Tom Webster, writing and speaking

Klout, Revisited

Added on by Tom Webster.

I have a confession: I look at my Klout score about once a week. There, I said it. Klout1

Here's what I have noticed over the past six months:

1. It's pretty stable. The "vacation" problem (declines in short term activity equating to immediate score declines) seems to have been worked out.

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2. My score is clearly not overly tied to activity. My Klout score has been stable at 77 for quite a while, and I am a decidedly low-volume tweeter/facebooker/blogger. My audience is also not nearly as large as many of the high-volume, well-read bloggers I've seen with lower scores.

3. Given #2, Klout seems to have made dramatic adjustments to bring quality of interactions on an equal footing with quantity. Again, I am neither as prolific or as widely-followed a social personage as some of my friends with similar scores. But, the answer is locked away in the previous sentence--I have a lot of friends with similar scores. I didn't gravitate to them because they had high Klout scores. Oh, good Lord, no. I gravitated towards them because they were smart and challenged me. And that's why I choose to believe their Klout scores are high--because they actually have influence.

And because those influencers retweet me, follow me, interact with my Facebook posts and tag me in photos, Klout has brought me along for the ride. The fact that I have comparatively fewer interactions online means that the ones I do have--with other high-scoring influencers, apparently--are given quite a bit of weight.

4. Offline matters. Klout has publicly stated that they look at things like Wikipedia profiles (and perhaps I owe some of my score to Hockey legend Tom Webster), but where I see this really manifest itself is in things like photo tagging. Note this photo I was tagged in from the recent Social Fresh conference in Tampa:

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As you can see, this essentially counts as "interactions" in Klout's scoring system with people who also have high Klout scores. And that record of high Klout-scoring interactions began offline, though it was shared online.

Which means, of course, that in Klout-land, just as in real life, it's all about who you know--or at least, who you are seen to know.

5. Klout and Chess have something in common. When I was younger, I was a bit of a competitive chess player. Chess rankings, as administered by FIDE (the World Chess Federation), take into account not only your wins and losses, but the relative strengths of the players you beat (and lose to.) If you have fewer victories than a comparably ranked player, but those victories are against highly ranked opponents (and you don't have lots of losses against lower ranked players) your score will be higher.

Now, in chess, the positive impact of a (potentially lucky?) win against a higher ranked player can be quickly nullified by a couple of losses to lower-ranked players. It is clear from watching my Klout score that I have benefited from encouraging interactions from "higher ranked players." Would I then be penalized if the lion's share of my interactions came from much "lower ranked players?" This remains to be seen, though the ramifications are troubling.

The Point

All of which brings me to this central question: Is Klout getting "better?" In the early days, the quantity of your activity was clearly a driving force behind your Klout score--the more active you were on social, the more you could "goose" your numbers.

This may, or may not, continue to be the case. But since I am not incredibly active as a social content creator, clearly there are multiple paths to attaining a higher "score" in online influence measures. I do NOT consider myself to be as influential online as some of my friends--say, Mark Schaefer, Jason Falls, Jay Baer, CC Chapman and other high-scoring individuals--yet, clearly we all interact together online, and in multiple ways.

So have I ridden their coattails? Or, given my score, have they ridden mine? :) The latter is unlikely; the former--complicated. But I'll say this: The Klout of 2013 has something the Klout of 2011 did NOT have--more data. And Klout is clearly continuing to iterate, learn, and improve. This, I hope, can also be said of smart marketers.

That said, have YOU noticed any changes with Klout, or other social influence scoring measures? Are they getting better? Worse? Are they becoming more or less relevant? The comments are yours.