Why Klout matters. A lot.

 

Yes, this is a real invitation.

If you hate Klout … and you probably do … try to take a deep breath and read ahead with an open mind.

Nothing seems to get rational people in a frenzy as much as Klout and its attempt to measure “influence.”  I have immersed myself in the world of online power and influence over the past six months and feel like at this point I have probably studied this topic more than any person on earth! And, unlike every other blogger on the planet it seems, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a very important development. In fact, a historically important development.

Before I get into why, let’s knock a few obvious facts out of the way:

  1. Klout cannot measure every type of influence. Never has. Never will.
  2. Klout can be “gamed.” Is there anything on the Internet that can’t be?
  3. It is uncomfortable being publicly rated and compared to other people.
  4. Yes, it is stupid that Klout thinks you’re influential about lamps or sheep.  It is still in the early stages of development.

Now, for a different perspective.

Before the Internet, you had to actually accomplish something to be a celebrity.  Today, anybody can drum up some attention for themselves by creating content that virally moves through the social web.

Even me.

In my small world here in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA, I might influence my family, maybe some business colleagues, and that’s about it.  But give me a blog and a Twitter account and I have people from all over the world telling me that I have impacted them. That is a situation that could only have happened at this precise moment in human history!  It is a possibility enabled by technology — widespread access to low-cost, high-speed Internet service and free/easy social publishing tools.

Just a few years ago, there is no way you would have heard of Mark Schaefer. Now I’ve been quoted in the New York Times and featured on MSNBC for just one reason: I am able to create, and move, my content.

So even a nobody like me can become an Influencer. And that’s pretty darn cool.  In fact, we’re in an era where you don’t have to be a sports star or a politician to have influence. All you have to do is write about your favorite topic and you can have your chance to be a little bit famous.

Content is power.

The ability to create and move content is the absolute key to online influence.  So think about this — To the extent that you could actually measure that, wouldn’t you also be creating an indicator of relative influence?

That’s what Klout is trying to do.  They are finding the people who are experts at creating, aggregating, and sharing content that moves online. Nothing more.

That may seem rather simple but it’s actually complex, and from an academic and business point of view, a significant development.

“Influence” has been one of the most studied aspects of politics, marketing, sociology, and psychology and yet it has never really been measured in a statistically valid way. Until now.  People creating content is an action. Having a link clicked, or a message re-tweeted, is an effect.  Finally, there is something to measure in this field. In fact there are billions of actions and effects to measure and compare every day!

So an important distinction is that if you’re not on the social web, you’re obviously not being measured. To argue that I should not have a higher Klout score than Oprah is missing the point.  Of course I should have a higher score.   Oprah doesn’t tweet, so she can’t be measured.  That does not mean that GLOBALLY I am more powerful than Oprah. It means that in my little sliver of the online world, among my audience, and on my topics, I can be influential. And, so can you.

A word of mouth revolution

For decades companies have spent big, big money to try to identify and nurture word-of-mouth influencers. This is an expensive and inexact science. Can you see how amazing it is to now be able to quickly, easily, and cheaply find and connect with the people who are influential about movies in Memphis? Or who generate buzz about beer in Berlin?

You can imagine that companies would be all over this.  Some of the biggest and brightest marketers and brands like Disney, Audi, Starbucks, and Nike have incorporated Klout influencers into their traditional marketing efforts. And it is working. According to Klout, each influencer in one of their Perk programs generates an average of 30 pieces of content and millions of possible impressions. The cost per thousand impressions is incredibly low compared to other forms of advertising and it is ORGANIC since it is being generated by people who already love the brands.

Now, you can go ahead and keep writing blog posts all day long about how stupid Klout is and I’ll simply suggest that you are putting emotion ahead of facts and doing a disservice to your customers. Of course all of the negatives at the top of the article are true and valid.  But don’t miss the forest for the trees.  This trend is happening with you or without you, so calm yourself and start to study this as an important online marketing weapon.

Social scoring is improving.  It is a historically significant development.  Big brands care.  And so should you. Right?

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  • Grant Fritchey

    Excellent points, and no real argument about the importance of social media and the need to provide some measures on the quality of that media. However, the best measure really is your own set of followers. You have the ones you want or you don’t. If you don’t, change the material you publish.

    Also, Klout, still primarily measures activity, not quality. The more you tweet, the higher your Klout score goes. Stop tweeting for a few days, watch it disappear.

  • Grant Fritchey

    Excellent points, and no real argument about the importance of social media and the need to provide some measures on the quality of that media. However, the best measure really is your own set of followers. You have the ones you want or you don’t. If you don’t, change the material you publish.

    Also, Klout, still primarily measures activity, not quality. The more you tweet, the higher your Klout score goes. Stop tweeting for a few days, watch it disappear.

  • It kind of measures both. I see that I am rewarded for great content. If I put something good out there, it really does get moved along.  The social web is pretty sensitive in that regard. 

    There is definitely an aspect of quantity too as you correctly point out. This is a hot button for some people but Klout would say, if you don’t show up at work or you don’t speak in a meeting, you;re not going to be influential either, so, right or wrong, they do knock you if participation level slips!  Thanks for the comment Grant! 

  • I agree, Mark it is here to stay! I have been thinking about what things I would like to see changed to make it a viable too.  One I would like to see is that they develop a way to let our followers determine what they would like to give us +K in.  I had a follower want to give us +K on web…but was unable to due to my list of topics determined by Klout.

  • A very good idea.  I think their biggest challenge will be to ferret out the people who game the thing.  They have to keep it somewhat reliable or the business model will crash. Thanks Jennifer!

  • Gifford Morley-Fletcher

    Hi Mark – great post and an interesting take on Klout though I do worry we will get into a Google vs the SEO-ers situation where Klout’s scoring has to become more and more complex in order to avoid the ‘gaming’ you mention. On a lighter note, surely the Klout haters should keep on blogging and tweeting their dissatisfaction? That way they will get a better score 😉

  • Very interesting, I had a conversation with Ray Hiltz about this, actually I didn’t follow my Klout Score too much in the past months. Now I am checking it often.

    I totally agree on the fact that Content is Power, We try to convince our clients to get the best quality content when blogging, posting tweets or on their web sites. Besides what you write about is how you write it. I am not the best example there but I am learning, and most important, I am trying.

  • Another good example are the new FB page apps that unlock special content or deals for fans that have certain Klout score levels. It’s definitely something you can game but will become more necessary to get deals as a consumer. 

  • I agree.  A simple database of all available topics would be nice and perhaps limit it to followers only might work, as well as requiring you to be active on Klout versus just random K points? 

    I just am thinking, its here to stay, I wish it was an good tool!

  • Anonymous

    I can only speak from my own experience – but I feel like the days where you could raise your score simply by tweeting 50+ times per day are gone. Yes, you have to be active…but you ALSO have to have a strong network. And the content has to be shared. You also need to CONVERSE. 

    Interestingly enough, I often see my score go UP on some days when I tweet less. And DOWN on very heavy tweeting days. It is my understanding that this is because you can “dilute” the percentage of your efforts that actually drive action by tweeting too much. Better to tweet less…but get a higher percentage of retweets and clicks.

    It certainly is flawed. But all ranking / scores are. (Credit score anyone? SAT?) But it improves day by day. You need activity but also *quality* followers that engange with you and your content. (For instance…I have about 6700 followers but Klout only counts 2500 for my “True Reach”)

    Just my 2 cents 🙂 

  • Grannelle

    The ability to create and move content is the absolute key to online influence.

    In a world dependent on metrics/analytics and proof of ROI, Klout’s presence is demanded. And yes, the system is far from perfect, yet as is so often the case, it’s the only one we’ve got.
    At the present time, Klout scores are based on participation within 3 social profiles – Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare, or so I’ve read. It seems perplexing that LinkedIn, and its members defining social graphs, are not currently assessed, for such would be a natural parameter. Perhaps this is being investigated. As you state, Klout is far from complete.
    Such factors notwithstanding, in the world of Social Media where there is little, if any, governance, performance standardization, or accredited academics, and where paradoxically literally billions of dollars are being spent, the need for Klout is imperative.
    As always, Mark, your arguements are interesting, salient, and compelling. Many thanks for a great read. 

  • I would love to hear how to improve our Klout score…

  • Great article, Mark. I have read more articles bashing Klout than analyzing it. I don’t need to hear anymore from the naysayers. But the clout of Klout continues to grow as businesses recognize the medium as a valuable tool to measure influence. Klout perks are further incentives to join Klout and take advantage of the benefits being offered.

    Thanks for pointing out that whether people love Klout or hate it, they should embrace it.

  • Great post Mark. I am still not convinced to how much Klout matters (for me), its a cool measuring tool, I like free stuff and it’s fun to give people +K.

