Klout, the bellwether of all influence has been in the news lately after updating their scores and site. The latest update of their algorithm shows that many people are exerting greater influence on their online communities, but is that true?
It seems that Klout gets influence right in one regard – they need to solidify their influence over users to support their business model. But what meaning can be derived from these changes?
Is Klout accurate?
A lot of the comments that I’ve read focus on the accuracy of Klout scores to determine influence. But is accuracy really the value of a Klout score to Klout or to its users?
Klout isn’t an accurate representation of the amount of online influence that a person exerts. The distribution of scores is narrow and “influence” is a far more subjective than looking at a bunch of data points. In a cursory look into some high Klout performers, I saw people with extraordinary Klout scores who demonstrated their influence with tasteless jokes and pictures on Facebook. Though it’s probably indicative that these people understand their audience and are able to create content that will generate conversation, taking the leap in logic that they would be able to color people’s perspective on the Chevy Volt with that “influence” seems like a bit of an exaggeration.
Another input that Klout incorporates in their updated algorithm is +K (their influence atta-boy) as a determiner of influence. On their site they describe a user who receives 7% of their influence score from this metric alone. A measure like this indicates that a frequent user of Klout is more influential than a person who doesn’t use the site. This alone should substantiate that a Klout score isn’t entirely about quantifying influence, and that Klout understands that an influential person who isn’t using their site is of negligible value to them.
A final point I’ll make is that sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer has a Klout score of 70. Gitomer has sold millions of books and is a world-renowned speaker. Plenty of people have influence scores higher than him, yet there’s no conceivable way that most of them wield the influence that he does because what he’s done outside of the digital realm. Though Gitomer is an outlying example, I’m sure you could find plenty of these. Klout scores aren’t accurate relative to one another – not that they need to be (for Klout anyhow).
So what does a Klout score mean?
Klout needs to do two things well. They need to show value of their social targeting for advertisers, and they need to appease, engage and grow their user base. There’s a reason that many of Klout’s perks ask for scores higher than 50: because beyond a certain qualifying point your Klout “score” is immaterial. They simply needs you to broadcast advertisements for sponsor products in your media channel.
The accuracy of a Klout score is far less important than if users are happy with it. Tip of the cap to Klout: it’s a pretty good strategy.