The making of a social media slut

I crossed the line.  I think I have become a social media slut.

Before I tell my tale, let me relate a few of my experiences this week …

  • A very talented friend told me he was rejected for a job at a major ad agency because his Klout score was too low.
  • A B2B marketing agency Managing Director told me he chose between two qualified candidates based on their Klout score.
  • A friend in D.C is creating a Klout 50 Club exclusive to people with high Klout scores. Why? He wants to find good hires for social media marketing.
  • A woman told me her boyfriend was accepted to a prestigious conference based on his Klout score alone.

These experiences occurred in the span of 72 hours.

This morning I had coffee with a family friend who just graduated from college and is seeking her first job as a writer/content creator.  She was eager to seek my advice on what she should do to get ahead and land a job.

My leg began to twitch.  My hands became cold and clammy.  My lips quivered.

And then the terrible words came out of  my mouth. “You need to take a hard look at your Klout score. It could make a difference if you’re seeking an entry level social media job.”

Oh my God. What did I just say??  What have I done?  I recommended that this young lady game a score to get a job? That she needed to focus on an internet RATING of her worthiness?

I felt sick and … dirty.  Filthy.  Slutty.

I still do. This isn’t what I want social media to be about.  This is not what I want people to aspire to. And yet, I can’t ignore what’s happening out there.  Facts are facts.  I would have been remiss to NOT mention it to her.

An algorithmic measure of influence can never tell the whole story, but it seems that it is starting to become a quick and easy indicator of … something.  Something that people are grabbing on to.  In a world where people are auto-responding their relationships and making business decisions based on 140-character sound bites, this thing seems to be going mainstream.

I’ll turn this over to you and your comments. I need to scrub down.

 

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  • Wait… what?

    This is a bit mind-boggling, but you have to admit, it was expected. How often have people said that Klout would soon be implemented in hiring decisions? (Although, I do have to say that I didn’t expect it so soon). It is absurd, ignorant, and lacking all sense of rationality to base a hiring decision on something so… volatile. 

    And I’m not sure I would want to work for a company who based the hiring decision on that. What I’ve always wanted to do? Put potential candidates through a mock situation where they would have to complete a task relevant to the position. A practicum, in a way. Then again, I say this because I worry primarily about job performance (that, and I would land any job I wanted if this existed). 

    That aside, I feel the same way about that advice and I’m not the one who said it. 

  • I can’t wait until the day I’m laughing because so many people focus so heavily on social media and forget everything else and then myself and my clients thrive even more because what is seen as traditional (that still works) isn’t used by anyone, and it becomes enormously relevant once more. I think we have many years to come before social becomes the totality of things. Don’t get me wrong – it’s huge. But it’s got a long way to go until it’s the end all and be all.

    Business 101: diversify. Diversify your income streams, diversify your teams, and diversify your marketing. Failure to heed that causes less than fully optimal results.

  • See… you managed to work in that ‘I need a shower’ thing. Now go wash out your mouth with soap, then RT some smart folks with low scores as your penance. Next time someone asks for a tip maybe suggest they hire the person with the low score who’s too busy doing an actual job that earns results to spend all day tweeting, gaming, liking. Ugh. Seriously if the job is strictly about tweeting, FB likes and LI connections, then maybe the score has some relevance but otherwise, this is getting silly and a little dangerous. FWIW.

  • Wow.  I feel like I’m back in high school and trying to fit in with the “cool kids”.  Many of the “cool kids” from the class of “79 almost live on FB (therefore they must have have an impressive K score, right?).  I only know they are on FB often because I MAKE myself check FB once or twice per day for no more than a few minutes. 

    I hope I will continue to do things that fit my personality with regard to  social media.  In high school I worked a job, played sports, dated and found time for my family.  Since I no longer date I guess I can squeeze some social media time into my routine but hopefully not to the exclusion of family, friends, hobbies and that pesky job I go to 5 times per week. 

    When the undertaker puts the last shovel of dirt on my grave I wont care what my Klout score was.  However if I have a few real, close friends (not “likes”) I will consider it a life well lived.  But if my Klout score is 75+ please put in on my tombstone.  🙂

  • Well, I wouldn’t feel too bad for telling your friend the cold, hard, horrible truth. It’s irritating, especially when you know the number isn’t as meaningful as people think. If what you’ve written is true, though, it’s reality whether we like or not. I better go check my Klout score…

  • I know of several people in our agency that have Klout scores lower than mine but have way more talent and experience in digital than I. Some of them don’t have as high of Klout because they are so busy doing things for client work that they don’t have time to worry about their own. Hiring entry-level based on Klout…maybe. Hiring an experienced position…probably not a best practice. 

  • We’ve chatted about this, Mark, and I think you can guess where I come down on this particular issue. The thing is, I don’t think you gave her bad advice, because she specifically wanted a job in social media. If there is one thing that Klout probably does pretty well, it’s rank your ability to gain attention in social media – and I wouldn’t even stoop to calling that “game the system.” If your Klout score is high, you are probably pretty good at Twitter, at the very least.

    Now, if she were looking for an entry level job at my company, I would completely ignore her Klout score – even her relevance in the topic of Market Research. All that score tells me is that she is good at engaging people online about market research, but not whether she is actually any *good* at market research. 

    So, when you think about it in those terms, Klout is good at telling you who is good at social media, but when its uses range far afield of that I start to worry.

    And I am only commenting on your blog because  your Klout is higher than 50.

  • I have just recently (as of yesterday) began keeping track of my Klout Score. However, my intention is not to do whatever it takes to get it as high as possible. I am not going to follow people and bge for people to follow me just to raise it. I plan on using it for it was intended, to measure how well I am doing with my social media while doing it legitimately. But I do see how it can be a false reality for some. If being used for hiring in social media, the content of their social media needs to be taken into account just as much, if not more so, than their Klout Score. I am an intern and back in January, had less than 20 followers. As of today, I am at close to 300, following nearly 500 and up to nearly 1000 Tweets on Twitter. That may not seem like much to some, but for being entry-level, I feel like I have a good start compared to many soon-to-be graduates. I would think that if a company is hiring an entry-level social media position, they would be happy if that candidate even knew what a Klout Score was.

  • Crazy. We expect every social media practitioner to be highly engaged in social media on their own behalf. Yet in any other marketing discipline, and certainly outside marketing, the proof is your business experience or your aptitude. 

    When it comes to social, we won’t accept that someone has great experience or aptitude unless they have a strong personal presence. That presence (and associated Klout) may show some mastery of the tools (andin the case of Klout, that is really only Twitter), it doesn’t say anything about the ability to apply it to a business. This approach completely ignores aptitude and relevant experience.

    Crazy times. Now please RT me, I may need the Klout. Ughh.

    — @wittlake 

  • aarrggghhh!!!!!  I think both Shad and Drew answered this best.  If a company hires based on a Klout score, you don’t want to work for them anyway as they fit the group of companies (and there are a lot of them, especially so called Social Media experts) that just don’t get it!

  • Obviously, you aren’t the problem here, Mark. It’s all the people who are looking for a quick-fix shortcut to social media decision-making. This is why those who say “why complain? It’s just a tool and you don’t have to use it if you don’t want to” are wrong.  All of us should be doing a better job of educating the marketplace that these automated tools — no matter how sophisticated — are no match for a little humans-to-human contact.

  • Anonymous

    A company looking at Klout scores is unsettling
    to me. But thank you for the truth!

     

    I wouldn’t doubt it if one day it becomes
    standard practice to put Klout scores on resumes. 

  • fenywfach

    We all become slave to the Klout:-)

  • Nikischoenberger

    One newbie perspective on Klout is do we really ever leave high school?  Klout will determine how “cool” or “kewl” I am you and others are looking at my score to see how cool I am and then basing an automatic judgment call on me for it.  Seems like a step backwards almost…

    That being said it should not be an end all be all final decision factor in why you would hire someone.

  • My concern is that people are paying attention to their social media profiles at the expense of their own sites and content. I just blogged about that very topic today. People migrate from site to site (AOL? MySpace?) and keeping up with all of them is dizzying. Not to mention: if you lose your Twitter or FB account tonight, would you be able to reach all those people tomorrow? 

    With specific respect to Klout scores: Presuming they’re relevant to the decision being undertaken in the first place, they should only be one factor in the decision-making process, but certainly not the only measure.

