Klout touts itself as a standard for influence, showing you who has the most power to make people take “action” across a variety of social networks and for a myriad of topics.
It does this through some very clever calculations, including the amount of responses your posts get, the amount of times these posts are shared on to others and the likelihood that your posts will be shared. (Full details of the way that Klout calculates your score here).
Klout have also teamed up with a number of businesses and offers ‘perks’ to particularly influential users – some of these perks have included tickets to early previews of a new movie, gift vouchers, laptops and most recently, invitations for accounts to the much coveted launch of Spotify in the US.
Whilst Klout claims to be a standard for influence, it can be manipulated
Klout calculates your score based on numerical factors, therefore is based on simple mathematics equations at its core. If you try hard enough you can manipulate your score – either through increasing the frequency of your tweets, or targeting your tweets at bots so that they will be retweeted. It’s also based on time – if you have a few days where you do not tweet, your score will drop. If someone with the influence of Charlie Sheen doesn’t tweet for a week, when he returns, will he be any less influential?
Read More: ‘Klout… and how it can be manipulated’ by Jillian Ney (Link)
Klout is broken
Raak, a social media consultancy asked the simple question “Can I improve my Klout score, just by tweeting more?” and set about proving this theory. They created some Twitter bots that would tweet at varying intervals quotes from a simple command-line application.
Over the course of 80 days, the bot that tweeted every minute amassed the largest following and commanded the highest Klout score, and elements of the calculations fluctuated inconsistently from day to day. Klout state that they filter out bots and other accounts that are not human, however a large number of the followers of the bot created for this experiment, were bots themselves.
Raak managed to prove their theory – tweeting more often is enough to improve your score.
Charlie Sheen, who holds the world record for the quickest person on Twitter to have a million followers, commanded a Klout score of 57 without posting a single tweet – for a service that encourages connecting, engaging and sharing, this can’t be right… surely?
Klout is a status symbol
Whilst providing a valuable metric in the difficult-to-measure field of social media, Klout allows you to place a widget on your sites and social media profiles displaying your score, as well as offering comparisons against your contacts – this encourages the “Look at how important I am” type of user onto the service, and encourages the manipulation of the flaws already mentioned and widely spoken about and so should not be taken as a true authority on how influential a user is.
It’s not all bad for Klout, there are certainly weaknesses, but plenty of positive features too. It should be seen as a tool amongst your arsenal to measure engagement across social media, and not relied on as the sole authority.