12 Most Important Reasons to Love Klout

12 Most Important Reasons to Love Klout

Many people hate Klout. Scratch that. Many people LOATHE Klout.

And for good reason. The company that purports to measure your level of influence draws howls of indignation at the very idea of being rated in a public way, let alone represent “The Standard for Influence.” Klout’s PR miscues and well-publicized examples of people gaming this social scoring system just add fuel to the fire.

But after studying this emerging social influence trend for more than a year to research my new book Return On Influence, I’m convinced they are on to something. Here are 12 reasons to take a second look at Klout and “social scoring”:

1. It does measure SOMETHING

Klout is not the measure of all influence and never will be. But it does measure one small thing, and increasingly well: Can a person create and share content that moves through their network… and beyond. This is called “buzz.” And brands love buzz.

2. At least you know about it

Look, there are thousands of companies doing something similar to what Klout does. Google, Facebook and hundreds of advertising and PR agencies are assigning you a secret number based on your ability to create buzz. Klout is the only one openly admitting they are doing it!

3. And they reward you for it

Why not cash in on your ability to create buzz in your network? Klout influencers are receiving some pretty cool stuff like gift cards, hotel upgrades, consumer electronics, and trips. Why not cash in?

4. You can actually become more influential

One of the guys I interviewed for the book “gamed” Klout and increased his score by 30 points in 45 days. But in the process, he started a blog, aggressively created a relevant online network, and made an effort to engage with them. He admitted that “gaming” Klout actually made him more influential!

5. Brands are all over it

If you’re a professional marketer, you need to understand and embrace this social influence trend. Power and influence are radically different in the online world. Understanding Klout can give you some insight into these differences.

6. It may help you get a job

I’m not kidding. Klout scores are absolutely being used in HR as an indicator of an ability to engage through social media.

7. Klout can help you find your brand advocates

Maybe the world expert on your product is a 15-year-old boy in Evanville, IN. Until now, how would you ever know?

8. Innovative product research

Through Klout’s “Perk” program, brands can observe online reactions to product samples, but there’s a twist. The samples are being distributed by influencers, not a company. An interesting new opportunity for product research.

9. Drive business results

Nearly 90 percent of the companies doing marketing programs through Klout come back for more. Why? They are getting results. My new book has dozens of examples of companies driving business results by integrating social influence initiatives.

10. It’s cost-effective

Experienced marketers using Klout reward programs say that in terms of traditional measures like “cost per impression,” it compares favorably to paid advertising.

11. It’s hyper-local

Increasingly, companies are using Klout scores to find the buzz-makers in specific regions. Would it help your business to know who is most passionate about food in Philadelphia or fitness trends in Toronto?

12. It’s your time to shine

The social web has transformed this notion of “influence.” To carve out your niche on the web today, it doesn’t matter what you look like, if you went to college, or how much money your parents have. The only thing that matters is your passion, your words, and how you share that with the world. You don’t have to be elected to office or be a movie star to be recognized for your influence. This is OUR time. This is YOUR time.

Now, what are you going to do about it?

Featured image courtesy of qthomasbower licensed via Creative Commons.

Mark Schaefer

http://www.businessesGROW.com/

Mark W. Schaefer is a globally-recognized blogger, educator, business consultant, and author who blogs at {grow} — one of the top marketing blogs of the world. Mark has worked in global sales, PR, and marketing positions for nearly 30 years and now provides consulting services as Executive Director of U.S.-based Schaefer Marketing Solutions. His clients include both start-ups and global brands such as Cisco, Johnson & Johnson, and the UK government. He has advanced degrees in marketing and organizational development and holds seven patents. Mark is a faculty member of the graduate studies program at Rutgers University and is also the founder of Social Slam, a national social media event that takes place each April. He is the author of Return On Influence and The Tao of Twitter. In 2012, he was named by Forbes magazine as one of the Top 50 social media “power influencers” of the world.

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40 comments
rt_og
rt_og

Klout is cool. Find me @RT_OG

QDRoss
QDRoss

i'm not too sure about klout as yet. to me it seems to be a good resource for people who already use social media professionally. not too sure what it offers people who are on just for a good time. that being said, as i use SM for work, in a market where data is a joke, i welcome anything that can help me put some stats into a presentation.

