Klout scores feed a social media sickness

A couple of weeks ago, I was the keynote speaker before a jammed conference room of 300 people and here is how I was introduced:

“I’d like you to welcome our special guest Mark Schaefer, who has over 40,000 followers on Twitter and a Klout score of 71!”

He made no mention that I have written two books, teach at a university, have 30 years of international marketing experience or that I have two masters degrees.  He probably doesn’t even know or care that I have raised two great children, am a devoted husband and contribute time to charities and mentoring.

Is Klout more important than life?

It drives home a critical point though. “Social proof” like Twitter followers, Facebook Likes and Klout scores are exceedingly important on the Internet.  In fact, as I explain in Return On Influence, as people look for short-cuts to truth in our information-dense digital world, these numbers may be even more important than what we actually accomplish in our lives. That’s hard to say, let alone accept, but it’s true.

Little wonder that a subculture has arisen on the web determined to achieve this social proof by any means necessary.

This group is dedicated to gaming their influence scores because they see this as a true reflection of their personal worth. There is even an online commodity market that buys and sells +K’s on Klout in some quixotic quest for self-worth.

A hit to the ego

After another recent Klout algorithmic change, many people’s numbers slipped again over the past two weeks.  Instead of looking at this as simply a tweak in a business model, many people took this as a personal affront, a blast to their very being. Here is a post from a friend after his Klout slipped day by day for 26 days:

26 CYBER ATTACKS ON MY SELF ESTEEM AND WELL BEING WITH ONLY ONE BACKSLAP IN THE MIDDLE TO ALLEVIATE THE PAIN AND SHAME. ITS A SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS…

Another guy chimed in complaining that his Klout score slipped when he had to actually pay attention to client work for a couple of weeks.

A young man who works night and day to game his numbers asked me how he can turn his growing social capital into a career.  I told him that he can’t … and encouraged him to learn a skill that will actually help people.

Let’s keep focused on business benefits

Social scoring is an important new business trend and it’s important to understand what companies like Klout and Appinions are up to. We have always known that there are certain powerful word-of-mouth influencers out there but finding them has been out of reach for all but the biggest and richest companies. We are on the brink of a truly revolutionary ability to accurately identify, connect with, and reward authentic brand advocates throughout the world we never knew existed.  We’ll even be able to place a dollar value (yes — a return on investment!) on powerful individual word of mouth influencers, and in fact that is already happening. If you’re in marketing, you undoubtedly need to understand this trend!

But I am disturbed by this parallel consequence of people obsessing with a number as a legitimacy of their human worth.  I know there is nothing I can do about that, but I’m not going to contribute to it either. I’ve been asked by my publisher to write a short book on how to increase your Klout score.  It would be an easy financial windfall that would build on my previous work. But it simply flies in the face of my principles and encourages behaviors that will hurt people in the end in my opinion.

Checking out Klout, Kred, Peer Index and Empire Avenue values can be entertaining but anybody truly enslaved to these numbers for their self-esteem needs a reality check.  And here is the irony.  All these folks eventually will be sniffed out as fakes, which will really crush their self-esteem. In the end, true authority, expertise, and kindness will win out.

Want to REALLY increase your social influence? Here’s how.

Surround yourself with people who care about you.

Do good work.

Be kind and helpful.

Just do those three things and the influence — the influence that matters — will take care of itself. OK?

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  • So true Mark – I deleted my Klout account 6 months ago (well, I believe it is deleted, obviously I can’t check without signing up again *jeez*) – itself an arduous process (I’ll leave that rant). It was a liberating experience and highly recommend it to all.

    Just love your social influence ‘mantra’ – I just look at what work I have coming in, what people are saying about me, whether I’m happy and getting to balance work with my kids. If I tick those boxes, all is good with me.

    Care about what you do, be honest, be around positive people and give, a lot. Simples 🙂

  • A very thoughtful post, Mark. Thank you for sharing this. It puzzles me why people believe that any system that can be gamed (as you mention) is worthy of any trust.

  • Maybe if Klout just had a disclaimer; “These scores are for entertainment purposes only”. I’ve caught myself falling into the trap of bemoaning a slight dip in my score. I did love the free iced tea, though!

  • THANK YOU! I for one don’t believe or encourage Klout scores. As a Community Manager to multiple client accounts, we emphasize on the actual engagement with their customers. We think that this metric feeds into a narcissistic self, that goes against the goal of keeping customers happy and engaged.

