What’s in a Klout Score?
Since they burst onto the social media scene in 2009, Klout has quickly become popular as a way of measuring a user’s influence across many social networks though primarily focusing on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. The general idea is that Klout pulls in the users social media data from the services it tracks, throws that info through their “algorithm, and spurts out a number between one and one hundred to give you your Klout score measuring a users social media influence.
Of course, the influence measurement is guided by the company’s own definitions and interpretations. Currently, Klout scores are determined by the secret Klout algorithm in terms of a user’s “ability to drive action”.
Here lies my problem with using a Klout score as a measurement of social media influence.
Imagine if you will a new company, We’ll call it Business X, offering a similar service claiming to be the ultimate benchmark for your influence online. Business X has an algorithm that adds your number of Twitter followers to your number of Facebook friends, multiplied by the number of social interactions and add six to give you your Business X Score to measure your social media influence.
Compare this scenario to what we have from Klout, does it offer any more insight to how influential you are on social media than your Klout score? As far as you know, no.
Without knowing what exactly the algorithm tracks and how, the whole process is useless. In fact as far as any of us know, Klout use the same bullshit algorithm that Business X does with new number replacing six each day to give the appearance that something scientific is going on.
However even if we did know more about their algorithm and the process that Klout uses to determine social media influence, there are still factors that make me question it’s usefulness.
Firstly, as an SEO, I’ve interacted with many new people on Twitter, Facebook and other networks. Some are even friendly enough to dispense with the public forum of a social network and drop me a private message or an email from time to time. Now surely that level of engagement is likely to carry many times more weight than conversations happening publicly on a social network.
Secondly, Klout tells us that they “believe” that online influence is seen via the profile’s ability to drive action but what we continue to see is greater importance put on the network size of an individual and the low engagement interactions that come with such numbers. The quality of content should not be the goal for online interactivity but according to Klout the content created by spam profiles (such as the one below) is among one that drives the most action.
The whole raison d’etre of social media influence is the ability of one person to affect the thoughts and choices made by their community, and the ability to grow that community organically, not just to be measured by the ability of one to obtain followers without any engagement at all.
I do believe Social Media is in need for a tool that would measure online influence but I feel that Klout is not it. For me, the whole package lacks too much and Klout themselves share much too little. The people on social web and the relationships that connect them are much too complex to be broken down to a single score. (If you have another opinion, feel free to let me know).
Always remember that despite what some social media consultants may have you believe; You are not a number. You are as unique online as you are in the real world. You are intricate and complex, and until there is something more complete, step away from your Klout Score and get on with the job of building real social media influence within your networks.