How Much Does Klout Score Matter?

    October 31, 2012
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

“While you may abhor the idea of a company like Klout judging or grading you on a daily basis, it’s already happening and companies are paying attention, so we shouldn’t just ignore this trend.”

That’s a quote from the book The Tao Of Twitter, by Mark Schaefer. It comes from a chapter about influence on Twitter, something that many businesses and individuals continue to strive for. Sure, there are no doubt plenty of influential people who could care less about their Klout scores, and certainly plenty that feel they are above this kind of judgement, as Schaefer says, but you have to admit, he has a point.

Do you pay attention to Klout score? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments.

How much does Klout score matter? How much is it being paid attention to by others? We reached out to Schaefer for more thoughts on the subject. After all, he did also write a book about Klout score.

“I think the most succinct answer is that if you cut through the emotion of being publicly ranked, Klout’s PR missteps, and the silliness of being an influencer on a topic like lamps or teddy bears, then yes – they are on to something,” he tells us.

“A Klout score simply shows whether you are somebody who can move content over social media channels that creates reactions,” he adds. “And if you think of how many jobs depend on that ability these days, this can be a very useful number to consider. I hear of more and more companies using Klout scores as a topic in job interviews. Controversial, but it’s happening.”

Indeed, there have been quite a few articles to come out this year about this. Consider this one from Wired, which begins:

Last spring Sam Fiorella was recruited for a VP position at a large Toronto marketing agency. With 15 years of experience consulting for major brands like AOL, Ford, and Kraft, Fiorella felt confident in his qualifications. But midway through the interview, he was caught off guard when his interviewer asked him for his Klout score. Fiorella hesitated awkwardly before confessing that he had no idea what a Klout score was.

The interviewer pulled up the web page for Klout.com—a service that purports to measure users’ online influence on a scale from 1 to 100—and angled the monitor so that Fiorella could see the humbling result for himself: His score was 34. “He cut the interview short pretty soon after that,” Fiorella says. Later he learned that he’d been eliminated as a candidate specifically because his Klout score was too low. “They hired a guy whose score was 67.”

More recently, Forbes reported:

…Klout is on its way to becoming an integral part of the job search and recruiting process for many individuals and companies.

“We look at this as similar to an SAT,” says Klout spokeswoman Lynn Fox. “It is one of many factors that is considered when a person applies to a university. Likewise, the Klout Score can be used as one of many indicators of someone’s skill set.”

Here’s Klout CEO Joe Fernandez talking to TechCrunch about the trend in hiring managers taking Klout scores into account:

“The whole process seems kind of silly, but for whatever reason, once you put a number on things, people take it seriously, no matter how bogus the number might be,” TechDirt’s Mike Masnick said of Klout Score this week. “Lots of companies now use Klout scores to determine who they should give special perks to, leading to plenty of people just trying to game their scores.”

His article went on to talk about journalism professors who are actually using Klout Score to grade students. Some are indeed taking it seriously. The article, by the way, was filed in “the bad metrics” department on the site. Still, even Masnick had something of a changed view on subject by the end of the piece.

“The idea of basing grades on a silly system like Klout certainly feels very, very wrong,” he writes. “However, the explanations and defenses from both professors have me rethinking that stance somewhat. Is it really all that different from ‘teaching to the test’, as some teachers do for standardized testing? An SAT score may not really tell us much of anything, but it is important for many colleges, so is it a surprise that teachers help their students optimize for it? While we can quite reasonably worry that focusing on Klout has students optimizing less useful skills, from an experimental standpoint, perhaps it’s not such a crazy idea.”

If students are entering a workforce where Klout Score is becoming an increasingly important metric among employers (and influence certainly caters to journalism), perhaps it’s a necessary preparation.

“On the other side of the aisle, companies like Nike, Disney and American Express are using these social scoring platforms like Klout and Appinions to connect to powerful word of mouth influencers,” Schaefer tells us. “When companies like that are involved, it kind of gets your attention. And of course Microsoft just invested in Klout as a partner. Yes, you need to pay attention to this.”

Yes, Microsoft just invested in Klout, and Klout has been integrated with Bing (which just came to Xbox in web search form, not to mention Windows 8).

Klout also recently started taking Facebook Pages into account, which could actually serve to make the score a more significant factor, given the fact that Facebook has 1.01 billion monthly active users.

What do you think? Is Klout Score an important measure of influence? Important enough to base business decisions on? Share your thoughts.

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    While I can see the value of Klout in a job interview, I think it’s silly that you’d overlook a great candidate because they didn’t have a high score. It can be a contributing factor but it shouldn’t be used as your line in the sand.

  • http://invisibler.com/ donottrackme

    I just “love” how they word their headline “Discover and be recognized for how you influence the world.”

    There are many people who are not on Facebook or Twitter but they still influence the world greatly.

    • http://www.letstalksocialmedia.co.uk David Lomas

      The comment should be – Discover how you influence ‘your’ world.

  • http://www.boom-online.co.uk/blog Amy Fowler

    ‘“He cut the interview short pretty soon after that,” Fiorella says. Later he learned that he’d been eliminated as a candidate specifically because his Klout score was too low. “They hired a guy whose score was 67.’