  • Gifford Morley-Fletcher

    Great post Mark, and I can see some really strong parallels here with the world of SEO. People regularly try to ‘game’ Google and they may succeed for a while, but ultimately the same rules apply (as per the blog you tweeted about yesterday): produce good content (read ‘Talk about interesting things’), make it shareable, and share it. My feeling is that if Klout is ever to matter (a separate subject for another day), it has to see through the stuff that comes out of the backend of a bull just as Google does!

  • Great post.

  • patrickstrother

    Good post Mark. Whenever I think about Klout, which isn’t very often, I can’t help but think of it as digital naval gazing.

  • From my perspective, I don;t see any advantage over deleting yourself versus just ignoring it. This technology is in the silent movie stages. It will get better and it might even be useful over time. Thanks Jan!

  • ShellyKramer

    Mark, I have to confess that in many ways your name has become synonymous with Klout … in the sense that you’ve been a huge brand advocate for them – at least in my mind and in the minds of many practitioners in the digital/social media space. So I’m delighted to read this. And actually delighted by that the fact that you didn’t care for the fact that you were introduced by way of your follower numbers (which can be bought) and your Klout score (which can be gamed) … and are subsequently writing about how that is NOT a good measure of a person. I’m happy to see you not drinking the Klout Koolaid … that’s a good thing!

    Influence measurement is important. And it’s not going away. But it’s in its infancy stages and neither Klout, nor PeerIndex, nor anyone else has it all figured out. In fact, they’re far from it.

    But most importantly, people should understand that a number is just a number. A Klout score is nor more a measure of a person or their capabilities than their bank account balance is.

    Bravo to you for recognizing and writing about this – every little bit helps.

  • Mark, that’s absolutely true. After Social Slam, I’ve had no time to really plug into social because I’ve been working on major print projects. My Klout score dropped. I felt terrible. But you know what, my company makes no money off my Klout score yet. We should not fret about an ever-changing number that doesn’t have a dollar sign in front of it.

  • Every system based on algorithms can be gamed. That’s the business we’re in.

  • I’m a control freak Mark, I can’t ignore that a profile that was set up without my permission still exists 😉 I hope one day it does become useful and can see it’s way through the BS, then maybe I’ll come back 🙂

  • What the heck. Free stuff is good : )

  • I think the score is what you make of it, but you have to UNDERSTAND what is going on — and most people don’t.

  • Mark, you can always go back, should it become the “talkies”. I think those that deleted over the past six months were sending a message based on the unresolved privacy and search issues. Nowhere near going back now, and it would take quite a bit of convincing to have me rejoin. Never say never, but…

  • I think that is an accurate parallel in more ways than one. Thanks Giff!

  • Thanks Eric.

  • It is what you make of it. It does have value to brands. No question it can help connect some dots.

  • I don’t think that anybody who has actually read the book could think that I drank the Klout Kool-aid. The sentiments i have expressed here are nearly identical to the last chapter of the book.

    I think there is so much loathing attached to Klout that anybody who tries to bring rationality to the debate (like me) is dismissed. I am truly weary of people who dismiss the trend because it is “stupid” with no real argument other than that. Perhaps these same folks called Google stupid in 1997.

    Here is the message of the book. 1) This is an empowering time, an amazing time for anybody to be able to gain influence through their voice. Go for it. 2) Cut through the emotion and understand the science behind social influence. Understand it as a business trend, even if you hate it.

    Thanks Shelly. Always an honor to have you stop by : )

  • Stay focused. Do good work. Be kind. You’ll be fine David : )

  • Bravo Mark… your position on “Klout scores feed a social media sickness” is worth watching!

    To paraphrase Gary Zukav “When you share what your soul wants you to share there is joy, well-being, and wellness.”

  • ShellyKramer

    I lurk a lot … and you know I’m a fan. An admission: your book is on my desk, as are about 10 others that I’ve not yet had time to dive into. Oh, can’t someone just hook up an IV? A book IV .. now there’s an idea!

