Is Klout getting clobbered? We want your views

Klout Score Mania (by JessenF on www.bitstrips.com)Klout is under attack. Klout, if you didn't know, measures an individual's influence across the web, scoring each of us based on our social media activity from 1 to 100. Since its inception in 2008, Klout has steadily increased its own “klout” – with an audience now in the region of 100m scored users and funding to the tune of $10m [1].

Klout and the buzz surrounding this service, raises a number of questions. Questions which we need your help to answer…With so much positive attention, it may seem ironic that Klout is seldom without its detractors. Complaints have historically focused around the often bemusing set of users' influential topics – “what do I know about…”.

The volume of negative comments appeared to increase sharply following Klout's recent decision to amend its algorithm and reduce the Klout scores of many of its 'influential' users, overnight.

Why should we get so upset over a numeric score? In particular, why are we so prickly about Klout using data without our permission or being less than clear on how the numbers add up? We complain about ethics, transparency and accuracy but is it really a bit more personal than that? If I'm being scored, and it would appear I no longer have a choice in the matter, I want to know how and why the result was reached.

One of the very best articles which sum up succinctly the main arguments surrounding Klout can be found in Pam Moore's blog post Why I Deleted My Klout Profile. Some of the issues raised are undoubtedly specific to Klout and its modus operandi, others relate to the wider concept of public scoring of an individual (where control is lost).

As you might expect, other companies are vying to become the next Klout, companies such as:

The entry of other would-be Klouts and the range of issues surrounding Klout, raises a number of important questions. Questions, which with your help we will seek to answer:

Q1: Is Klout here to stay – what is great or terrible about Klout?
Q2: Are Influence scores useful, ethical, accurate?
Q3: What's better than Klout – is there anything immediately more useful and why?

Please provide your thoughts and comments in the usual way.

Alan, Jim and Vincent

[1] klout ceo joe fernandez you have to be able to take a punch


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  1. Holly Good
    January 4, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    I think Klout did their credibility a lot of a harm with recent algorithm change. My issue was not so much that my Klout score fell – I felt it was a little inflated anyway – but that the upward trend I’d built over the preceding months had been replaced with a downward trend for the same period. One day, Klout thought the work I’d been doing was positive, the next day they thought it was negative – with no explanation.

    Overall, I think Klout is too simplistic and too secretive. A score on its own is relatively meaningless if it is not clear what is being measured. Their topics list is also misleading – a topic you may have mentioned once or twice can sit in your topic list for months yet a term you use regularly and that is key to your activity may never appear – and again all without explanation.

    I’d been tracking several other accounts also as part of research into a few brands, the development of their social media activity and resultant engagement levels. Those records became meaningless with the change as the scores were now being recorded on an entirely different scale with no means of comparison.

    To me, Klout became worthless and I asked them to delete my account. I don’t believe I have suffered as a result of not checking some arbitrary number for validation every day.

    The perks? Well, so few of them were available in the UK, it could hardly be a factor. It was gimmicky too and not something I really cared about.

    Klout may not disappear but its own clout will dissipate. Newer metrics such as Kred make it clear what they are scoring you on and how you can improve those various scores – which makes it a far more useful tool. However, all are flawed as, unless your sole aim is follower numbers and volume of mentions, they cannot truly measure engagement or success within your niche. For that, you need to study your mentions and followers and see where the high and low value engagement occurs. Similarly, to compare activity and engagement with a competitor, you need to look directly at their followers, timeline and mentions not just that arbitrary metrics figure.

    Accordingly, I think as social media matures, such metrics will have to increase in sophistication if they are to retain a place. More sophisticated social media users won’t be as reliant on these arbitrary numbers for indication of success. They will be aware of that through the engagement levels, inbound activity and, if relevant, sales they achieve themselves and will also become more adept at directly monitoring their competitors.

    Perhaps the glut of metrics scores are no more than an indication of the immaturity of social media ‘market’ as unsure companies and users seek ready reassurance that their activity and investment have been worthwhile without yet truly knowing how to measure that for themselves or their business.

  2. Alan Stevenson
    January 4, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Holly, thanks for these very detailed and enlightening comments. It sounds like you are neither sold on the concept of influence scores nor on Klout. Like you, I think I would become very depressed if everything we did in social media was boiled down to a single number. However useful this might be to marketers and night club owners (hold on while I check if your Klout score is high enough). Might just move us all one step closer to that dystopian world created in the Prisoner http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Prisoner (the characters had numbers instead of names).