Metrics are a necessary evil.
We professional bloggers and social media influencers understand and accept this fact.
We add our “numbers” to our media kits, we work to increase our “stats” and “scores”… even our Klout score. Because, like it or not, our “influence” determines our paychecks. That is simply the way this game is played.
Measuring the Immeasurable
The problem that everyone — the companies hiring and the influencers working — playing this game faces is that true influence is not accurately measured. While stats, page views, visitors, followers, friends, fans, etc., can give an idea of one’s reach, determining an accurate ability to influence and cause change is difficult, if not impossible.
So I understand the mission behind Klout.
Joe Fernandez, founder of Klout, explains, “The core premise behind our algorithms has always been that influence is the ability to drive action.”
However, even with their recent attempt to improve their metrics with a major algorithm update, Klout is failing to accurately assess an influencer’s ABILITY to drive action. And it seems that instead of receiving a welcome response, those algorithm changes caused many people’s numbers to plummet and are responsible for Twitter backlash such as @occupyklout.
Klout’s Fatal Flaw
Instead of measuring ABILITY and TRUE INFLUENCE, Klout relies too heavily on an influencer’s most recent activity.
According to Klout, it seems you are only as influential as your last tweet! While I am exaggerating of course, a Klout score can fluctuate so radically from day to day and week to week that it FAILS to report someone’s ability to cause action.
What Klout IS reporting is how much action an influencer is causing in the very recent past — even the last few days!
Slow down your tweeting for a few days or weeks and your numbers will drop — drastically.
But the problem is that just because someone goes quiet for a short period does not mean that the moment they are active again their influence is any less powerful!!!
Why Companies Can’t Count on Klout Scores
This inaccurate assessment of the ABILITY to cause action is the very reason this “metric” fails companies who are looking to evaluate influencers.
An accurate assessment MUST remain more stable and consistent, not rising and falling by the hour. A company needs to know that IF or WHEN the influencer speaks about their product or message their voice WILL be heard and respected. That true reach must be determined long term, not week to week.
Just because someone is offline for vacation or is busy with projects, it does not mean they no longer possess the SAME ability to influence that they did a month or two months before.
When I am evaluating and vetting bloggers to hire or recommend for outreach campaigns, I never look at Klout. While I wish it were a reliable metric, at this point it merely measures how active or influential someone has been in the moment or in the very recent past.
I want to hire influencers who have proven over time their ABILITY to cause action, not just ones who have caused recent action or tweet all day long.
What Klout Must Do to Succeed
While some are angry that Klout is adjusting their algorithms, I am not. I don’t even mind that our 5 Minutes for Mom score dropped 13 points because of the changes.
What I DO mind is that because I have not tweeted as heavily in the past few weeks, my Klout score has dropped. That change is ridiculous to me. I have NO LESS ABILITY to cause action and influence than I did last month or six months ago. In fact, as our numbers continue to grow across all of our platforms, our ability to influence has increased not decreased.
The influencers are speaking and hopefully Klout is listening! If they want to merely reflect how much a person is actively participating in social media in the present, then fine… continue as a report card that quickly informs if someone is not tweeting much this week. BUT if Klout is trying to help companies find influencers with the most ability to cause action then they have a problem.
Klout must continue to evolve and adjust the flaws with their algorithms if people are going to be able to trust their “scores” as an accurate measure of “influence”.