    I go back and forth between an 85-82 for some time now and they still don’t pay my mortgage. hmmm

  • Mark Schaefer

    One of the dynamics here is the SIZE of your social footprint. If you are just starting out, tweeting a lot will help, but over time, the score becomes more tuned in and it becomes harder to move unless you have something exceptional going on. So it can be “gamed” in the short term for sure but that is difficult to sustain as your true colors show through over time. That’s my take on it any way.

  • Mark Schaefer

    Yes, that is a sublime irony Giff. : )   Klout had a staff of PhD level people improving the algorithm so yes, it is becoming more complex and sensitive. In fact, they are even accounting for cultural differences as these social platforms are used in different ways around the world. Quite interesting. Thanks for the comment!

  • Mark Schaefer

    Good for you Luis. I believe strongly that you can only learn by immersing yourself. Nobody can teach you this stuff. You are setting a good example!

  • Mark Schaefer

    It will also drive some interesting — and perhaps unhealthy — behaviors. We are creating a social media caste system in a way aren’t we?  Haves and have-nots. Where will that lead?

  • Mark Schaefer

    Thanks Greg. Yes, LinkedIn is in there, as is YouTube and some of the blogging platforms.  Appreciate the kind comment.

  • Mark Schaefer

    Then you will love my new book. : )

  • Mark Schaefer

    It is perplexing that so many smart people are so blatantly emotional about this. Heck, just because I hate credit scores, it won;t make them go away or make them any less necessary. Does a credit score know if I will pay my bills? No. Is it a fact of life that I have to deal with? Yes.  So deal with it!

  • I agree, but credit scores and SAT scores aren’t made public as Klout scores are. Many people don’t like quantifiable ratings, especially those that are made public.

  • Mark, 

    I think that this may perhaps be the most compelling message I’ve read on the importance of Klout. I have to admit that I’ve thought that it was ridiculous for a while. But you hit the nail on the head when said content is power. The fact that we have the ability to spread a message to the world has leveled the playing field between mass media and the little guy.  I think the world has missed out on far too much talent because of this, and I think that’s starting to change dramatically. I’d been thinking about how to publish a book for a while and then I finally decided to stop waiting for permission for a publisher, put my best stuff together and put it up for sale. But what I love is that you brought up that brands are actually embracing Klout and I think this is going to be a tremendous opportunity for content creators who have been struggling to monetize and reap rewards from their efforts.  That excites me. 

  • I think how much it “matters” depends on the company and the individual. Certainly I respect anybody who says “this doesn’t matter to me personally” but I think it is unwise to dismiss the trend as a potential tool for business. Thanks Jessica!

  • You make a compelling argument, Mark, and do a good job of addressing the points many people raise against valuing Klout.  I know others will disagree as this is clearly a case where the value is in the eye of the beholder.  Regardless, this is a well-written post on a subject that needed to get the treatment you gave it!

  • Well said. Glad the post connected with you Srini!

  • I wrote a post a while ago about how to increase Klout score. It’s more of a way to game the system really. But I’m sure Mark’s book will be much more intensive and detailed. I’m actually looking forward to this book…

  • I can’t believe that invitation is real. That’s absolutely insane to me! 

    I think Klout is an important step in the right direction as far as measuring influence goes (because people have been trying to measure it for god knows how long), but I don’t think it’s anywhere nearly accurate enough to put any weight on it. But that’s just my opinion. And if people are basing decisions on Klout score already, I can’t really stop them, can I?

    I wrote a post about increasing Klout score but never really followed through extensively on trying to game the system myself. Maybe I should try. Only about 20 points to go til I catch up to you Mark, watch out! 🙂

  • I think you need at least an 86 for that 🙂

  • Great point Mark. In the business of Country Music artists, radio stations or actors they don’t care about Klout…yet or maybe never.

    I guess I am trying to figure out how to leverage it for these audiences or make them care or even convince them why they should care. Need to start with myself, eh?I am falling in love with your blog. It’s a must read for me these days.

  • I have a rather satisfactory Klout for someone not doing much apart from hanging on the web in spare time and writing about lifes little miseries on my personal blog.  Must develop business head. 😀

  • HA…snap…i better get to work.

  • Jason Roberts

    My Klout score is a 57… You are a Specialist – You may not be a celebrity, but within your area of expertise your opinion is second to none. Your content is likely focused around a specific topic or industry with a focused, highly-engaged audience. 
    I use a handy Klout extension for Google Chrome http://goo.gl/rjwYm that displays the Klout score for each person / company in your Twitter feed. 

  • Hansjörg Leichsenring

    Hi Mark

     

    It seems
    that you home in on Klout? 😉

     

    I do not
    hate Klout, but I do not love it either. Why should I. I love my wife and my daughter
    and I do not even hate my enemies (I do not even know if I have some, but
    probably…)

     

    I still
    think, tools like Klout (and there are many of them, while Klout seems to be
    the one in the spotlight) are useful, but you should not become a slave to
    them.

     

    They are a
    hint if your sm-activities are on the right way, not more.  And sometimes it’s fun too and maybe that is,
    what Klout plays right and helps them to get in the news…

     

    Kind
    regards from Germany

     

    Hansjörg

    PS: Seems like your comment system does not like me anymore…

  • Anonymous

    Wow, I just came from Jay Baer’s post on Klout and now I see this. Looks like Klout has been busy “influencing” bloggers to write pro-Klout posts? Hmmm. I guess I’ll just copy & paste most of my comment from Jay’s post here:

    The blogger’s best friend is a good Klout post, yes? They never fail to evoke debate, do they? This one makes some good points but the critics of Klout also make several good points (I’m sure you’re familiar with them). The argument is akin to the ongoing “great taste” vs “less filling” – it will never have a clear winner. 

    I see where for the social media “professional” (like you and Jay), Klout has value (you ain’t gonna get my company’s social media business with a Klout score of 37) but the ultimate problem with Klout is that some unemployed 20 year-old living at home with his parents who has nothing better to do than spend hours upon hours on social media platforms is gonna have a Klout score in the “thought leader” range. Unemployed internet junkies calling themselves “Digital Strategists” or “Online Marketing Professionals” abound in the social space. Where I come from, junkies only influence other junkies so if Klout wants to call that influence, so be it.  

    Lately, I’ve stumbled upon several quirky blogs whose posts generate an average of 80-100 comments but whose social media presence (twitter/facebook) affords them a Klout score only in the low 40s while I’ve seen bloggers with Klout scores in the 70s barely muster a handful of comments. You wanna talk influence? I believe that ultimately, many companies (with the exception, perhaps, of those companies that cater to 20 year-olds who live at home and have nothing better to do than spend hours upon hours on social media platforms) are gonna find they’re barking up the wrong tree when it comes to Klout and online influence and are gonna need to look at other metrics.  

    But until then, it makes for great blog fodder 🙂

  • You know where I stand on this Mark.

    But seriously, I’ll say it time and again: Klout is valuable for what it is, but it does NOT measure influence. Period. Klout does track some valuable metrics, and you give a great example of how to use them to your benefit. I still take issue with the way Klout present itself as the arbiter of influence.
    I love your example. I love that you tied real metrics Klout offers back to a real business need. I will fight you to the death about whether they measure influence, though. 😉

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  • Enjoyed the post and Klout appears to be if nothing else another trending tool to determine overall Internet marketing effectiveness. To discount something as some people do because it doesn’t currently fit into their perceived world is irrational IMHO. The world is changing at lightening speed what is new today will be old tomorrow, but will be built upon in many cases what is new today.

    Leanne Hoagland-Smith
    Author of Be the Red jacket 
    http://bit.ly/1Q9mnV

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  • Great article Mark!  Your mention of Knoxville made me a little homesick (former 8 yr resident of Monroe County – Coker Creek to be exact – and CEO of the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce).

    I feel strongly that “Klout” is one of those things where IF too much focus is placed on trying to obtain an impressive score, you’ll wind up being disappointed, however IF one is using social media effectively and “engaging” as one SHOULD, “Klout” will reflect this regardless.

    BTW… I HAVE been shooting for being influential about lamps and sheep.  Starting to rethink my approach…

  • I love this post Mark, and I agree with you.  I do think it is pretty funny I have gone from most influential about Climbing (a topic I write and Tweet about) to Thailand (a topic I never write or Tweet about) but with so many bloggers and social media stars, I think is a way for measuring a person’s activity and dedication.  It may not be perfect, but it gives possible employers and business connections some kind of metric to go by.

  • I asked this question of Jay Baer, and I’m going to ask it of you, too: what’s the difference between Klout and, say, Sprout Social, which we currently use? Both measure your influence in social media – what does Klout bring to the table that others like it do not?

  • Thanks this is a good explanation everyone should appreciate the insight.

  • Mark, so glad to read your point of view on Klout.  Emotions by their very nature are irrational; by sharing them rather than acting on them Klout may be of service in areas of influence we choose, need and want.  

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  • Well said.

