The Official Klout Blog

A Year of Klout

December 28th, 2011 by Joe Fernandez
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Moving fast, making friends, breaking things and trying to change the world. I would say that 2011 had all the ingredients of an amazing year for the Klout team.

With all that has happened, it feels impossible that January was only one year ago. I remember being excited but nervous heading into 2011. We had just closed a round of financing with Kleiner Perkins and Greycroft. The pressure was on to evolve Klout from interesting novelty to meaningful business. We were also at a crossroads in terms of how we wanted to think of our business. The obvious path was to be a data-centric company focused on helping businesses target influencers. This didn’t feel right though and we made the call to continue our consumer focus. We felt that by empowering people to understand and leverage their influence we could have the biggest impact. We wanted to unlock the world’s influence.

Our goals coming into 2011 were to be “the standard” and to make the Klout score matter. To be the standard, we wanted to be recognized for having the highest quality data and to have the Klout score distributed everywhere. From using Klout to quantify a politician’s traction, to credit cards integrating Klout to reward customers with loyalty points, the Klout score became the industry standard. In fact, distribution of the Klout score grew from about 1000 developers in January 2011 to over 5000 partners now. Even more exciting is the amount of API calls, which grew from about 100 million per month last January to over 7.5 billion per month now!

The bigger challenge for Klout in 2011 was to make the Klout score meaningful and relevant to everyone. In May, we relaunched Klout.com and saw a huge surge in engagement and user registrations. Soon after, we released +K which allows users to explicitly recognize their friends’ influence. +K has been a huge success with over 50,000 +K’s generated daily. We reintroduced our much improved topic pages and also added LinkedIn, Foursquare and Google+ to the algorithm while beginning to analyze YouTube, Tumblr, WordPress, Instagram, Flickr and other networks to provide a complete picture of an individual’s influence.

Klout Perks also made a huge impact in 2011. Over 250,000 people were rewarded for their influence with amazing Perks from brands like Spotify, Red Bull, Hewlett-Packard, Turner, American Express, Chevy and Microsoft. I am particularly proud of the Klout Perks program. To have top brands recognize the impact not only of social media but also the power and voice of the individual was exciting to see. These brands followed our Klout Perks Code of Ethics and simply let influencers experience their products without knowing what the influencers would say and getting no private information about the participants. This past year we also redesigned our Klout Perks packaging, so be on the look out for the orange Klout Perks box because we are looking to take Klout Perks to the next level in 2012!

With all of our successes, 2011 wasn’t without some major challenges and screw-ups. Measuring influence is a monumental challenge and as the social media landscape continues to evolve, our algorithms need to evolve with it. In October, we launched the biggest algorithm change in the nearly four-year history of the company. In planning for this change we thought we had our bases covered in terms of transparency and communication. But it’s clear we didn’t do enough. The reaction was a great kick in the pants for the team and we appreciate everyone who cared enough about their Klout scores to #occupy us.

Privacy is another area where we learned some tough lessons in 2011. The nature of social networks and the data Klout analyzes makes privacy a consideration in every decision we make. In an effort to be more transparent about the data Klout analyzes, we launched the “Understanding Klout” portal. Our goal for 2012 is to be seen as a leader with respect to privacy.

Through the ups and downs of building a startup, my favorite part was getting to work with so many amazing people. From our investors to customers and partners we were lucky to have so many brilliant minds helping us. The Klout team grew from 15 people to more than 50 and I have never met a more humble and passionate group. I also want to thank our users for inspiring us to push harder and do better. We appreciate your support and patience and we look forward to helping you unlock your influence in 2012!

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 28th, 2011 at 10:50 am and is filed under measuring influence. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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  • http://twitter.com/ChrisSaad Chris Saad

    Oops and Joe :)

  • http://twitter.com/ChrisSaad Chris Saad

    Congrats to you and the team Binh – you’re doing an amazing job

  • Anonymous

    By acknowledging the places where Klout is lacking you’re really taking the first steps to becoming viable again. The whole goal of social media has become to NOT SCREW UP as bad as the next guy. Bill Maher is in the news over an out of line tweet this morning, it’s becoming a daily occurence almost. Go Daddy dump day is tomorrow. You guys are really walking on eggshells now, and if you aren’t you need to be. The thing I’ve noticed with Social Media is that when the majority of people really like something they overlook screw ups and negative attention doesn’t gain traction. People were really jealous of their Klout scores to begin with, no one wants to be told they are a 45 when they thought all along they were an 82. By farming data and creating profiles for people who never signed up for your service it really skirts the bounds of privacy (Allthis.com had to reverse their practice of creating accounts for users who hadn’t signed up, so they obviously have less loyalty than Klout). Then there’s transparency, which isn’t an issue to me, but most people use it as a ‘gotcha’ when talking about Klout.

