The Great Klout Experiment (Updated)

originally on Typecast in November 2011

Once upone a time the big social media conversation was centered around Klout - which promotes itself as 'the standard for influence' across most social media platforms

In simple terms, Klout uses a number of (secret) metrics to measure how you use your social media accounts and connections, mixes all these up in their virtual cauldron and concocts a score for you to worry over. The score is ranked up to 100 and anyone with a score over 60 was considered a noteworthy influencer in any number of areas including Technology, Sports, Health, Music and Food.

Now it's worth noting that these results are somewhat screwed from the outset as there are some people more influential than others through circumstance when you consider some of the magic that Klout uses: followers, retweets, conversations...  So I may post an update about my new blog post, eight people will reply to that update, 43 will click through to read it and three will retweet it.  Justin Bieber, on the other hand, will post an update, 395 people will reply to him (in the hope of a personal message back) and 2438 will retweet it (to show that they are listening to what he says) and a couple of thousand of people will click on his link because they trust his endorsement.  He obviously has more 'Klout' than me because of his fame.  But it doesn't mean that his new update is any more/less important.

I love all social media platforms and feel as though I have a (omni-) presence on the main ones.  I was interested in the way in which Klout worked within the social media networks and connected ALL my accounts as instructed.

I was once riding high with a Klout score of 72 - a score that was considered lofty among my fellow networkers but it didn't bring me riches... just took me to the top of the BritMums score chart (you like how I took a screenshot of that?).  But then Klout changed their measuring stick and almost everyone's score plummeted overnight!

There was outcry!  How DARE a social media measuring organisation give with one hand and take with the other.  Were people really LESS influential than they were 24 hours earlier? Klout even held a 'twitter party' of sorts, inviting questions and explanations but the stream appeared to be just a long line of aggrieved account holders with lowered scores, the occasional update from the Klout twitter account and not a lot of explanation or even smoothing of ruffled feathers - just some very carefully worded tweets.  And you had to wonder if the conversation was being carried out on any other social media platform.  After all, how would it have been fair just to choose Twitter exclusively as a weapon of choice? Surely influence and information was required was across a number of social media networks?

But it appeared that the majority of bloggers (my main network and scale) had experienced the same drop (about 10 points) so we were all still as influential in comparison with each other.  However, over the next few days I saw my score dropping steadily yet my social media activity remained the same.  I still tweeted, updated Facebook, occasionally posted something to Google+ (example update : Help, what do I do here?), gave the occasional push to Linked In and I had lots of interaction on Blogger, natch!  What was I doing wrong?  I was interacting as Klout suggested.  I was connected to most social media platforms as Klout suggested.  I was promoting other Klout users as Klout suggested.

Oh, hang on a minute.  Influence.  That's what it's all about!  Let's have a quick look at all the 'connections':

  • Twitter - yes, I'm a big user.  My account is open and anyone can follow me.
  • Facebook - yes, I'm a big user.  My account is restricted and you can't see anything unless you're a friend so I had my blog 'page' as my connection.
  • Google + - no, I hardly use it I have grown to understand G+.  My account is open and I have "circle time" but it's hard to get other people to use the platform.
  • Linked In - no, I hardly use it.  My account is static, occasional 'links' added and updates to my status.
  • Foursquare - no, I hardly use it.  I have a love/hate relationship with Foursquare.
  • You Tube - yes, I'm a big user.  I vlog occasionally and I like to listen to music (and share it on Twitter/Facebook).
  • Instagram - no, I never use it Instagram was updated a couple of years ago and I've had an account for a while.  This isn't really a measure of influence but it is used in metrics on other charts (no link on Klout).
  • Tumblr - yes, I have a couple of accounts.  However, I'm not a regular user of my Tumblr account (no link on Klout).
  • Blogger - yes, I'm a big user.  I publish a blog post almost every day and comment on other Blogger blogs.
  • Wordpress  no, I never use it.  However, I do have an account on there and comment on other Wordpress blogs.
  • Last FM - no, I never use it.  I don't have a Last FM account (no link on Klout).
  • Flickr - no, I hardly use it.  I have a Flickr account but rarely upload images or comment on friend's uploads.

So, as the penny dropped, I decided to conduct The Great Klout Experiment!
(yes, this is the point of this blog post)
(also, why am I bothered?)

I finally 'got' it.  Klout was measured on influence so I needed to connect only the social media channels I was influential on, didn't I?

I disconnected all my connections apart from the ones I knew I got the most response on.

  • Week 1:  I had only Blogger connected
  • Klout : I received K+  in X-Factor, Blogging and Television
  • Result : My score continued to drop but by a smaller margin

  • Week 2 :  I had Blogger and Twitter connected
  • Klout : I received K+ in X-Factor, Blogging and Parenting
  • Result : My score leveled out but still dropped slightly.  Hhhmmmm interesting...

  • Week 3 : I connected my personal Facebook profile along with Blogger and Twitter
  • Klout : I received K+ in Money, Facebook and X-Factor
  • Result : My score rose slightly... oohh
(note: K+ is an influential notification from another Klout user)

Then I experienced a massive increase in my Klout score but saw there had been an issue with data collection from Facebook.  This had now been fixed so scores were likely to increase.  Damn... foiled!  But still an increase - from Facebook use.  I possibly wouldn't have experienced that increase if I hadn't reconnected my Facebook account.

At the time of writing, I understand that G+ is the next Klout 'connection'.  Er, hang on!  Wasn't there already a connection to be made?  Apparently not!  Seemingly, "since users started connecting their Google+ too Klout in late September, we have been hard at work building a model for G+ influence."

Oh, well that's OK then... *eye roll*

So, in conclusion, I would like to surmise that the original Klout connections were, in fact, unnecessary and worthless.  I would also like to point out that this experiment is ongoing and there may be an updated post in the future.  I am not sure if this is a bloggers conversation, a social media conversation or just something that's not really important in the grand scheme of things.  But everything that you put online is going to be analysed and whilst you provide the information, you're never in charge of the way that information is analysed.  So it's all just crap, really, isn't it?

Update September 2014 - this article was republished.  Klout now has a Chrome extension for social sharing and highlights articles on their website that they consider to be influential.