Social Commerce

Klout Gets Clouted In A World That Kept Score But Moved On

To get a sense of why some apps succeed while others don’t, pay some heed to Klout.

Which has none – clout, that is. Or soon, it seems, operations.

The app, which calculates scores based on their influence within social media circles, will close next week on May 25.

Lithium Technologies, which is the company that bought Klout four years ago for roughly $200 million, has decided to shut down that site. In what might be seen as a simple (maybe curt) nod to the less than forgiving way of the digital age, Lithium CEO Peter Hess said via blog that Klout “as a standalone service is not aligned with our long-term strategy.”

And thus, Klout is – or will be – gone.

The premise may be what led to the demise. The idea of “social reputation,” the overarching theme of the app, led individuals to link their social media accounts to Klout, which, through analytics, assigned a score tied to influence. Perhaps predictably, an outsized media or political figure, such as a pop star or U.S. president, might be assigned a perfect 100 rating. There was even, briefly, a perks feature – as noted by The Verge – that offered rewards (think discounts and product samples) to those whose scores for social media standing were above a certain level.

Well, that’s gone, and so will Klout be. Some observers have noted the death knell will be sounded on the very day that GDPR data privacy rules take effect, but might in this case a cigar be just a cigar?

The social media offered up here, for the scoring, is voluntary in its creation, and meant to be shared. The joining up with Klout has been voluntary. While the model has been dying (at least in the United States), according to The Verge, the perceived value of social scoring is gaining traction in China, where a social credit system is in the pilot phase, and where even the ability to use public transport might be governed by (digitally derived) social standing.

Yet, as noted by other outlets, such as The Drum, the use case proved elusive. In other words, the fault lay not in the stars, but in the app. Simply put, said that site, the score offered nothing of value, with no real additional torque given to marketers beyond the insight that could be gleaned from other avenues, such as “likes,” shares or simply numbers of followers. In fact, this last metric proved enough to explain the vast majority of difference between individual Klout scores. Thus, Klout’s tout carried the same weight as other places, which makes it tough to stand out. In a world of Instagram, pins, LinkedIn, product placement and endorsements and crowdfunding, what doesn’t set tech apart eventually renders it moot.

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