Is Your Klout Score Just a Number?

For those of you that aren’t aware, Klout.com measures your digital influence online and I, for one, had never heard of the social media tool until a few months ago. On the social site users sign-up, link their social media accounts and Klout spits out a score based on your presence and activity online.

Upon first singing up, Klout rated me at a 22 and influential about 3 topics: Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Pinterest. For anyone that knows me, this must be a mistake. Even though I didn’t exactly believe what the website was telling me, I still had the unconscious urge to increase my score.

After exploring the About Klout page, I was reassured that my score was calculated by “a killer team of scientists and engineers working everyday to ensure continued accuracy and make the score clear and acceptable.” Yet, I still wasn’t convinced. So, I kept reading.

After further exploring the website, I found that Klout scores are based on 3 primary factors:

  • True reach – how many people you influence
  • Amplification – how much you influence them
  • Network Impact – the influence of your network

Although this was informative, it didn’t fully reassure me that my score was accurate or believable. Then I happened to stumble across this article on Mashable: Klout Doesn’t Really Measure Influence.

Apparently, a new study about digital influence found website measurement tools (like Klout and other social media sites) don’t accurately define how users influence their networks. Brian Solis, author of The Altimeter Group, says,

“a user’s social media score measures the ‘capacity to influence,'” and that “scores can be measures of social capital, not true influence.”

According to Solis, there are three pillars that determine how a brand or person can cause change or effect in their social network:

  • Reach
  • Resonance
  • Relevance

He believes these three key variables are missing in the complex algorithms, used by Klout and other sites, that calculate a corresponding number and neglect the importance of influence and relationships between people in social networks.

Although I don’t see a monumental difference between “capacity to influence” and actual “influence” I still don’t 100% trust my Klout score and am skeptical of the website’s credibility.

I think measuring someone’s social influence is like trying to measure someone’s love. It’s nearly impossible. There are various factors that affect your social influence online just as there are factors not easily measured that affect your love for someone and the type of love you have for that individual.

So here’s my takeaway from the whole debacle: use Klout as a general foundation for exploring what topics of interest you have a legitimate voice in and which ones you could improve on. But, whatever you do, don’t get too hung up on increasing your score. Work on increasing your relationships online instead.

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3 thoughts on “Is Your Klout Score Just a Number?

  1. Maddie Smith says:

    To me–you are dead on. I think that even understanding the topics the Klout scientists deem us influential in are inaccurate. I would think that I would be more influential in The Bachelor, Food and bad jokes than I would be moms and the MN twins.

    I think for personal accounts, we can’t take our Klout score too seriously. I do think companies should take their Klout score and influential topics and amplified reach seriously. If companies are not reaching their segments or are not listed as influential in market topics, then they need to re-strategize and figure out how to engage in those topics.

  2. I love the last point you made–work on increasing your relationships online, not just your Klout score. After reading this post I am left feeling like a Klout score could be compared to the number of fans a brand has on Facebook. A brand could have 100 fans, or 100,000, but the brand with 100 fans could be doing better at creating engagement and growing relationships. In my opinion, Klout is like a popularity contest more than anything and I think that’s why people are drawn to it. I find myself checking my K score all the time, hoping that it will go up just a fraction of a point…but what’s the point? Instead of checking my K score, I should be reading relevant articles and making real connections.

  3. jartersmu says:

    I think that Klout is a really interesting service, but I also agree that where do we draw the line between the capacity to influence vs. actual influence? I think true influence comes from how you engage and interact with followers. It’s about building fruitful and lasting relationships. Those relationships recommend you to others and your true reach continues to expand.

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