  • When you don’t understand something, you look for a way to understand it, regardless of whether you completely grasp how the metric is constructed. How else would six economists be able to give seven different opinions and still retain employment?

    Klout scores have become the “death tax” and “Obamacare” of social media through sheer repetition and our inability to debunk its flawed algorithm, and the momentun only appears to be increasing.

    Pardon me, but while Mark showers, I need to retweet some of his blog posts.

  • Anonymous

    I, for one, welcome our new algorithm-based influence-rating overlords

  • Would someone please tell me what a Klout score actually represents and why anyone should care, especially in the context of employment or capability?  Since this is now the second post in as many days about this, maybe it deserves some really deep discussion.

    Personally I believe there is more hype around this than reality. If Social Media was so fundamentally basic and simple, everyone would be a master.  It’s like saying if I tweet alot and garner a lot of followers, I know something about Social Media or,  just because more ahteletes who win at their sport wear Addias (or pick your popular brand) shoes, they are the shoes you must wear if you want to win at whatever you play.

    Gauntlet Down!

  • I read a tweet in the morning by a self proclaimed marketing guru that perks should be decided by klout score. now that’s funny. atleast by now everyone out their knows that being active on twitter makes you influential. but is it really true? at least klout thinks so. hope we don’t overlook real engagement and quality in this mad rush of having greater klout score

  • *clears throat*

    I know all there is to know about the Klouting game…
    I’ve had my share of the Klouting game…
    First there were big charts, Now there’s +K
    And then before you know where you are
    You’re filled with dismay…

  • You had me at “slut” Now I need to go take a shower! The biggest problem with Klout is that it can be so easily gamed. I mean, I love that I am influential about bacon, that really is just so incredibly awesome. I think everyone on this comment thread should follow me on Twitter and give me +K on bacon so I can become a bacon expert!

    I feel dirty now too – I blame you for this Mark! My halo is usually very bright and shiny. 🙂

  • Mark,
    You are talking to the wrong people. In the last 72 hours:

    1. I’ve chatted with someone has been giving the key to the city because of their klout score
    2. Personally, had my car washed because my klout jumped back up after a week of vacation
    3. And learned Obama is giving an extension on the debt ceiling because of Nancy Pelosi’s klout score

    I thinking you are not in the right “Circles”  <- what impact will that have on Klout scores. 

  • I agree with the lack of importance to one’s own skill set being tied to a Klout score. Yes, I have Twitter-Facebook-G+-SocialSpark and a dozen other social media accounts, but I would not choose to use these on a resume as indication of my value to any employer! Sounds like the consultant to those firms played up social media a bit more than reality portends.

    Socially savvy consultants are forgetting the hard skills required in today’s marketplace. If it’s just about driving eyeballs to your webpages so that people will click on your links(s) then soc-med may be one tactic. How about offering quality at a reasonable price? Just my two cents. 

    Respectfully, Nicholas Chase – producer / director / writer / engineer

  • At the end of the day, this is about laziness and stupidity (and I’m not sure which takes center stage). Too lazy to understand what influence means contextually — you know, in terms of who they’re actually trying to reach, if some of these folks even know the answer to that. Too stupid to understand that the people with expertise are, as @davinabrewer:disqus said, busy doing work and getting results to spend time gaming their Klout scores.

    Good post, Mark. Just don’t give this advice again, b/c, really, who wants to work for a lazy, stupid boss anyway?

  • So now hiring decisions are based upon a concept 99.3% of those doing the hiring never heard of six weeks ago? What crap.

  • This makes me sick, sad and mad. Ugh. When people choose approval over authenticity, they take freedom a few steps back. Where’s the real engagement or measure of a person – on klout? Or in who they are, their values, beliefs, character, daily choices? Mocial Sedia!

  • So now hiring decisions are based upon a concept those doing the hiring hadn’t even heard of until 6 weeks ago? What utter nonsense. 

  • Nothing terribly surprising about this, given that major corporations are actually bonusing people based on Net Promoter Scores. Pretty much the same thing conceptually.

  • Just fell out of my chair laughing. Seriously.

  • Klout makes me feel like a hippy. I feel like some kind of march is needed or something.

    When I gave up my 9,000+ person main Twitter account, my Klout score dropped by two-thirds, despite the fact that those 9,000 people read and clicked less by far than a tenth that number on Facebook or, now, Google+. I can attest personally that I’m not able to get any less done as a result. 

    It is realistic to tell her that. And there will be other measures. And they’ll be just as terrible. Because good managers know teams require all kinds of counterbalances and odd talents that just don’t show up based on how many Twitter followers they have. 

    Things like Klout are self-fulfilling. This is how we end up with a society where everyone has to drive a shiny new car to show off, even though everyone thinks it’s dumb, because no one can be the first person to blink. Talk about herd mentality. Talk about groupthink.

    Good to Great–you get what you measure for. If we want vacuous fame-seekers, egotists, and people more concerned with how they appear than what they do, people who don’t believe we all have intrinsic worth, then by all means, let’s do it. But I personally believe that social media are popular at least in part because they let us see through this crap.

    Yuck. I’m with you. If you want to run in this crowd, I guess you’re going to have to play this game. Part of the reason I’m out of it, I guess. This is what we get when a bankrupt society inherits great technology.

  • I agree with both @twitter-755294:disqus  and @ShadBoots:disqus on this one. Like Tom says, I don’t believe for a second Klout actually measures any kind of influence. It measures how engaging (or engaged) you are on Twitter and some other metrics, which added all together with good ol’ fashioned research may lead to an idea of influence. There’s a huge difference.

    And as Shad pointed out, I would not want to work for a company that was judging me so much based on my Klout score. If I get asked about it in an interview and can provide my opinion of Klout (it’s good for measuring some numbers, but it is NOT influence), that’s fine. But if I’m not going to get a job or an interview because my Klout score is only so  high….I don’t want to work for that company. That’s ignorant and short-sighted. I don’t want any part of it.

  • And the problem with being a social slut is?

  • I think the biggest problem here is that people want a career in social media. It’s not a career.  Social media is a tool to effectively communicate and market your organization’s goals whether that’s customer service, PR, advocacy or whatever. Saying “I want a career in social media” is like saying “I want a career in InDesign.”

    Furthermore, when you try to add jobs like “social media coordinator” to an organization that’s only had “communications associates”, they have no other methods to judge the “quality” of one’s personal accounts than through things like Klout. Poor HR recruiters have no idea how to recruit social marketing positions because they don’t personally use the tools and it’s still vague at some organizations as to how social media fits in with the overall goals. It’s not wrong or right, it just is. We can’t judge HR recruiters for doing this … but, maybe they shouldn’t be recruiting for that position if they judge based on Klout scores.

    As for Klout’s validity, I’d like to point these two users out: @hipstermermaid has a Klout score of 77. He/She runs a parody account, is anonymous, and tweets about beer and liking music that’s more obscure than your music. @acarvin has a Klout score of 78. Andy is changing the way news is produced and social media is integrated within an organization. The fact that these two rank even on the same chart as one another, much less within one point of each other, is a serious problem.

  • Klout is the Microsoft of social media… invent a standard and declare it a standard simply by declaring it. Great idea and all, but very mistaken. 1) does Klout measure my multiple email mailing list subscriber base with a collective total of 800K in different niches? no 2) Does Klout measure my niche facebook fan page with 128K fans that I admin? no  3) Does Klout measure my existing customer base of 30K clients in 80 cities across the US? no

    That being said, I have a fairly decent Klout score, but it’s so full of holes and gaps, the only way it is relevant is the authority that others give to it.

  • Mark:

    This one might surprise you. I don’t even know what Klout is.  I’ve seen tweets about it, but I’ve never clicked on the related links to find out more.  Here’s why: I’m so completely and utterly focused on my writing (you know, that stuff bloggers call “content”), that when I do come up for air, it’s for (1) some time with the people who matter to me; (2) some exercise; (3) the balance of my life; and (4) a zoom through Twitter.

    One of these days I suppose I’ll need to clue in on Klout, and a few other things.   Which is why I’m so grateful I found your blog.

    Great post 🙂
    Susan

  • I know it’s all the rage these days but it’s hard to take Klout scores that seriously as a reliable metric for social media influence. It doesn’t track your influence on SEO on actual website content and it only tracks your activity on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 

    Effective social media marketing is about the entire process, from the tweet to the actual increase of website traffic or generation of an actual sale. Sure, spreading online WOM is essential but Klout doesn’t track the process beyond that point. 

