We All Need To Calm Down About Klout

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.

In essence, someone with a Klout score of 86 is not someone I would want to hire or work with.  Unless you are a social media guru or an independent consultant, a Klout score of 70+ makes me concerned about where your priorities lay. Not with the company or responsibilities, but with promoting yourself at the cost of that.We need to stop using Klout seriously.

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.

2 thoughts on “We All Need To Calm Down About Klout

  1. Thank you for posting this! Klout doesn’t factor in ALL of your influences online, and therefore can’t be a concrete number that we solely rely on.
    There are a lot of things your Klout score can say about you- and it’s not all positive, either. For example, if you feel the need to place your Klout score on your business cards in hopes of getting more connections or showing your influence, then they’re obviously over-compensating for something.
    I would want to know- are you real off line and on line? How is your work offline?! How does your following convert, etc.
    Relying too much on your Klout score is like boasting that you have 10,000 followers but if none of them convert, engage, share etc. then that number doesn’t mean much.
    Great post, Leslie!

  2. Thanks for commenting! I had the same reaction as you to the Klout score on his business card, “what are you really trying to tell me and why?”
    I fully agree with you, Klout doesn’t measure some key factors that I would want to know as a health marketer, like what is your conversion rate, what’s your engagement rate, what portion of your visitors return and how many of them bounce? Those are all things you have to roll up your sleeves and find out by digging into data.
    Klout is trying to do something really interesting, but there’s no way they can get their hands on all the data they would need to do it properly.
    Thanks for commenting! Come back soon!

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