Why Companies Can’t Count on Klout Scores

by Janice

Metrics are a necessary evil.

KloutWe 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”.

Written by Janice Croze, co-founder of 5 Minutes for Mom.
Wanna chat? Find me at: @5minutesformom, @janicecroze and Facebook.com/5minutesformom.



Email Author    |    Website About Janice

Janice is co-founder of 5 Minutes For Mom. She's been working online since 2003 and is thankful her days are full of social media, writing and photography. You can see more of her photos at janicecrozephotography.com.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ben Edwards October 28, 2011 at 3:45 am

The way I see it, Klout is just one way to help measure someone’s influence. Even as it grows and evolves it won’t be able to measure all the ways that people influence other people.

For example, a person who doesn’t use Twitter or Facebook might send out a daily email to 100,000 people and have a huge amount of influence with that audience.

For that reason, it seems to me that Klout scores are just one way to measure how much authority or reach a person has. I think it’s a great tool and I’m glad they are continuing to improve it – I just don’t think people should throw all their effort into trying to boost their Klout score.

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2 Janice October 28, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Exactly Ben. I don’t think Klout should be a huge focus for either team — the companies or the influencers. At this point, I find it one of the weakest tools on evaluating true influence.

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3 Lulu October 28, 2011 at 3:53 am

Totally agree with you 100%. The only winner here is Klout. I have seen awesome bloggers’ scored drop by over 10 points and they are on Twitter more that some whose scores went up. I’m not on Twitter because I’m on an assignment and it drops a couple of points. It relies heavily on Twitter activity ~ and really doesn’t measure the content of blogs, how many we engage with on other forums, etc.

So, yup, you’re not alone in this thinking. I suspect many of us are in the same boat and we’re all sticking together.

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4 Janice October 28, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Yes — to think that our ability to influence drops because we are concentrating on a different aspect of our work and not on Twitter as much is ridiculous. I think most of us bloggers and influencers understand this but my concern is that the companies using it to evaluate and rank bloggers may not.

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5 Lulu October 28, 2011 at 6:57 pm

If I run across a company putting ‘that much’ weight on Klout scores, I’m saving this thread to my Faves and will show that what influential mom/women bloggers think. It’s not an exact science simply because it does not measure everything at the right time and place. Kind of like a lie detector test (nice tool to measure telling the truth) but can’t be used to prove innocence or guilt LOL

I also happen to think the algorithm is a moving target as social mediums evolve.

My score actually went up, but I saw many more active Twitter friends’ scores go way down, so I was left scratching my head.

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6 Beta Dad October 28, 2011 at 4:46 am

I lost interest in Klout about an hour after hearing about it, but your analysis makes perfect sense to me.

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7 Janice October 28, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Andy you crack me up! I have to say, I have paid FAR less attention to Klout than most people I know. In fact, I had never even logged in to check my score until a few months ago. And even now, I think I have only ever looked at it about half a dozen times.

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8 Crisc October 28, 2011 at 4:57 am

Mine also dropped a lot. I haven’t tweeted in a week so that should explain it. Thanks for the post =)

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9 Janice October 28, 2011 at 1:18 pm

The drop could be from less activity yes. But with the algorithm changes, most of us dropped significantly anyway. Thanks for the feedback!

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10 Tarasview October 28, 2011 at 12:37 pm

great explanation Janice!

My Klout dropped 14 points. Go figure.

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11 Janice October 28, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Thanks Tara! The good thing is, that almost everyone dropped. So who cares, eh?

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12 Heather Schuck October 28, 2011 at 2:04 pm

So glad I’m not alone on this one! Klout is just another “hoop” to jump through that just gets you right back to where you started in the first place. Sure it’d be convenient to have ONE universal measuring tool for determining influence, but it’s just not realistic. There are too many variables and we’re chasing a moving target as the social media landscape quickly evolves. I’m sure we’ll be seeing yet another “algorithm update” soon! lol ;)

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13 The Toy Spy October 28, 2011 at 3:46 pm

The good and bad news is Klout does and doesn’t matter.