    A couple of steps that Klout could take would be to integrate Google Analytics or your Bitly account and analyze them in relation to your social media activity. It would also be nice to see some integration of social sites like StumbleUpon, Digg, or Reddit. Maybe that’s too much in the SEO ballpark though. 

  • Recruitment is a strange business sometimes. Some of the companies out there are using credit scores to measure potential candidates. Bad credit isn’t necessarily an indicator of good or bad judgment. There are many legitimate reasons for having bad credit, yet it doesn’t stop people from using it.

    My resume isn’t formatted to hit all of the keywords that it should. It needs to be reworked and I need to be slapped for not marketing myself as effectively as I should.

    Yet I find it irritating to be judged in this manner. I am more than words. There are a lot of companies who have missed out by not bringing me on board.

    But at the same time there are “rules” to this game and sometimes we can’t  overturn them no matter how badly we wish that we could.

    The conversation about Klout is going to continue for as long as they are relevant and until that changes this sort of thing is nothing more than venting.

    Come up with a better system and you’ll find lots of people who will help fund, promote and market it.

  • “Klout scores have become the “Obamacare” of social media”

    That is the quote of the day!

  • I think the biggest problem is Klout doesn’t measure influence at all. Klout measures activity which may lead or cause influence, but a single number like Klout will never represent anyone’s influence.

  • Somebody needs to start a hashtag petition against Klout. 

    #KSUX? Anybody? 

  • Pingback: Should Klout Scores Be “Stickier?” | devblogging.com()

  • “Hiring by Klout score” is an interesting discussion.  Last summer, I posted an ad for an intern with the specific job responsibility of helping me develop VIBCO and my social media presence and strategy- do research, learn best practices, post, caption pictures, upload to flikr, youtube, etc. 

    NOT ONE applicant sent me a FB friend request, provided their Twitter handle, or invited me to join them on LinkedIn.  If any of those kids had sent me a Klout score, they would have gotten the job.  Even if their score was 7.

    As an aside… I consider LinkedIn Recommendations to be far more useful than Klout scores or any other SM “measurement”.

  • Karen Bice

    Oh boy.

  • I wouldn’t have sent you a friend request, either, but that’s just because I don’t friend people I don’t know on FB (maybe that’s just me? haha). But I would have included my Twitter handle in an email, cover letter or resume.

    Curious, why would a Klout score have convinced you?

  • This is the best blog post ever, as it illuminates in short order the trouble with Klout, companies who want to hire SM experts, and the SM-Personal branding industry as a whole. I would never, EVER hire or place someone in a position based on a Klout score. Companies who want to do that deserve whatever they get for an employee!

  • Regardless of the score, it would have told me that they spent at least a little bit of time Googling social media measurement and had taken some initiative based on that search.  I would have been delighted if any of the applicants had contacted me via any of the social networks or had liked or shared any of VIBCO’s or my SM content.  

  • Makes sense! I still wouldn’t have connected with you just because I was always taught that’s not appropriate with recruiters/potential bosses. But I get what you’re saying, and they should have at least showed you they HAD a presence.

  • I’m sorry, but I am now physically ill. 

  • Mark,

    It’s human nature to want some shortcut to judge others.  Before you heard those four, near-simultaneous comments based on “What is your Klout score?”, how many times did you have similar conversations, but instead the parameter was Twitter followers?  

    Not saying that it’s right, it’s just convenient.  Like the shirt someone was wearing last weekend:  “Stereotypes are a real time-saver.”

  • Oh Mark, for shame… For shame!  🙂 Of course, I’m kidding. The reality is you don’t do a young person entering the job market any favors by regaling them with grand theories about how the industry should be, you help them by telling them the way it is. I’m sure it was a gut check moment, but you really had to say it.

    With this metric becoming part of our lives, I’ve been pondering the concept of a baseline. Do you think there is a certain number above which you are sort of accepted as influential in some way? (Not asking for the number, btw, just about the concept.) I think recruiters will eventually have to use baselines. “Must have a Klout score of 60 and at least one year experience.”

    In my day, one of the costs of looking for a job was buying nice stationery for resumes. Perhaps now it will be buying followers to game Klout scores. Or worse, career services will create networks that help new grads build their Klout scores for a fee… Yikes!

  • Brian Dane

    Let’s face it Klout is as useless as a credit score, but it is a way to measure you up against other potential hires so the companies are going to do that whether you like it or not, and that is their right so why not embrace it?

  • I am headed to the shower after reading your post and realizing that I, too, worry about my Klout score — and I qm 1)a grandmother and 2)not looking for a job. Social media has become high school,

  •  Well said. If a person has overseen a strategy to build a brand’s social presence, then I would hope an ad agency would have the brains to consider the value that individual brought to their client/employer, rather than what kind of klout they obtained for themselves. Do they want a self-promoter, or a person who knows how to help an organization?

  • “A very talented friend told me he was rejected for a job at a major ad agency because his Klout score was too low.”
    Painful, but in a way, he may have dodged a bullet by not being stuck at such an irrational place (or at least with such an irrational manager.) 

    I’m just wondering how that convo went down: “Joe, we were going to hire you but it looks like you don’t spend enough time staring at your iPhone, and your Facebook profile seems to be just real friends that you’ve met in person. Chris, on the other hand is being followed by hundreds of #teamfollowback peeps and gets a #FollowFriday mention even on Tuesdays.”
    Joe: “But what about the way I helped a brand increase it’s conversion rate from 1.5 to 4.5% and improved time on site and overall traffic and pagerank…?”
    “Tell it to the Googlebot, cause the +K ain’t listening.”

  • Alice Gold @imsofunny

    So, are you saying that my previous employer who didn’t rehire me because of my credit score (long story -read the post) http://imsofunny.blogspot.com/2011/07/school-of-hard-knocks.html  

    had it all wrong and should have been begging me to come on board because my Klout score is a 55. Psh. They are going to feel so dumb when they realize they were using the wrong ruler.

  • Giovanni Gallucci

    So I was just walking by this little campfire with a can of kerosine and heard all the chit chat and decided I’d throw a little excitement on the fire.

    Let’s go through the scenarios presented in this blog post:

    “A very talented friend told me he was rejected for a job at a major ad agency because his Klout score was too low.” – There are three actors in this scenario: the hiring manager, the job applicant, and the writer of this blog post, Mark. One or more of these people is a moron or a liar or possibly a moronic liar. Mark, I hope you’re not a moron. Surely you can use your noggin here and think there’s another reason that may have contributed to this person not getting this gig. If not, I retrace my first comment.

    “A B2B marketing agency Managing Director told me he chose between two qualified candidates based on their Klout score.” – There are two actors in this scenario: the managing director and the writer of this blog post. One or more of these people is a moron or a liar or possibly a moronic liar. Mark, what did you not call BS on this person? Seriously? I simply don’t believe this is the entire context of what happened and I have to assume that something else played into that decision…of that this person is just a full-time buffoon and therefore this request would not have been a surprise to anyone who knows him/her.

    “A friend in D.C is creating a Klout 50 Club exclusive to people with high Klout scores. Why? He wants to find good hires for social media marketing.” – Your friend is a moron. While the list is a good idea because a list like this could be used to extract $ from other morons, it’s not the basis of good, solid hiring.

    “A woman told me her boyfriend was accepted to a prestigious conference based on his Klout score alone.” – You, your friend, or your friend’s boyfriend is a moron or a liar or a moronic liar. Mark. Really? Seriously? Really? *rolls eyes*

    Seriously – all four of these scenarios are so ridiculous as to not be even the slightest bit believable on the surface. Surely for the sake of either briefly or shock value you have left out so much information from each of these situations as to make yourself look ridiculous. Sorry that so many commenters are so quick to take the bait on this one, but the set up is simply not believable.

    With that said, let’s throw some gas on the fire, shall we? – if you were looking for someone to teach you how to have a successful music career would you look towards a Justin Bieber or a Lyle Lovett? I personally think Lyle Lovett is a much better artist, song writer and performer, but the Biebs has sold more songs with his first effort than Lyle has in a 20+ year career. Who’s more successful? Who’s better for the job?

    How about TV shows? Say you’re looking for a person to teach you how to create a successful TV series? Would you choose the creators of “Full House” or “Lost?” Well, based upon quality of content and not wanting to strangle two adorable twin girls every week I’d choose the creators of “Lost,” but I’d be getting the wrong team since “Full House” had an average of twice as many viewers as “Lost.” What show was more successful? Full House? What show was more popular? Full House? What show make me want to throw up in my mouth? Full House. Such a conundrum. Those girls were so cute and so loathed at the same time.