    I think the reality here is that whether we agree that Klout is a good idea or not, brands are starting to use it to segment customers and make decisions about target markets. They seek to influence the influencers and will continue to do so, more so as it improves.

    Whether you agree with Klout or not, it’s here to stay, I’d rather embrace it, whilst still understanding the flaws and use it to best possible effect.

  • Mark

    This is a completely wonderful article.  Until now, I thought I had been alone in my ridicule of klout. Thanks very much for the informed perspective. 

  • My point exactly. It is what it is. Thanks William. 

  • Your comment prompts me to think about a conversation I had with a young person who told me she was not creative enough to be in marketing. Marketing is not necessarily about being creative. It is about data. It is about trends. It is about being smart enough to see what other people cannot — or will not — see. You need to be more scientist than artist.  That’s the discipline we need when evaluating things like Klout.

  • $10 mm in funding. ’nuff said?

  • Certainly it is flawed, and certainly will be abused!  Thanks Krysia!

  • Cool. Good luck with that. : ) 

    I have a fairly high Klout score but do nothing “artificial.” Who really has time for that??  Do good work. Be nice to people. Everything else will take care of itself. : ) 

  • Thanks for adding your perspective Leanne! 

  • OK, you will have to read my book and see if you still have this opinion!  It’s not measuring ALL influence, just a little piece of it.  The dialogue is just beginning …

  • Mark;

    Re, our exchange on Twitter, which is not the best platform for a discussion. To clarify more fully, I agree with what you have laid out in your article but my point was that I am not seeing it reflect the sphere of influence in which I am engaged.

    I am an International Sales & Business Development Specialist, specializing
    in building high performance Global Sales Organizations and Channel
    Partners.

    Almost all my blogs are posted on LinkedIn and Twitter, are Re-tweeted multiple times daily and featured in a number of e-magazines in various countries and with a couple of exceptions, they deal with International Business.

    In 2-3 weeks on Klout, my rating is 56 and my reach is 135 which, I am told, is good in such a short period of time. However, Klout says I am most influential about Colorado (where I live), Internet Start-Ups (most of my articles are about SMBs going International) and Job Search (I wrote one blog on Baby Boomers re-inventing themselves and consider starting a business).

    So, again, I agree with you but if Klout wants to accurately convey a person’s sphere of influence, it should take into account – for example – the key words posted on blogs and articles.

    We all want “Clout” in the marketplace but it has to be relevant so, hopefully, “Klout” will sort it out.

       

  • Dan: What Klout does, it *that* social network where you are best at. So from a high Klout Score you can never make a conclusion that a person must be able to generate massive response on his blog. 

    Klout may be a sort of status symbol. But in fact, it’s far more. If you think about it, it sugests how Social Media works or what kind of use could make sense. You can have 100.000 follower on Twitter and still have a low Klout Score. No wonder – if only a handful of them talks to you responds to any of your thoughts you are using to convey via your Tweets.

    Brillant conversation: 
    “I would love to hear how to improve our Klout score…”
     – “Then you will love my new book. : )”

    Love you guys 😉

    Thanks
    Michael, MicialMedia

    PS: Almost forgot to say: Good article!, thanks for the contribution on this controversely discussed topic!

  • I scanned Jay’s blog but have been traveling all day and have not been able to read it carefully yet. The timing was a coincidence … and not the first time that has occurred obviously. 

    I have no official relationship with Klout.  I have never received a Klout Perk. I wrote this article because it is interesting and it is on my mind. That is the only standard for blogging I have really.

    Klout can be gamed to a point. I don’t think the 20-year old could sustain the score unless he/she is producing or aggregating content that is moved by a variety of influential people over time. But yes, in the short run, it can be gamed.  If everybody in the world had such a a directionless life that all they wanted to do was sit around and game Klout than I suppose the system would be quite vulnerable!  

  • Perfectly stated. Sorry for the technical problems! 

  • That is also available in HootSuite and some other programs. That stuff scares me frankly. What happens if we only engage with people who have high Klout scores? Bad news. One of the biggest dangers.  Thanks, Jason.

  • Ha!  Good for you! Thanks for commenting.

  • Bring it on Farber. : ) 

    I think part of the fallacy is that people are making a judgment with where the technology stands RIGHT now.  That’s like saying Google search sucked in 1998.  For Pete’s sake, as business professionals, let’s get our heads out of the sand and recognize the TREND.

  • Thanks for reading it with an open mind Barry! 

  • Learn about it and see how you can turn it into a competitive advantage. That’s what business is about.  Most celebrities are all over this stuff.

  • That is a BIG complaint about Klout but unavoidable since we’re the ones putting all the information out there! : ) 

  • Thanks for caring enough to comment Mark.

  • Thanks for continuing the discussion over here David.  Give it time … for two reasons. After two weeks your social “footprint” is not large enough to be accurate. Also, Klout is just beginning to put blogs in the mix.  If they do it right, this should have a SIGNIFICANT influence on your score, topics, etc. I’m not defending Klout, only saying let’s keep our mind open to the business applications. Thanks! 

  • Thanks very much for commenting, Michael. 

  • Mark – good post. I get what you are saying. We must live with it, like it or not. 

    We are still in the early caveman stages of influence measurement. This is only the tip of the rock that helps us make the wheel 😉   Someday I am confident we’ll look back on the metrics of today’s social media and laugh as hard as we do when we think of ourselves carrying the early Motorola phones the size of Texas. I have to admit I really did think I was cool driving down I-25 in Colorado w/that 12 inch Motorola flip phone! 🙂

    I wrote a post a couple weeks ago regarding the social zoom factor and highlighting that Klout is one set of metrics. For me the key is people should be measuring more than Klout. Focus on some of the other metrics that identify if your audience is engaging, reading, sharing etc. and by default the Klout score will go up.  However, in that scenario it’s going up as a result of increased connection with an audience which I believe is good and also lends itself to higher influence.  

    My scores stick around 81-82 and go down on weekends when I live my life. However, as  @jessicanorthey said, I don’t see it paying my mortgage. Heck a car to drive for a year or even a month supply of free food would be nice. Ha 🙂

    Yes, I agree Klout can be gamed but I don’t care. Why stress over lame gamers, right!? I don’t game the system, I pump out the best possible content as often as I can. Why do I do it? To raise my Klout score? No. It brings me business, increases brand awareness and yes just like you,  takes a nobody marketing nut and gives her a voice.  Love it!
     
    I think many have “beef” with Klout due to how it is positioned, “the standard for influence. ” Yet it thought I was influential regarding “Houston” because I wrote one article titled “Houston, We have a Problem…” The worst part is people validated my Klout about Houston even though I know nothing about it. 

    The part that makes me laugh most is the peeps who have few followers, write absolutely no content of any value and only influence their beer drinkin’ friends, yet they have scores in the 60’s plus. At the same time I see folks cranking out good content, influencing their inner circle but because they don’t tweet as often, their scores sit in the 40’s or 50’s. 

    Who really is more influential? That’s the question we wish we could answer. But will we really be able to answer with a single measurement tool? As you summarize, the answer is no. What is influential to you may not be to me etc. 

    Influence is in the eye and heart of the beholder. Metrics can only go so far and I don’t think time will ever change that. 

    Good post. Thanks for making me think, as usual!! 

  • Thanks Mark for the swift response and I will do as you suggest and, maybe, send a few suggestions into the folk at Klout. Social Networking, as well as providing tools for us to advance our respective businesses, also enables us to provide help and suggestions to sites like Klout. This way we can only improve the tools we are using in this Social Media World in which we live.  
    I was fortunate to be doing work at facilities like CERN back in the 80’s when Tim Berners-Lee (now Sir) was developing HTTP and eventually the WWW for Scientists to be able to exchange data and research information with each other in different locales and even countries. Now see where that has come in the past 20 years since the CERN WWW went live in August 1991.

    My mind is open. Thanks!
     

  • Glad to have opened a dialogue with you on creativity and marketing Mark. 
     
    Creativity is a learned skill very much like marketing.   Being creative is having “data,” knowing “trends…being smart enough to see what other people cannot — or will not — see”
    and as such, we all have the potential to be creative in “evaluating…Klout.” 

  • Dude. You are my hero. Stick around here, will you?

  • Thou rocketh.

  • Love the way you think Pam. I am SO GLAD we got connected!!!

    Lot of wisdom in your comment. The point that strikes the most though is this idea that you need BOTH a cotnent strategy AND a network strategy in any social media venture. Somebody with great content is not going be influential if the content does not move. Somebody with a million followers likewise has no influence if they dont have something to say. That’s life on the social web. Weird place, but that’s what it takes to be successful in the long term! Hopefully Klout will get to a place where it is reflecting that accurately. Thanks for the great comment Pam!

