Peter Stringer
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Finding Some Value in Klout

One of the craziest arguments I’ve ever had about social media was a conversation in which someone tried to convince me that someday, my Klout score would be more important than my credit rating.

The day a Klout score prevents me from getting approved for a mortgage or car loan, I’ll be inclined to agree. I’m confident that day is not coming.

I’ve never been a believer in Klout, the service that claims to measure your online influence by assigning a 1-100 score based on your activity across multiple social networks. For many reasons, their system is incredibly flawed, even as they’ve continued to tweak their secret sauce formula for evaluating influence. Their constant tinkering has resulted in drastic score adjustments seemingly without reason, and Klout often concludes that you’re influential about nonsensical topics about which you’ve never discussed.

Klout

Klout assigns a score to twitter handles in an attempt to measure people’s influence across the social media landscape.

While I’m glad someone’s trying to measure and quantify online activity, I think Klout is way off, even when it comes to two of their top ranking profiles, @BarackObama (91) and @JustinBieber (100). For instance, how in the world is @BarackObama influential about Drone Music and Homebrewing? Or, for that matter, even Fascism? And in what universe is Justin Bieber an informed commentator concerning Adolf Hitler or the Holocaust? Klout made all of these claims on Sunday, February 19 when I looked up two of their highest-ranking accounts.

Currently, Klout thinks “Gym” and “College” are among the topics about which I’m allegedly influential, despite the fact that I can’t remember ever tweeting about a workout or academics. The closest thing I can recall mentioning would be a joke about a Shake Weight ad.

I’ve criticized Klout for their misrepresentation of influence on numerous occasions, but they’ve yet to fix the problem. Clearly their system is inherently flawed. But with that said, after watching this interview with Denise Blasevick (@AdvertGirl) on MSNBC where she explains how to use Klout to a reporter, maybe there is some value to keeping an eye on the service.

Denise isn’t caught up in her Klout score either, but she does see value in monitoring the topics about which Klout thinks she’s influential, even if the service is dead wrong.

Her point is important, because if Klout says you’re influential about dogs, uninformed strangers would have no reason to believe it’s untrue. So from the standpoint of brand management alone, you should probably keep tabs on Klout’s perception of your social media activity. And if nothing else, it may help you keep track of the topics about which you actually are tweeting.

“If I want to be influential about something in my industry – if I have a Green roofing company – then I want to make sure I’m tweeting about things that are helpful in that industry and then people will see me as an expert,” Blasevick told MSNBC in the interview posted above via YouTube.

She also point out that Klout is an effective way for small business owners to connect with niche tweeters and keep tabs on the competition, as it ranks its top 10 tweeters by topic over the trailing 90 days.

It won’t be valuable for tracking influencers in broad topics like “social media” – it shows you the same 10 people you’ve already heard of – but for something more specific like Cosmetics, it could be a resource to connect with online thought leaders in the space.

Overall, I still don’t put much clout in Klout, but Blasevick’s outlook made me take a second look. It’s probably worth keeping an eye on, but I’m not losing any sleep over Klout’s claims about my influence, good, bad or otherwise.

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About Peter Stringer

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Peter Stringer is in his ninth season with the Boston Celtics. Currently serving as the team's Senior Director of Digital Media, Stringer manages the the team's interactive and social media marketing and strategy.

Opinions expressed herein represent those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the Boston Celtics.

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