    With Wahooly starting up next month and new perks coming in about every week or so, I’m looking forward to the next year on Klout, but instead of expanding you guys need to work on fixxing what you got. I think it’s still possible to formulate a plan to spin Klout’s perception positively, maybe mending the bridges that people have burned should come first. Nicer perks would be my vote for an area of improvement, especially ones that aren’t geographically exclusive. Improving PR and the speed of responses to contact is a must as well. Good luck in 2012 Joe.

  • http://twitter.com/SFBackdoorMedia Joseph Adams

    It has been awesome watching Klout develop over the last year! congratulations on 2011, big hopes for where Klout will go in 2012!

  • Anonymous

    Congrats on a great year! Looking forward to 2012 with you!

  • Pingback: Influential or not, Klout now fields 7.5B API requests per month | VentureBeat

  • Janettwokay

    I think 2011 turned out to be a great year for Klout. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2012 holds in store. Happy New Year to everyone at Klout.

  • John

    So happy to be a Klout user and good luck in 2012!

  • John Dougherty

    JLD3  Congrats Joe on a year you’ll never forget, personally and professionally you have come a long ways since I first met you. Keep up the good work with the Klout team, and may 2012 be even better.

  • Kim’s Chi

    Way to go! Keep it up! I look forward to discovering all that Klout has to offer and the expansion of your potential! Personally I was happily surprised by the speed and personal attention of your customer service. Good luck for 2012!

  • Pingback: Influential or not, Klout now fields 7.5B API requests per month : Marketers-Network

  • http://twitter.com/ramtopsgrum Graham Hartland

    keep going with the FaceBook updates, and it would be lovely to get stats for WordPress and Flickr as well.  You might consider offering advice on increasing someone’s personal score according to media… Which social network gives them now more klout?  Which ones need more input to increase their klout?

  • Pingback: Influential or not, Klout now fields 7.5B API requests per month | Tech News Aggregator

  • http://twitter.com/chillempress chillempress

    Klout, sigh, Fail. … as a professional in the social media arena, I’ve continued to be amused at how BADLY your ‘algorithm’ works… I don’t really care about my ‘score’ but telling me I’m influential in Cocktails, Weddings, Ikea and Birds is crazy considering … I’m SOBER, DIVORCED, hate birds and um, don’t own a frickin thing from Ikea.  FAIL….  I think you need a lot less time gushing and a lot more time in the programming pen.

  • Roy Robart

    Provided Klout points don’t increase a person’s individual score (i.e. being gifted or buying your way into a higher profile), I’m looking forward to seeing what will be on offer this year – having originally been cynical about how easily data is shared between social networking tools. Waiting on Wahooly to kick off particularly.

  • http://twitter.com/PatCarrollTouch Pat Carroll

    Congrats Joe & Klout on a great year’s work. While your algorithm changes in October threw some of us off-balance for a while,we regained our composure -and klout score ;-) . Personal, I enjoyed your talk @JoeFernandez @ Dublin Web Summit, in Ireland, in November. On being asked from the audience, ‘How do you plan to monetize Klout ? -Joe quickly retorted, ‘We’re from San Francisco, we don’t worry about that stuff -our VCs do ! Nice one Joe :-)

  • http://twitter.com/SocialMMMDiva Karen RogersRobinson

    What an adventurous year Klout has had…here’s to an even more fun year in 2012!

  • Calvinpeete62

    The new system is useless.

  • http://twitter.com/SearchRespect Search Respect

    Rewarding social influencers is a great idea that creates a self-fulfilling system where more people are motivated to influence others for the possibility of being recognized. Search Respect offers Social Media Management http://searchrespect.com/services/social-media-management/

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