  • thats the point. I dont see how it can do anything for mainstream media. It’s a measurement tool for SM people. The people i work with only care about real-world clout. they show up online and get thousands of followers but I notice they have low Klout scores. I have one who can tweet about his weenie and he gets 100 retweets but his klout score is only a 60. He has WAY more influence than I do but Klout shows me with higher score.
    I have a higher score than some really big names TO ME….that spells BS. but I am tinkering. I would just rather get them to NOT tweet about their weenies and tweet or post or get content out then worry about an inconsistent scoring system.
    When it is regulated like Arbitron or Nielsen I will sell it and buy it…but for now there are MANY holes even though I do like the people at Klout, especially Meghan. She’s cool. I can’t even get Joe to respond to do an interview for AllAccess. so as far as the future for entertainers and Klout and me….I sign them up for it but I don’t press any further than that.
    so there….as always…you make me think. and I like that.

  • I bet you got a lot of +Ks on Klout for this one 🙂

    Loved the insights from your post! I think the thing a lot of your commenters are missing is that Klout, at its heart, is really a platform to connect businesses with people that will talk about them if they give those influencers something free. They are trying to measure the level of a persons influence in respect to their ability to have other people listen, trust and pass on what they put on social sites with the hopes that businesses can leverage that influence for promotional gain. I personally am loving how they are improving and especially how quickly they are doing so.

  • What I find most disturbing, beyond their position that an individual’s use of social media somehow grants them license to use said individual’s name and likeness as part of their marketing efforts, is the potential for businesses to discriminate.

    Sure, there’s a need to figure out the most effective use of marketing resources. I don’t fault that for a moment, but it seems there’s potential for businesses to offer better service to potential customers than to existing customers simply because of the popularity contest du jour.

    Sorry, but I just can’t get excited about Mr. Fernandez’s team ranking 100MM individuals when the vast majority of those individuals don’t even know they were ranked. And if such a score is going to be used to base decisions which impact the lives of consumers and individuals, then such a score should be protected a la credit scores.

    I’ve spent considerable time and effort getting my unauthorized Klout profile deactivated. My use of a public Twitter profile grants them license to use my name and likeness for commercial purposes without my permission no more than my walking down Main Street grants the local baker license to display same on his window advertising.

    It’s just another “silver bullet” for those either unwilling or unable to authentically engage their customers. Now that social media has given billions of people the world over a voice, it’s only fitting big business and the marketing shills find new ways of reducing us all back into faceless numbers.

    -K

  • I have already bookmarked your Blog, clicked to follow you on Twitter and sent you and invite to link up on LinkedIn.

  • Anonymous

    Yes: it doesn’t pay the bills. When I was a Sales Rep. in a starter territory I had a boss obsessed with reports.  I knew reading them was pointless for at least a year: I was wholesale repping a VERY high end product. I spent the first year Relationship Building, educating, and Evangelizing the product.  I was starting with ZERO sales – reports could ONLY be demoralizing.

    But he knew no other way to manage.  I knew ignoring those reports was the only sane way to stay focused.

    After 18 months of hard work and tremendous growth I would look at the reports… but I never lived by them.  I spent 90% of my time selling, and it worked.

    I try to think of Klout as the same thing: generate content, connect with people who matter to me, and the numbers will come.  There is nothing Klout gives me that can help me ‘adjust’ my plans.

  • Merci beaucoup. 

  • Their rate of innovation has been tremendous. Agreed. Thanks for that addition to the conversation Michelle!

  • Comments are not a measure of influence and it is a mistake to suggest that they are. A 100 comments don’t prove influence any more than 0 comments do.

  • Good for you Amy. I think that is a healthy perspective.

  • A fair argument and certainly a valid one, Brian.  There should be an opt-out option. Thanks very much for contributing this important point.

  • Businesses already discriminate. If you fly First Class you receive better treatment than in coach.

  • Let’s put it this way … one of the stories in the new book is about Britney Spears’ manager making a personal visit to Klout HQ!  The new black?

  • Ejeancarroll

    Of course Oprah tweets!  

  • But not as much as me.  : ) 

    Actually I had no idea.  Bad example I guess! Ha!

  • Anytime, Mr. Schaefer.

    @The_JackB:disqus : And how would you feel about paying $10,000 for a First Class seat on an international flight, only to discover the guy in the seat next to you is flying for free simply because of his Klout score (and likely would have not even taken the flight coach, were it not for the freebie)?

    It’s a slippery slope. Nothing wrong with providing superior service to those willing to pay for it. My concern is companies reducing service quality to the bulk of their customers in pursuit of buttering up a select few they feel are more influential.

  • Word!

  • Word back brother.

  • Hi Mark,

    I appreciate your perspective here. Yes, as businesses (and recruiters) adopt Klout and begin to change the way the serve us based on Klout, we should care. Even if we think the model is still fundamentally flawed (which I still believe).

    Here is my concern with Klout. As you put it, the ability to create and move content indicates influence. I disagree. If you put your mind to it and still CANNOT do that, then you may not be influential.

    Influence is when you can make people stop and consider their view, change it or act on your statements, trusting and following you because of the authority you have. I don’t think Klout see real action, and at least as of yet, it doesn’t measure influence on opinion.

    There are a number of people with higher Klout scores than you, in the same topics, but they don’t drive the discussion you drive or, for me personally, make me stop and consider my views consistently. In my book, that is influence, and your Klout doesn’t reflect the level of influence you have in these spheres.

    My opinion only though, and my Klout is way lower than yours. 🙂

  • Seanus337

    i fail to see how this drives my business?…yes ill gather some freebies on the way,but as a ceramic tiler,i work locally…the opinions of someone on the other side of the world dont really have too much merit,if they arent spending money with me?lets face it,the idea of running a business is to make money..instead of targetting randoms,why not (in my case) contact builders/contact local councils for recent building permits granted/leave business cards in retail tile shops,etc…if someone has a business in some other country,my opinion is worthless unless i am a customer,or intend to become a customer..are you sure this just isnt a wonderful way of promoting this book i see recommended at least 15 times here?the opinions of celebrities count for nothing,who cares about what some movie star thinks about,theyre not in my country,they dont own property and certainly wont require services of a ceramic tiler..i would be wasting my time on them,the other side of the coin is..i work 5 days a week..what time do i have left to blog?and also,wouldnt MY time be better spend locally finding work,rather than sitting here wasting time reading stuff that has no bearing whatsoever on my business?sorry i dont see the point of this at all

  • This is a wise and considered point Eric.  But reflect that Klout is only measuring one thing — at least for now — the ability to create and move content, which is a pretty good proxy for online influence which depends on network and great content.  Klout does not yet even consider WordPress blogs like this one, so it still has a long way to go.  I like the way you’re thinking and appreciate your dissenting view.

  • You are correct.  This blog, and social media marketing, is a waste of time for you. Of that I have no doubt.

  • Hey Brian, you make some good points. I would even take it a step further. I commented at Danny Brown’s place a few weeks ago that I would really be curious to know Klout’s legal strategy or what they have been advised. It seems to me that on top of the issue of using someone’s likeness; they also take information about you, make a value judgement about who you are, and publish that opinion publicly. Could that be considered libelous? What happens when it results in someone not being hired for a position? To Mark’s point above, has the definition of a celebrity or public figure changed because of social media? If not, then Klout could have an issue down the road.

    I am just questioning as a layman — if there is an attorney in this community, it would be interesting to hear thoughts. It’s certainly a brave new world.

  • Mark – likewise! I have connected w/you at first tweet & first blog post. It’s funny given this discussion as we connected initially on content. We’ve never met f2f (yet) but. have discussed working on some joint projects etc.  I have even told one of my clients about you given our discussion previously. So, there ya’ have it. From a few blog posts, being in Triberr together, reading one another’s blogs we have connected in an authentic way. To your point had neither one of us had relevant content, been real about our opinions or been on the network, we’d have never met. 

    Looking fwd to seeing the measurement of influence continue to evolve. Going to be a fun ride. My thought is folks need to have a light heart about it. Not get too worked up, learn what you need to learn, leverage what you can leverage. The key is to stay focused on the biz goals, objectives and audience and ya’ can’t go wrong! 😉 

    Keep up the good work! Can’t wait to hear more about the book. Congrats!!

  • Amy I also have worked for an EVP just as you describe. It one of the last jobs that finally pushed me out of corporate and to life as an entrepreneur. 

    I agree with you 100%. Focus on relevant content, audience needs and biz goals and the rest will come.  

    The last thing any of us need to do is change our online behavior just to raise a Klout score. Sad but true some people are doing such and openly admitting.  

  • Maybe we should try tweeting about tater tots? 

    Sorry, couldn’t resist! 😉 

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  • I am so glad to read this!  There HAS to eventually be some way to measure social ROI and I guess for now Klout will have to do!  This is a fantastic post for anyone who still doesn’t quite “get” the importance of social media and the impact it’s having on our lives.  Thanks for a wonderful read!

