5 Reasons Why Klout is Total BS

Klout score graph

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 graph

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.

Nobody Cares That You’re at the Gas Station

Facebook Foursquare TwitterThere’s a time and a place for a well timed and placed cross-post, but things are getting out of hand and people are starting to abuse the practice to the point of being annoying.

First, let’s start with a definition. Chris Brogan, in his June 2009 post A Simple Presence Framework, defined outposts as “places of presence that you maintain for interaction and promotion purposes.” He recommend four sites to use for outposts: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.

The popular location-based service, Foursquare, was probably missing from Chris’ list either because the site hadn’t gone mainstream yet, or he just didn’t see the site as a legitimate outpost. If the latter is the case, then I agree with him.

Much of my frustration comes from people who cross-post all of their Foursquare check-ins on Facebook, Twitter or both. Like I said, a well timed, and very occasional, cross-post is fine, but most of the time your Facebook friends and Twitter followers just don’t care that you’re at the gas station, the grocery store or the laundromat.

I’ve only seen one friend cross-post a useful Foursquare check-in. He was having dinner at a local restaurant, checked in on Foursquare and cross-posted it to Facebook. Normally, that would annoy the hell out of me, but not this time. He also included a note that he was there for Restaurant Week, and he included a link to more information.

I’ve abandoned Foursquare, so if he hadn’t cross-posted that check-in to Facebook, I might not have known about Restaurant Week, and might have missed some great deals on some great food at our local restaurants.

The other thing that’s been getting on my nerves is the people who cross-post every tweet to their Facebook profile. With all the @mentions and #hashtags that people use on Twitter, many of these posts are just out of context on Facebook.

The point here is to know your audience and the purpose of your various outposts. Don’t automatically post every Foursquare check-in to Facebook and/or Twitter. Try putting some thought into each check-in, deciding if your friends and followers will actually care where you are every minute of the day. I know I don’t.

Are you a chronic cross-poster? Do you think I’m way off base? I’d love to hear your comments either way.

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Image by Laughing Squid