It’s time to address a problem that is rapidly growing out of control:
The Klout Problem
Recently, I’ve been seeing more and more articles talking about Klout. People exclaiming how important it is, how it is bringing efficiency to PR and other professions, how you should be REALLY concerned. These Kloutheads make the claim that it makes it easier to filter out the unimportant people and quickly reach influencers.
This article is the one that really set me off though: Without Klout, Google+ is dead to Me.
These asinine conversations are cropping up everywhere and I want to vomit:
“What’s your Klout score? Mine is two points higher than that, I’m more influential than you. Kim Kardashian is a 91.”
I even saw a segment on CNN talking about Klout.
Are we happy now?! We’ve effectively reduced people to a number and we’ve put our faith into that number believing that it actually means something about influence. Are you people insane?!
I can’t let this go on. Get real…
Klout score is meant to measure influence, right?
Klout measures several different metrics from 10 unique social media sites. 10. That’s it. 10.
Here are the 10: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, YouTube, Instagram (?), Tumblr, Blogger (?), Last.fm (?) and Flickr
So here’s a fictional person that would theoretically have no Klout: John Doe – Blogger and Columnist for the Wall Street Journal and NY Times, #1 podcast on iTunes, most popular video blog on Vimeo, sits on the board at 5 of the top Forbes 100 companies but no profile on any of the 10 sites that Klout measures.
Warren Buffet doesn’t have Klout. Neither does Steve Jobs, or anyone else too busy succeeding to spend time on these networks. Are they not influential?
Furthermore at what point did someone decide that last.fm, blogger and instagram were hallmark networks of influence. What does influence even mean in Klout’s mind? To me it means: the ability to alter or change someone else’s opinions or actions about a certain topic. There are surely more than 10 ways to do that.
Your Klout score does not, and may never be able to, factor in offline connections
Have you ever called a good friend and in conversation mentioned a product or service that you really like? How is Klout measuring that interaction?
What about this real life scenario? I LOVE Apple products. We’ve got it all: Macbooks, iPads, iPhones, Airport Extremes, AppleTVs, magic trackpads, you name it, we’ve got it. I don’t tend to talk about Apple products all that much on Twitter, Facebook or the other 8 sites Klout measures. BUT I’ve gotten my mom to switch to Mac, my sister-in-law, my wife and several of my good friends. Am I influential about Apple products? I would assume so. If Apple were to seek out influencers about Apple on Klout, I would likely not come up.
Klout is unable to, and may never be able to, measure offline influence.
Egometrics: You may be part of the problem. Stop obsessing.
The gaping holes in Klout’s ability to measure influence isn’t what bothers me. What bothers me is the gaggle of chuckle-heads putting the full weight of their faith into that Klout score and obsessing over their score.
In our zeal to measure social media, we have adopted Klout as our golden metric and all because the numbers make us feel better about all the time we spend online. A Klout score is a way to say my d*ck is bigger than yours. That’s all.
If you want to use Klout in your decision making, at least understand the breadth of it’s limitations. It currently measures 10 networks, that’s it! And within those 10 networks, the system can be gamed. I have one Twitter account with a 41 Klout score, not great but not bad. Did I mention that the Twitter account is completely autopost driven? No one answers @mentions, no one follows back, and no one puts ANY thought into the content that goes through the account. I simply took all of my favorite tech blogs and fed them through Twitterfeed into the account so that I could read them and occasionally retweet them.
If you are making business decisions based upon Klout score alone, you are missing the point.
Instead of obsessing over your retweets to increase your Klout score, start thinking about getting new business and driving revenue.
You can’t escape doing the work
I know, I know, it all seemed to be going in the “right” direction. We could just plug into the Klout API and determine if a person is important. PR firms were so excited and then I had to come along and rain on the parade.
Here’s the truth as I see it: Do the work. That means talking to people, researching people, and making a sound business decision based on all available data, not just Klout score. I have no problem with factoring in Klout score as you go about your day, but please take it with a grain of salt.
PS. I’m currently at 63…and I really couldn’t care less.
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On the contrary: