Have you got Klout?

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?

Read more: “Klout is broken” (Link) / “How Charlie Sheen Broke Klout” (link)

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.

Conclusion

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.

7 comments

  • Jesse July 19, 2011

    I agree with your conclusion. Klout can be broken and it is not perfect.

    It however has value, other wise, companies who have used it may not have. It can however get better with use and positive feedback.

    What do you think Klout needs to improve on James?

    Respond
    • james July 19, 2011

      Hi Jesse, thank you for your feedback.

      One of the indicators of social influence that is poorly recognised must be the clicking of posted links. I guess as with any marketing activity, there is a call to action, and if you post a link within a Tweet the desired action is for someone to click it.

      If Klout were to partner with someone like Bit.ly who already track clicks on the shortened links, they would be able to calculate a click through rate and encompass this as part of their calculations.

      I think Klout may have already lost credibility as a serious business analytical tool, encouraging people to try and ‘game the system’ to increase their score and access the Klout Perks.

      Respond
  • James, I like the well-balanced view of Klout that you’ve presented here. I feel that, although the algorithms may be manipulated and that Klout is perhaps, a somewhat misleading indicator of social ”influence”, to give +K for example is a way of giving a person social network ‘recognition’ in much the same way that retweeting a tweet gives someone’s content recognition/your stamp of approval (for want of a better word). I agree wholeheartedly with you that it should not be your sole measure of someone’s social engagement. I disagree with the way that Klout is brandished by some as a status symbol because of its very nature, which you have so clearly outlined in this post. Thank you for doing your homework on this one!

    Respond
    • james July 19, 2011

      I agree completely that +K is a great way of giving real feedback on a user’s influence, rather than a mathematical calculation. At this stage Klout have said that +K has no bearing on the overall score, but should this change in the future it could deliver a better overall picture of somebody’s true influence. It’s also less open to abuse as users are limited in the amount of +Ks they can award. Thank you for your feedback.

      Respond
  • Shahram Khorsand July 20, 2011

    James, I totally agree with you regarding Klout!
    It si one of those fun for a very short period features. For sometime ago, I was involved in different chats and boosted up my klout dramatically. It didn’t really mean I influenced so many people. It only proved that I chat a lot. And as everyone knows, quantity is not always quality.
    Sam Fiorella once said klout is like a car crash, you don’t like it but cannot avoid looking at it.
    Klout doesn’t really provide much value in my world. I wouldn’t trust someone more or do business with someone based on klout. I cannot say that it would even provide any leverage!
    The status value … for beginner perhaps, for experienced people I don’t think so.
    It is always the value that you contribute that matters. All else is just bells and whistles.

    Respond
  • Dane Findley July 20, 2011

    a quick sidenote: I really, really like the design of your blog, the way you use whitespace, how you use headers, the logo: everything. Nicely done!

    on Klout: I ran my own test a while back and asked several people with high Klout scores to add me to one of their Twitter lists. They did, and my score jumped significantly overnight. So now I believe the more Lists you’re on, the higher the score.

    { twitter = @danenow }

    Respond
    • james July 20, 2011

      Thanks for your comments on the design of my blog and the logo! I’ve found it really hard to brand myself effectively – I’m good at providing solutions for others but it’s a real challenge to focus on myself!

      That’s a really interesting point about being listed and how it affects the score – I will perhaps write a follow up and delve into this a little deeper.

      Respond

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© 2011 James Coleman