    So, is “better” better?

    VHS or BETA? BETA was a much better quality product but VHS was the successful platform. Microsoft or Apple? Arguably Apple creates a better product but Microsoft dwarfs Apple in sales and revenue.

    My point here is pretty simple – many times we confuse quality solutions with successful or profitable solutions. Businesses exist to make profit. So when a business is looking for a team member, social media or otherwise, it is looking for metrics which can show success in the area that team member is responsible for. When it comes to social media, volume, engagement, popularity, influence, friends, posts, etc. are all very valid metrics to look at when making a decision to hire that person.

    It’s a “proof is in the pudding” thang. Whether or not Klout has the right algorithm to determine a person’s influence online better than say Buzz Metrics or Hubspot’s Grader.com is not relevant. What’s relevant is that people who are not in our industry need to hire people in our industry to do things for them that they don’t know how to do. How are they supposed to make a determination about someone’s success in this field if they aren’t subject matter experts? They are going to fall on tools like Klout or Google SEO results or followers, etc/

    Are there other things you should look at? Sure. That’s why I began this comment with the set up that I believe the post itself is completely bogus. Maybe the Mark is being fooled, but if that’s the case then Mark has nut loose. No offense to any nuts out there.

    Sorry it can’t be a question only quality here, but as the Biebs told the big haired-crooner from central Texas, “I was born to be somebody. Ain’t nothing that’s ever gonna stop me.” and he did that by being popular and working his audience on social networks, not by being a better musician or songwriter than Lyle. Quality counts. But quality without quantity is a lonely place.

    I can point you to plenty of great singer songwriters who are 100% true to their core values and can’t feed their family with their craft because they refuse to play the game. A 15 year old kid from Canada was smart enough to realize that, it’s time all the self-proclaimed “social media police” whining about other peoples’ underserved success realize it also or move on to another career. I say that because if you’re complaining about others’ success, it might be helpful to stop, take a breath, and see if you can learn from them. Your careers will benefit from it. If that’s distasteful to you, then I’m not sure what you’re complaining about.

    I’m not suggesting that anyone in social media reduce the quality of their conversation or sacrifice engagement. I am suggesting that you look at what those who might hire you are looking for when they make their decisions and address those issues. I figured out long ago that pleasing my peers (read competition) in this industry wasn’t going to put food on the table. My job is to please my prospects and get them to notice me. So, in that context, followers count. SEO rankings count. Fans count. Klout scores count. Grader scores count.

    It’s no different than showing up for an interview wearying a nice suit or wearing shorts and a t-shirts. It’s a dance and the sooner you learn how to do the dance the better off you’ll be.

  • Giovanni, I think you’re right. Klout selects perfectly for the kind of person it takes to succeed in social media these days. It will also be a useful score to the rest of us to weed them out of our searches and ignore their content. 

  • Wow, Mark. Rarely has a blog post ever evoked emotion for me the way this one has. You made me realize today that, yet again, I’ve been naive in thinking we were actually going to be social for a change instead of just being manipulated by celebrities and brands. The battle is long since lost, it would seem. @Russ_Somers:disqus is right — all hail the new masters of the universe.

  • Anonymous

    Too funny! I have to say that I feel the same way at times. It was good advice but there is more to her than a score! She has to have a good score and prove she is so much more! It is a combination of things and yes the Klout Score is one of them. It is more of the social media footprint in my opinion. The package!

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  • I welcome people throwing gas on the fire and sincerely appreciate the effort in your reply but I couldn’t get past you calling my friends morons after a 17-word description.  I honestly stopped reading at that point.  I’ll respond to a disagreement if it’s civil Giovanni.

  • Giovanni, although I agree with some of your points (I’ll address them in a moment), I can guarantee after knowing Mark for a very long time, he’d not write something like this if not factual. If he was using this as an made up example to prove a point, he would have said so.  What I’ve always liked about Mark is that he is an expert at “fueling fires” and causing people to think.  Your response is an excellent example of that.

    But seriously, do you REALLY believe that success in Social Media is synonymous with popularity? Why do Klout scores, follower, SEO rankings and Fans count?  To whom???? This is only one very minor perspective on social media.

    And William, if you only pay attention to people with high Klout scores, you’ll be missing 99.9% of the value social media provides. When you checked the reviews out on a hotel the last time you booked one, did you pay attention to the reviewers Klout score (if they even had one)? If a million people say a camera model is great and one person with a high Klout score says the camera model sucks, who are you more likely to believe?

    Just sayin…… 

  • Steve, I needed the sarcasm font for mine…my earlier comment in the
    stream will give a better flavor for my real reactions to this. It does
    occur to me that Klout will become a great way for us “real” people to
    filter out the junk. (Basically exactly the opposite of how Klout would like
    us to use it.)

  • OK, Klout, I guess my score is decent, and I’ve even got a decent Klout score for a client that has only been up a couple of months…oh, and I’m LOVING the free Spotify account, but come on! Is there such a thing as “teaching to the test”? Maybe I should give seminars.

  • Anonymous

    I’d just like to say I’d rather better to be judged by my Klout score than my Empire Avenue share price.

  • I agree – see – http://blog.darwineco.com/2011/06/we-are-taking-our-obsession-with-scoring-to-cover-individuals-on-the-web.html

  • When Charlie Sheen came out of the gate with 1,000,000 followers, 0 following and 1 tweet with a Klout score of 50, I realized it was a tech-popularity contest with little creed at least in my book. Sadly, I do admit to checking my own, scowling when my score goes down a little but that’s about it. The only clout that I worry about is with the peers that really mean something to me and I hope that’s more than a number 😉

  • Klout is ridiculous. More problematically though, it isn’t ethical: http://jasonmillar.ca/ethicstechnologyandsociety/2011/07/14/the-ethics-of-klout-should-we-trust-in-the-almighty-algorithm/ 

  • I think I once knew but now don’t even recall exactly what a Klout score is. Do I want to?

    Seems to me like the Groucho Marx comment, ‘I wouldn’t want to be in a club that would have me as a member.’ For me, it would be the same with an organisation that depended on some social media ranking. Count me out. That would be like hiring an academic on the number of articles
    published, with no consideration for their quality.

  • What I’m thinking as a person who owns her own social media marketing biz seems to already have been said here. What I’m also thinking is………I’m lovin’ the titles of these blog posts, books, & tweets. “Sluts” and “No Bullshit Social Media” are making this field sound dirty. And verrrryyyy interesting!

  • Tell your DC friend to check out my Klout score!!  How’s that for shameless self-promotion 😉

    http://klout.com/owenpaun

    This is just the way of the world, it’s always been something – like a grade-inflated Ivy League GPA was in the past. At least anyone with a cell phone can play at this game.

  • Anonymous

    My name is Charlie, I am a level 63 social media socialiser…. 

    Are we really big enough geeks we have to go back Dungeon and Dragon style experience points, levelling up if we get retweeted enough?!

    Klout is an odd thing. I’ve been given access to conferences because of my klout score. Given work over competitors and a free phone based on this almost meaningless number. Yet the things I care about (Chinese food, travelling, learning Mandarin, wakeboarding etc) – I have had no related perks from – which confuses me really…. Why offer me things when I am not likely to become a massive advocate?!

    Klout is pretty terrible at telling people what you are influential about… (at least use peer index?…) but more importantly we are talking about conversations not experience points.

    How long is it until we have klout optimising experts (guarantee you a 60+ score etc)?

  • My apologies, William! But, I’m still unsure if Klout will truly enable anyone to filter out junk as quite often the higher their Klout score, the higher their junk ratio.  There’s just so much more to it than that.

  • danb

    Well the joke is on the social media ‘industry’. Klout scores have been proven to not correlate with ANYTHING other than activity. They don’t measure influence, CTR, sharing, viral factors, anything. In fact, it is as good as random. This is why many robots have high Klout scores.

    But what is brilliant about Klout is knowing how easily it is to sell snake oil to this crowd in particular.

  • If someone is creating a 50+ list, I’ll jump to the conclusion that this would indicate that the Klout Overlords ::nods to @Russ_Somers:disqus::  think a 50 is a …

    (I’m struggling for an adjective here. good? decent? respectable? None of these fit with the nasty, slutty, shower-inducing subject matter of Mark’s confession.)

