August 16, 2011, Posted by Kevin Mullett in internet tools, marketing, marketing tools, social, un-common sense

should ONLINE INFLUENCE be an exclusive club

Online influence measurement and analytic services are all the rage in this hyper-social media aware age we find ourselves in, but should online influence be an exclusive club? Last week, Klout, the 800-pound gorilla in the online influence game, announced it was adding Instagram as an available service you can add to your connected accounts. I’ll get to why that puts my boxers in a bunch in just a minute. Upon logging into my Empire Avenue account, e(MULLETT), today I noticed that now they will be using it as a metric as well. What the heck?

Why is Instagram an issue, and does anybody else care? Instagram is an iOS-, iPhone-, iPod-, iPad-only service. You cannot use it via any other platform, and there is no web interface for it. This means that people who are part of the Apple mobile hardware ecosystem are granted exclusive opportunity to additional online influence. Again I ask: what the heck?

To be fair, I must admit that other services present encumbrances as well. For example, if you don’t have a smart phone, other mobile devices with a GPS, or a laptop and a mobile hot spot or wifi connection, you can’t very well check in to Foursquare, which is also used by both of the aforementioned services. Some people also do not want to check in via Foursquare due to privacy and safety concerns, though you choose who you let see alerts and which networks they go to. But I digress. Maybe you don’t take photos and don’t care about sharing photography. Clearly those who do and have a Flickr account and Instagram account have a leg up on others. The difference is choice.

Empire Avenue  adds Instagram

To sum up, I believe that if you are going to measure online influence, it should be a reflection of signals that can be generated by the majority of the online population without being tied to a specific manufacturer’s ecosystem. Or you should at least separate those signals into a specific report.

What is your take? Put a quick comment together and let me know, or join me and @ScLoHo, @RoundPeg, and @RandyClarkTKO for a conversation about Klout tomorrow (8/16/2011) on BlogTalkRadio.


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  • There’s an old story about an accountant that got drafted into the army.

    For some reason he ended up in a combat unit, but he was stationed a long way from the fighting and thus grew bored. So, he started counting and measuring.

    Pretty soon, the accountant had all kinds of wacky numbers: total socks per platoon, average number of bullets used in target practice cross referenced by rank, PT performance versus number of days back from leave, and so on.

    The accountant then wrote a massive report and passed it up the chain of command. After a few weeks, he heard back from some bigwigs at headquarters.

    Their response: “Measurement does not guarantee meaning. Report to the front.”

    The moral of the story is that Klout is measuring all kinds of data about social behavior when we don’t really know yet what actually matters about social behavior. Their adoption of Instagram is proof of the problem.

    There’s nothing wrong with using Klout to get a sense of what’s happening online, but it’s not a truly statistically meaningful metric. It’s just some opinions about where to hold yardsticks in a phenomenon too new to truly understand.

  • I think it depends on whether or not the impact of the Instagram score is only a net positive. Perhaps the folks at Klout are segmenting Instagram users and whether or not their usage/influence is above the average Instagram user or below the average Instagram user.

    If it’s only a net positive, then it’s a very bad idea to close it like this. I hope that’s not the case with Klout!