Klout, Go Home, You're Drunk

Almost six years after its launch and Klout still can’t seem to get its math right. As a tool designed to rate users’ social influence, it can’t even seem to decipher which networks makeup a user’s social media activity.

Although some people will argue that Klout is passé and serves no purpose, there are still a few believers out there that think it should influence hiring decisions. Either way you look at it, there’s definitely room in the social media space to have a platform that ranks users based on their reach and engagement.

The fundamental problem with Klout is that its numbers are flawed. No, I’m not saying they’re not perfect, I’m saying they are totally wrong.

With all of the information and metrics available, there’s no excuse as to why Klout hasn’t cleaned up its act and leveled the playing field for various social networks.

My proof is in the numbers:

I have a following of over 500,000 people on my Google+ profile and am constantly being engaged by hundreds of people. However, Klout only weighs my Google+ presence at 9%. Really?

Let’s take a look at my Instagram page. I only have 421 followers, but Klout values it double of Google+ as it relates to my social network makeup. What’s really crazy, is that I have only posted once on Instagram this month, and even then, only seven people engaged with my photo.

Twitter? With a measly 1,300 followers and hardly any interaction, I have no idea how they could justify it making up so much of my network makeup. But, after getting mentioned in several dozen tweets, it continues to climb.

klout score breakdown peter mcdermott

Crude experiments have demonstrated that Instagram is the most heavily weighted network on the system. A simple photo with a comment from a friend increased my ‘Klout’ within a day. Why does Klout consider Instagram so important to social influence? And further  more, why does it dismiss the importance of LinkedIn and Google+?

Platform Dis-Integration:

Another failure of Klout is the lack of recognition that not all users are involved in Facebook and Twitter. I know many professionals that only use LinkedIn and plenty of Google+ adopters that have let it become their sole network. Without a Facebook or Twitter account though, you’ll never be able to log in and manage your account.

If Klout wants to measure multiple platforms, it should allow users to log in with other platforms.

How to Fix It:

I think there is definitely room in the market for Klout, or a similar clone to effectively measure the influence or engagement of social media figures. I think this type of information could be insanely valuable to marketers as they try to learn who are the most important (and vocal) customers. Recruiters could also use it as a tool to find people that are the most visually knowledgeable about a specific topic or niche.

In order to make that happen though, the algorithms need to be changed. Klout needs to be more receptive to feedback from its users and more even-keeled in its evaluation of all social networks. First and foremost, it needs to compare the usage of various social networks for each user so it can give a true breakdown of where that person invests the most effort.

Tainted Reputation:

Even if Klout manages to fix its poor arithmetic, it will still face an uphill battle with social media super users that have long cast it aside. Last night I bumped into a few causal social media users in a Hangout and here’s what they had to say about the network:

Klout is probably one of the most useless things I have heard of possibly conceived. It is some sort of popularity contest that has no relevance out of itself.” DeAno Jackson

It’s just useless. It doesn’t base your scores on any platform except Facebook and they want you to connect all of your accounts with it, but it doesn’t measure them all. So, it’s useless.” Sheila DuBois

I’ve never used Klout and see no purpose in it.” Stormy Henderson

If Klout ever wants to be relevant again, it’s going to need to prove its accuracy and importance. Based on their current trajectory, I don’t think there’s much chance.

Klout, if you think my network with half a million followers counts for less than 10% of my social media presence, you need to go home. You’re drunk.

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