    … score?

    Assuming this is true, imagine my surprise upon reading this post knowing that I signed on to Klout yesterday for the first time ever — induced by another {Grow} post — and had a score of 57. I suppose now I have to figure out how I gamed the system so that my next 10,000 tweets manage to keep pace?

    Or not.

  • Susan, I am an entire day ahead of you! I feel so well-informed!

    Seriously, though, I love your 4-step list of things you do when you aren’t actually working on your writing. I’m stealing it, but I’ll attribute the source.

  • Anonymous

    In my experience, Klout can be gamed pretty easily.  I’ve done it myself as an experiment and seen instant results.

    From my perspective, Klout is nothing more than a measure of how many people follow you and how much you’re retweeted. NOT about the quality of that information and interaction.

    If I choose, I could game the system by going completely off topic and leaping on every available trend etc.  But one quick look at my Tweet stream would reveal this as an immensely shady tactic because of the CONTENT, not the distribution.

    Klout is an interesting marker of one’s learning about how to use (and game) social media.  But as an indicator of quality… Not so much.

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  • This is mental! 

    Klout does not show your knowledge. Klout does not show your ability to work with and manage people. Klout does not show a person’s creative abilities. Klout is a gameable ego-boosting fluffy metric.

    The worlds gone mad I tell you!

  • ” It’s not a career.  Social media is a tool to effectively communicate and market your organization’s goals whether that’s customer service, PR, advocacy or whatever. Saying “I want a career in social media” is like saying “I want a career in InDesign.”

    Love this comment Nicole! So true, I alluded to the same in a recent blog post – http://bit.ly/rqWFMM under the heading – ‘ A knowledge of the principles of marketing’

  • Great post Mark and very relevant to many discussions currently going on in the streams.  As the one who initiated the #klout50 chat to create and identify potential social media rockstars to join our company I think we have to understand that klout is a game (see empire avenue).  It is not difficult to get to 50 but it can be a bit more arduous to climb higher.  However the key is that people are problem solving and trying to identify different methods to increase that score or perhaps their natural engagement is increasing that score.  Either way they are active online and throughout the networks in different capacities.  The interesting thing to me is that the algorithm (aka secret sauce) cannot fully measure the “human factor” to properly identify influence (yet).  There are many who are trying.  As someone put it to me yesterday during lunch is the person who blogs the most or the person who has the most comments the most influencial?  OR is it the person who is typically the 4th or 5th commenter consistently who swings the overall direction of the conversation?

  • I’m pretty sure I landed a job once in part because I happened to be one of the most followed people on Twitter. I have to note though that that was when Twitter was very young, and after that point, I pretty much stopped trying to get more and more followers. That whole social proof thing though really worked in my favor 😉

  • I’ve hired (and sadly had to fire) many people in my career. Their resume was barely enough for them to get the chat. Time spent with them got them the gig. Any company that is now using keywords and Klout scores to shuffle through the applicants deserves what they get. I know of many “experts” who have big juicy Klout scores who aren’t smacking it out of the park with actual paying clients. So the moment this person with the high digits is sitting in front of a C-level exec clamoring to show their ability will be the test. 

    Organizations are like a parfait dessert. There are many layers. There are evangelists who scream and yell for channel development, advocates who begin to see some value in the screaming and eventually a wallet will be involved. “It takes a while” and “It’s about the conversation” is not a business strategy. Though it is amazing how many wonderfully talented people you can connect with through the social web, this is called business not hobby.

    I have a colleague who often says he would gladly compare pay stubs with anyone who has a higher Klout score and he’s got a point. It’s about the numbers, it’s not about the numbers, let’s pick a lane. 

    Which reminds me, I’d better start tweeting more, my score is slipping. It must mean my 27 years of marketing and media are no longer valid.

  • Mark, great post.  You got everyone fired up.  Nicole, I feel the same way.  It’s cold hard truth no matter what you know about the Klout score. I’ve been guilty of worrying about my own score for credibility too. I would say for those on the job hunt, work on the score BUT have a kick-ass portfolio of things you’ve done online to build community, engage and make things happen.  If you have 9,000 people behind you for any reason, write up the story and tell it to the interviewer. Put the Klout score on the table in your resume. “Look my Klout score is 10, but my talent is 100 and here’s why….”  I know everyone’s upset about Klout scores but as someone else mentioned, we have Empire Avenue, FourSquare badges, etc.  My former boss reported on the number of followers we got each month. I reminded her that numbers don’t mean anything. It’s the sphere of influence. For someone just graduating, I would say do the real engagement in your field, build credibility with your authority, be ready to tell your story and the Klout score will take care of itself.

  • Well said Brian.

  • So, this was posted yesterday afternoon, and 81 comments later…I guess I’m a little late to the conversation.

    Oh Klout, you odd little number, what are you doing to people?

    This is a classic example of what businesses always do. They can believe that something can be more beneficial, even influential if the numbers do not support it. I remember when I worked for an Agency, and we would get into debates over what Advertising we should use Me: “Radio has a better impact on your audience, and will do a better job than TV” / Other guy “yeh, but TV has the numbers…”

    Ironically, it is those same companies who are now looking at Klout and selecting whom they should empower and who they shouldn’t ~ even when someone was already an advocate.

    Personally, I think the biggest mistake however is something you Mark, and I and a few others have been talking about for a while, that to use social media, it must be a natural extension of what you are already doing everywhere else. And that it is not a separate plan, but a unified one.

    By empowering people who don’t care at all about your business / brand, that idea of natural extension just went out the window.

    But, you got to do what you got to do when it comes to getting hired these days, so don’t feel bad about your advice, “Don’t hate the playa, hate the game”

  • Very interesting read Jason, thanks

  • Very interesting read Jason, thanks

  • That’s what occurred to me. It seems very much like high school; most people I know have moved on. Maybe Murdoch is behind all of this. Seems like a great way to make people even more neurotic, getting them to consume more media, while feeling obligated to comment, recommend, re-post, blah, blah, blah. 

    I know some highly influential people who don’t have a Twitter or Facebook account, they do however use the telephone, are well read and are secure with themselves, just the way they are. 

    Now PLEASE, hit the “LIKE” button below and COMMENT below. I’m a pathetic 28.  Have a great day! 

  • Maybe Murdoch is behind this KLOUT-like movement. Seems like a great way to make people even more neurotic, getting them to consume more media, while feeling obligated to comment, recommend, re-post, blah, blah, blah. 

    I know some highly influential people who don’t have a Twitter or Facebook account, they do however use the telephone, are well read, and are secure with themselves, just the way they are. 

    Now PLEASE, hit the “LIKE” button below and COMMENT below. I’m a pathetic 28.  Have a great day! 

  • Maybe Murdoch is behind this KLOUT-like movement. Seems like a great way to make people even more neurotic, getting them to consume more media, while feeling obligated to comment, recommend, re-post, blah, blah, blah. 

    I know some highly influential people who don’t have a Twitter or Facebook account, they do however use the telephone, are well read, and are secure with themselves, just the way they are. 

    Now PLEASE, hit the “LIKE” button below and COMMENT below. I’m a pathetic 28.  Have a great day! 

  • May I buy some of your Klout shares? JK

  • Mike Mccarty

    Are we really shocked that the Klout score has become a measuring stick?  We love algorithmic measures.  What would we do without a credit score?  Run your credit score and watch how much it varies from the 3 credit bureaus.  And how accurately does this measure credit worthiness?  If I am 21 and fresh out of college with no credit history I am seen as a great risk.  Or I recently counseled a client that was going to deny leasing an apartment to an applicant because she did not have a credit score.  She was my grandmother’s age and paid for everything in cash.  I told the client they would be an idiot to deny her because she would pay her rent in cash 2 days early every month.  “But our policy requires a minimum credit score of xxx” they said. 

  • First a douchebag, now a slut? I’m proud of you Dad.

  • Using Klout scores as a tie-breaker for job candidates appears a bit shallow.  Why not have them play Twitter Trivia or something?  Seems to me a bit superficial.

  • It’s not a career, it’s a tool bag.  At the moment, it’s a pretty productive one, but it’s still a tool bag. 