    But seriously, your name has kind of been ‘attached’ to the Klout brand for awhile now as you’ve been a pretty vocal advocate. So it’s great to know that you do see the chinks in the armor and don’t think that Klout is the be all, end all. I was an early fan of Joe and his team, but I often think they’re trying to do too much, too fast. And not doing much of it right. There is a huge need for influence measurement. It is, and will happen. We’re just not there yet.
    And the loathing of which you speak that’s attached to all things Klout? Some of it I think they earned. But some of it we, the people, created by doing stupid things like displaying Klout scores on websites, or paying more attention to someone’s Klout score than anything else, or hiring (or not hiring) someone based solely on their Klout scores. I could go on, but you get my drift. And it that crap? It annoys the heck out of me.
    You know me pretty well, Mark. I’m not one of those haters who steps up and calls all things I don’t agree with “stupid.” Conversely, I feel as though if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. And vitriol like that — well, it’s just dumb. Count me out.
    I’m fascinated by the evolution that’s ongoing in the digital space, and influence, contextual analysis, integration of data into CRM and focus on lead gen and other things that will truly help build and grow businesses — I think it’s pretty spiffy. And conversations like this – they need to keep happening.
    Happy to be a non-lurker for a change.

  • Wow. Love that quote. Thanks for the inspiration Dr. Rae!

  • I am so delighted that you “showed yourself” again. And I understand about the book overload but I predict that once you get into Return On Influence you’re going to love it. After all, what other business book features Marilyn Monroe, Pee Wee Herman and YOU? : )

    The problem with being a defender of a business trend is that Klout has become the Kleenex of social scoring. Nobody talks about PeerIndex scores. It’s Klout, So if you’re talking social scoring it is the only thing people really relate to. it is difficult for me to to talk about the trend in generic terms for that reason. I do beleive however that the science is coming along and the marketing art will follow.

    Thanks for your intelligent and passionate discussion Shelly.

  • My pleasure Mark, thank you for your encouraging support!

  • I’ve got bad news. You’re down to 69. Don’t jump!

  • No wonder I’m jittery today.

  • I have just two comments which I feel bring some soberness. First is online has always been a game in every way in every thing. Going back to stupid pop up ads jamming our screen and ringing up pennies for the spammers. We have had spam. SEO is a huge game. Even AdWords is a game because it spits out not ‘best choice’ but ‘who paid the most’ even though the standard google or bing outut supposedly is best choice? But also gamed by smart SEO tactics. So for once I think people themselves have found a way to game things vs just businesses. Kind of like when a video game cheat gets exposed everyone finds out.

    Secondly I am a firm believer in Blogger Influence. They have readerships (if you can get them to blog for you). I am not a firm believer in twitter or facebook for influence because as a percentage of posts and tweets we see so little. If someone has 1 million followers on twitter having 30,000 see a Tweet is great. Can’t expect more than 3%. And getting retweets? good luck. I bet 3% of that. Just because the platforms are poor.

    I know Mashable has a lot of readers but when I see the number of retweets for their articles they are low (I bet a lot of click throughs). And when I see how many people klick on the social graph (FB, Tweets, +1’s) as a percent of readers they hover around zero rounded down except for rare extroadinary content.

    Tough space. all I can say.

    BTW My mantra don’t trust anyone with a Klout score over 50 😉

  • Ah, the seductive magic of numbers, or is that the magic seduction of numbers…whatever. I think that there are two kinds of people in the world, those that relate (too closely) to numbers and those that don’t. Many of the don’t have actually been seduced into thinking that numbers are more important by the more voiceterous number junkies. Thus more ane more people are being lured into the whole numbers game.
    Time is a scam. It was invented by the Swiss to sell watches. Numbers were invented by mathmeticians to sell calculators. 😛

  • Numbers are also a great way to sell advertising space!

  • Certainly a unique view. Remember, numbers don’t hurt people. Only people with numbers hurt people. Or something like that.

  • Always worthwhile reading your posts, and ALWAYS ALWAYS worthwhile reading the comments. => Stay focused. Do good work. Be kind. YUP.

  • So you think my post was not sober? : )
    I think you summed it up well with this Howie – “Tough space.” Business in general is tough. The problem is, the entry barriers are so low that anybody thinks they can play. Which they can’t.
    PS My Klout score is over 50 and i know you trust me buddy! : ) Glad to see you on the blog again!

  • So nice to see you here Rhonda. Always an honor to have you comment.

  • Yes your post was sober. We both need a beer! lol Yes there are exceptions to every rule my friend 😉

  • A beer would be good. I’ll even buy.

  • I tend to align with Shelly’s thinking insofar as it relates to social influence. However, Mark, your frequent commentary on Klout have changed my view slightly: instead of thinking about Klout as an influence score, I think of it as a marketing experiment.