 

i also think we shouldn't be too harsh on the issue of people being identified as influencers for things they don't actually like, do, etc. there are strategies in social media that require you to create campaigns that target the most powerful group of people to carry a message. and that doesn't always mean the group of people who like or use your product. it's possible that the frequent protests of somebody who does not use bacon can drive bacon lovers to express their love/defend bacon. so in a sense that person can be an influencer. it's one of the things that was very tricky for me having to learn this new angle after over 16 years of doing it the traditional way of just preaching directly to the people you want to buy your product.

 

i don't know if that's actually how klout is creating the ratings, but i just thought it might be good to share that perspective within the discussion. i'll keep researching to see if it's actually so.

markwschaefer
markwschaefer

@PaulBiedermann I think I need to do a second post with the other side! : )

dbvickery
dbvickery

Enjoyed this, Mark - and looking forward to the influence you bring to bear on your pending Social Slam (I finally get to go to an event).

 

I have yet to look at Klout from the perspectives of #9 and #10. This has prompted me to research those avenues a little more. I can see where both are still much more suited to B2C, would you agree?

CASUDI
CASUDI

I visited here first when there were no comments so I'm enjoying getting up to speed. I love Klout (the concept not the company) because of the mind set of "spotting" influencers, and that's the direction I see marketing (and sales) headed. I personally have had this work for me; you go into a community and want to get something done including selling, you identify the influencers. I've done this for years. I also hate Klout and Kred for that matter, because both the online (only) and online/offline scoring systems have a long way to go. BUT what is exciting to me is the direction of influence and what it means to each of us? The people who love it have the vision of where it can go, beyond the imperfect rating systems. Many of those who hate Klout are getting fixated on the nitty gritty details of imperfect scores, an imperfect company and the imperfect interpretations.

byron_fernandez
byron_fernandez

@Biebert @12Most Ooh... though think I'd enjoy reading/writing #12Most Reasons to Hate Klout ... ;) cc @seanmcginnis @markwschaefer

TourRE
TourRE

@AprilLynneScott FREE SOAP! Thats why we love Klout! Wooohoooo!!

kcclaveria
kcclaveria

@sfusmn Thanks for sharing, Joanne! I guess I should embrace Klout more. lol

MouyyadA
MouyyadA

While Mark makes some good points, I feel that Klout is a very arbitrary measurement of influence.

 

For example - One of the points on the understanding Klout page is "Influence is the ability to drive action." Klout says I'm influential in Bacon. I'm Muslim. I don't eat bacon (unless of course its turkey or beef bacon).  I have zero ability to drive action in regards to bacon because most people eat pork bacon.

 

Influence shouldn't be measured solely by retweets or mentions based on a random tweet but the real ability to drive action, such as a new book launch as Mark is experiencing by measuring how many people are reading or interested in the book, or #custserv Twitter chats or webinars that Marsha conducts and measuring the level of engagement and participation. To me, those are a real measure of "the ability to drive action." 

ServiceSphere1
ServiceSphere1

Nice job.  People are so freaking anti or pro klout.  I welcome this type of system.  I'm tired of being measured by fleshbots.  Bring on my algorithm overlords.  When they get this system or systems like it more perfected, I see them in the actual enterprise to help appraisal and knowledge.  We NEED this technology.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

As @dough mentions below, the score thing is crap. Companies are going to hire Justin Bieber as their social media srategist because he has a perfect Klout score? Or hire a layabout who has time to tweet crap all day and scores big because of it? Crazy.

 

Klout is an ego stroke for social media narcissists, and the circl jerk term has never been more appropriate.

 

And it's a shame that such a loved-up promotion of the platform ignores all the privacy issues that continue today (especially in Europe and Canada), in lieu of "Hey, Google ranks you but at least Klout pays you for it." Riiight... because a bag of Popchips is fair trade for the millions they charge brands foolish enough to buy into their crud.

tonia_ries
tonia_ries

Mark - In #7 you cite an example of using Klout to target a 15-year old boy.  

 

Klout landed in big trouble for creating profiles on minors, and had to apologize for it.  Their privacy policy now says "Klout has no interest in understanding the influence of minors. We are working with Facebook and Twitter on this, as well as building our own safeguards to make sure this does not happen."  -- they are actively working to verify birthdays, among other things.  I hope you are not advising marketers to use Klout to identify and target minors -- there are major ethical, legal and privacy issues.