  • Anonymous

    Now that was funny…

  • I’ll take it … especially since it was one of your friends who I was helping! : ) 

  • Anonymous

    What a brilliant post, which inspired equally brilliant and often hilarious comments – I read all of them. Klout is to social influence what Paper.li was to publishing…easy, sexy, ultimately vapid. That said, Klout has an opportunity to grow into something truly useful. Personally, I hope they blow it and stay vapid, as I am building technology that will eventually compete with them and allow users create their own personal algorithms based on what is important them, not on what some easily gamed system shoves down their slutty throats.

    Mark, you just got your self a loyal a loyal subscriber!

  • I’m trying to remember a more ridiculous thing I’ve heard lately…

    aaaaaand…I got nothing!

    So all I have to do to get the job is artificially inflate my Klout score? Nice!

  • Anonymous

    Too bad. Any algorithm can be gamed. Does that make someone a good social media or online marketing specialist? What happens when the algorithm is tweak? The Klout gamer will have the explaining to do or will need to figure out the secret sauce very fast. 

  • Alan Jack

    On one hand, I feel your pain.  This is a horrible way our society is progressing.

    On the other, I have to agree with the comments below, that social networking isn’t really a career … or, rather, social networking as a career is pretty whorish in and of itself.  Social media is for connecting people and sharing information – turning that for profit is like being a “professional friend”.  Its like being paid to hang out in Starbucks and work other people’s products into conversations.  I’m not saying it’d be an awful career – if I felt passionately about a product I could happily spend all day tweeting/facebooking/Google+-ing/Blogging about it to raise awareness.  But when you’re looking to do that for ANYTHING just for money … well, there’s no point in nit-picking and pretending.  It’s filthy whorish work, like any PR job.

    I think what makes it more nauseating to see social media monetised is that its so prevalent and transparent that you shouldn’t really be able to manipulate it like that.  Its championed as the channel that finally brings free speech to the masses, not another way for us to find out about the latest Nikes – but that’s the way the commercial world works, I suppose …

  • Yup it’s just a bunch of tools, simple!

  • This suggests the world really, really wants a single number to represent reputation. Klout has a lot of flaws, but my takeaway is that we’ll see a whole bunch of new products in this space over the next few years.

    As for your sluttiness, Mark, I think you’re being too hard on yourself. If your friend was looking for a wife and you tell him to learn to small-talk, I think that’s just reading the market, it’s not being a “small-talk snob.”

  • YIKES, Mark!! I feel an over-whelming sense of ickiness now!  

    I agree with the others below that grasping onto social media as career is a major mistake.  Social Media is a tool. Plenty of folks out there dont have high Klout scores, because they are busy doing other aspects of their jobs.  But, I agree Mark, you would have been remiss to not mention it to your friend.  

  • Mark,

    Hilarious post but it there’s tremendous truth in what you’re saying. The fascination/obsession with “influence” is making people do all games of things to game the system. There is no doubt that influence has lot of potential as a way to identify ways to rise about the digital noise but we need to be careful about how much emphasis we place on a particular score by a particular company.

    Without coming across as blatantly promotional, you might find it interesting to look at a new influence service by a client, Appinions, called the Influencer Exchange – http://beta.ix.appinions.com/influencerweb/main. There are no scores but Appinions is using the power of opinions to identify influencers (both content creators and those attracting the most attention) for a wide variety of optics.

    cheers, Mark

  • I don’t know that I would agree that it isn’t a career.  I mean the printing press once upon a time was the latest communication tool on the market and certainly many gained employment in the ensuing years operating that tool, no?  I mean I get your sentiment, but the tools need some one using them don’t they?

  • Jeff Domansky

    Mark, thoughtful post. I’m thinking of a new service called Flaunt.com. You sign up, pay me $198 and the service totals your Klout and Peer Index scores and emails you back your impressively high FLAUNT SCOREwhich will get you discounts at the Four Seasons, Chez Pierre and entrance to Harvard. Any angel investors out there?

  • Barry

    Whuffie is coming, I can see it…

  • You can get a W score for free … http://crosscutcommunications.com/2011/07/introducing-the-w-score-click-for-yours/

  • Maybe it is a good thing that your friend didn’t nail the job at the Agency because of his Klout score. I mean, who wants to work for people who base themselves over that?

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  • Daren Patterson

    I am in shock but not surprised at how something so superficial is influencing those making decisions on new hires. Finding talent or the right fit is a talent unto it’s own, and now a score based on an indirect influence is a factor? I have always believed that the human looking at resumes is imperfect and not always as smart or intuitive as professional job-seekers believe them to be….but now adding a score that has had little intent in recruiting has now taken shape scares me in the worst way. Hopefully this is a quick passing fad to disappear faster than a canceled tv show.

  • In my limited experience with “scoring” tools, I have found that there is an inverse relationship between a high score, and an ability to do anything really useful. High Klout,,,, low value add potential.
    You were right to have a shower Mark, Shame!!!!

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  • That is really scary.

  • LOL it is not so long at all since you were dismissing Klout as rubbish. Quite a worry when our worth is determined by a number people can game

  • that damn share price but actually it moves just as much as some of my klout metrics

  • I do think that it holds more relevance than the old metrics people used to get hired by agencies because they had 100,000 followers even thou they followed 150,000 people… it’s not perfect and can be certainly gamed but it does a decent effort of some metrics to cut through some of the hype

  • Normally I respond to individual comments but this time I wanted to try something different. Rather than repeat themes and messages throughout 100+ comments, I wanted to summarize my take on this conversation that you have so generously provided.

    First, while the human reaction to being dissected, rated and compared is naturally visceral and strong, that is not going to change the fact these systems exist and are going to gain more power and momentum from a business standpoint. So now that we have had our moment to say “yuck,” let’s  move on to assess this dispassionately from a clear-eyed marketing perspective.

    One of the common responses in the comments is that Klout is flawed and even stupid. I can imagine a similar reaction from people who went to see the first silent movies. “This is stupid. The people don’t even talk.”

    Similarly, social scoring is in the silent movie era.  Klout has millions in VC money and a dozen PhD researchers figuring this out. It is going to get more accurate, more meaningful every day. I’m not defending any company in the field. I’m simply offering a suggestion to be aware of the TREND, not the data point. 

    The fact that companies like Disney, Audi and American Express are incorporating Klout data into their efforts is a sign that this is something we should all pay attention to. Let’s keep an academic perspective on this, too. There are going to be some interestingcase studies and success stories emerging from this, too. Eventually there may be applications for our own clients and companies. We would be well-served to be open-minded and aware of the emerging opportunities.

    As a professional marketer and amateur futurist, I’m thinking through what Klout, PeerIndex, and the other rating systems COULD be as the technology progresses.  Soon, there will be a digital “layer” across our real world. The Internet will be the air, as reality and a digital world blend seemlessly. Companies like Google are collecting and collating detailed information about our locartion, movements, attitudes, behaviors and purchases. I foresee a time where indeed, algorithms will be able to correlate online influence and offline behavior. From a business perspective, this would be a historically important development. It changes everything. Literally everything. Real-time ads, pricing, personalization, rewards.  Deals struck in the moment, at the point of purchase. It’s mind-boggling.

    Like you, I feel the “icky” factor. In fact, the implications are horrifying in terms of privacy. But as business professionals, I think we also need to help each think through the business aspects of this development.  This is a debate that will be going on for a long time and I’m fortunate to have such a great community to help me explore these new reaches of social media and marketing! Thank you!

  • Mark – I have long admired your candor and the original post and this follow up summary just add to your credibility. Good on you for telling it like it is. The “silent movie era” analogy is spot on and before long we will all be marveling at the full technicolor effects of social scoring. Until then the social equivalent of Luddites will likely continue to find reasons to not embrace this change – a change, as you so accurately point out, is here whether we like it or not. Thanks for prompting such a stimulating debate.

  • Hello, Mark.

    While I think you make some great points here, I can’t shake the feeling that this comment is less in response to the discussion in the comments than it is the summary thoughts that were already cued up in your head when you clicked “publish” on the original post.

    It’s a pretty tried and true teaching method — throw the rock into the room and let the kids react, and then sum up with the intended lesson. I may be completely off base… but it’s where this is landing with me.

  • With this comment I like you already Nicole! So agree with this!

  • Hmmm Rebecca- If that’s what you were taught then I’ve been doing it wrong for the past umpteen years! Before I even try to send my resume or reply to a job posting I hunt down – yes hunt – down the recruiters information, the hiring manager’s information. I call I email directly.  If I can get directly to them I am no longer a number in the pile of applicants. I’m with Linda on this one.

