Klout: 2.5 Million Profiles Deleted? Or 5,000? Or What?

Rohn Jay Miller Director of Digital Strategy, Hanley Wood Marketing

Posted on December 5th 2011

Dutch blogger Martijn Linnsen has reviewed a random sample of 18,000+ Klout profiles captured prior to November 1 and found approximately 2.5% were no longer active on December 1.  

ImageKlout claims to have more than 100 million profiles in its system, so this could mean hundreds of thousands of Klout profiles have been deleted by users since the "delete your profile" option was first offered by Klout on November 1. 

I was going to add this as a comment on another post here on Social Media today, but I believe it deserved a post of its own. 

Linnsen's published his results on his blog this past weekend, in a post entitled "Klout-O-calypse-2.5 Million People Can't Be Wrong."

Assuming Klout's claim of 100 million profiles is accurate (and well,  who really knows if that's true?) this could mean as many as 2.5 million accounts of real people were deleted from Klout in November. Of those with Klout scores between 50 and 80, 4.5% of those accounts were gone--all of this despite Klout hiding the "delete your profile" function four levels deep in their site with no obvious link to it.  

In an interview with me two weeks ago, Klout CEO Joe Fernandez said that since the "delete your profile" option was first offered on November 1  " total opt-outs (were) less than .01% of our registered base."  Note that Fernandez said, "registered base," which I take to mean people who actively signed up for a Klout account and connected their social media networks like Twitter and Facebook voluntarily.  

Klout also creates profiles of people without their knowledge or opt-in.  No one outside of Klout knows what the percentage of registered users is versus these "non opt-in" profiles.  But even if 50% of the 100 million Klout profiles are registered users, Fernandez was saying the total number of "opt-outs" was less than 5,000.  At the high end Fernandez was saying the number of opt-outs could be 10,000.  Linnsen's research suggests the number might be 100's of times larger.  

Some profiles in Linnsen's research might have been deleted by Klout because they were private Facebook accounts unintentionally grabbed from posts by public Facebook accounts.   Maybe some were detected as spam-bot profiles and deleted by Klout as routine maintenance.  

Maybe some deleted profiles were minors, though Klout has not specified if and how they can identify accounts of people under the age of 18. (See my post, "Five Questions Klout Can't Answer." November 29) 

But even discounting the raw numbers of Linnsen's research 10 or 20 times you still get totals vastly larger than what Joe Fernandez claims.  

Linnsen acquired a list of 20,000 Klout accounts from University of San Francisco marketing professor Christopher Penn.  Linnsen first  deliberately eliminated any profiles with a Klout score of 10 since many of these "10s" are phony or aberrant--so his sample of 18, 523 included only those with scores of 11 or above--in other words, active accounts.  (You can see a graph of how many scores per number from 0-100 in his post.)

These 20,000 profiles were captured by Penn prior to Klout's October 26 algorithm update--hence the scores are higher than we now see post October 26. This explains why 17% of the scores were above 50, versus Fernandez's statement only 6% of Klout scores are 50+ today.  

But the key point is that Klout scores in the 50-80 range shown in Linnsen's research are the most active individuals in social media, outside of those named Obama or Gaga.  And Linnsen shows 4.5% of those pre-October 26 Klout profiles turned into puppy dogs by December 1. 

So what is the truth about the number of people who have deleted their Klout profiles? 

Who knows?  Maybe even Joe Fernandez doesn't know.

But I don't think it's  "less than .01% of our registered base."   And now there's some evidence the number could be much larger.


Rohn Jay Miller

Director of Digital Strategy, Hanley Wood Marketing

I'm Director of Digital Strategy for Hanley Wood Marketing in Minneapolis.  We've been in the content strategy and branded content business since 1984.  We deliver across content strategy and branded content. I speak in public, often by invitation. I can be reached at rohnjay@rohnjaymiller.com

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