    If true then that’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. I hope the guy who got hired turned out to be a terrible employee and/or fit for the company, and the employer learnt a valuable lesson.

    While I can accept Klout might be one of many sources an employer consults before making the final decision on who to employ, to base the decision off that, and to not even let an employee finish a potential interview because of this, is beyond stupid.

  • Nerves

    Simply not know about Klout shows a person’s lack of grasp on current trends in Web-based influence. Reason enough to exclude for me.

  • http://www.scifipop.com Phanna

    So basically if you run a few websites, blogs, twitter accounts, FB pages, etc., that generates thousands of eyeballs a day, but are not under your personal account, these won’t be tallied in as your influence right? It seems the more personal accounts you have and use, the more active you are with these social sites, the higher your chances of a high Klout score. Which makes Klout pretty much laughable in my eyes. Because the scoring favors those using their personal account and those with way too much time on their hands.

    Fiorella shouldn’t be disqualified for his low Klout score, but for his not knowing of what Klout is. Despite that, how many VP’s care or have time to be very active on a ton of social sites anyway?

    • SF Michele

      Amen. Exactly.

      • #MonarchModel Ben Rachinger

        Some people need to consider the social media expert has a rolling klout score and linking the business accounts you are working on to yours is overlapping circles and allows you to show your boss how their klout is going up (slight piggyback on yours) ……….

        People, it’s all about a totlly new paradigm. get out of the box already.

  • http://www.creativecontentexperts.com Justyn Hornor

    I think people are being too harsh on the interviewer. All we know is that it was a VP position. What if the job included responsibilities over social media campaigns for large clients? I can’t imagine hiring someone who had never heard of Klout to manage social media at mod-level, much less as a VP.

  • http://wredlich.com Warren Redlich

    Utterly ridiculous. Klout is a faddish site. I went to my profile and saw who my Top 5 “influencers” are. Only one of them was accurate (Matt Cutts). The others are Guy Kawasaki, who I like and who is an influencer, but does not influence me, and three people I like who’ve managed to boost their scores, but do not influence me.

    Any company who chooses an employee based on Klout score deserves what they get. This is like choosing a lawyer based on Avvo score.

  • http://usamadeproducts.biz Dave

    Remember the old adage “It’s not what you know but who you know”? Klout seems to capitalize on this mentality. Except for a small niche, most people get hired on training & abilities, not on how many friends they have, or used to be anyway.

    If there are 2 identically qualified candidates for a job & one has a higher Klout score, well then that may be a reasonable choice. But their Klout scores should be the last factor to decide, IMO.

    • http://www.cyber-key.com/SocialSEO/ M.-J. Taylor

      If I were hiring a social media marketing assistant, I would care about a *relevant* Klout score. And when I choose a blog for guest post placement, the owner’s Klout score influences when all other factors are mostly equal – similar to what you are saying about job candidates. On the same token, I mention my Klout score when I’m bidding for an article. Is it all that? No, but it’s one of my “200 factors.” 😉

  • http://www.metrotechs.net Richard

    I have heard a lot about Klout over the last few months, but I never felt the need to check my score… After reading this article, I checked my Klout score and it is 41. I was left thinking, “So what?”

  • Dean

    I agree with donottrackme. Those people who truly influence the world have probably never heard of klout, nor do they care.

    • SF Michele

      Once again, another desperate HR gimmick because, frankly, HR and managers and other hiring officers simply *still* do not know what to check, pay attention to or weight in the hiring process.

      During the last 4 years, job applicants have had to deal with software that scans for key words and so we all learned how to glean the job postings and feed info back to get noticed.

      Now we’ll all learn how to game THIS system.

      Hiring well requires doing some hard work. Most employers just hate that.

  • http://www.cendrinemarrouat.com Cendrine Marrouat

    Those who worry about their Klout scores do not understand anything about what it takes to build relationships in social media.

    And in the same token, companies that focus on that score for the hiring process are really making a huge mistake.

    Life is not about numbers, it is about concrete evidence. Concrete evidence of your influence on an audience. And this influence cannot be measured with numbers.

  • http://ephedrinewheretobuy.com Mike Budd

    Wow, another step in the wrong direction.

    “Discover and be recognized for how you influence the world” made me laugh at least 😉

    Seriously: it’s not about quantity, about your web presence or the number of contacts in social networks! Reducing this important factor “influence” in terms of human relationships (for instance values, leadership, mentorship, power, education, coaching, exemplarity, etc) to hard figures based on another algorithm, well… why not, if this “rating” is used for what it is: a micro indicator for a microcosm.

    Cheers, Mike

  • http://www.captaincyberzone.com Cap’n Cyberzone

    Since you have to sign-in with Twitter or connect with Facebook it would appear that all Klout is doing is analyzing your number of “connections”.
    Would it be, accordingly, that then “Lady Gaga” would be considered more qualified for the [example] VP Marketing position than Sam Fiorella?
    Or say that Stephen Hawking [noted British theoretical physicist] did not have a Twitter or Facebook account would be considered “persona vanitas” [meaningless person]?
    Klout, to me, is nothing more then another foolish “elitist” social fad aimed at the insecure and elitist snobs aka “personae culus” [assholes].