Klout matters because, flawed as it may be, it gives someone in a corner office a common tool for use as a measuring stick when comparing like people and personalities.

It doesn’t matter, or shouldn’t, however, at the end of the day to you. At least not personally.

My score changes like the weather. In a place that changes a lot. Like, say, Florida where one minute .. it’s raining. The next, sunny.

My point is you just need to keep doing what you do. Grow your brand, grow your engagement… All those happy buzzwords. And let your Klout stand out for what it is, but, don’t let it personally affect you or your methods.

If you can work with your audience, you can work with the brands that you want to introduce your base to.

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14 Debra October 28, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Well said. Well said. :-)

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15 Ana L. Flores October 28, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Ugh! Couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve always thought Klout should allow you to go “on vacation,” like have a button you can activate when you know you’ll be gone, like during the holidays or a vacation abroad! It’s ridiculous you have to worry or justify a score just because you decided you needed some offline time to regroup your online game.

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16 julie/just precious October 29, 2011 at 12:05 am

what’s bothering me is that Klout now seems to be “breaking in” to my facebook profile. It’s suddenly finding information I have listed as private. What’s more, it’s accessing information of my Facebook friends who aren’t active in social media and look at FB as a private space. I’m certain that if they saw their image posted on Klout, they wouldn’t be pleased.

Klout even changed my avatar this week–from my twitter one to my FB one.

I considered delinking FB from Klout. But they already have my information stored.

I believe Klout is seeing that Facebook is usually more influential in decision making than twitter, thus the algorithm change and the influx of non-social media friends who show up on Klout . But the information they’re proving they have is uncomfortable.

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17 Jennifer October 29, 2011 at 9:04 am

I have been sick and really out of sorts for about a week now and I have sat here and watched my score fall, from 60 to 53 back up to 56 I am so over it and really do hope that companies look at the big picture. I cringe every time I am asked for it.

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18 Jennifer October 29, 2011 at 9:14 am

I’ve never had a company ask for it yet. I do work to try to keep it up but, it’s a win & lose battle each day.

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19 Sandra Foyt October 29, 2011 at 12:27 pm

I’ve tried to give Klout a chance to shape up, but it’s the screwiest system ever – partly because it’s so hard to use. I’ve tried to create lists, but grew frustrated with freezes and slowdowns on the interface. And it’s ridiculous that there is no option for telling it to consider a Facebook page, but not your personal Facebook profile. I’m still giving folks K+’s, but I think my time would be better served thanking them personally.

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20 Nicole a.k.a Finance Diva October 29, 2011 at 7:28 pm

While I am not a big fan of Klout because it doesn’t account for people having lives outside of social media. Take a day off and watch what happens to your score. You will lose 1-3 points. While this new algorithm caused my score to drop 14 points, I guess they are trying to make it more realistic.

If companies are not using Klout wen vetting a blogger, what are they using? I do NOT use my personal FB page for social media. I use it to stay in touch with my friends. I have a business page to stay in touch with friend of my business, but Klout wants to look at my personal page something which had absolutely zero relevance on my business.

I believe that the social media space is just so new companies and bloggers are grasping as some sort of concrete proof which shows the “why” and “who” to chose when it comes to blogger outreach and social media programs.

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21 Rachel October 31, 2011 at 1:36 pm

I also find it annoying that Klout requires me to link my personal Facebook page and doesn’t have the option to use my blog’s fan page. I prefer to keep the 2 separate. With all the changes to Klout recently, I think I’m going to stop worrying about that score and focus on stats that are more relevant to my blogging niche.

Thanks for the excellent article – I have a post about Klout scheduled for tomorrow and I added a link to this post.

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22 Jen-Eighty MPH Mom November 19, 2011 at 12:24 pm

I am so tired of Klout…and believe they are using all of us for their own advertising purposes. I really don’t think it matters how active you are, actually. If I tweet and post on FB frequently, or if I don’t…it does seem to make a difference!

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