Klout. Klout. Let it all out.

(Please see the update below)

Some of you might recall my less-than-stellar encounter with Klout over the way it mishandled a promotion. Essentially, Klout used my name and likeness to promote itself, telling a friend of mine that I had won a perk that I would later be told I was ineligible to win. (Read all about it at ike4.me/klout)

A different friend recently posted a photo of her Klout Profile, wondering about the various topics where she was considered an Influencer. I decided to check in and see how I was being promoted. That’s when I found this link:

Well, gosh! Let’s just take a little tour of that Feedback form, shall we?

It is a rather nice form.

However, I was a bit dismayed to discover that once I hovered over the stars, I could not unselect. I was going to have to give them a full star. I described my dilemma:

The most disturbing part about this is that I am somehow in some crack in their system. Obviously, this part of Klout thinks I actually got my phone, and they would really love to hear what I have to say about it. (From a customer service perspective, you really shouldn’t ask people to weigh in specifically on a transaction they were misled about.)

The third part of the form involved uploading pictures, and I would have done that if the form had let me. I have a witness who will attest to my multiple attempts to add an attachment, but clicking on or around the “Add a picture” button did nothing. If I could have added images, they would have been from the previous post.

FYI - I obtained Joe's permission to use this screen capture of the update on his wall.

FYI – I obtained Joe’s permission to use this screen capture of this update on his wall.

A post, by the way, that you might think Klout would have discovered through its monitoring for posts and mentions.

So now my second attempt at sending them feedback is underway. This time, I hope they can fix their broken feedback system, so it will no longer solicit input from those who didn’t get the perks they were told they’d receive.

Update: This rant was not quite baked. It’s a fair question to ask exactly what I would like Klout to do about this.

  1. Tell me how this happened, and what they’ve done to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Not just the mix-up in the perk, but the subsequent promotion to my friends.
  2. Tell how many others this has happened to.
  3. Notify and apologize to those it misled.
  4. Ensure that they will retain no record of me actually receiving a phone.

#4 is the real sticking point right now, and here’s why. The FTC has some pretty strict standards about word of mouth marketing, and recipients of such perks are beholden to disclose them. Imagine what will happen if the FTC asks for the list of recipients — then compares it to my long history of positive posts and encouraging messages about Windows Phone. They would want to know why I have not disclosed my freebie. After all, Klout thinks they gave me one.

Maybe the FTC would read the rest of my site, and know that I contest this. And maybe they’d take character witnesses. Or maybe they go after some other guy who Klout says has received _______.

I know several people who have deleted their Klout profiles, but now I’m a little bit afraid to. If the data still appears in their disclosure lists, how would I ever know if I didn’t have a way to log in?

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  1. There are hundreds if not thousands of similar stories all over social networks, blogs and web sites. I had 3 of these stories communicated to me via Facebook today alone. Klout mismanages technology. Klout mismanages privacy. Klout mismanages customer service. Klout mismanages opt-out requests. Klout mismanages expectations. Klout mismanages.

    It seems to me that Klout + Technology = Broken.

    Yet, somehow they continue to brand themselves “the standard for influence”. Worse, people are still buying it.

  2. I’d like to say I’m surprised by this, Ike, but of course I’m not. There are so very many things wrong with Klout it’s ridiculous. The sad thing? Brands have NO FLIPPING IDEA! And keep hiring Klout to do promotions with them. That, my friend, stinks almost as much as them using your likeness in this crapdiggety way.

    By the way, I’ve had the same thing happen …. notification that I’m eligible for a perk, then try to claim it, only to be advised that I’m not eligible. I figured it was because some how, some where, in their system I’m blacklisted. The effers.

    [shaking head]

    • Shelly — please come back and check the update. We have a bigger gripe than we thought about their shoddy data retention.

  3. Wow that’s pretty awful. I’d be curious to hear if Klout actually considers you a customer. I’ll bet they have little, if any, staff directed at helping Klout users.

  4. What a mess. This is an example of a company doing too much too fast with inadequate resources to execute. I surely sympathize with any company trying to iterate in public but I don’t see much evidence that things are getting better.

    • Well said, Mark. Despite what Google would have us think, there is a shelf life to the “Beta” tag, and the stakes might be too high for Youthful Offender status.

  5. What an irritating fiasco. They seem to be in way over their heads.

    • Worse, they seem to be in denial about it. They want us all to focus on how hard it is to develop useful algorithms, but not on just how dangerous this can be.

      Thanks Carl…

  6. A woeful tale. One clarifying point, however. Government disclosure policies dictate that the responsible party for compliance is the marketer, not the mouthpiece. Thus, in this circumstance, Microsoft would be the ones at risk of transgression (in theory).

    • Oh, I’ve done enough volunteer endorsement of the platform that I’d be considered for one of those nice $11,000 fines.

      Either way, you think advertisers want a part of that?

  7. Colleen says:

    Just had someone send me this article link via Twitter after I updated with a new Klout score. Now I just want to delete that tweet! I guess the most upsetting thing is there hasn’t been a response from Klout about this issue. Although social media is a free flow of conversation and ideas, there still needs to be accountability and responsibility for how a company projects its offers, functionality and overall operation. Klout -100 this week…..:-)

    • Makes me wonder how many other people I’m connected to have seen ads using my name, with the premise that I’ve been given a promotional gift.

  8. Ug…like Sam this doesn’t surprise me because stuff like this keeps happening. The scary thing is, outside of the social media bubble, Klout is beginning to pick up steam and people are using it not only to find “influencers,” but also to hire new employees. It’s really, really scary.

    • That’s a completely different (and valid) concern — that it’s getting far more mainstream credibility than the actual performance warrants. But perception could end up trumping reality…

    • Katelin Tiernan says:

      That’s definitely the most concerning part about this. There is random and false information all over the Internet, but using a system that is so obviously broken to evaluate possible employees is a problem. The fact that people are actually putting their Klout score on their resumes boggles the mind.


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