  • To each his own, and I know you’re probably right about it being a better method. Kids my age are so used to using things like FB to connect with friends they know from high school and college, though. The idea of connecting to someone for professional reasons just doesn’t make sense to a lot of kids right out of college.

    Connecting on LinkedIn, yes. Include a Twitter handle, yes. Friend on Facebook? Nope. 

  • Actually the post was definitely in-the-moment.  I had not even intended to have a post that day but left the meeting with my friend feeling really weird.  When I explore the reasons for those inner feelings and just take a risk in letting it rip, it generally results in a good blog post. So there was nothing pre-meditated.  But you are correct that I have been thinking a lot about the subject.  My wheels are really turning with where this will all lead andf the community comments helped me focus on a few themes. Thanks for the comment!

  • I’m slow to enter the debate here and I certainly don’t want to reiterate all of the interesting and thoughtful comments. However, here’s my quick take:

    – Whether it’s Klout or something else, people will always find a way to measure influence. We did it before Klout by looking at numbers of fans and followers. That wasn’t perfect and neither is this. But, it’s always going to happen.

    – There are always ways to “game” the system. Whether it’s a Klout score or Twitter followers, there’s always an easy way to get numbers. But, it’s typically not the way that will pay off.

    – Yes, this feels icky, but we’d be remiss to ignore this trend. Mark, you gave sound advice. As much as we don’t want to be judged by our Klout score, we have to acknowledge it’s happening and figure out how to handle it – both as individuals who are scored and as businesses who now have this new information at our disposal. 

    It’s an interesting time for sure! Love the interesting debate on this!

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  • Well said Robert. Like you and others have said.  Social Media is a tool IN the toolbox.  It is NOT the toolbox itself.

  • I find this quite interesting. Orgs used to ask sales people for their Rolodex. Asking for Klout score is similar as they are looking at the bandwidth you bring to the table. Is Klout 100% accurate? Perhaps not but it obviously has SOME weight.  I don’t think its anything to feel dirty about Mark. IMHO you need to do everything possible to get a job. If that means working on your Klout score then so be it.   We wear the right nail color, the right tie, send the right thank you note, and solicit the perfect references. What’s different with striving for the right Klout score if it relates to your job? I’m not saying go game the system, but do take note especially if it impacts you.  The funny thing is some people harrummph about Klout then scamper quickly to check their score.  As to gaming I’d love to hear from someone who can move their score 10 points in a day. Whoa to this blog and whoaaaaa to all the great comments!

  • Mark, I’d like to take issue with anything you say, but I can’t. Klout is as shallow, meaningless, and flawed as SAT score (or LSAT, GMAT, etc), IQ, weight, price, or any other numeric shortcut people use to save themselves the need to look deeply into something they either can’t be bothered with or truly, honestly, do not have the background of bandwidth for. Taking just one of those measures, the SAT: imagine if college admissions officers really took the time to get to know each and every applicant so they could compare and select adequately? The world would be a much fairer, more pleasant place – but college would be even more ludicrously expensive, in order to pay for the legions more admissions officers each would have to employ.

    The point I enjoy most about your piece is your mention of gaming the system. Klout and its ilk will be relied upon heavily in the coming decades, and, in part because it is so easily manipulated, it’s just as illegitimate a measure as any other shortcut in our repertoire. Life is an essay test – a simple number will never suffice. Savvy employers and marketers will always get that. …And their wisdom will always give them the advantage of the outlier.

  • Mark, I’d like to take issue with anything you say, but I can’t. Klout is as shallow, meaningless, and flawed as SAT score (or LSAT, GMAT, etc), IQ, weight, price, or any other numeric shortcut people use to save themselves the need to look deeply into something they either can’t be bothered with or truly, honestly, do not have the background of bandwidth for. Taking just one of those measures, the SAT: imagine if college admissions officers really took the time to get to know each and every applicant so they could compare and select adequately? The world would be a much fairer, more pleasant place – but college would be even more ludicrously expensive, in order to pay for the legions more admissions officers each would have to employ.

    The point I enjoy most about your piece is your mention of gaming the system. Klout and its ilk will be relied upon heavily in the coming decades, and, in part because it is so easily manipulated, it’s just as illegitimate a measure as any other shortcut in our repertoire. Life is an essay test – a simple number will never suffice. Savvy employers and marketers will always get that. …And their wisdom will always give them the advantage of the outlier. 

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  • Mark,

    The fact that we have started to measure the quality of people based on a number of like a Klout score is a sad state of affairs.  You have to wonder much talent an organization hiring somebody for social media misses out on because they evaluate on a number as opposed to what somebody actually brings to to the table.  I had a client who I put together a team of bloggers for and the first thing they asked for was Klout scores of people. I’m not sure what to make of this. I feel like we’re in danger of not seeing people for who they are and their real value if this how we hire.

  • OMG, Mark. I predicted this. Several months ago. Horrifying.

  • Nicely stated! Thanks!

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  • There already are digital worlds in massively multiplayer games, and now that I read this discussion on Klout scores, I wonder if there is something we could learn from human behavior in these digital worlds to predict the upcoming digital layer on the real world in the future.

    For example, there has been a single-number ranking system, an addon called Gearscore, in the World of Warcraft MMO for years. It went through similar progression: from being considered stupid to gaining mass popularity (while still being considered stupid by many). Finally, similar functionality was included in the basic game itself, deprecating the addon but gaining every single player as a user and finally gaining widespread and near-complete acceptance as well.

    I googled to see if anyone else had made this connection, and of course, someone had already discussed Gearscore in such context last year, see http://www.christopherspenn.com/2010/08/beware-of-weak-correlative-scores/

    There are of course important differences, such as the lack of real-world accountability in current MMOs, but environments such as WoW and EVE are almost more real than the real world to a number of their users who already live a digital life, and have done so for years. They do not quite live under the all-seeing eye of your vision of the future, but there might still be insightful parallels to draw should this area be researched in more detail.

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  • Ville, I am not part of the gaming culture and was unaware of this. This is an important connection and I appreciate the diversity you brought to the discussion.  Thank you!

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  • Well, I can tell you that we will never hire, or reject, a candidate based on their Klout score. That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. We have bigger issues if company leaders are hiring people based on this.

  • Anonymous

    haha nice post Mark – seeing more and more people talking about the exclusive powers associated with high Klout scores. Imagine if someone had of told you 5 years ago this kind of thing would be going on; that what would have been regarded as ‘nerd’ behaviour then would actually be rewarded ! 

    Crazy crazy crazy. Anyway, back to posting, engaging and all the other fun things that will help build more Klout score.

    Cheers
    Dan

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  • Anonymous

    Here’s my problem with Klout. It seems that once they added FourSquare, Facebook and LinkedIn to their algorithm, the scores started fluctuating and don’t seem to be based on any real interaction. For example, I’ve had several weeks of the highest engagement I’ve had in months on Twitter and my score is subtly going down? I’m not confident in the score as anything other than an arbitrary random number now.  Does how often I check in on FourSquare really count towards my engagement level? How? Help me understand it.

  • Here’s my honest advice. Forget about it. Be yourself. Have fun.

    The algorithms are going to keep changing. You will go crazy trying to figure it out.  Just be your most excellent self and let it work itself out. : )

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  • I like your comment about WYSIWYG with Klout-inspired hires. Maybe mid-range Klout scores help employers another way: finding a brain not constantly in prepare-to-share mode.

  • Hi Mark – Not sure you were being a “social media slut.” Rather, you pimped Klout. Not sure that makes you feel any better though.

    Klout is now, but Twitter’s as-yet-unleashed “reputation score” may supersede it someday. Or some other number du jour. I’ll withhold deep concern until kids’ influence scores are checked to get into computer camp. Or (gulp) college – as in: how much can we depend on this student to be our brand advocate for four years? Uh-oh.

  • I actually think a number of scores will emerge. Would college admissions offices want to see online behavior scores? 

  • So, does this mean my relatively high Klout score could be netting me high-powered media jobs?  Because I’m honestly not even sure why I have it.  I’m something of a social media power user, but not a web celeb.

