Recommending People: Is Klout punching above it's influence?

James Poulter Klout Score

Some of you may have already seen the sneak peek of the new Klout redesign which, aside from making the whole user experience far more slick, places (very obviously!) far more emphasis on the actual score of a user and their key areas of influence. Klout for many has become the default standard in judging twitter user's influence (alongside PeerIndex as a UK based rival) - scores which are increasingly being used by many in the social media and communications world to make decisions about which influencers client brands get involved with.

Klout's exact algorithm that makes the call on your score of course is closely guarded however we know that, as the company describes it, they use "over 35 variables on Facebook and Twitter to measure True Reach, Amplification Probability, and Network Score" - 3 metrics which attempt to judge influence based on how big, how engaged and how deeply connected a user's followers are.

The question is however - in a world where we are slowly trying to move away from catch all metrics (AVE - Advertising Equivalent Value for example) is another catch all metric a good idea?

The Pro's:

  • Even the greatest of skeptics have to admit - having a recognised measurement means that at least benchmarking is fairer, and less subjective
  • Klout's scoring system is becoming recognised as robust by some major players in the industry, giving it credibility - Radian6 one of the most widely used social media monitoring systems have just integrated Klout scores into their new "Insights" platform.

The Con's

  • As long as the exact calculations of how this score is created it is hard to truly trust it
  • Any automated calculation can be played / hacked or broken
  • Similarly to the world of SEO - a slight tweak to the algorithm can change everything for everyone!
  • Klout is currently seeing 1 billion API calls per month, up from 100 million in January of this year. - Sometimes the demand cannot keep up with the supply, Klout will need to keep expanding to accommodate this

Which ever scoring system you use to measure influence the resounding rule here needs to be that relying on one service (which likely is free) to do the job of judging influence is a sure fire way to ending up very confused and frustrated. It is also very worth while remembering that targeting the likes of Justin Beiber who has a score of "100" is also not a sure fire way to viral marketing success, everyone has access to the same data, meaning those with great Klout likely are fielding an even greater amount of product plug requests, event invites and PR puff.

Over to you:

Do you think Klout is a metric that clients will get, let alone get behind?

Does the new layout put too much emphasis on a number?