What is Klout Anyway?

Klout is an online tool to measure someone’s influence in social media. Whether or not it actually effects influence is currently debated, because not everyone agrees that what they measure actually shows influence.

So how does it work?

Klout assigns a Klout Score from 1 to 100 based on the person being scored’s ability to drive action. Klout also figures out which of your topics are the most influential, who influences you, who you influence and other statistics about your influence. Klout’s website suggests it is like a social credit score.

Instead of looking at how many followers someone has or how many friends, Klout looks at the actions those followers or friends take. Klout counts Retweets, mentions, likes and comments. Another way to get a high score with Klout is to have a lot of highly influential people interacting with you on a regular basis.

How does Klout affect you?

A person’s Klout can land them a job. Some companies are now hiring bloggers who are rated as highly influential in the area the company is interested in having them work on. For example, a person who is influential about family trips may be tapped by Disney to blog for them.

The problems with Klout

Mark Schaefer did a great job of summarizing the main issues with clout in his blog post about why Klout matters. Here is his list:

  1. Klout cannot measure every type of influence. Never has. Never will.
  2. Klout can be “gamed.” Is there anything on the Internet that can’t be?
  3. It is uncomfortable being publicly rated and compared to other people.
  4. Yes, it is stupid that Klout thinks you’re influential about lamps or sheep.  It is still in the early stages of development.

People argue that Klout is looking at the wrong standards to measure influence, and that many people read blogs and tweets without responding. Not responding or retweeting does not mean that person is not being influenced.

People can also trick Klout with some examples being:

  1. Spamming the comments (person may have 100 comments but they are all spam).
  2. The same few people comment a lot (person may have 100 comments but it is all by the same three people).
  3. Comments may actually be unrelated or simply friends posting to raise a Klout score.

Why Klout could be important

On the other hand, once again as Schaefer suggests,

“The ability to create and move content is the absolute key to online influence. …..That’s what Klout is trying to do.  They are finding the people who are experts at creating, aggregating, and sharing content that moves online.”

The argument here is that despite the pitfalls and problems people have with Klout, it is still measuring social media influence in some way, which is useful and necessary in today’s social-media-crazed world.

Chart indicating Klout may be important

Although the methodology used is questionable, this chart suggests that people are more likely to interact and submit a form for people with high Klout scores. This particular study found the rate to be about “six times more likely” which would certainly prove Klout score to be relevant. However, as I mentioned the methodology was a little shaky, so it merely suggests instead of proves.

So should you use Klout and discover your score?

If the trend continues and you feel you reach a lot of people, then sign up for Klout and find out your score. There are also perks to membership including the possibility of a company sending you products to try so you can influence people about it.

If you do not currently feel that you influence a lot of people, then a Klout score may become what “the number of followers on Twitter” has become for many people: just a goal to reach instead of something earned or relevant.

What are your thoughts on Klout?

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