Klout loses some klout

Social influence measuring toolThere’s been quite a kerfuffle about social influence tool; Klout this month. Due to an upgrade thousands of people’s klout scores were downgraded leaving quite a few unhappy Klout users questioning the validity of the unregulated tool. Apparently my ‘true reach’ Klout score decreased by 66 in the last month. Hmmm. But what does this mean? Well this appears to be the problem – how meaningful really are klout scores?

Klout have not yet revealed how or why the scores have changed which has left a lot of people guessing and in the mean time picking holes in their current scoring process…

Sherilynn Macale from thenextweb picked it apart this week:

“So Klout can supposedly measure how influential each person is based on how many Twitter followers they have, comments or likes they receive, amplification via retweets or reshares, etc — but are they actually measuring true engagement? What I mean is, sure, a person can be reshared or retweeted several times over, but what about clicks? What about conversions? What about thousands of blogging sites linking towards someone’s Twitter account that aren’t counted as part of the social scoring process because they aren’t calculated by Klout’s PeopleRanking system?

I’d argue that all of the examples above are important metrics when gauging someone’s social influence or reach. Does Klout take blog page-ranking information from Google, for example? Is that possible, and should it bother? And if Klout ever does start ranking social influence via blogs as well, how will this eventually affect Klout’s current score model? Do people even care?… social influence is something that no one really understands, despite Klout’s claim to the social influence throne. For now, social influence scoring is, at best, a trivial pseudoscience akin to horoscopes or astrology.”

I have to admit I had a chuckle at Sherilynn’s departing comment. She does have a point though. And in my experience, you can easily make yourself go dizzy trying to work out one generic definition of ‘influence’.

Doug Lacombe, president of Calgary Social media agency also raises an interesting point:

“Klout seems to have mistaken the number of fans or followers and shares or retweets as being indicative of influence. But in an era when I can easily buy followers, or where a clever joke goes viral and creates retweet volume, is any of this truly indicative of influence? I’m dubious.”

And if you look at some of the posts in reaction to the changes, it appears that the consensus is not looking good for Klout:

Klout social influence tool

Influence is indeed a tricky nut to crack. I myself have spent countless hours, days, weeks trying to define a global definition for ‘influence’ and the conclusion that I came to is this:

There simply isn’t one.

As I mentioned in a previous post (valuing consumer influencers), and backed up by McKinseys research last year “there is no homogenous group of consumers who are influential across categories.” I think the sooner people get this point, the sooner we can all move on from the tiresome ‘influencer debate’.

Zoe Boalch

About Zoe Boalch

Zoë Boalch is co-founder of Contagious Agency. Zoë likes: hot chili, yoga, learning new stuff, positive people, taking risks Zoë dislikes: naysayers, grumpy people, rather large egos
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