  • Anonymous

    Finally, someone with a reasonable perspective. I have never heard of you before but I am already a fan.
    I don’t understand why it is difficult for people to realize that as time goes on, our lives will become more digital and accessible to others. It’s inevitable. Well, it feels inevitable right now to me anyway.

    As our lives become more digital and accessible, they will be measured and judged. Our habits and relationships will be quantified and leveraged to make other people money. That is, more than they are already.

    If it doesn’t work, it will go away. If one really thinks Klout is bogus, there’s no need to worry.

    I for one am thankful Klout is telling me what my score is and giving me an idea of how it is calculated. It’s a new analytics tool. Oh, and the fee stuff is nice I’m sure. Other companies collect data about me, make money with it and don’t tell me anything about it.

    It is a difficult thing that the Klout and PeerIndext, etc. folk are doing. Yes, there are silly hiccups right now. They are in beta after all. But they will get better.

    I’m not new to the internet or social media. However, I have only recently been exposed to the world of social media / internet marketing experts, gurus, strategists, speakers and e-book authors. Seeing many of their vitriolic reactions to Klout has puzzled me. Dismiss it out of hand. Ignore it. Express annoyance by its buzz filling your stream. But why such a strong emotional response? Klout only measures what we put out there.

    Maybe it’s the name. Maybe it’s the slogan. I know some people say it’s because they can’t opt out. You can opt out. Not signing up and protecting your tweets is as good as opting out (I know you still get scored but no one would take it seriously). Public tweets and other media are going to receive public scrutiny and that can come in the form of a comment made in disagreement or it can be a score.

    I see I’m just rambling now so I’ll stop.

  • Well you have come around a lot from someone who detested Klout 6 months ago. Good on you Mark!

  • Anonymous

    THAT wasn’t the EVP who pushed me out the door; he was only obsessed with reports because he was so competitive and had not other way to measure.

    The next guy, whose personality was similar to Ee-or, who couldn’t sell to save his own life and was in his position because of his bootlicking tendencies, HE’S the reason I am self-employed:)

  • Very interesting points Adam. Thanks!

  • I never detested Klout. Not sure how you got there. : )  I actually wrote one of the “pro” Klout articles about a year ago.

  • There are a lot of challenges to overcome.  Some may be insurmountable, but it’s an interesting time in any event!

  • I would not go so far as to say Klout measures ROI.  At least not that I can think of. ROI is strictly a financial measure, although the term is being used a little loosely these days in social media circles.  Not sure you can tie Klout score to hard dollars, but maybe at some point. Thanks, Martha.

  • It’s their tagline, Mark – it will continue to trip us up. Shrewd of you to suss out that the goal of Klout is to identify content movers – to generate impressions. Obviously, that isn’t “influence.” It’s contextually relevant reach, with no (as yet) determined linkage to increasing trial or usage. But it’s something, and likely something useful, especially for a content marketing strategy.

  • The reality is that no matter if you love it or hate it Klout is a part of our Social Media community – can’t see that changing anytime soon! The thing that is frustrating to me is that they change their algorythms and then there are adjustments in scores. Remember when it was broken and for one day people had 0 or 32’s for their scores? Panic set in. I ponder what anxiety has been caused by a score for your social engagement for Social Media professionals and everyone else. The pressure to be “perfect” amplified on a red chart for all the world to see…

    Interesting points made by you & your commenters.
    Thanks Mark!
    Peggy

  • It’s no different than buttering up hotel concierges and taxi drivers to get them to recommend your business to hotel guests. In fact, Klout just makes it easier to find those people. 

  • even if a 20 yr old kid is getting a greater score than experienced marketing guys there is something to it. he/she must be sharing a content that is being appreciated and trusted by his community. so what’s wrong he is being trusted by his community that’s why they are sharing his content. what say ?

  • The ability to create and move content is the absolute key to online influence. that is my take from this post. Initially like all others I was excited by the score but now even if i am not that active always on my twitter there are still people who talk to me and like the 140 characters I share 🙂 i think its a number and should be left as a number but today business are takign it as a benchmark and friends too 🙂 thanks for the post.

  • I think like social media itself (both technology and application), the methods for measuring impact and influence are are both changing and improving. I don’t really have an issue with Klout and think it’s one of many indicators companies can use to better understand their social landscape. I wouldn’t rely on its signal alone but use it as a trending marker.

    The purpose and limitations of Klout are to to provide some insights into the social landscape.  If a business has been able to analyze and monitor their social landscape and has determined that relying exclusively on Klout is the key to engaging with their audience for an event, then I find that really interesting but not entirely convincing.

    Thanks for an update on Klout. The only other issue that may generate as much hyper-ventilating is the discussion around Social CRM (or is it sCRM) :-)!

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  • Mark W Schaefer

    A can of worms to be sure!  Thanks for the great comment!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    W eall have the freedom to react to it or not.  I was simply putting it out there that it could also servve businesses as a marketing tool so we should consider that. Personally, I’m conflicted by the behaviors that are likely to emerge from this trend! I like your attitude best, Prasant!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Thanks Peggy. All these platfomrs are vulnerable, to be sure! I often think that if our cars performed as well as Twitter we would all be outraged. There would be lawsuits! : )

    Thanks for the very relevant observation.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    It’s an interesting nuance and is worthy of a beer together to discuss.  I think the abilty to move content might be a leading indicator or real influence and perhaps we are even very close to connecting the dots in a real way. For example in a Subway Klout promotion, people were tweeting, photographing and blogging about new sandwiches. The company could see the conten being created and that others in the tribe also created content abotu consuming a sandwich. It’s blurring.

    Ans what if the measure of influence IS content creation. If people write 100 blogs about my blog, isn;t that influence?  It’s not just context, it’s action. An endlessly fascinating discussion.

  • I still feel Word of Mouth trumps online by a gazillion percent today. Especially since there are only 50mil active Twitter users world wide each day (65-70% international), Facebook is basically a private network (70% have max privacy controls) for every Facebook update there is 182 SMS text messages sent. The average facebook user only does a status up date once every 3 to 4 days. Yet Teens send 3000 texts per month each! And while Blogs for sure are powerful I still view social and online communication (public comm vs email, text, instant messenger) as less than 1% of total daily communication. I recently blogged about my mom’s uber influence. She sees something on Facebook then she tells everyone….verbally on the phone and by email. She never takes any action on facebook. She is an uber consumer. She even clicks digital ads! I mean who does that?

    So personally I view this as a niche (for now). If I have money like my mother does, brands will be fawning over me no matter what. I will still get freebies but probably more loyalty ones than ‘hey try this we like your Klout’. And we will all get freebies as loyalists. In fact as a brand spend your money on customer retention first, second and third because your pay back in much more than on customer acquisition. You know your customer. And I still view Klout as not knowing who the people with the high scores are. I still feel we are in an insulated marketing bubble with these viewpoints.

    So put me in the skeptic camp Mark.

    BUT to your point that ‘online’ the playing field is becoming more equal I agree. We will see. Where I think this levels the playing field in reality is different from your view. I feel it allows small businesses a chance to compete with big companies. That is more key. Nike is never going to make money using Klout or Online Influence (not in a bottom line sense). But a start up shoe company sure can! 8)

  • Anonymous

    This is the most grounded post on Klout/Influencer measurement I’ve read. It’s a necessary evil; we have to be able to measure. We need to measure apples to apples. Klout is for online influence, and to be taken with a grain of salt. It’s a very immature industry but it will evolve and improve, and I absolutely agree with you, Mark. We should be paying attention. But I still think the sheep thing is hilarious. and I’m influential for cookies and Mars because of +k and no other reason. So there are some kinks to work out, no doubt there. 

  • Anonymous

    That’s exactly what I was going to say when I read Brian’s comment. They already discriminate. 

  • Dan!!!!!! HAHA! Glad to see you here. Long time.

    My only comment is I don’t think Mark can be bought so easily. And if you look at some early Klout posts he was a skeptic like me. But here is an interesting thing. ‘Traditional’ social media ‘marketing’ never worked. A new ‘fad’ is coming. This is it. Will it work? I don’t know. Time will tell. Mark knows very much a pain in the ass cynic like me will start thumping ‘show me the money’ to see prove of sales soon. Like I do about Facebook Brand pages. And if I hear crickets like I do about facebook I will be hammering away at it.

    So while I wrote a very skeptical comment above. If Mark shows me the money in 2 years he will be visionary. And since I have known Mark over a year now, he has a bigger shot than the current ‘rockstars’ of succeeding since they sure haven’t.

    And if it doesn’t pan out Mark has a killer design from Scotland for advanced Men’s urinals he can sell 8) BTW Mark I need that photo!

  • Jen Zingsheim

    “Oprah doesn’t Tweet, so she can’t be measured”–I’m not sure where this came from, she does have a Twitter account and her Klout rank is 79.

