How Much Does Klout Score Matter?

    October 31, 2012
    Chris Crum

“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—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.


Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.