In what was probably the most awkward interview of all time, Co-Founder and CEO of Klout, Joe Fernandez talked about some changes that are going to be made to Klout’s algorithm that will make it a better indicator of social media influence.
You may or may not know Klout as the service that connects all of your social media and gives you a numberical value of how influencial you are on certain topics with you friends and followers online. The woman giving Fernandez the interview was TechCrunch Co-Editor Alexis Tsotsis, and she makes no bones about her hatred of the company, from its core idea to its execution. Which made for a difficult interview to watch. Tsotsis continually makes jabs about how no one cares about Klout and those that have actually tried it out, don’t like it at all. To which, Fernandez does not respond well, at one point admitting that his software isn’t sophisticated enough to differentiate “I like TV show Lost” and “I’ve lost my keys”, which doesn’t speak weel for its ability to accurately identify a topic, much less determine if a person is influential in it.
The revelation that Klout tried to unveil is that they will attempt to measure how influential people are offline as well as introduce a new algorithm that will supposedly be a better indicator of a persons influence on their social media graphs. Fernandez did not really go into detail as to exactly how he is going to accomplish the task of measuring a person’s clout in the real world. And the only thing that he revealed about the new algorithm is that it will use “more signals” and topics will be more refined to make them more relevant.
They changed their algorithm once before in October of last year, and it did not go well amongst Klout users. Many lost clout that they had been attempting to accumulate with the old system and their scores dropped as a result. Fernandez reminisced on how he was “basically receiving death threats” after the first algorithm change. It was around this time that Tstotsis wrote her article railing Klout for its lack of vision and blatant disrespect for its followers, and basically, its lack of clout amongst social network users.
Despite so many people loving to hate Klout, they have raised $70 million in funding so far. According to Fernandez he loves the naysayers. It is that which motivates him to make Klout better.
Perhaps the most telling part of the interview was when Tsotsis asked the crowd how many of them actually used the service and five people raised their hands. Of those, one raised their hand when she asked if they found the service useful or if it was an accurate portrayal of their social media influence. Not a good sign.