    I have no problems with using Klout as a starting off point for research on “influencers.” But I do think it is short-sighted for people to stop there, or to base hiring decisions on Klout scores; or, even worse, to determine whether a customer is worth responding to based on their Klout score.

    If a score is used as a single data point among many, fine. But I fear that its ubiquity will cause companies and PR pros/communicators to use it as a shortcut to get around doing their homework. I don’t think that what Klout is doing here is a statistically valid measurement of influence. Scoring people who have the ability to move content, sure. But ultimately brands sell things–the proof of influence is compelling people to purchase. I think that results are going to be very different between the Klout influence exacted by Klout perks for Subway Sandwiches and those who are influenced to buy and Audi, to list two Klout Perks programs that have been discussed.

  • Anonymous

    Howie,
    Not sure if Mark will be a visionary or if Joe Fernandez will but like you said, it’s a “time will tell” kind of deal. I personally think that Klout will prove itself too unreliable for companies to continue investing time/effort into it. But what the hell do I know – I’m just a stupid filmmaker. A stupid award-winning filmmaker 😉
    Cheers!

  • Anonymous

    Uh, yes it does.

  • No it really doesn’t. Let’s dig into it for a second. I can show you blog posts that have hundreds of comments on them- but they are all spam comments.

    I can show you blog posts that have hundreds of comments but only three people are commenting on them. I can show you blog posts that have a ton of comments that are completely unrelated to the blog post.

    The question is where is the value in any of those. If you really want to dig into it than you need to start talking about demographics and whether any of the comments are being made by the people you want to make them.

    Most readers don’t leave comments which is why we have things like international delurking day. Comments aren’t an accurate measure of influence- at best they are part of the recipe but not the key ingredient.

  • Hi Brian. It really wouldn’t bother me.

    In your example the person who “earned” the free flight didn’t get it because I paid $10k for a ticket. They got it because the airline decided to spend advertising/marketing dollars on a Klout promotion.

    Businesses discriminate every day all day long. Certain customers receive special treatment that others don’t receive. It is not about being fair.

  • Hi Brian. It really wouldn’t bother me.

    In your example the person who “earned” the free flight didn’t get it because I paid $10k for a ticket. They got it because the airline decided to spend advertising/marketing dollars on a Klout promotion.

    Businesses discriminate every day all day long. Certain customers receive special treatment that others don’t receive. It is not about being fair.

  • Hi Brian. It really wouldn’t bother me.

    In your example the person who “earned” the free flight didn’t get it because I paid $10k for a ticket. They got it because the airline decided to spend advertising/marketing dollars on a Klout promotion.

    Businesses discriminate every day all day long. Certain customers receive special treatment that others don’t receive. It is not about being fair.

  • You’re right Jack. My example wasn’t very good.

    I guess my main complaint (other than Klout suggesting they have 100MM customers, most of whom don’t know they are customers, and would likely rather not be presented as such), is the potential for businesses which put stock in this sort of measurement using it to justify neglecting their less “influential” customers.

    Trying another example:
    You have a Klout score of 75. I have a score of 15. We both buy new Audis.

    You mention on Audi’s Facebook page that you don’t like the way the dashboard rattles in your brand new car. Audi brings a loaner to your door and takes your car in to be repaired extra nice.

    I buy the same Audi, have the same problem, but I spoke with my local dealership, who told me there was nothing they could do about this and it’s not a warranty claim (politely: piss off). So I post a sincerely earnest request for assistance on Audi’s Facebook page which is ignored because I am not “influential.”

    I’m not saying life is fair, but what I am saying is, the use of such incomplete metrics by businesses stands to make it less so. And that rubs me the wrong way. Appreciate the discussion, sir.

  • Your article was shared by someone on Twitter and is the first one I read about Klout.  I had no idea people opposed Klout.  Like all things, it can be used in a healthy way or in a deceptive, sneaky way to get a high score.  All things are relative and need to be taken into consideration.  Currently on my list of things I am influential about is guitars.  Funny thing is I don’t know how to play one and never have!

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  • Mark, this is just a great post, terrific discussion and valuable
    conversation. The idea of creating and moving content as a measure of influence
    is intriguing. I’m sure those participating in this discussion all have higher
    than average Klout scores, LOL. I wonder what average is BTW? The first question
    that comes to mind is: do the Klout scores matter to me or indiviuals
    participating here? Do they influence this discussion, the outcome or the level
    of discourse? Clearly, no.  As several have noted, the challenge is trying to find metrics to really measure influence in a way that has true value. I really like Klout but so far it’s merely one
    very new and yet unproven tool in the social media marketing toolkit. Like everyone else, I’m keeping my eye on it and hoping.

    The most important questions for marketers in this case revolve around your Bal Harbour Shops, Florida example. There is just something about this “exclusivity” that often rubs a
    lot of customers the wrong way. Did anyone ask Bal Harbour if its promotion was successful? Did they get a crowd? Did their sales meet expectations? Was the return on investment adequate? How many customers with scores of 38.5, 39.2 or closer to 40 did they turn away? Who won the $500 gift certificate and what was their Klout score? Did Bal Harbour annoy their loyal, long-term customers in favor of a shiny new marketing toy? Did any of their customers even know what their Klout score is? In balance, did they gain more than they lost? And the ultimate question, with this data in hand, would they do it again?

    It’s probably worth a little bit of old-fashioned market
    research to answer some of these important questions. I’m just asking 😉

  • It’s still silly. Mike Masnick at Techdirt explains (more elegantly than I can) why: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110517/16574414306/is-influence-number-is-it-based-twitter.shtml

  • Grannelle

    Apologies for being away. For a guy w/ no paying job I stay awfully busy.

    Yes, LinkedIn is in there, as is YouTube and some of the blogging platforms.

    Not sure how that could be. There are no Klout applications for LinkedIn or YouTube. I am also unaware of any for blogging platforms. It would seem your data source is in error, unless Klout was accessing UGC w/o the site members permission, which obviously would violate privacy laws, and that would seem a ludicrous action. If you do in fact have evidence to the contrary, I would appreciate hearing about it. I’m currently writing a paper on Klout, and would like to cite additional sources.

    Thanks Mark.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    All good points, Jeff. And good questions too.

    I have actually been doing a lot of research into the relative success of some of these promotions and generally what I find that most companies don;t want to open their kimonos, especially if is somethign strategic and new like Klout.

    In this example, I did see pictures and video of the event, which was PACKED.  So at least by that measure, it was a success. You’re right that exclusivity does rub some people the wrong way, but isn’t the fashion and luxury world kind of about that any way? : )

    Thanks very much for the great comment.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Thanks for jumping into the dialogue and adding your perspective, Wendy.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Really excellent and relevant points.  Agree. Thanks!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    … and I’m influential right now on evolution. Whatever that means : )   I think it would be much more fun to be influential about cookies. 

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Definitely a niche but an interesting one, and a growing one.  Thanks for your always-provocative views my friend!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    I think that is a great example and a very real example of the dangers that could brew here. So if you leanred that the klout person got better service, what would you do? Probably be really angry or do something ridiculous to game your klout score. In either case the result is unfortunate and I think we will see more and more of that. You will see some sick behavoors come out of this I think!  People are already getting obsessed with it.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Good analogy and it’s already happening.

  • I love it when marketers experiment. Delighted they got a “crowd” and hope that they were the target market they wanted and that sales/buzz/ROI of some kind are the outcome.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    You can go to the Klout site and give them permission to access all of these sites. I’m sure of it. I’ve done it in fact.

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  • Thanks for the link but it is a pretty toothless post. It’s just another in the heap of blog posts claiming this innovation is stupid based on an entirely emotional response. I will stack up the marketing acuity of Disney, Audi and Starbucks against the “Klout is stupid” crowd any day. Look I can understand the “icky” factor of being assigned a number but that does not make this any less of a serious marketing development. I am simply trying to get people to consider the trend rationally.

  • Thanks for the link but it is a pretty toothless post. It’s just another in the heap of blog posts claiming this innovation is stupid based on an entirely emotional response. I will stack up the marketing acuity of Disney, Audi and Starbucks against the “Klout is stupid” crowd any day. Look I can understand the “icky” factor of being assigned a number but that does not make this any less of a serious marketing development. I am simply trying to get people to consider the trend rationally.

  • Setting aside any opinion on Klout, that is one bad ad. Misspells Tavi Gevinson’s name, left-facing arrow symbol doesn’t make sense, etc., etc.  As for the sheer concept, I’m not going to go there.

    Re your takeaway line:

    “The ability to create and move content is the absolute key
    to online influence.”

    I would modify it to read:

    “The ability to create and move content is the absolute key
    to your Klout score.”

    Klout itself says that influence is the ability to get people to actually DO something. Compelling content that gets widely shared and commented on is certainly part of the “do something” process, but it’s not necessarily the thing itself, is it?

