Klout Makes Me Pout

"Beths Klout Score on 2-28-2013"I’ll admit it, I check my Klout score on a fairly regular basis.  If you’re not familiar with Klout, it’s a social media scorecard that is intended to measure a persons online influence.  The theory behind it is to create a scorecard that helps people understand their own level of influence as it compares to others.

The question is –  Does influence, as it’s calculated by Klout or other social media scorecards, really translate to trustworthiness and subject matter authority?

Many say no, and not just no, “hell heck no,” (didn’t want to offend anyone).  There are equally as many people who believe you should care about your Klout score. The average Klout score is 40, mine bounces around between the upper 50’s and low 60’s, which sounds a little like a weather report.

When you sign up, you connect the social profiles of your choice and then Klout monitors social signals from the networks associated with your account.  Things like mentions (when your name is actually mentioned in a tweet or post), how many likes your posts get, and the number of friends and followers you have are used to measure and calculate your influence score.

I like the concept of a social or influence score.  In my opinion, as more and more content is published and promoted, there needs to be some way for people (and search engines) to figure out who knows what they are talking about and who doesn’t.  While the people who created the scoring system may say “Klout is the Standard for Influence ” in their page titles and marketing material, I don’t know that I’m convinced that its the right measurement.

Reasons Klout makes me Pout or Should I say Doubt?

  • Fluctuation in scores: Klout scores seem to drop rapidly and take a long time to recover. The FAQ’s say, “Being inactive over the weekend or taking a short break won’t have a major impact on your Score, but if you’re inactive for longer periods your Score will decrease gradually.” If that’s the case, why did my score drop 3 points in less than 5 days and take more than 2 weeks to recover? Yes I was inactive on social networks during that time (I was engaged in real life and teaching), but in my mind that seems like a rapid drop and a slow recovery.
  • Any content/activity counts: Last week my most “influential moment” was a post to my personal Facebook page. “I can breathe easy for another year – just passed the car inspection with no issues :)” Call me crazy, but just because people “like” the post, it doesn’t seem very “influential” to me.
  • Lack of participation – There are over 600 million Facebook users, close to 350 million people on Google + and slightly under 300 million Tweeters but only a fraction are on Klout. Across these networks and including LinkedIn I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,400 connections but only 14 of them can be found on Klout. Some of the top influencers in social media marketing could care less about having a Klout score. If the top industry influencers don’t have a score…well, I’ll leave it to you to finish that thought.
  • None of my kids have heard of it – Granted this may not be a valid data point, but they are all under the age of 25, and represent the future generation of consumers and business people and if they haven’t embraced it enough to even disregard it, it makes me wonder.
  • No correlation between skills and influence – the K+ system is even less effective than LinkedIn endorsements.  There is no way within the Klout community to know whether or not someone is knowledgeable in the topics they promote as part of their profile.

So why do I still check my Klout score?  Good question.

"Beths Tweetlevel score February 28, 2013"I also check my TweetLevel which is a score card that measures your influence on Twitter. I find the score here a bit more credible, if for no other reason than the fact that the data is limited to Twitter.

I do however struggle a bit with the fact that my “Influence” score is well above 50 (on a scale of 100) and my “Trust” score is only 25.  How can I be influential but not trustworthy?

Does that mean I’m a bad influence? <insert a wink and a chuckle>

I do also occasionally check my score on TrustCloud, my personal favorite if I need to feel good about my social trustworthiness.

"Beth's TrustCloud Score February 2, 2013"

I have no idea how the score is calculated and I haven’t been able to find anything concrete in the “frequently asked questions,” but words like “TrustCloud measures your virtuous online behaviors and transactions online then turns it into portable TrustScore” sound like a really good thing.

I check these social scorecards for 5 reasons.

  1. I’m a self proclaimed geek and I love numbers.
  2. I’m fascinated by the concept of “scoring” social influence and love to watch the numbers change based on my activity.
  3. It gives me something to write about.
  4. I believe search engines already have a social influence scoring system.
  5. It’s only a matter of time before one or two resources are declared the source for measuring on-line influence and just in case it turns out to be Klout or one of the other tools I’ve mentioned, I don’t want to miss out.

I won’t swear allegiance  to Klout or the other scorecards but I won’t dismiss them either.  It will be very interesting to see how it all shakes out.

What are your thoughts on social network scorecards?