Saturday, April 23, 2011

How Legit is Klout score?

For those of you who aren't familiar with Klout scores:

It's an emerging tool to measure users' social media influence on Twitter and Facebook through algorithms which scores you between 1 to 100. Not only does it give you your total number of Retweets, @Mentions, and Followers (they take away the spam ones apparently,) they indicate your influence topics and areas and show you others who are also influential in the topic.

Personally, I check it once or twice a month just as a reference. Although it works with "real mathematics," I think the measure of influence is questionable.

Social media as emerging journalism:

Influence may be seen through how people respond to your call to actions, (in most cases it's your retweets and conversations), but how about the influence by agenda setting? Users can provide insightful news that people don't generally need to discuss about or retweet.

I understand that this does however come into clash with the term "social media," since social media is about interaction. But as most of you may have read in various blog posts, there have been ongoing debates on social media as a new type of journalism, mini-blogging, and etc. If we take into account this type of social media interaction,
how then, can you really measure influence? 

My question boils down to this:

Are Klout scores completely bogus, or do they mean something?

Wait, what exactly do they measure?

Klout uses more than 25 variables to create a score for True Reach, Amplification, and Network and comes up with a final score of Klout influence.

It provides a general content analysis which shows you your influential topics.

It indicates that my influential topics are:
social media
public relations

Personally, the only topics that correlate above are public relations, and social media. I don't tweet at all about #internchat, Colorado, or California (I'm in BOSTON!...).

Mini poll on twitter:

I recently asked quite a few influential tweeters (i.e. Klout score of 65 and above, usually with more than 1,000 followers) about what they think of Klout scores. There are answers in every part of the continuum - that they are reliable, an okay reference, and completely bogus. Now what?

Does this mean it's legit?

"Klout announced early Monday that it has closed
an $8.5-million funding round from Silicon Valley powerhouse Kleiner Perkins Caulfield Byers, and is adding Kleiner partner Bing Gordon to its board of directors."

"Companies using Klout’s API include Radian 6, About.Me, ExactTarget, The Huffington Post, Seesmic, Gnip, Gist and StockTwits. Currently Klout is doing more then 500 million API calls per month and is adding more than 5 API partners per day. For some perspective, Twitter sees more than 6 billion API calls per day." (from techcrunch.)

Some interesting fall backs on Klout from industry analyst Jeremiah Owyang (Web Strategy):

  1. Consumers will game the system –reducing validity of metric. Expect many people to start gaming the Klout systems, in fact I see some ‘influential types’ tweeting over 200 times a day to try to hopefully raise their Klout scores, which just ends up annoying their followers.
  2. Klout is not representative of a customers real influence. Currently, as I understand it, Klout only siphons in content from Twitter and Facebook if the user allows for FB connect.
  3. Without sentiment of the influencer –the gauge is incomplete. Klout lacks sentiment analysis, so true opinions of what’s being said about the person may be ill-informed, see Kenneth Cole example above.
  4. Relying on this single metric alone is dangerous. as Frank Eliason of Citi (formerly Comcast Cares) indicates the “sleeping comcast technician” was uploaded by someone who had practically zero prior online influence.
There are obviously pros and cons to the Klout score as with any analytics, my guess is until Klout uses it's funding to work on a more accurate portrayal of influence (it just revamped it's site to beta by the way!) keep using it as a reference or ego boost, but don't take it too far as to rely on it as your sole source of measuring social media achievement.

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