    Who care’s what the score means? We should care what it can do. We can argue that in comments and posts and not make a bit of difference. What is far more interesting to me, is whether or not that number can be used by Klout to help other companies run effective and targeted campaigns with results.

    If it works then Klout could change the numbers to letter grades, smiley faces, or stickers for the refrigerator and it wouldn’t make a difference.

  • ours2share

    Just last week I began to wonder the same things you have voiced in this article. Having started off as a blogger for fun things went haywire when I finally grasped social media. That settled down. Then came the numbers game. I still have fun with all these little things. I say little as they are going on the back burner until I have caught up with what I love doing. Helping people on line via developing a community through on line.

    So once again thank you as I know that what I was feeling is the right thing to do.

  • Larry Levy

    Mark – I think your post does an excellent job of highlighting the big difference between tools like Klout and Appinions. There is so much gamesmanship regarding personal influence scoring, which totally distracts from the concept that influence data can be used to target and engage with people who are important to your brand.

    That’s why we measure influence based on the activity a person generates based on their thoughts, feelings or statements on a particular topic. We also identify influencers based on a person’s entire digital footprint, instead of only focusing on social networks. This provides a far more accurate picture of a person’s ability to influence others.

    Although no social influence measurement tool is perfect, we’re focused on using deep science to provide data that’s valuable to businesses – instead of provoking a social popularity contest!

    Keep up the great work!

  • I think of Klout the same way I think about the number on the weight scale. It’s a good “guesstimate” of health but isn’t always accurate. For example, muscle weighs more than fat, and skinny doesn’t always mean healthy! I do not tie my self-worth to the number on the scale, and others shouldn’t do the same for Klout.

    We know Klout’s algorithm isn’t accurate (how could it be?). I get the idea behind measuring social influence, but it’s impossible to have that be generated by a computer (in my opinion).

    I absolutely LOVE the closing of your post. Help others, do GOOD and honest work and be kind. Absolutely more important (now AND in the long run) than any number could possibly represent.

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  • Glad it helped.

  • Thanks Larry.

  • I do think these algorithms do measure something. They are looking at ho you an create content that moves through th Internet and creates a reaction. And that s important to many people, companies and careers. So I’m not dismissing the technology — it’s coming along. But I hope people will view it sensibly. Which they won’t. : )

  • To me, and I would wager many others, your non-Klout and Twitter follower count credentials count for a hell of a lot more than the numbers. At least for me, that’s real credibility. However as you say companies are looking for a faster way to connect with influencers. I’m very curious to see how the algorithms of all the services you mention improve to show true reach rather than activity.

    Klout et al. better have a hell of a lot of processing power to measure that data. And math. They’ll need lot’s of good math too.

  • Great post Mark! I truly believe that many have bought into what is happening but really do not understand what is going on. I admit it snared me early but I was always skeptical about the tactics used. There is a value in numbers, but just how has the number been achieved…BTW I’m a 53!

  • This is very good ~ Marketing Experiment ~ I have been watching it all as part of “research” and people still call me on my ongoing fascination with the “Klout” / influence mindset. I am told Mark’s book has no real value, and i disagree as it’s an important part of understanding this “influence” evolution.
    I so agree with this ~ “What is far more interesting to me, is whether or not that number can be
    used by Klout to help other companies run effective and targeted
    campaigns with results.” Thanks Frank.

  • Pavel Konoplenko

    Interesting point by comparing Klout to someone’s weight. Like Mark said, the algorithms do measure something, but the important question to ask is, “what is the number measuring?” When you step on the scale, the number that you are shown shows you what you weight (resulting from a complex and mysterious algorithm of mass and gravity). When you go to Klout, the number it shows you is simply your Klout score (not clout) – which is calculated according to their own complex and mysterious algorithm. That algorithm is imperfect in gauging influence, just like weight is imperfect in measuring health. It’s not healthy to obsess over weight and it’s not healthy to obsess over Klout scores.

  • Pavel Konoplenko

    Great post! This explains why my Klout score has been dropping for a month (I still get weekly updates from them). Ultimate I gave up caring about Klout because I realized that I am not really pursuing a purpose or passion when I focus on Klout while I use social networks. I want to learn more and I want to connect with different, intelligent people when I use social media. The focus on Klout clouded (or should I say Klouded) my passion of influencing different people, incrementally, one person at a time.

  • Cheers to that, Mark! Excellent post!

    “Want to REALLY increase your social influence? Here’s how.