  • Online behavior is already on the minds of colleges; news is typically about SM addiction (hurting academics) and safety concerns (i.e., Is it okay to invite a “friend” or “follower” you don’t really know to stay on campus?). But let’s take it into the future marketing realm: a scrappy college with a small marketing budget could conceivably look for potential students with high Klout scores (or other influence #), hoping to evangelize their school brand by association. That’s the jump-the-shark moment I hope not to see. Also, given your advice to the college-age job-seeker, it could be suggested that universities need to *help* students build their personal brands online – to be better prepared for career market upon graduation. As a professor, what do you think? One example of a school doing this with style is Northwestern’s Massive TV: http://massive.tv/

  • Mark,
    I think you make some good points in your article, but I take offense at how casually you use the term “slut”.  It saddens me that this term seems to be gaining popularity as an acceptable way to describe selling out or feeling guilty.  It’s like how colloquial “pimp” has become to mean using someone.  I find both words to be crude and offensive.  I appreciate that your actions made you feel “sick and … dirty.  Filthy” (a tad exaggerated, perhaps?) but your use of the word slut leaves me with a sick and dirty feeling about how degraded our language has become.

    Cindy

  • I really appreciate you taking a stand on this.  One way to create humor is to juxtapose opposites. For people who have read the blog for awhile, I would probably be thought of as the least slutty person they could think of, so that was the set-up.  Did not mean to offend, so thanks for noting that.

  • Who knows where it will lead?  But I say … keep an eye on it : )

  • Very interesting site. I like that.

    When I was in college I probably led with heart a little more but as I got into the business world I learned to be disciplined around the facts. Marketing is a highly analytical business and if you only go with your heart you will fail more often than not.  I despise the idea that we may be creating a social media caste system of haves and have-nots.  I am really anxious about the crazy behavior this will drive as people game the system for higher scores. It takes us a big step away from the heart of social media. However … we just can;t ignore the facts. We just can’t lead with our heart on this one. I think this is going mainstream — seems like maybe I’m the only one?  But I just think from a business and academic perspective we have to deal with this trend rationally and appropriately. Like it or not, I believe we are entering the era of the Citizen Influencer.

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  • Being popular and being an authority are 2 very different things. Klout needs to be able to differentiate between popular joke accounts versus legit professionals. They can give credit to well trafficked parody accounts but they need to be recognized as having “popularity Klout” not “expertise and professional Klout.” According to Klout, I am an influential speaker on rodents. I don’t know how it determined this but it just goes to show how funny it is. 🙂

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  • I agree with every word of it…As everything else, the infancy of technology, methods, systems…have flaws that makes us feel “icky”. I hate prospective employers are evaluating my K score as if I am a baseball player with a batting average, on base average…
    I, however, think we will get over this and the “icky” factor will fade away as the flaws are fixed.

  • To learn the art of communicating effectively is what carves you into the best in this field. So hone a few of these skills and kick start a career with the best academic writing jobs. These will certainly be a good break for your ambitious career in writing academic articles in-house for your domain specialty.

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  • Jim

    “You’re in marketing for one reason: Grow.” Shouldn’t that be ‘growth?’ Anyway, I like the headline of your post. Well done. 

  • It’s a long story. But technically, you’re correct. : ) Thanks for stopping by.

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  • Totally agree since according to Klout I’m influential about parenting and Korea among other things. As a single woman who is pretty darn sure I haven’t had kids and has nothing to do with Korea, I strongly believe that Klout score is nothing but a number!

  • HA! Too funny. Thanks for the great the story.

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  • “A very talented friend told me he was rejected for a job at a major ad agency because his Klout score was too low.” Fake

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  • A resurgence of the North of England as a place for business seems to have quickly come about, many companies as large as the BBC are now looking to cities such as Liverpool or Manchester as they are viewed as fresh and modern after a series of improvements and developments in recent years that have helped them become an attractive proposition to companies related to the media and internet in particular.

  • Anonymous

    I am finding it problematic to place reliance on services like Klout when the APIs for the services they attempt to analyze data from are one big moving target. For instance, new research shows that when you post to multiple sites at the same time, using a content distribution service (which provides us with more time to find more valuable content) Facebook users click “like” or comment on them less frequently. Maybe they can’t see them in their feeds, maybe they resemble SPAM or Farmville requests, who knows. But, this and many other measurement issues are problematic.

    Additionally, my score on Klout is dropping despite spending more time online and interacting with my networks. I’m posting to Facebook, having conversations, RTing on Twitter, posting and responding to discussions on Linkedin. I have a 24,000 strong network in my own comment, 7600 in my group on Linkedin, 5,000+ on Facebook, nearly 7,000 on Twitter and all of these folks also use a variety of tools to redistribute and share content. Sometimes they click through, read the content I linked them to, then use the “share” button on the destination site (the place I directed them to) to share with their networks, breaking the traceability of my influence.

    All in all, I like Klout, but think that depending on it for accurate results (instead of merely a representation of some level of influence) is not only foolish, but not something one could not defined under scrutiny.

    My two cents,

    Scott Abel
    The Content Wrangler
    Twitter @scottabel:disqus 

  • Very interesting perspective. As I understand it, the size of your network really doesn’t matter. Klout is basically looking for one thing: does your content move? Engagement, reaction, viral activities count the most.

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  • It’s true. The entire story wil be in my new book actually.

  • Taylor

    Gross. But perhaps true.

    I know you just scrubbed down, but… what would you cite as a ‘good’ Klout score for an entry level candidate?

  • Pretty dirty of you Mark! First you pimped me out, now this? You are definitely getting around, and according to Klout, you have some very high mileage! Nonetheless, I don’t blame you for stating the obvious. The future of marketing will be based on social media slutiness. It’s sad for the young meat coming out of their sheltered classrooms, but the reality is that, the streets are calling, and they better be ready to turn a few tricks on social media. What business will survive without a social presence? Which background checks will not include a search on social media? Too many dirty questions to answer. Oh well, I better get back to my corner. I have to earn my Klout perks tonight! Btw, will this give me a +K?

    Hope you are booked 😉

    Tu amigo

    R

  • Interesting times my friend. Glad to see you back in the comment section!

  • I think you need a Klout score of 50 to get somebody’s attention, but who knows? : )

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  • Very insightful read! – Thank you, Mark!

  • Leslie Mason

    Mark, I too am guilty… just this morning I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I found out my Klout score had dropped 2 points over the weekend.  I had to keep telling myself, it’s not you… it’s just a number.  And remember recently when Klout was down for a day?  I was joking that I didn’t have a social media value without Klout… turns out it was truer than I thought.  

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  • Klout? Seems like just a trending topic from twitter which is long overdue for it’s 15 minutes of fame. The only reason Klout is so powerful and is trendy now is because people give into it’s influence. If the majority of its followers gave up and left the site, would it still be influencing us like it is now? I doubt it.

  • I think it is a little more complicated than that. We are not Klout’s customers. These big brands are. If we stopped buzzing about it, they would go on successfully. My take any way. Thanks for the great comment Bret.

  • Hang in there. It will probably get worse before it gets better! : ) 

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  • I know this is an old post, but SO worthy of comment. Look – we all want shortcuts in life, for things to make them easier. That is what Klout is trying to offer – kind of like wine buying guides. Instead of actually trying the wine, you can read about it. So instead of actually engaging with a person and discovering for oneself if that person is engaging and influential, one can just look at what the algorithms have to say about it.

    Fie upon those who wish a shortcut. They wish to purchase engagement through those that, according to a machine, have earned it for themselves, without doing the necessary research (getting to know a person) to make an informed judgment for themselves.

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  • Parody and joke sites provide a valuable internet commodity: laughs.  People have been hired based on their ability to generate this commodity.  So a high Klout score for a dispenser of yocks is not some kind of sacrilege.  I just gave @hipstermermaid a K+ in comedy.  But until Klout gets its own paid service KloutAdder to automate the process, it will not gain the true respectability of social media integrated within an organization.

  • I love this – I remember when I was a Social Media Slut. Now I’m more of an escort!.

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  • Amazing write-up! This could aid plenty of people find out more about this particular issue. Are you keen to integrate video clips coupled with these? It would absolutely help out. Your conclusion was spot on and thanks to you; I probably won’t have to describe everything to my pals. I can simply direct them here!

  • Human Beings are so outdated, I’m surprised, they’re still making them.
    As for the net, who gives a shit. Choose reality.

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  • Laci Lewis

    “…hire the person with the low score who’s too busy doing an actual job that earns results…” – Perfectly stated Davina!

    Hopefully companies would be transparent about using Klout scores so that the candidate could have an opportunity to show the progress they have made for the companies they have worked for!

  • Thanks Laci.

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