 

Also, you say in #2. that "Klout is the only one openly admitting they are doing it!"   That's not true: PeerIndex, Kred, and TweetLevel (among others) publish influence scores, too

dough
dough

Frankly, the Klout Score as job requirement is one of the scariest, most irresponsible uses of Klout I can think of. A high Klout score is absolutely no indicator of careers skills, even for "social media" jobs. 

 

Klout has its places and uses, but unvridled love is not called for (same can be said for many other shiny object tools, like Pinterest, and heck even Twitter and Facebook).

 

I would replace the jobs bit on this list with my favorite thing about Klout: the ability to carpet-bomb people with +Ks in inappropriate topics (like Unicorns, or sports teams one obviously hates), as sport and as a way to show people who take Klout too seriously do so at their peril. 

SpitToonsSaloon
SpitToonsSaloon

@PegFitzpatrick A toast: When we enjoy the moment & make it second 2 none, we have the time of hour lives. (;>))

amberrisme
amberrisme

Best post I've read all day. I am fairly ambivalent by Klout, but it is nice to have my score sitting at 65--just in case it might land me the next great job. You never know. 

wsiabelpardo
wsiabelpardo

I like Klout, I hate Klout. It can give us an image about influence, and like marketer I like to measure everything. I hate it because it takes me time, like sport, but I recognize both are goods.

susansilver
susansilver

I like Klout for reasons #2 and #3. All the data is out there, and Klout has found a way to make it meaningful. They are more upfront about their measures than most and now even tell you how to improve your score. I like that they reward us for all that data we have given away for free with the perk system. 

 

There is always going to be questions raised about the system and how it uses data. It is an issue that is common to all of social media. Privacy is one big elephant in the room.  

 

PaulBiedermann
PaulBiedermann

@markwschaefer If you're serious about a follow up post, it would be great to run it Monday prior to the chat. Please let me know. Thanks!

SFUSMN
SFUSMN

@kcclaveria But it's so discouraging to see your score go down with each day!

markwschaefer
markwschaefer

 @MouyyadA When I wrote the book, I started with a blank slate. I told the publisher that I could not write an accurate outline of the book because i had to let the research dictate the path. And what I found out after months of interviews was that yes ... they are on to something. There are lots of stories like yours that illustrate the challenges of what these companies are trying to do. If you look at the science and math behind this, what they are trying to accomplish is insanely difficult. Yet, they are making progress. It is entertaining to to recount these silly examples (and I am influential in Sesame Street BTW) but if you consider that they are in the silent movie stage, and iterating in public, their rapid progress is impressive ... and is being rewarded by many major brands. And that's a trend we need to pay attention to. Thanks for the comment,. Hope to see you at SXSW?

markwschaefer
markwschaefer

 @DannyBrown  I could also write a post called the 12 most worrisome things about Klout. I could have gone either way (maybe I should!). The book shows both sides. Your views have been amply documented, but there are some interesting things happening in the space too. As marketing professionals we should try see what the market is thinking about such innovations. Despite the problems, brands are biting. We should pay attention to that.

markwschaefer
markwschaefer

 @dough I know in this post I come acorss as very "Klout positive," the book ia actually a balanced portrayal that dives into privacy issues, cheating and even societal issues i have with Klout.  

 

I agree that Klout on its own is probably a weird thing to judge a hiring decision on, but we need to know that it is happening. Thanks for the comment.

ServiceSphere1
ServiceSphere1

 @dough ok, not "Klout" but I'd rather have a rating system for work, than like people hire based on their human emotions and discrimination.

MouyyadA
MouyyadA

 @markwschaefer Great points Mark, I do think there on to something and hopefully with time they will improve the algorithm in a way that will be a truly affective measurement of influence. I'm looking forward to reading your new book! Unfortunately I won't be going to SXSW this year because of other engagements.

matthixson
matthixson

 @markwschaefer Brands are biting because they are desperate for something - anything - that will help them figure out social.  The issue is that this "something" does not help produce real business results for 99% of businesses.  People love to score themselves.  What Klout has going for them is the gamification aspect where people want to know how they stack up against others.  This element is what will keep Klout alive and collecting tons of data about people.  You will see analytics start to emerge that solve real business problems and this will become an issue for Klout.  

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