Yesterday was a perfect example of why you shouldn’t build your brand around a score you can’t manage and can be changed without notice. I’m talking about Klout.
I’ve received emails over the past several months from individuals who include their Klout score in their signature. Someone recently gave me a business card with their Klout score on it. After yesterday when Klout changed its algorithm, lowering scores by as much as 20 points, I wondered if he was going to print new business cards.
Your Klout score doesn’t say what you think it says.
The man who had his Klout score on his business card had as core of 86. His score didn’t make me think he was an influencer or was someone I would want to connect with, it made me think that he must spend a lot of time online every day maintaining his Klout score.
We have got to stop using Klout as an independent, scientific measure of someone’s online influence and their value in the conversation. Klout is one measure among many of someone’s influence.
The buzz that HR managers have now started using Klout scores as a factor in hiring decisions gives it far too much authority in major corporate decisions. Klout’s algorithm isn’t transparent and it can be easily gamed. It is a great tool, but Klout is not and should not be the authority on online influence.
Klout matters only because we have decided it matters. Like every other symbol we encounter in life it gets its worth from the mutual agreement from others that it has a specific value. Right now I think we have overvalued that number.
Using Klout the right way.
Klout should be treated as a rough estimate of how respected or influential an individual is in the social sphere. It is a way to point those who are doing online outreach and paid media in the right direction, and that is where Klout’s true value lies.
Want to know who the influencers are for early childhood health? Start at Klout and work backwards. Who does Klout identify that are connected to others that don’t have Klout scores, but are still influencers for your audience?
Klout should not be used as a replacement for doing your own homework. Klout can be gamed, it can be misleading and it doesn’t measure every influencer in the social space. When assembling an online media list or an ad buy we cannot use Klout to replace rolling up our sleeves and digging into Compete, ComScore or Alexa data.