Why I Think Klout is a Crock

Six months ago, I didn’t know what a “Klout score” was.

I was happily interacting with people across the social spectrum, minding my own business, when I happened upon an article mentioning this new thing that actually could “measure” your online influence.

It sounded intriguing, so I checked it out.  I entered my Twitter account name and found out that my “Klout score” was in the mid 60’s (out of a possible 100). Pretty cool, I thought.  The Klout score measured my interactions with people on Facebook and Twitter and figured out what my influence was.  According to Klout, I was a “pundit.”  Cool.

Their website says that “The Klout Score measures influence based on your ability to drive action. Every time you create content or engage you influence others. The Klout Score uses data from social networks in order to measure:

  • True Reach: How many people you influence
  • Amplification: How much you influence them
  • Network Impact: The influence of your network.”

Which all sounds well and good.  Except that it’s not.  There’s no clear measurement of “True Reach.”  It seems to mostly measure your Facebook and Twitter connections, but Klout has also says that it measures other social network sites like Instagram, LastFM, WordPress, etc.  Sounds good.  Except that it’s not.

What’s interesting is that the explanation for how Klout scores are determined is not as clear as it once was.  If you visit the page explaining how it all happens, you see a big splashy page with very little verbiage, and certainly no clear list of variables.  Want to know how things are measured exactly?  You’d have to go back and look at it before Klout gained influence of its own.

There, you’d see that once upon a time, the Klout “True Reach” was determined by Followers, Mutual Follows, Friends, Total Retweets, Unique Commenters, Unique Likers, Follower/Follow Ratio, Followed Back %, @ Mention Count, List Count, List Followers Count.  Ah!  So that’s how it’s measured.  Makes sense.

But is this the way it is still measured?  Has it changed?  And if so, what are the new determining factors Klout uses?  And seriously, why not just explain how it works.  Without making us get in the internet time machine and travel back to the beginning of this year to figure it out?

This may seem petty.  Klout “perks” are pretty cool, although I’m not sure how my influence allowed me to get Axe Hair Products for free.  My influence in Disneyland, Facebook, Kinect, and whatever else Klout thinks I’m influential about (Soccer?!?!?)–how does that make me a good influencer of my social networks?  Are the people who like my Disneyland posts or my comments on faith and art really going to be interested in my thoughts on Axe Hair Products?  And how am I even in the right target demographic for this?

Another question–if all these other networks are so influential, how come they don’t seem to be measured?  My blog, which you are enjoying right now, saw a traffic increase of 500% last week when I posted my review of the new movie, Machine Gun Preacher.  My thoughts were retweeted by the producers of the film to their followers, and my Facebook interactions regarding the film reached epic proportions.  So…how, as all that is happening, does my influence actually go down?  Hmmm….

Finally–who cares?  Who cares what some startup in San Francisco thinks is my online influence?  I used to.  I would stress out about my “Klout score” and compete with people to get it raised.  I would post specifically to drive interactions on my Facebook or Twitter.

Well, forget it.  Today my Klout score is 67 or something.  If it drops again or raises again, it will be without my worrying about it or thinking about it.

I will enjoy my interactions with people on Instagram, where I’ve developed nearly 200 followers who “like” my random photos from Disneyland and various National Parks.  I will interact with my Facebook friends about whatever crosses my mind, whether it’s a random Seinfeld quote or a funny vintage ad, or a political action that is driving me nuts.  And I’ll enjoy my other social networking sites without worrying about my “Klout score.”

Why?  Because really, Klout is a crock.

What’s my score today?  Feel free to look it up here.  Low, high, whatever.  I just hope you had some fun.

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