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The Ups and Downs of Klout

In the social media world, Klout is a word that is thrown around pretty often. To those who don’t know about it yet, Klout is defined as a measurement of influence based on your ability to drive action. Every time you create content or engage with others it is considered “influence”. The Klout Score uses data from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Foursquare in order to measure how many people you influence, how much you influence them, and how influential they themselves are. Your score is a number, anywhere between 1-100. The higher the score, the more influence Klout believes you have.

Although some love the system, I don't think it's a perfect representation of someone's influence online. Scott Kleinberg of the RedEye wrote a piece yesterday about Klout. His piece talks about how Justin Bieber has a Klout score of 100, which Klout defines as, "You can't get any more influential than this. People hang on your every word and share your content like no other. You're probably famous in real life." Although Bieber is most definitely a celebrity, does he influence others? Do you hang on his every word? Scary thought, I know.

After reading his piece and taking a look at my own Klout, I found the biggest ups and downs of the system were:

Influential Topics

Another piece of the Klout puzzle that they study is your influential topics. These are the words and ideas that Klout believes you have the most credibility discussing. People can then give you "+K" - which means they agree that you have influence on those topics and you have recently influenced others on them. Some of the things I had "influence" in made sense: social media, NBA, Chicago, and marketing. These are topics that I discuss often and engage with others about online. Some of my other topics that Klout believes I have "influence" in are teens, hot tubs, and religion and spirituality. These are topics that I never have discussed, yet Klout things I can influence others about them. It's hard to say how Klout came up with those topics, but it definitely leads to humorous conversations. This is one of the reasons I can't take Klout seriously.

Amount of Data

Klout takes into account your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Foursquare use. But what if you don’t use all four sites? I have never checked in anywhere on Foursquare, but know people that do it daily. Does their score go up with each check-in? Klout explains that adding your other social networks will help to “better understand your influence.” Learn more about that here. For those that love to post on all four of those sites, this is a bonus for them. To me, it's another reason I don't care for the site.

Usability

With Klout, consistency is key. If you don’t tweet on a regular basis, your Klout score will go down. Before writing this post, I signed in to Klout to check my score. It alerted me that my Klout score had gone down two points, and it recommended I start engaging with others to get my score back up.  I see the point of encouraging people to keep up on sharing to keep their score up, but that goes back to the general rule of social media: remaining constant and engaging is the key to driving your influence on a subject. This is one point of Klout that I agree with - being consistent on social media sites should keep your score steady.

Klout Perks

One bonus of maintaining a high Klout score is Klout Perks. If you have a certain score, you are eligible to get free items on their site. The most recent was an invitation to try out Spotify before it rolled out to the public. A past Klout perk selected 5 winners for a weekend trip with the new Audi. These are advantages that might encourage people to interact more online to gain a higher score, although your odds of winning a trip are very low.

Overall thoughts

In the end, Klout seems like one big popularity contest in my mind. If you speak often, people respond to you, and you regularly interact, you are bound to have a higher Klout score. Jackie Lampugnano recently wrote a post for the Social Media Club about Klout in which she stated, “The bottom line is that social media influence is different to everyone. But if we define it by the number of followers, friends, likes, etc. then all we’ve done is create a popularity contest. Klout might as well say, “Sorry, you are not influential. Come back after you get a few more followers.”” You can check out her full post here.

What are your thoughts on Klout? Do you think it's worth checking?