Here Comes Little Bird: As If Klout Wasn’t Enough
I guess you can see from the headline that I am not a big fan of so-called social influence measurement platforms like Klout, and it’s not because I don’t have a decent Klout score, the whole thing is madness. But that’s just me; you probably want to know what Little Bird is all about, so let’s go.
Little Bird is the brainchild of former Read Write Web employee and tech blogger Marshall Kirkpatrick. Having been bitten by the startup bug, Kirkpatrick started a company called Plexus Engine and it’s out of this creation that we are now seeing the rise of Little Bird.
So what is Little Bird?
The application lets users mine the web for data on a particular topic and then match an ‘influencer’ to that topic. The idea is to find people on the web that are perceived as experts either due to a large social following or simply for having lots of mentions in comments etc. Not a bad idea in itself, but what’s the point?
Kirkpatrick says the ‘point’ of Little Bird is to find “the most connected people in any particular field.” From there users can engage the influencers directly using any of the communication tools that come built into the platform. Again I ask’ what’s the point?
The Klout bias
Little Bird is perhaps being marketed as something slightly radical to Klout but when you get down to brass tax, the platform operates in much the same way. It’s all about finding people that are popular on the social network and then someone seeking them out or tapping their knowledge or social graph. Again nothing wrong with this idea, but what are the odds of 18 year-old Bobby from Boise, Idaho being able to have a ‘chin wag’ with Robert Scoble. I hope you see my point.
Klout itself has come under criticism because many big-name companies have started to use Klout score as a measure of employability. The flaw in this should be obvious, because Klout scores are numbers and scoring is a zero sum game. In other words, only one person can have a Klout score of 1.
$1 million raised so far
Of course all the ranting of an obscure writer won’t do much to kill a startup in its track and so unsurprisingly, Kirkpatrick has managed to raise $1 million towards his application. The money was pitched in by Mark Cuban’s Radical Investments, with participation from Howard Lindzon’s Social Leverage Group, Blaine Cook, an early engineer at Twitter and Hubspot co-founder Dharmesh Shah.
The platform presently doesn’t have as part of its setup all the major social platforms and so the money will partly help getting the infrastructure sorted as well as marketing the new offering.
I rather suspect that Little Bird will manage to raise more money as time goes by; the emergence of so-called ‘influence-gathering’ engines are becoming more popular among a small sub-set of the tech space. Whether they will prove useful will be largely outside of our hands.
Are platforms like Klout and Little Bird useful? Share your thoughts with us below.