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To Klout or not to Klout, that is the question

Following my Memeburn article titled “4 reasons why you should start taking a much closer look at Klout“, I was taken aback by Memeburn columnist Graeme Lipschitz‘s rebuttal where he stated that, and I quote, “Klout’s no good and here’s why“.

If you look at the Oxford Dictionary definition of Influence, it states that it is the “Capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something”.

The Oxford dictionary definition of behaviour is “The way in which an animal or person behaves in response to a particular situation or stimulus”.

Taking these definitions into consideration, I would argue that if, through your participation on social media, you are able to stimulate a person to behave in response to a particular situation or stimulus, you have influence. The behaviour in question could be a call to action (eg subscribe to a newsletter, follow on Twitter, Facebook Like, join a Google+ circle, reply to an email, phone you or request a meeting) or have social media influencers (and others) give you a K+ for subjects where they believe you are influential.

Taking this one step further, if, through your participation on social media, you are invited to present at a conference (where you identify an opportunity which turns into a billable engagement) or you are referred to a decision maker within a large corporate (which turns into a billable engagement) and this “influence” is a result of general sentiment provided by the people you interact with on social media, then I believe that Klout has it’s merits.

Klout is not the definitive measure of influence but at least provides an indication of how a person is perceived by those within their networks. Another strong indicator that Klout must not be ignored is the fact that that nearly every person on the Forbes Top 50 Social Media Influencer List in the US actively participates on Klout. Neal Schaffer of Windmill Networking (Number 28 on the Forbes Top 50 list) and Marsha Collier (Number 31 on the Forbes Top 50 list) both have high Klout scores and both happen to run very successful online businesses. This cannot be a coincidence. I converse with Neal and Marsha regularly on social media and will invite them to comment.

Author | David Graham

David Graham
David Graham's passion is business-to-business digital marketing with a specific focus on value networking and inbound marketing. He consults on business-to-business digital marketing strategy and execution, with an emphasis on building sales pipelines and generating new prospects More
  • Really wasn’t a fan of Greame’s last Klout article. Pleased to hear that it’s not the general consensus, thanks.

  • Graeme did make some valid points Jon. I wanted to continue the debate because many people spend a lot of valuable time participating on platforms such as Klout. They need to hear conflicting points of view so they can make an informed decision whether to continue, or not.

  • What didn’t you agree with Jon? Would love to engage constructively around this.

  • Great article David! Loving the banter it’s creating, nice one. A few rebuttals:

    Influence: I loved your definition of influence as it falls right into the hands of my previous article: “Klout incorrectly assumes that this social meta-data is somehow linked to influence and expertise”. If a social media comment is posted online, and nobody is there to hear it, did it create influence? Or, in other words: Just because I say something on a social media platform doesn’t necessarily mean that people are going to take action because of it. I might be a real joker online, and people might expect not to take me seriously. Hence: No action, no sway, no influence. Klout raises some interesting questions around how people are influenced. For example: If a rockstar asks his followers to give him +K around “Guitar skills” – are the followers doing it because they really think he’s influential around that? Or because he told them to? There’s a big difference.
    (As an aside: What would be interesting for Klout, is if they can track what actions were action by one’s followers, post click. But that’s another kettle of fish altogether.)
    Klout is not the definitive measure of influence: You said it yourself. Absolutely nothing beats a good old-fashioned look-see at a person’s social media accounts. We’ve seen how followers and fanpages can be bought – so the true measure is what kind of *action* and engagement this person is generating on social media. Did my tweeting about surfing get more people to actually surf? Or did they laugh me off?
    Forbes Top 50 Social Media Influencer List in the US actively participates on Klout: Klout is free. The cost vs utility of using Klout, therefore, is high. People are inquisitive and want to see what Klout is about – it doesn’t necessitate belief in the product. Your argument here is quite weak – just because people in the know are using it, it must be good. Rockstars took tons of drugs in the 60’s – that doesn’t necessitate that overuse of drugs are going to make you a rockstar.

    I’m giving you +K for “Tenacity” David ;)


  • As you quite rightly state Mr Lipschitz, measuring influence is very complex! Klout will work if people are honest however this is not always the case. The two persons I mentioned in my article (Neal Schaffer and Marsha Collier) are two legitimate personalities whose Klout score truly reflects their influence, however there are many “rock stars” out there that do not make the cut, but appear to heave done so! Where to from here Mr Lipschitz, Kred ?? ;)

  • Thanks for inviting me into the discussion @twitter-67603734:disqus ! I recently wrote my own blog post on the subject, but from a business perspective there is a logistical need to segment social media conversations because there are too many for people to scale to handle. How do you segment these conversations? I believe that a “score” can be a rational use, but there can never be any perfect scoring system or algorithm. That being said, I will say that while a 50 or 70 Klout score is not that different, a 70 score compared to a 10 score IS different in terms of how much that user is a social media user. On the other hand, every single social media user could be an “influencer” because you never know who their social media followers are.

    The same goes for influencer marketing: Using any one score blindly will only lead to inefficiencies in targeting the wrong people. As Jeremiah Owyang mentioned in my blog post, we need scores by topical relevance, and as Jay Baer suggested, we also need a platform by platform approach.

    Businesses will continue to develop these platforms, and marketers will continue to use them. My job is really to help educate businesses on the responsible uses of these platforms. Yes, Marsha and I both have high Klout scores because 1) we both use social media a lot and 2) we write/blog about social media, i.e. it is the industry in which we work in. That doesn’t mean that were necessarily “influential” about topics outside of our core sphere of influence, which would primarily be the subject matter of the books we have written.

    I’ll be looking forward to Marsha’s comments!


  • Klout is just a waste of time. No matter what Oxford definitions you look at.

    Clients would be vastly silly to look at a Klout score to justify being billed higher or billed at all. Most South African clients don’t care about Klout. And every time I’ve asked a Digital/SEO/Web/Etc Expert what benefit they get from it, they cannot explain without a lot of umming and ahhing and not making sense.

    Maybe it’s fun, maybe it says something very miniscule about you (positive or negative), maybe it is something that might become important one day, but right now it is a waste of time.

    Let’s say Richard Branson isn’t on Klout. Now what does that say about him? Nothing, except that he didn’t waste his time on the site.

    The only thing ever about Klout that improved my life was the story of how they got the domain name: http://techcrunch.com/2011/10/29/how-klout-got-klout-com/.

  • Interestingly, if you “check in” at many establishments in the US (is this happening in SA yet?) and you have a respectable Klout score, you automatically qualify for a discount. Depending on the establishments and the discounts, this may warrant spending a BIT of time on Klout, wouldn’t you say ;)

  • Klout. Did it. Regret it. Forget it. Having 1000000 people see my tweet doesn’t beat getting 1 to change their life because of it.

  • Anyone who thinks Klout is a clever idea has never read Goodhart’s law (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodhart%27s_law). In summary, when indicators become goals, they cease to be indicators.

    I’m with Randall Munroe on this. http://xkcd.com/1057/

  • Pingback: Decoding the social influence enigma: Q&A with Klout’s Joe Fernandez | memeburn()

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