The #KloutDebate: Is Someone Pulling My Metric?



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Welcome to Social Media Week’s #KloutDebate on twitter (which is still raging, as of 10 a.m. EST), started by a discussion on this post by Gerard Bush.  I’ve compiled some of the best tweets from pages and pages of rants and klout-loving chirpers.  More after the break.

With Klout becoming the standard for online influence, many people have started to wonder, what’s the actual business value of Klout?  Who uses it, and why?  Should we be concerned if we have a high Klout score, or should we care if someone else does?  Here’s a summary of some of the thoughts that people had on the uses and abuses of Klout:

1) More than anything, Klout needs a better algorithm

Klout is a numbers game, and its numbers are a bit suspect.  The algorithm, which measures follow-follower ratio, as well as number of tweet, retweets, etc. can  make you an expert of things you don’t even understand/know anything about.  (I’m an expert on journalism even though I’m not a journalist.  One of the tweeters mentioned they were an expert on Cambridge, even though they’ve never visited there.)

Your score also seems to vary wildly depending on how constant your activity on twitter is.  As anyone knows, we can’t all be on twitter all the time…even if we want to and are slightly addicted.  It’s not humanely possible to keep your online score extremely high, and interact with the real world on a daily basis.

2) Activity doesn’t equal influence

A lot of smart social media analyst types noticed that Klout measures your activity on twitter, which isn’t the same thing as measuring your influence.  For example. a really great blog post by Raak explains how a bot on twitter can eventually have the same Klout score as @scobelizer in 160 days.   Clearly there is some work to do here.


3) The system is easily beaten and gamified

It’s too easy to cheat and beat the system.  Basically, anyone who attempts to raise their Klout score strategically can do it, without necessarily being influential. (Or even human, in some cases.)  People don’t know if Klout is supposed to be a competition, or a business tool…and I’m not personally sure it can be both.  A good example of people who ‘raced’ for the top of Klout is here.

4) Klout and tools like it might become part of the job search

There was a lot of heated debate about this, but some people were in favour, and some decidedly against, using Klout as a job applicant criteria.  Some people even thought about potentially putting it on their resumes.  Could Klout be the ‘next big thing’ for HR when hiring online community managers?  Or how about measuring what people are really knowledgeable about?  Klout and future Klout-a-likes might be the litmus test most people need when bringing on new hires.

5) A lot of people were confused as to why @Klout didn’t participate

Several people noticed that Klout didn’t choose to participate, or even respond to a debate that was planned since the middle of Wednesday.  Why didn’t a tool that measures (mostly) online influence of twitter participate in a twitter debate that was specifically about them?  (Heck, even PRNewswire participated, and they had some fantastic insights.)  Where was Klout in their own brand’s conversation?

6) Regardless of its issues, it’s still one of the best metrics out there

Despite all the failings, most people agreed that it would be hard to find a better metric.  As of yet, Klout seems to be, by far, the most popular.  (Although, if you ask me, PeerIndex is more accurate and might be in it to win the online influence tool debate.)


Some Links for the Uninitiated and Interested

A few people asked where to find good analytic information on how Klout’s metrics and algorithm work.  Here’s a short list for the newbies and not-so-newbies:


And here’s a snapshot of some of the issues brought up during #kloutdebate.  We were a trending topic!


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Brennan Sarich is a practitioner of public relations and digital strategy in Toronto, Ontario.  He is a freelancer with several years experience and specializes in online content, event management and social media.  Visit his blog or follow him on twitter @bsarich.

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