Thursday, October 27, 2011

Klout Tells You If You’re Doing Social Media Wrong…or Right

Note/Disclaimer: Links in this blog entry WILL take you to the sites and information mentioned. As a general rule we do not link blind to off-blog sites within our text, but for the purpose of information sharing for this post we wanted to provide you easy access, in case you wanted to read some of the articles and information we mention.

Warning: If you are offended by occasional foul language, well, than the fuck are you reading our blog for away?

Klout. What is it? When spelled correctly, with a ‘c’ not a 'k', its fourth definition on Merriam Webster is “pull, or influence” (…as in “She has enough clout in the music industry to get almost anyone a record deal”

Give us a K! *insert cheerleader move, and us holding orange pom-poms*
Give us a ‘K’ and you have Klout (not clout), an online company that measures the standard of social influence using a score of 1 to 100. The company has become a big deal over the last couple years, in certain circles, and in some circles a thorn in their side, and to others…what the hell is Klout, anyway?

That was just a little fun....

It’s been little over two years (it’s been “Measuring influence since 2008”) after its launch, you can read about Klout everywhere, from Time, to Forbes, to the New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, they’ve been written about all over the web by TechCrunch, and Wired.UK, to the everyday-Joe blogger (like us) and everyone in between.

Klout is not really intended for the average person, in our opinion, because the online influence SCORE of an average person, if you think about it, doesn’t amount to a hill of beans (unless they’re magic beans, of course). Klout is really beneficial to people like business owners/entrepreneurs, artists, writers, comedians, people working on some level for social change, politics and/or public relations, etc. Meaning it’s more for people who are aspiring something past a nine-to-five job, not those aspiring to do nothing at all, a.k.a. The Average Person, who shouldn’t care about their score; it has nothing to do with your actual worth as a human being.

Of course Klout tries to change the average persons level on caring by increasing the perceived level of importance by offering ‘Perks’ (started about 15 months ago) which means you get “exclusive access to products and experiences from top brands” based on what you are influential in. They even go so far as to say you can “put your Klout Score on your resume to land a sweet job or use it to get better customer service”; while a portion of that is true, “landing a sweet job” is pretty…vague.

So far most of the “Perks” Klout offers appear to be nothing more than advertising income for Klout. Past Perks include a free Box Set of Season 5 of 'The Office' Offer, exclusive access to test drive a Chevy Volt, access to charity event tickets, which is unclear if it means you get free tickets, or early so much more, IF you have the right amount of influence in the subject, of course.

Know what? Throw us a few free packages of bacon and a year supply of the kind of alcohol (yeah, apparently we're potentially influential in bacon and alcohol) we are really influential in (Michel Torino Estates Cuma Torrontés from Argentina) and maybe we’ll take Klout Perks as more than an advertising ploy to get the average citizen to provide free advertising to the people who are paying for the spots on Klout.

But What Does Klout Do?

Klout analyses your influence level based on, so far, some pieces of data all cozied up under the headings like True Reach (the number of people you actually influence); Amplification (how much you influence those people you influence); Network Impact (how much you influence the network of people you influence with your…influence).

The data Klout uses to measure influence are things such as following count, follower count, retweets, list memberships, number of spam/dead accounts following you, how influential the people that retweet you are, and unique mentions. Klout uses Facebook information such as your comments, likes, and friends count to assess your "Klout Score" which is the number that signifies your level of online influence. Klout is unable to explain, so far, past Twitter and Facebook, how exactly it measures your score using other networks it suggests you link to your account, which currently are also Google +, LinkdIn, FourSquare, YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, Blogger, Wordpress,, Flickr.

The one item of Twitter influence data that really interested us was the part where it talks about how influential the influence of the people you RT are to your Klout score. We read somewhere (forgot to write down the source, of course) that it’s in your best interest not to interact with those who have a lower Klout score than you.

Wait. WHAT?! <-that’s what echoed through our head*; based on that statement they want you to be social online with people who are closer to your score, or higher, not with people who are not as influential as you. Sounds like a fucking "cool kids" clique to us.

We’ve been playing around with Klout for months, testing theories on activity levels, debating its importance, seeing its clear potential, trying to understand it’s sensitivity (it’s hard to get Klout scores up, but they fall like a whore on a dick made of money).

We’ve read in books (yeah, we read those things made out of paper that have words in them too) about social influence being important in things like getting book deals and/or agents. We realize it’s important in assessing the value of a platform created by, say, us, required before we even approach agents and publishers (if we were to do so). Looking at it that way it’s not hard to understand how it can be used in evaluating influence for people who need to be in the public eye to be successful, such as models, musicians, actor, actresses, comedians, people who work in social media, public relations, business owners trying to boost their *clears throat*...clout...with perspective lenders, agents & representatives and employers.

Yesterday (October 26th) Klout announced their new model of measurement. They revamped the algorithms, or some shit, and decided to say that it was going to provide "more transparency” and accuracy in measuring influence. We’ve spent the morning reading comments from all corners of the internet to find out about this “transparency” and what people were saying about it, including spending some time on Klout's Facebook page where we raised some questions regarding some of our own missing data and dramatic score change on our Klout profile thanks to the new "model". Our Klout score dropped by 13 points (from 71 to 58) in less than a week but said the overall 30-day change was only a decrease of 0.43. So we made sure to let them know "someone [there] doesn't fucking know how to use math".

So far it’s no more transparent than the previous “model”.

Standing on the edge of Klout you/we are faced with a quandary. Is it important? Who is it important to? What does it all mean anyway? OR How exactly is "so-and-so" influential in homelessness (we're talking to you @ConfusedLush *wink*), he's not homeless, he doesn't work with the how did Klout decide he may be influential in the topic? Klout (& others who have given us K+'s, which are a whole subject we don't feel like getting into) says we’re influential in Writing, Blogging, Alcohol, Community, Comedy, Knives, Bacon, Music…the list goes on, we are potentially influencial in 14 topics. How are we influential in knives ? Okay, we know that one…but what exactly did they monitor to figure that out? Where does all the influential topics come from? Our favorite comment today was this one:

With their recent fail (you may not know it, but lots of people are upset) and completion on the horizon like Peerindex, Proskore and Kred, Klout is soon to be the new MySpace of social networking. (You remember the social networking wasteland that is MySpace, right?)

Just as Alexia Tsotsis states, “I’m willing to be Steve Jobs didn’t check his Klout score”; we’re willing to guess that if Apple was just getting on its feet, and was new to the world, Steve Jobs would have been (R.I.P.) monitoring his Klout score, as well as Apples company score, until he could pay someone to monitor it for him and care about the score, like Britney Spears (, and so many more.

At the end of the day most people shouldn’t care about their score, some should. If you know why you should, if you know why it’s important, if you know what it can do for you then you should care. We actually have some reasons to care about it, but that’s not going to make us stop talking to the people who matter to us on Twitter, just because their Klout score may be lower than ours*.

If you care because you think it’s some sort of populatirity contest, like so many people think Twitter is…then you might want to sit back and relax, because most people won't be looking for yours anyway.


Oh, yeah, by the way, no matter what Klout, or anyone else, tells you, there's no real way to do Twitter or any other social networking site "right:...

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