    Surround yourself with people who care about you.

    Do good work.

    Be kind and helpful.”

  • Mark, tell your publisher you have already written about how to improve Klout over time. Much like Google, if Klout will actually matter over time (or other influence measures), the algorithm will evolve. Any guide for how to game Klout without actually increasing influence is a guide Klout will use to evolve their algorithm as well.

    I do want to respond to the quote you reference from your book (these numbers may be even more important that what we actually accomplish in our lives). Yes, our Klout scores may be easier to evaluate than our actual accomplishments. That does not make our accomplishments less important than our Klout or other numbers, it is just more visible.

    Klout and other scores can only more important to people that care more about the perception of themselves than the reality of themselves. This is the real sickness, and it is well beyond Klout.

  • Hi Mark, Great post! Maybe the best cure for the Klout sickness is a strong economy. If people are busy doing real jobs and creating real wealth, they won’t have time for silliness.

  • I’m so glad to read this post.

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  • I ran a Premium Tweriod report last week and was very surprised to see the results. The number of impressions (the best that can be calculated anyway) may be more than you think.

    lol @ Klout over 50. I myself don’t trust any social media bloggers who are deemed influential in Red Bull 🙂

  • Agree, but they are flush with cash right now so it will be interesting to see where it goes. The mobile application for social scoring could be a real game-changer. Thanks for the great comment Robert!

  • If you’re a 53, you’re actually in the 95th percentile so good job on that Randy! I agree with you that 95% of the Klout critics are arguing with adrenaline, not facts. I’m not being arrogant or dismissive. I’m simply saying what I am observing after studying in this great depth for more than a year! Most people completely miss what is going on. That’s why they need to read the book! Thanks,

  • This is really a beautiful statement Pavel. I love what you have expressed here. Thank you so much for contributing this wisdom!

  • Thank you Ferdinand!

  • That point about social proof is a tough one. Believe me, it was gut-wrenching to come to that conclusion. But it’s hard to deny that many people are creating successful careers on fluff. They would probably fall on their face in a board room but in the online world they are able to buffalo enough people to have a career. Dr. Cialidini validated that too. In the long term, I agree with you. But in the short term — on the Internet — numbers can trump a lot. Hate that but it’s true. Thanks so much for commenting my friend.

  • Ha! Well said. Thanks Brad!

  • I’m so glad you did too.

  • Pavel Konoplenko

    That means so much Mark! I really mean that. Thank you for your kind words. This blog and your words and ideas are truly inspiring for me.

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  • Mark, they should have introduced you as someone getting a shout out from Robert Cialdini –
    http://www.influenceatwork.com/announcement-a-message-from-robert-cialdini/
    Very good work!

  • Ben

    “A young man who works night and day to game his numbers asked me how he can turn his growing social capital into a career. I told him that he can’t” – absolutely priceless, well done Mark! Klout and other social scores just tap into another age old thing – we want to be able to define ourselves in relation to other people, and some (many) people take that definition to extreme lengths. You know, there’s been another ‘number’ around for a long time that people use to define others: salary. But how much you earn is hardly a perfect correlation for your quality as a human being. I’m guessing that someone who uses salary as a proxy for self-esteem is in real trouble, same as for someone who uses Klout for the same purpose.

    Mine has been going down for weeks, by the way. Damn Klout updates…

  • Thanks Mark. Good point about fluff being used to sell today, I was thinking far longer term, like will my kids ever wish their dad had a higher Klout score. 🙂

    I guess it all is a matter of perspective, and I sincerely hope we never get to that point, but I suppose we don’t know, stranger thing (may) have happened.

  • I couldn’t agree more.

    Klout scores are important because Klout says its service is important.

    One becomes influential by acquiring and disseminating high-quality, relevant knowledge… not solely by having a high number of Twitter followers. Anyone can accomplish that feat.

    I’m SO happy to hear someone else sees through Klout’s self-important smoke and mirrors.

  • Suzette Mariel

    HI Mark,

    Thanks for sharing this important point. Too often we can get consumed with the unimportant. I appreciate your viewpoint as well as your values. It’s also refreshing to know that you declined the book offer for something more substantial, your principles.

  • I am not one of the haters. People are entitled to their opinions. I have had fun with Klout and have enjoyed many of their perks. I don’t have any problem saying/sharing that.