  • Ah, yes. “The ability to move content might be a leading indicator of real influence.” That’s the ticket.

  • Curious what do you think of Toolbar PageRank to assess a website?

  • Paul Wilmott

    Mark. It is good to know that  there is a person who looks at this topic as much as we have.  Klout is fantastic at finding people who are great at creating, aggregating, and sharing online content.  A similar company, Meet Insight measures the level of trust (and therefore influence) a person has engendered  This works perfectly in the marketing of ‘trust based’ services.  5 years ago neither would have been used or popular. How the world is changing..

  • I agree with you Mark.  Klout is going to revolutionize marketing just like credit scores revolutionized – objectivified – the lending business.  This is something marketers big and small have needed for a long time.  It absolutely serves the marketplace for an important function – finding people who are influential online about a given topic.

    It is new and it is fallible.  Still, it is the best tool out there and it is getting better every day.

    Thanks for your post.  I’ll be sharing it a lot.

  • Thanks for the very supportive comment Gina. Glad this was helpful to you!

  • An advertisement cleverly cloaked as a comment. Props.

  • Thanks Mark

  • A good question. I think it is. If you can get people to share your view, click a link or take another measurable online action, isn’t that a sign of influence? Not all influence, but an aspect of it?

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  • Grannelle

    Oh. That’s what you were talking about. Then yes, you are quite right. I thought you meant measured as overall influence as impacted by the baseline population. Apologies for misunderstanding.
    BTW, {grow} readers: Grannelle’s Social Media, touted as the least visited destination on the Internet, was fortunate to have Mark participate in the The Social Media Professionals Series. If you are a fan of Mark like I am, you will enjoy this insightful and candid interview!

  • Kenny Rose

    The thing about the virtual world is it is both superficial and exponential. The reaction  to Klout is laughable.  I have consistently commented on this blog in support of Klout. Every point you raise in this post is absolutely spot on. The issue of gaming is irrelevant from a business perspective. You would be complete idiot to base all of your business decisions on a persons Klout score.  Entrepreneurs and Intra-preneurs measure and decide who is influential using a number of factors and how they will leverage that influence to impact their bottom line, engage with their customers and drive their strategy.  You can game Klout  but it will have no impact on your real influence. Fact.  In order to develop real influence you have to provide real value, understand your specialist area, develop fantastic content and be part of and have access to a variety of networks. I could go on and on.  Klout scores are relevant. They provide a new tool for a new paradigm. The Klout model is in its infancy. Anybody who discounts the importance of measuring influence and the validity of Klout as tool does not understand business or the social web.

    Thanks Mark sorry for the mini rant. 🙂 

  • Kenny Rose

    Why you calling yourself stupid. This is a first 🙂 You’re a filmmaker and a specialist. And I have no doubt you make excellent films and have written some excellent blog posts too. I have read them. Your a “content” provider, and an influencer, your Klout score matters. And you are a very smart man Mr Perez. You just don’t see the link between how technology, impacts culture and business. But really I think you do. 🙂 The truth is companies are investing in the creation of a new industry that is part of an overall shift in technology and how it is being used by human beings. It is an incremental process of learning and gathering knowledge and evolving different modes of perceiving and doing business with the tools and techniques available it’s about creativity and innovation. Klout as we know may not be around in 10 years then again it may have evolved or been bought out and a new technological/cultural development emerged that allows them to build on the initial iteration of the Klout model. A bit like black and white film and now, how we have a camera on our laptop. You get me. 🙂 You just enjoy a good rant and like stoking the fire. Just as much as I like commenting on this blog and seeing you here ready to drive the conversation and create new “nodes” that tweak people’s interest, influence, and drive their creativity in ways they may or may not perceive or understand …….  Yet. 🙂 

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Mini-rants always welcome here. : )  Thanks for sharing your passion and wisdom on the topic Kenny!

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  • That is perfectly true. That’s also why Klout is completely unable to evaluate influence. You can have a lot of reply and retweet without any content-value in it.

  • Mark:

    Disclaimer: I think Megan Berry is swell and juicy for a sith princess. And I am her biggest fan!

    “But give me a blog and a Twitter account and I have people from all over the world telling me that I have impacted them…

    So even a nobody like me can become an Influencer. And that’s pretty darn cool.”

    The irony of course is that Klout doesn’t measure what really makes you an “influencer” – namely the trust garnered by the character of your content. Um, in other words, the value of your blog posts. [puzzled look]

    1. Klout doesn’t know how many people visit your blog per day/week/month.
    2. Klout doesn’t know who visited your blog.
    3. Klout doesn’t know how long those people spend reading your blog posts.
    4. Klout doesn’t know how many cute comments were made in reply to your blog posts.
    5. Klout doesn’t know how many thoughtful comments were made.
    6. Klout doesn’t know how many replies you made to those comments.
    7. Klout doesn’t know how valuable are your replies to those comments.
    8. Klout has no idea whether your blog post is accurate, useful, or full of delusion and shit.
    9. Klout has no idea what you are writing about on your blog.
    10. Klout doesn’t even know where your blog is.

    Footnote: I agree with @TheJackB about comments.

    “Comments [alone] aren’t an accurate measure of influence- at best they are part of the recipe but not the key ingredient.”

    Disclaimer: I check my Klout score at least once per month. And I give K+s liberally, sometimes thoughtlessly, and often.

    Best regards,

    Stan Faryna

    Recently on my blog: Are you comfortable faking it? And other social media DOHs. http://wp.me/pbg0R-pl

  • Not always. KLM really sucks at Business and First Class service. [grin]

  • If you have consumer complaints, obvious you should talk to Jack. He can fix things for us.

  • Evil is never necessary. It is only by cowardice and convenience that we give permission to evil. Hitler is a cliched example, but it’s the best I can come up with in 30 milliseconds. [grin]

    Klout is measuring something. That’s for sure. It’s gullibility. Ours. And that may be valuable.

  • Dan , i guess no one can deny some of the points you have mentioned in your initial comment. However, the world is changing and is changing for good, platforms like klout is reassuring people like me , im not a celebrity, but then, i do genuine tamil movie reviews (regional language spoken in south india) on youtube and with the help of klout score , im going places, people have started to recognize me and respect my work! this is all i need! but i definitely know it can be gamed. even google search can be gamed/ is being gamed on a daily basis, but people trust google with their eyes closed, dont they? 🙂 

  • Agree it or not,  klout is the next big thing. it is for free after all, so better know more about it than writing long posts criticizing it! atleast encourage the hard working people behind klout even if you are not appreciating klout as a whole! 

  • I like how this post puts Klout in a different light. I think many like myself have thought of Klout as something that is good-to-know but unimportant. Hopefully Klout scores won’t be overly abused by both biz and users alike. 

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  • Mark W Schaefer

    My blog is my primary platfrom for content generation.  That is what has provided me my source of online influence. To the extent that the content gets moved throughout the Internet, which is what Klout meaures, my influence spreads.  

    Klout will have WordPress and several comment systems integrated into its system by the end of the year.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Thanks for sharing your persepective!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Where corruption can occur, corruption will occur. Of course it will be abused. It’s the human thing to do, unfortunately. Thanks Jan!

  • I agree that Klout has some kinks to still work out, but that it is fast becoming a viable measure of SM influence.  Whether people like it or not, Klout is here to stay.  I think one of its biggest mistakes is lowering influence for minor dips in activity.  We can’t all be online 24/7 and not all of our content is going to be RT’d.  That doesn’t mean that we’re any less influential in our networks.  My score dipped 2 points this month because frankly, I needed to focus on real life responsibilities and less on SM.  Did that translate into my loosing Twitter followers?  No.  So, from my perspective, my score should not have “suffered” as a result, but it did.  As soon as I picked up again, so the score went up a point, which is kind of ridiculous.  Anyway, a good post about an intricate subject.

  • Seriously kick ass comments here Mark, and as always you craft a compelling argument not exactly pro-Klout so much as “wake up and smell the Klout flavored coffee already!” – the idea I think is here to stay; as long as their are brands wanting to use social media to market their wares and services via the Interwebs, they’re going to want some numbers crunched telling them they’re spending their dollars in the right place. For now Klout has them convinced they’re the best game in town. This BTW is typed by one who’s not checked my PeerIndex or Empire (yet) and hadn’t heard of Sprout Social before reading the comments. 

    Speaking of which, I stand w/ @rebeccadenison:disqus @faryna:disqus @howieatskypulsemedia:disqus @danperezfilms:disqus and many other brilliant commenters on my position with Klout as a measurer of online activity that needs work, though I’m encouraged by your remark that they’re adding blogs and comments at some point. But it still won’t raise my score much out of the 50s b/c I just don’t have to time as you discussed with @PamMktgNut:disqus to both go for compelling, quality content that may attract business AND constantly pimp my stuff via Twitter, other networks. 

