced) and near as I could tell neither place offered the option to have them toasted, so my preference was far from a conclusive decision.

After breakfast Blair and I wandered off through the city to the flower market where we listened to street musicians and enjoyed the hustle and bustle of people around us. We then took off exploring through the city checking out the architecture of the financial district and St. Paul’s Cathedral and explored the shopping areas of Covent Garden before taking the advice of Jim Binder once again and checking out a pub called the Nag’s Head. The Nag’s Head was an irish style pub with an extremely short bar and a variety of Adnam’s beers on tap. Blair and I rest there with a pint and some snacks before moving on to meet her husband Patrick for dinner at a pub around the corner from their flat when he returned that evening.

The next day Blair and I went out again and head over to The Victoria and Albert Museum on the suggestion of my aunt. where we found “The Power of Making” exhibit which explores the ways people are creating things of beauty or function out of other things one would not expect. An example of which would include an awesome Crochetdermy bear.

We explored some more from there before getting dinner at The Albion with Patrick and catching some friends of his for a drink nearby and soon calling it a night as the next morning I was off to Paris via the Eurostar.

My time in London was quiet and laid back as I would have expected… from here on out the real trip was set to kick off.

Full London photo set.

Grid Meets Road – World Travel in the Digital Age

On the 19th of September I will embark on an adventure that will almost certainly change my life. I am heading overseas to Europe to travel full time until February of next year.

Along my way I will use digital devices and social media tools to explore and find what to do in each respective city. I will document my experience on this blog, Flickr, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, FourSquare, GowallaTumblr & and maybe even YouTube. I will attempt to find places to say either with friends from these services or using sites like CouchSurfing and AirBnB.

The idea is to “crowd source” my adventure, asking for you, the reader, to supply me with input as to where to go, what to see etc.

My end goal will be not just to explore the world but to really test the limits of our global communications network, the so-called “global community”. Can we, “the internet”, actually supply what one person needs to know on such an adventure? How connected are we really through these services and how easy (or hard) is it to maintain the relationships with your loved ones while traveling full time?

I have also submit a panel to next year’s SXSW Interactive Festival and hope to be able to share the results of my trip with you there as well as eventually publish a book on the experience.

I will share more details about the trip as we get closer to leaving but for now I could use your help.

Please do me a favor and vote for my panel to be accepted to SXSW… the voting period ends tonight Friday the 2nd at midnight. You can do that here.

And if you’re so interested you can donate to my experiment as well here.

Anyone who donates me any money (doesn’t matter how much or little) will have their name on a slide at our SXSW presentation should it be accepted. Thanks!

Into the great wide open.

Open on FlickrA week ago I had my final day at Apple Inc.

As much as I deeply love Apple it was one of those things where it was just time for me to move on. The constraints of working a retail job have been a challenge to my personal creative pursuits for some time so after six and a half year I’ve decided to move on (for now at least).

Today marks the beginning of something else entirely. Today I am leaving on what I hope to be the first of many road trips across the United States, during which my goal will be to write and publish a photo set daily from the road.

On this trip I will be accompanied by the always awesome and always funky fresh James Vest. The two of us will be exploring our way down to New Orleans and back over the course of 8 days.

We’ll be reaching out on Twitter to crowd-source the things we do in each city and others are welcome to meet up with us if they so choose.

I have to cut this short as I still have a few things to take care of before hitting the road. Expect another blog later today but in the meantime here is how you can follow us:

John
Twitter | Flickr | FourSquare | Gowalla

James
Twitter

Mercedes Benz is sending us on an adventure!

I wanted to say something sooner but I have been super busy and I wanted to give Len the spotlight first and space out our entries for maximum visibility.

As you may or may not have heard. My good friend Len Kendall and I have been chosen to participate in the first ever Mercedes Benz Tweet Race. What is this you may ask? Well basically the good folks at Mercedes Benz have chosen four teams of two to drive cars from different locations across the USA in a Twitter powered adventure. Our destination? Dallas, Texas just in time for a big sporting event that we may have a hookup to acquire tickets for.

The race takes place from Feb 2nd – Feb 4th and aside from just being a ton of fun, it’s got a lot of incentives and for a good cause. Our team is going to be “coached” by Yankee outfielder Nick Swisher and will be playing to win ourselves brand new 2012 Mercedes Benz C-class cars and money to go to “Swish’s Wishes,” a children’s charity that enriches lives and lifts the spirits of children with vital health issues, a cause I think we can all get behind. Lastly, if that isn’t enough there is a selfish incentive to help us! By joining our “team” on Facebook you are entered into a drawing to win a prize which could include a V.I.P. trip to the US Open, Mercedes Benz Fashion week or The PGA Championship. Pretty sweet right?

So what can you do to help? Well first off, join our “team” on Facebook here. That gets you entered to win all the cool prizes. Len and I have been assigned the Twitter hashtag #MBteamE. So from Feb 2nd – Feb 4th they are going to gauge how many people tweet for us using that tag, the more tweets, the more points we get. The more points, the better chance we have of winning.

So I decided to make this super easy for you my friends, I set up a Twtvite here. So all you need to do is login, RSVP and have it post a tweet for it. Ideally we want you to do that starting on the 2nd but if you want to help raise awareness now that would be awesome too.

Now you know me folks, I’m going to be having a blast with this. Expect plenty of adventures and photos right here and throughout the various social networks. I look forward to sharing it with all of you.

Lastly, what would a road trip be without awesome music right? Len and I are letting you choose the soundtrack! Pick out some awesome tunes and add them to our playlist and we’ll make sure to rock out to them on the road. If you let us know which are your tunes we’ll try to give you a shoutout of where we are when we hear them!