    Sometimes I get the sense that they are running around a little bit like a chicken with their head cut off. I could be off on this, but it sometimes feels to me like they are afraid of losing first mover status and are constantly pushing to try and secure their position.

    But the pushing doesn’t translate as coming from a place of security. I have often kid around that they remind me of the insecure girlfriend. These messages I get about my Klout score having dropped are like the “prove you love me” kind of thing you would get from her.

  • I don’t think a Klout score should be the goal, rather the work and/or mission in execution of whatever it is you are implementing should be the focus…your Klout score would then increase as a result. Just as you stated, “Do good work…Be kind and helpful…share your talents and skills with others…become a voice for those who need it…It really goes back to honest work ethic, WOWing people with unbelievable service, always doing your best so that at the end of each day, you’ve fulfilled your internal bucket…after all don’t you want folks to say things about you like “he or she was a wonderful, caring soul, who would give you the shirt off their back…rather than he had an amazing Klout score!” Thanks for bringing people back to the true, physical, connected world 😀

  • Klout, the company, is a big part of the reason there is so much backlash. They are terrible at dealing with customers. Doesn’t that seem like a great business model? Let’s round up the people with the most influence on the Internet, and alienate them with poor customer support, unethical business practices, and a clear lack of understanding about the very space we’re trying to measure!

    I used to think that the score itself was the primary motivating factor of the rants and negative opinion, but some of the influencers that have dropped out have changed my mind about it. This week I saw their most enthusiastic supporter, bar none, condemn them for ‘
    having zero idea about social media or people and are not intererested in listening’ in response to users that disliked the new +K / comment feature, and wanted someone with Klout’s ear to bring it to their attention. If you can’t give your supporters ammunition for positive response, how can you ever address detractors? Developing brand advocates lies at the core of online influence, and it’s hard to remember a company that has been as consistently as bad.

    Klout’s algorithm is obviously complex and has a degree of accuracy, but it’s like saying Joseph Kony’s daycare rates are cheap. People just don’t want to trust social scoring with a company that doesn’t show an aptitude in managing their own reputation.

  • I have a higher klout score than my 23 year old daughter and my 27 year old son. Put together. Bring it. : )

  • Yeah, that was cool! He is a true hero of mine!

  • I think people need to focus on the “why” of what they’re doing rather than any external rating system. If you judge yourself by external measures you will never be happy. You will never have enough. Thanks Ben!

  • To be clear, I do think Klout measures something. I hope you’ll read the book to get a fuller perspective. They have made a lot of PR blunders but there is also math behind this that is quite interesting and getting better. There are also a flood of competitors doig some amazing things. Check out Appinions.

  • Thanks for your kind words Suzette.

  • First of all, thanks for standing up for your position Jack. Well done.

    I actually think your characterization of the Klout paranoia as being pretty accurate. I have witnessed this first hand although I’m not at liberty to say much about it. They are under a lot of pressure to dominate a space that has low entry barriers,. Very difficult. Their key to success will be mobile.

  • This is a really lovely comment. Thank you so much!

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  • Much wisdom in this post Mark. And fantastic comments/discussion as well!

    I’m somewhat amazed when I think about how Klout and other influence measurement tools have changed many people’s focus. It’s all about numbers of followers, numbers of likes, Klout number, etc. Unfortunately, for many, it’s not about the most important numbers … revenue and lives positively influenced. Thanks for the reminder to focus on what’s important.

    And, even though your Klout score dropped to 69, we in your community still love and respect you 😉

  • “Do good work.”

    Great advice. If you do that while keeping your moral compass on your own personal true North, everything else falls into place.

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  • Mark, I am with you 100% on this. Influence scores are here to stay so it’s best to understand them and put them in proper perspective. I liken it to my advertising days and ad copy testing. The ad with the best score would run. Period. The agency conversation was always the same…creative complaining about the ‘scoring’ process and account people apologetically saying it was a ‘necessary evil’ to keep creative motivation high. Ad copy test services would give advise on how to ensure better scores (‘gaming’ it so to speak); say the brand name early and often, avoid distracting background visuals, etc. Certainly there were flaws in the various testing methodologies, and different testing services focused on different aspects of an ads ‘strength’ (eg, purchase intent vs. recall focus), but at the end of the day, creatives could complain all they wanted but the ads would still be tested. The smartest creative leaders I had the pleasure to work with were the ones who could put the testing in perspective, understanding the basics of the scoring process, and then applying that to executions that they were still proud to put on their reel. As you say, “Do good work.”