    Lastly, I’m with @EugeneFarber:disqus questioning that ad and if it’s legit, think it’s a sign that the Apocalypse is not only upon us, but has moved in, kicked up its heels and popped open a beer. FWIW.

  • I have a Klout Score of 64, but I still doubt they would let a dog into a fashion event. Even if my fur weren’t faux.

  • Maybe, but when you see your Klout score drop from 45 to 19 in one month because you were on holiday and didn’t tweet much, or when it chooses as the people who influence you the most users you don’t even know who they are, you have to wonder how reliable and useful it is.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Thanks Sidney.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Outstanding comment Davina, and a good round-up of the sentiments expressed here.  I actually throught there would be more furor onthis topic but maybe the realities are starting to sink in : )   Thanks!

  • Mark W Schaefer

    Depends on the dog I suppose.

  • Mark W Schaefer

    The way Klout defends this is, if you were on vacation for a month, you would not be influential at work either. You have to communicate to be influential.  A perspective, any way.

  • Vita

    Awesome blog.  I can’t wait to check this out.  Show me the money in 2 years, maybe longer, but skepticism is healthy, and I want to view this with an open mind.  Keep the juices flowing, any measurements of influence help you to ride the wave of publicity, and get branded, and help you with a new avenue for your art.
    Thanks Mark

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  • Good attitude. Who knows, it may crash, but let’s keep an open mind.

  • I’m not sure that it should matter, and that they’re getting it right. For example, I mostly share content about music, content strategy and related areas, yet a few days Klout had me listed as influential about dogs, Africa and SEO. Seriously?

  • Yup. A big problem there and a common one. They will have to figure it out to be successful.

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  • Wow – lively debate. You need to start somewhere when trying to measure social media influence across the various platforms. Klout may not be the right technology but they have the right idea. Either they will get it right or someone will. The data is too valuable and the concept is too good of an idea for others to pass up. My company has now created a way for marketers to use the Klout score to segment their database and target accordingly. Since this technology is new, it will be interesting to see how these features will be used and how successful they will be.

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  • Seems like a rational viewpoint Chad. Thanks for contributing!

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  • Here’s the biggest / single problem with Klout – transparency. We have an idea of how Klout calculates the score – but we’re still left in the dark about how it is exactly calculated. 

    I just created a new metric called “SOCIAL MOMENTUM INDEX.” (sounds sweet right?) It uses comments per post and retweets from all your profiles and looks for trends to calculate your index. Your index is a healthy 52. Woohoo!

    …….. Errr…. 

    Now what? There’s nothing actionable about that number nor does anyone know how I calculated it. And that’s exactly what Klout is.

  • Klout just announced that it was changing its site to show exactly what is moving your Klout score.  Time will tell, but perhaps that will address the issue.

  • Nice post Mark. 

    You seem to be approaching the discussion from the point of view of the subject…the person who has a Klout score. In the big, I agree with you, that Klout matters, and that as individuals we should get comfortable with it the fact that it matters…

    My point is that it shouldn’t matter. I come to that conclusion looking at Klout not from the individual’s perspective but from the Brand’s perspective. 

    Here are the core reasons I cringe every time a brand uses Klout:

    1. Algorithms are best used where massive scale is involved. For the business needs that Klout purports to solve, the scale doesn’t actually require an algorithm. Give me a quality marketer or two and one week and I can create a far more “perfect” list of influencers in nearly any space you care to imagine. Is it hard work? Yes. Is it fun? Hell no. But it is effective and it’s accurate. I think a week or two is a reasonable amount of time to wait to get my hands on a great list of influencers. Not only that, byt the time my list get’s built, I may have actually build this crazy thing called a relationship with one or more of the key influencers on my list. What will you have? Just a list.

    2. All Marketers are Lazy. Marketers are trying to do more with less. I get that. But in the end, PAYING Klout for a list of influencers is just foolish. It robs a business and a marketer of critical assessment skills that can and should be learned along the way as they progress through their career. The ability to suss out real influence and build a relationship with an influencer is critical! By allowing them to take these short cuts, we are potentially robbing them of these key skills they may need later in their careers…and they may actually be missing out on opportunities to build real relationships with real influencers in their space.

    I’d be interested in your views from the brand perspective. Just what does a brand receive when working with Klout that they cannot get on their own with a little investigative work?

    I had a great discussion about this topic in KC with @SamFiorella:twitter   and @seanmoffitt:twitter  A most spirited debate indeed.

    (Full disclosure – I’ve accepted a handful of Klout Perks to date. I’ve actually only redeemed and used one thus far with another on the way. I haven’t written about any of the things I’ve received, mostly because I’m not actually influential about any of them).

  • This is a great comment Sean and I thank you for these perspectives. I’m not Klout’s defender. I’m just trying to urge rational sense.

    I think there are two assumptions you are making that could provide some wonderful debate. First that you need “scale.” I have written up a case study for my new book (Feb) that describes how Klout found 100 niche influencers who ended up providing 60% of the total online buzz

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  • Anonymous

    Hi Mark, Love what you tweet and blog. We came to almost same conclusions about Klout. I am not going to copy paste my post but please do not take offense if I use today’s link as my comment here : http://wp.me/ptOFQ-Nk  Thanks-Anne

  • Good post. One fact check: @oprah:twitter does tweet. 🙂

  • I need to follow her more closely : )

  • Well done. Thank you Anne.

  • Mark:

    Thanks for responding. 

    I think Klout is trying really hard. They are really focused and I believe they are focused in the right ways, by and large. None of my criticisms are actually with Klout and their efforts. I admire what they are trying to do.

    What I despise is the shortcut mentality that everything needs to be simple.

    Give me a list of Twitter accounts. Give me the raw data associated with those accounts. Their # of follower, the # they follow, the frequency that they tweet and the ability to search the database about who’s tweeting about what. With a decent data hound I can create a raw list that would get me more than halfway home. 

    I suppose those that support Klout would suggest this is what they are doing and their model is better then mine because this is the shortcut part.

    But it’s the next part of the process that is critical, and that I suspect many (maybe all?) brands are avoiding….. This list should be a STARTING point, and not the end product that gets used to award a perk!

    The next step involves following those people, checking out their blogs, exploring their ecosystems, and determining who has real influence – then engaging with those folks and building real relationships with them. 

    I guess my issues is a combination of “don’t need your list” and “the list isn’t the end result, its just the beginning”. Part of that objection is a Klout issue, but most of it is a brand issue.

    Compare Klout to traditional Blogger Outreach efforts and how everyone complains that the ask isn’t customized and PR hacks don’t spend any time getting to know you personally prior to approaching you with a templated e-mail. Klout isn’t too far removed form that, in my opinion.

    I agree with you about one thing. It would be great to have this discussion in person some day.

    Thanks for continuing to write and curate some of the best discussion in this space!

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  • Mark, great perspective on ‘new’ influence in general. Klout’s attempt to measure influence is utterly misleading. As you rightly mentioned in “obvious fact” number 2, Klout can easily be “gamed”. Many people do enjoy the feel-good factor of an above average score but the practical implications is where the major struggle lies with most users.

    As I mentioned in this post: http://smed.io/sceIcj savvy marketers and agencies are quick to leveraging the opportunities it presents from a digital-word-of-mouth perspective. I really enjoyed how you covered the major influence catalysts; those are what would-be influencers should focus on and not a sum digit representation of what influence is or should be. 

    Great post Mark!

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  • Sorry, Dan, but that’s not always true. For example, one comment from Robert Scoble is worth a million comments from a kid who knows nothing, but sits in judgement of the world, repeatedly typing the word “meh” at the bottom of post after post on his mom’s laptop.

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  • I can’t believe i’m doing this again, and in public even, but I agree with Dan on all accounts except the stupid filmmaker part.

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  • Guest

    Klout is so limited. I have 20 million pageview to my name and Klout does not even consider them. I will stick with my own clout, thanks. 

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  • Ok.You are influential and all that jazz.So what?

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  • malharbarai

    Am with you here Dan.

    Assuming a certain group is distributing +k amongst themselves, you know the system can be gamed. You would never know if the +k is because of the great content that was just written, shared or was it because the person was just a good friend.

    Other point is Klout needs business, they can change the algo again and have higher scores for certain individuals to make itself attractive. Remember, they are against the like of Kred & PeerIndex now.

    So would you still believe in the system??

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  • I am actually has entered a few months and It is noticed that my Klout has some time increased or some time decreased but why ,i don’t .One thing clear that i have never share my klout score in other social media such like Facebook,Twitter or any where.Because I have the doubt from begaining , when i saw some profiles of my clients those are higher than me (mention able that i had created and designed there blogs and website and marketing projects too).However thanks for the article.

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  • Amitesh Misra

    Klout is definitely a good platform for social media scoring. However, I recently came across sociota.net… They not only provide scoring but also many other features like social media management, monitoring etc. I feel that it’s a better way to get your clout calculated.

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