5 Reasons Why Klout is Total BS

Klout

I’m convinced that Klout Score is total BS. On the Klout website, they say it’s “the measurement of your overall online influence” but I’m not buying it. Here’s why.

1. Influence doesn’t take a vacation

On April 30th, I left the country for a well-deserved vacation. As you can see in the graph above, my Klout Score started dropping on April 28th after I started reducing my Twitter activity as I prepared to leave.

What’s interesting is that it has continued to decline for almost 3 weeks, even though I started picking up my activity on Twitter again May 8th, which you can see in this graph from TweetStats.

TweetStats

This doesn’t make any sense to me. Sure, I wasn’t interacting or engaging on Twitter for about 10 days, but does that really mean I’m less influential?

And how is it possible that my Klout Score dropped 3.5 points in only 18 days when it took me almost 60 days to increase it only 8 points? Isn’t influence a permanent trait? Shouldn’t a person’s influence score just level out if they disengage for a few days?

2. A day late and a dollar short

The Klout Score graph only shows the last 30 days of history, and there’s no record of any data outside the last 30 days. That sucks, but there’s another problem.

Klout tries to give the impression that your score is real-time, or at least that it’s updated daily. That’s misleading, though, because your activity today won’t actually have an impact on your Klout Score today, or even tomorrow. I’ve found that my activity on a Sunday won’t actually have an impact on my score until Tuesday.

Klout DelayHere’s an example. In this image, you can see the graph of my score for the last 7 days, with the lowest point on Monday, May 16th. In isolation this might be plausible, but what if I told you that I engaged in Mack Collier’s weekly #blogchat on Sunday night, and had a very engaging night with the other participants.

I expected to see an uptick in my Klout Score on Monday, but instead it dropped almost a half point! I didn’t actually see that uptick until Tuesday. That’s fine if you understand what’s going on, but most people, when they see dates on a graph, expect that the data actually applies to the date it’s displayed.

3. The score is meaningless without the style

Klout Scores range from 1 to 100, and they say “higher scores represent a wider and stronger sphere of influence.” They go on to say Klout Score is a representation of how successful a person is at engaging their audience and how big of an impact their messages have on people.

In the end, though, it’s just a number, and just because your number is the same as mine, doesn’t mean we’re equally influential. No. They also assign every user one of 16 different “styles” based on whether:

  • you share or create
  • you listen or participate
  • you are casual or consistent
  • your posts are broad or focused

Of course, taking a vacation also had an impact on my Klout style. Before I left, they said I was a Pundit, and described me as follows:

You don’t just share news, you create the news. As a pundit, your opinions are wide-spread and highly trusted. You’re regularly recognized as a leader in your industry. When you speak, people listen.

Now I’m back to being a Specialist, which they describe as follows:

You may not be a celebrity, but within your area of expertise your opinion is second to none. Your content is likely focused around a specific topic or industry with a focused, highly-engaged audience.

4. Foursquare ≠ influence

If you read my post Nobody Cares That You’re at the Gas Station, you know I’m not a big fan of Foursquare. I also don’t believe that playing Foursquare (it is a game afterall) has anything to do with influence.

According to the Klout page where users connect the site to their networks (see below), the ability to connect to your LinkedIn and Foursquare accounts is “Coming soon!” Once that happens, Klout will have officially jumped the shark.

Klout Networks

What do my check-in activity, badges and mayorships have to do with my influence? If you said nothing, then you and I agree. If you disagree, I’d love to hear your reasoning. Just don’t try to convince me that your check-ins, badges and mayorships might influence me to visit the same places you visit.

If you define influence the way Klout does, as the ability to drive people to action, with “action” being defined as a reply, a retweet, a comment, or a click, then Foursquare doesn’t make sense as a measure of influence. I’m not aware of any way for Klout to determine if I’ve driven someone to action with my Foursquare activity.

5. Why do you think Klout is BS?

I know the title said I would share 5 reasons why Klout is total BS. I lied. I know you have an opinion on the subject, so please help me with the 5th reason.

How do you feel about Klout scores? Do you think they are total BS?

Please add to the conversation by posting your thoughts in the comments. And if you like what you’ve read here, please share it with your friends on Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Comments

  1. Mack Collier says

    Hey Colin I know this is old (damn Google Alerts!) but what I’ve noticed with Klout is there appears to be a 2-day lag in scoring. Because like you, I almost never see a bump in my score on Monday, but almost always see it on Tuesday. So I’m assuming the bump I see every Tuesday is from my activity Sunday night during #blogchat. Check your Klout score and I bet you’ll see the same thing.

    • says

      Old post – yes. But it’s on a NEW blog and you’re the first one to comment on the new site! Thanks, Mack. And yes, every Tuesday I see a nice little bump in my Klout score as a result of #blogchat. Unfortunately, though, they made some sort of adjustment to their algorithm around 2/13 and I’ve been in free-fall since then, dropping about 4 points.

  2. Makr says

    yeah, I just looked at klout.com and it based it’s score 99% on social networks that I rarely use. FB, the one I use on nearly a daily basis, had 1% influence. has no relevance at all.

  3. mike says

    My Klout activity FROZE on November 5, 2013. Since then, there have been ZERO activity updates on my Klout profile, although I have posted and engaged hundreds of people in the last month. My Klout score has fallen over 10 points due to NO ACTIVITY updates on my Klout feed. I have written to Klout support but heard nothing. I agree with you 100% – Klout is 100% BS – especially if there are no activity updates.

  4. Brad says

    On lathing I don agree with is the Foursquare opinion. There is an influence when it comes to retardants. Oddly I tend to use Foursquare more than Yelp to search restaurants because my SoCal Foodie friends use it & make comments, the map in the Foursquare app works better, & I don’t want Yelp’s broader range of opinions.

  5. ryanov says

    foursquare has comments and likes, like Facebook. I have to imagine that’s what’s getting measured.

  6. says

    Klout is a good APPROXIMATE way of showing someone’s influence… no one can honestly believe an automated system off online marketing tools can be that accurate, just like spammy affiliate sites make it to the first page of Google still, even after Penguin. However, there is an epidemic of companies’ hiring online marketing experts and using Klout scores as one of their criteria… i.e., one may have 7 years experience for a good company with a Klout of 27 and another with 1 year of experience with a small startup and Klout of 65 and the latter was hired. So just like any marketing job, dont put all your eggs in one basket and do everything right… the right employer will recognize it.

  7. says

    Agree 100%. I have noticed a big surge when I signed up, and now it’s dropping sharply with no apparent reason. I connected my Google+ and that should have added influence considering how active I am.

    In short my engagement is going up, audience is growing and my Klout score is going down. Frankly I couldn’t care less!

  8. says

    Searching for relevance of Klout impact – I agree with you.  Connection as a ranking is no true value assigned. And now that other social streams are niche-marketed to provide – often Exceptional results – Klout is unable to track them.
    Social extends so far past the reach of klout that anyone trusting in appeasement of it will probably miss the mark anyway.

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