  • http://www.Globalcrossroadscapital.com Jeffrey Allen

    I heard klout will soon be grading Posterous and Quora and Disqus and Branchout. All of which I’m on. I can’t wait to find out how soon this will occur. This should help boost my current Klout score of 57.

  • http://www.rainbowriting.com/ghostwriter.htm Karen Cole

    I think Klout is interesting, but doubt that it’s integral into Google or other search just yet. But I find it innovative. And it’s interesting to me that Twitter thinks it’s important. I’m glad that my own Klout score seems to be going up. As a ghost writer service and as a ghost writer, I need great social contacts and good standings with social networks in order to get better job leads. So I think Klout can only help us there.

  • http://karras-bommer.blogspot.com Karras Bommer

    I consider Klout an utterly useless site and the idea that an employer would even consider something like an applicant’s Klout score is beyond comprehension.

  • http://autoreverseweb.com souleye

    when I first found out about klout, I was amused. since I was already on twitter and could use it as sign-in, I’d check once in a while. my score would go up and down but I would never worry about it. reason being that I had never taken it too seriously. that someone might have thought it up is even bordering on the ridiculous, but you know what? being ridiculous doesn’t kill these days. it’s a monumental joke but we’re living in a world that is fake. do we need to tweet? do we need to spend our lives on facebook? what do we really talk about on our cellphones?

  • http://www.jeffbeddow.com Jeff Beddow

    I am a 65 year-old retired web editor who is turning my attention to full time serious photography. As a web editor I could understand the value of a Klout score in many pursuits. As a photographer I am not sure how it helps or hurts. My score recently went from 30s to 50 due to my photographic activity on Google+, however and that has me thinking about it.

  • http://www.cobwebseo.com/ seo kolkata

    I have Twitter account but never heard about this Klout. I know few websites grade or keep record or progress graph of twitter activity. I have account on those sites but never observed the data or statistics. I still believe that type of score don’t reflect on SEAP.

  • http://www.socialbakers.com/facebook-pages/ Facebook Pages

    I have to agree with Cendrine on this. People that worry about Klout scores – who has higher, who lower, what can I do to boost my Klout, etc. – don’t really comprehend what you have to do to build a quality relationship on social media. And the same can be said about companies that focus on that score for the hiring process.

    Now, I will quote Cendrine, because I think, it is brilliant and everyone should take that into account:
    “Life is not about numbers, it is about concrete evidence. Concrete evidence of your influence on an audience. And this influence cannot be measured with numbers.”

  • arlena

    I think this is just one more useless site to distract people from doing what they should really be doing and that is the work that they were originally pursuing before all of these fluff sites came along. If you do a good job, advertise the best way you know how, to your direct market and handle both your employees and customers very well, you shouldn’t have to keep up with each website that touts it’s own importance. People who keep worrying about these flavor of the month sites only help to add to their importance. If enough people ignored them, they would have no choice but to go away.

  • http://www.websitedesigndeals.co.uk/ james martin

    what a complete waste of time klout has been, tried hard for months to get a decent score and was up at 70 at one point but seen no return by way of website visitors, so done a little test. No klout activity for same amount of months to reveal no change in serps at all, no increase or down in site visitors BUT a decline in klout score to a miserly 15 proved for me, at least, that it was a complete waste of time and effort

  • http://datadivaoncontentoptimization.blogspot.com/ Denise Burns

    While a Klout score shouldn’t be the only factor employers look at, it is an indication of whether you are talk or action. It is also an indication as to whether you engage your audience. Klout seems to be evolving too. It seems to be paying more attention to the engagement you drive from your content and the influence of your followers/participants.

    I have seen many people proclaim themselves as social media experts because they blast out message after message. But are they listening? Are they providing content that engages their followers? Are they contributing to conversations or only initiating them? I do think Klout is paying attention to that. Listening and building trust are critical to influence. Klout scores don’t go up just because you have accounts or post. They go up because you participate and engage. So there is definitely some value in understanding them and in using them to know if someone is real or just a poser.

    • http://datadivaoncontentoptimization.blogspot.com/ Denise Burns

      Just had one last thought. You could test whether Klout scores are an effective indicator in your organization if you compare the CTA conversion rates of your social practitioners’ content to their Klout score and determine if a higher score correlates to higher conversion rates. It would be a great way to validate whether Klout is an effective measure of influence for the topics you want to be influential in.

  • Candleflower13

    I have a Klout score that hovers around 44-45 from my personal Twitter activity, though I tweet on three other accounts which are not taken into account. It was that number before I linked in to my personal FB, where I have 400+ friends from around the world (I only accept people I know personally on my FB) and I noticed linking didn’t make a difference to my Klout score (is this because my posts are mostly not public and I’ve opted out of various intrusions …?) I’m also on LinkedIn and Google+, though don’t really engage much in the latter – Like some above, the list of influencers or subjects on which I have influence are deeply flawed…