Dennis Jenders - Klout Celebrity?

What exactly is Klout? Accoring to Klout’s website, “the Klout Score is the measurement of your overall online influence. The scores range from 1 to 100 with higher scores representing a wider and stronger sphere of influence. Klout uses over 35 variables on Facebook and Twitter to measure True Reach, Amplification Probability, and Network Score.”

More importantly, Klout and social media strategists like to think that “influence is the ability to drive people to action.”

Klout defines action as a reply, retweet, comment or a click. That definition of action bothers me. And it is a point of contention in most conversations about social media measurement. Most recently, Collin Kromke posted that he thinks Klout is total bullshit.

It’s not that I disagree, but I do think Klout Scores should be used directionally. And I would also caution social media professional and companies alike to understand just how Klout defines measurement. Does a comment or reply indicate true clout online or offline? What does a retweet or click actually indicate?

Perhaps a retweet or click means a lot if the content was created by the actual person broadcasting the content. Looking closer, isn’t a retweet or click more indicative of quality content or communications? That content could be persuasive, it could be news, it could an editorial or it could be a funny viral video. No where does Klout indicate that it actually weights types of content differently.

In the future Klout could be used to identify valuable online content and perhaps go even further with understanding the velocity in which content is shared.

Looking at the measurement of comments or replies it does make sense that this should influence Klout Score. I do think it should be weighted if the content originates from that person’s account vs. something they are sharing. And since Klout does track the way content is retweeted or shared, it is possible that they are able to define who originated the content.

So maybe Klout isn’t that bad. It appears that it can determine some level of influence, but only if you define it by sharing.

I do have a problem with how often Klout updates its data. Until recently the service didn’t calculate your score daily.

Measuring Online Influence, What is Your Klout Score

Above you can see that my Klout Score has fluctuated quite a bit in the last 30 days, and so has my Klout Style. Just last week I was defined as a “Celebrity” and most recently I have been classified as a “Specialist” – which seems like quite the swing.

Obviously I am not a celebrity. If I were I’d probably be making millions and living in Hollywood. Instead I am a digital and communications strategist that focuses specifically on interactive channels. That may mean websites, usability, social media, interactive advertising, search engine optimization or mobile marketing.

When I am off the clock I most often post about politics, photography, or the Milwaukee Brewers. So when I look at my most recent Klout Style, “Specialist” does seem to fit me well.

Using Klout to define a person’s posting and sharing style does seem valuable. Using Klout as an initial filter may be helpful in doing that. But I still prefer having a human taking a peek at a person’s style online.

Klout, PeerIndex, or any other tool shouldn’t be the only data point for measuring one’s influence. Would you ignore the CEO of a company that used Twitter to complain about your product or service because they don’t tweet often enough and have a low Klout Score? While they are not influential online that probably is a very different story offline.

In short, that means I wouldn’t rely on Klout as a measurement that may affect customer service. This is where I see a CRM tool augmented with social and sales information being more valuable to companies in the future.

Klout may be valuable in defining experts on a specific topic if you are looking to build a very niche community. And Klout may be valuable in creating a list of people who frequently share content if you intend on having your content shared online.

Going back to an earlier statement, use services like Klout directionally. Having some measurement of influence is better than none. Klout is the first step in measuring the value of people online. While it isn’t perfect, the next iteration could be better. And competitors will continue to drive this measurement in a positive direction.

Until then, remember that Klout may not quite measure up when using the service as your only data point. But combined with other data, as well as human evaluation, Klout can be useful.

So what are your thoughts on Klout? Is your Klout Style accurate? Do you use services like Klout, PeerIndex or Empire Avenue to collect a quick assessment of your fans / followers? Share your thoughts below.

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