Want a Higher Klout Score? Have a Baby.

October 31, 2011

Did you hear the millions of screams last week after Klout, the social media influence firm, changed its algorithm for measuring an individual’s influence based on their ability to drive action? It may not have been quite as loud as the screams from frustrated Netflix fans last month with a pricing change, but across the social media landscape it was piercing. If you missed it here is what happened. Klout updated its ranking formula in the spirit of making it more transparent and accurate. In doing so, the enhanced scoring system caused many Klout scores to plummet. So what, right? Well to the folks who follow this like people who live by their daily horoscope, it was a huge deal. Although Justin Bieber still ranks at/or near the top of Klout heap (top score is 100), many saw their influence ranking drop by 10-30 points in a day. For some the reality was too much to bear.

The change in Klout’s ranking system created much discussion not only about the anger and fatigue associated with the precipitous drop in scores, but moreover the validity of the entire Klout system. In a TechCrunch piece titled Nobody Gives a Damn About Your Klout Score http://tcrn.ch/shg5fU Alexia Tsotsis argues that the whole thing really doesn’t matter and it’s much ado about nothing. Like many, she tried Klout for the first time and still doesn’t get it. But looking at Twitter and the growing mob of peeps using the hashtag #OccupyKlout it clearly matters to a lot of people, many of whom had a visceral reaction to the change. If you listened closely you could hear “We’re not worthy” from all corners of the country.

I’m on the proverbial fence about this issue. On one hand, okay I get it – I see how a scoring mechanism might help advertisers, maybe even PR folk, determine who should get the special treatment due to their influence. But on the other hand – meh – really? When we look to bring on a new employee at Barokas would I check their Klout score? No. If I was dating would I decide who to spend Saturday night with based on their K-score? No. The reason for my cynicism: a newborn.

I have a friend who works at a very big software company in Redmond, Washington who spends 90% of his waking hours driving social media “this and that” for said software company. In doing so, he’s amassed a large following on Twitter, a loyal audience to his blog, and of course a very respectable Klout score. But when last week’s change took place his score went from somewhere in the 70’s to somewhere in the 50’s. That was, however, until he posted pictures of his infant daughter on his Facebook page. Overnight his score rocketed back into the 70’s – and for a short time going over 80. So I have to wonder, was my friend suddenly – really – more of an influencer after posting the pics? Did he become more valuable as a credible source because he went from here-to-there on the Klout barometer? Hmmmmm.

Regardless of which side of the fence you fall on this issue one thing is for sure: this is only the beginning of this debate and Klout has set the benchmark, for now, on measuring one’s worthiness. Maybe I’ll even climb a few points based on this post. If not, I’ll gather up my kids for a quick photo – that’ll surely do the trick.

Still confused? Watch this.

Howie

One response to “Want a Higher Klout Score? Have a Baby.”

  1. liz says:

    I think the example with your friend is such a perfect one to illustrate the serious flaws in their algorithm. I wrote a post yesterday about Klout’s validity issue, and compared my 2 Twitter accounts side by side. With the new algorithm, my newish, barely-used, zero engagement, one tweet a day account has a higher Klout score than my main Twitter handle that has 38K tweets, gets tons of interaction, and has all my other SoMe accounts linked.

    What’s troubling is that some bloggers who work with PR are saying that firms are using Klout as a measuring stick.

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