    Respectfully, Susan, Klout score 60 (and perilously close to dropping to 59 – lol!)

  • Awesome. You made my day.

  • A nuance. i don’t think Klout scores have changed people’s focus. I think they are that way any way. These social proof numbers are just another band-aid on a fundamental insecurity. My take is, they are being soothed by numbers.

  • Word.

  • Susan, this is a fantastic analogy. This would make a great blog post in its own right. Do it!!

  • In my opinion, Klout Score is to social media as Net Promoter Score is to customer experience.

    That’s criticism, not praise.

  • Thought-provoking.

  • Fundamental insecurity is true. 😉

  • I have to admit that I’ve been sucked into the desire to increase my Klout score as well. Thank you sharing your thoughts here Mark and reminding all of us to focus on what’s really important – in life and in business.

  • I was one of the few and the Loud who campaigned hard to get out of Klout ( http://loudmouthman.com/2011/08/16/lacking-in-klout/ ) I also had to go through hoops to be removed from Empire Avenue. Thankfully Peerindex allows me the choice to remove my score from view and the chaps at Kred.ly ( to their kredit ) took my advice on board and allowed me ( and others ) to remain anonymous.

    My passionate anger at these social influence sites is not unknown. I feel social media jumped the shark when people started buying into these sites. When we score each other on an ability to be broadcasters we loose site that the best of our traits is not in overriding commentary but in capable questioning of ideas and values to seek the core value.

    Sites like these are parasitic in terms of how they detract from your control over established social media handle and how they allow others to possibly damage or corrupt your image ( http://loudmouthman.com/2011/05/27/dis-connect-me-tagged-and-flagged/ )

    For now I see people move back and forth on them unsure how to use or abuse them and all the while we waste time playing childrens games of one up man ship by way of conversation .

  • I opened a session at Webster University last week and when the dean of the business school introduced me he gave the standard background profile, but then he went on to pull a couple of quotes that he found meaningful from some of my blog posts. I was incredibly touched that he had taken the time to research and read my material to that extent to try and add something extra to the introduction. A simple thing, but isn’t it always those little touches that you remember? Nothing to say about Klout, you and I definitely agree in that area 🙂

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  • I loved this post. I think the idea of Klout is a good one but it hasn’t been fully tapped into. As it is now, I think it is more of a measurement of your effort than your actual influence. If my Klout score drops, my first thought is that I haven’t been focusing on my network enough recently, that I haven’t been starting or continuing conversations as much as before.

    Another reason I think Klout is more a measurement of activity that influence is because I know of people with high Klout scores because I know of people (an old friend from high school, in particular) who have very high scores but for all the wrong reasons. This kid I used to be friends with is basically a troll on Twitter. But because he tweets a large number of people and lots respond, he has a fairly high score. But in reality, the people who talk to him don’t really value his opinion, as they are normally arguing with him.

    I believe that, for now at least, the most important measure on Klout is the +Ks you receive and the topics you receive them in. If someone takes the time to go to Klout.com and choose you as one of the 10 people out of all the people they follow to give +K that day, you can be sure your tweets matter to them.

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  • I quite agree, what I find even more egregious is the Kred’s permissions include access to Twitter DMs. They say it “reflects” your metrics. Baloney

  • You’re welcome.

  • I appreciate the comment but think many people put too much credence in the technology being in control. The technology is nothing without human users to assign value to it.

  • That is awesome. Nothing more I can really add to that Matt.

  • I think you would enjoy my book. It explains that yes, Klout is indeed measuring a sliver of influence. I do believe they are on to something. Thanks for the comment.

  • Interesting. I had missed that. Thanks for the insight Marsha.

  • WOW…I would love to meet a human with 40000 followers…it’s impressive about your educational qualifications etc, but nowadays it’s what you can do on social-media and the internet to boost sales from your online presence that counts the most…

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  • I disagree my KLOUT has led me to high profile social media jobs in the 6 figures and supports my lifestyle I can reference articles interviews etc but why I know what KLOUT as done for me.
    http://klout.com/#/JMHHACKER http://blog.kred.com/2012/05/kred-influencers-justin-matthew/

    http://www.prospectusnews.com/mobile/home/youtube-becomes-entertainment-destination-1.2602733

    http://thegreatbusinessproject.com/episode-002-the-vacation-show-justin-matthew-social-media-expert/

  • wrong move…

  • Really removing comments that are the exception to your article WOW

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