[Marketing] Klout

Monday, December 5, 2011 Laura Fitzgerald

I had some time to actually write this weekend so I thought I would weigh-in briefly on Klout. (Edit: Did I say brief? Hah!)

What Klout Is:  

According to Klout:

"Our friendships and professional connections have moved online, making influence measurable for the first time in history. When you recommend, share, and create content you impact others. Your Klout Score measures that influence on a scale of 1 to 100...The Klout Score measures influence based on your ability to drive action. Every time you create content or engage you influence others. The Klout Score uses data from social networks in order to measure: True Reach (how many people you influence), Amplification (how mjuch you influence them), and Network Impact (the influence of your network)."
In basic terms, Klout ought to be able to answer the questions that often eludes marketers - does any of these things that I do, tweet, and promote across all my many channels have any real effect on our audience?! Anything at all?! Or am I just a voice shouting in the woods? What's nice about Klout is that Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, and a host of other accounts to be scored by Klout which again to ought to be very helpful in interpreting the overall effectiveness of a marketing campaign. Klout measures that influence with a numerical value, allowing a marketer to establish a baseline from which they can set goals towards future growth. Seems like useful information, right?

What Klout Really Is:

Kinda useless sad to say. At least for me it has been. Is it hella fun though? Hell YES! But more on that later. This has been my personal experience so I will fully admit that results may vary. If you're on Klout and you've found a way to interpret the data that is meaningful and helpful to you - more power to you.  As I played around with Klout, I tried to come up with a good enough reason to recommend it specifically to authors and I just can't find it. It's all interesting data, but ultimately I don't see it helping as much as it distracts. Writers can be notorious procrastinators as it is. For a certain kind of person, I can see Klout being another shiny thing to check-in on hourly to avoid writing.

I think there is just too much data for Klout to collect and then produce a meaningful return on and sometimes the results just don't make sense. Here's an example: For a long time 'Karate' used to be one of my Top Topics not because I was an expert on the martial art or Tweet about it frequently.  I suspect the reason was because I once live-tweeted a re-watch of the first three Karate Kid movies and response to that was decent. Now Karate vs. The Karatie Kid (film) are two very different topics. Klout at the time was unable to separate the two. In fairness their most recent update does seem to have taken out the more ridiculous Top Topics. So we'll see how the service changes.

Since the algorithms behind the Klout score are not as transparent as I'd like them to be and due to other incidents similar to The Karate Kid story, I don't feel like I can trust Klout's numbers.  Scalzi brings up some great points and other issues about Klout numbers and labels in his post on CNN Money. You should definitely check it out.

When does the fun start?

The perks are pretty fun. My roommate, the amazing @causticsoda (who crochets similarly amazing things), is always qualifying for Klout perks and I have enjoyed the benefits of this. It has all been good fun. When the Have Mercy samples were delivered, they were delivered by hand and still chilled. It was pretty awesome; however, I rarely qualify for the perks. Ordinarily, I'm not bothered by it. If I'm being honest with myself, I'm just into the Klout perks for the free food.

I do think that Klout Style is an interesting feature. My Twitter seems to waffle back and forth between Networker and Explorer. It a good thing for my ego, but I'm also not going to change how I use Twitter based on the label Klout assigns to me. The descriptions of each are just too vague to be super useful.

And at the end of the day:

I am still addicted to Klout, but I have an analytics addiction.  My advice to any writers who have been looking into Klout is this - there are probably better uses for your time. It's a fun thing to check passively, but not an analytics program to take too seriously. Unlike the social accounts of large corporations, your Twitter and Facebook feeds are likely going to be less static and hopefully more creative and fun so expect some strangness in your stats and Top Topics. You should also be prepared to see a Klout score that is lower than you expect even if you do have a healthy following. Klout scores seem to favor the large corporations like Best Buy and McDonalds. So don't rely on Klout to tell you how successful you've been. That's something you ought to decide for yourself.


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