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Don't Trust Klout

There was a lot of hubbub on the interwebs when Klout recently changed their scoring algorithm to make things more accurate. The problem is, they still haven't figured it out and according to this ZDNET article describing the craziness, your score does actually matter for your career and possibly the level of customer service you receive.


Since I first heard about Klout, I've been worried people may use it as a sort of online "credit score." I worked for Dave Ramsey for almost 4 years and completely agree with his opinion on the "I-love-debt score". Unfortunately, people still use credit scores like they matter.

Your Klout score really doesn't measure how good of a "friend" you are or how healthy your online relationships are. Much like a credit score, this "score" isn't really trustworthy and doesn't really matter. But it will be used like it does.

So why is that a problem? Like the author of the ZDNET article above, my score (and probably yours as well) can get screwed up without a moment's notice. If people make decisions based off that score because they trust it, where does that leave us? I changed nothing in my online activity and consistently saw my score tanking:


For a while I figured the new algorithm thought I was "doing it wrong." I was a little curious about no Google+ activity showing up for my account and confused because I hadn't changed anything. Prior to the algorithm changing, my score was consistently going up.

Then all of sudden this happened:


I'm still not seeing any Google+ stats, but how come I'm "doing it right" again? That's obviously not the case and to Klout's credit, they are up front about their issues:


That's all from last week alone. As it stands right now, I just can't trust the score. More and more systems are integrating with Klout but if the number can't be trusted, is that a good thing? Twimbow, for example, has it conveniently available every time you view someone's profile:


So am I Klout basher? No, not at all. If I didn't think it was important, I wouldn't waste time blogging about it. Klout has taught me a lot about Twitter and social media in general, but they still have a lot of work to do. For example, their "influential topics" is laughably broken. They are now trying to get users to do the work the computers are failing at by giving each other "+K". I think that's a good idea, but please don't share all of them with your Twitter stream. That gets annoying really quickly.

trust/trəst/
Noun:
Firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
 
Verb:
Believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of.
 
Synonyms:
noun.  confidence - faith - credit - reliance - belief
verb.  believe - confide - rely - credit - hope


My point here is that the score can't be trusted. Don't let it turn into a credit score. If you want to know how well you're doing with social media, count the number of smiles and laughs you have between friends. Count how many times a conversation goes from online to offline and back again via your posts.

If your score is low, don't be discouraged. Dave Ramsey's credit score is 0 and he's perfectly OK with that. Learn what you can from it, but don't let it determine your social value online. Klout claims to measure your influence online. It simply can't do that today and so for now, by the definition, I don't trust it.

What do you think? Can Klout be trusted? Does "scoring" social media influence have any value?

Join The Conversation

  • LinkAssistant's picture
    Dec 12 Posted 5 years ago LinkAssistant

    I've noticed one interesting thing: while I blog and constantly socialize on my company's corporate account and barely spend any time on my own social media stuff (don't own a personal blog either), my Klout is higher than my company''s. It's really strange and I am also noticing how biased I am looking at people's Klout scores on twitter feed. Somehow I tend to follow the guys with a high score and scorn at the guys with a Klout around 10. Most notably, I've seen both spam twitter accounts with Klout 40 and met great followers with Klout 10. Yet the bias prevails - there's something about seeing number next to the person's name.

  • LinkAssistant's picture
    Dec 12 Posted 5 years ago LinkAssistant

    I've noticed one interesting thing: while I blog and constantly socialize on my company's corporate account and barely spend any time on my own social media stuff (don't own a personal blog either), my Klout is higher than my company''s. It's really strange and I am also noticing how biased I am looking at people's Klout scores on twitter feed. Somehow I tend to follow the guys with a high score and scorn at the guys with a Klout around 10. Most notably, I've seen both spam twitter accounts with Klout 40 and met great followers with Klout 10. Yet the bias prevails - there's something about seeing number next to the person's name.

  • lukestokes's picture
    Dec 5 Posted 5 years ago lukestokes

    Thanks for commenting!

    To be clear, I also support aspects of what Klout is trying to do. I've been overwhelmed by the number of tweets and retweets about this post (I just joined socialmediatoday.com last night). A couple of those tweets have lumped this article into a "Klout bashing" genre and that's not at all my purpose.

    As a business owner myself, I have a deep respect for Klout building something that didn't exist before. I just think they should take more caution to only score accounts if they can do so consistently and accurately because it can be dangerous to their credibility and trustworthiness. If the score is measuring their system performance more than my social interaction online... that's not good.

    Again, I wish them the best and I do believe they willl continue to work hard at their stated goal.

  • Dec 5 Posted 5 years ago claygoetz

    I think this is an excellent overview of the Klout score, and is important for marketers and lay people alike. (Also, I'm a huge Dave Ramsey fan, so props there).

     

    I am totally behind what Klout is attempting to do, but they're just not there yet. Traditional marketing (e.g. Broadcast, out-of-home exposure such as billboards, print adverts, etc..) has been studied and quantified immensely over the past few decades, and that is the next step in the development of new media and social marketing. There is a necessity to accurately quantify the value of social media initiatives, especially those dealing with digital influence and word of mouth. It justifies the spend for those campaigns and may help to turn the tide of CMO's including social media in their budgets for a reason other than the behest of agencies. It would be very interesting to see Klout's stats for their "Perks" offering, and what return it has gotten for their brand partners. All in all, though, I've personally experienced the same baffling fluctuations in my Klout score, and this communicates that the score just isn't there yet as a reliable metric of influence. Nonetheless, since it's been the most-buzzed about leader in the charge, it has taken on an importance and been granted a weight that I just don't see as justified. Time will surely tell, but I'm excited to see what happens with Klout and how the scores are developed as well as improved in the future.

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