Why Your Klout Score Doesn’t Matter

Klout used to be cool.  Back then, it used to give you useful information about how people interacted with you on Twitter, how far your tweets traveled into other networks and which ones had the most powerful impact.  I joined Klout December 2009.  Today Klout is worthless and I’m going to tell you why.

Let’s put this into context — You take action in life.  If you value feeling good about your life, you’re probably setting goals and tracking what you need to do to reach them.  Goals give you a way to measure your progress.  The same sort of logic applies to having an online presence, a successful website or blog and building your brand: you need to be able to measure if your efforts are making a positive impact.

Initially, that’s what Klout promised…and delivered.

There was one tweet in particular that I sent out.  Chris Pirillo (@chrispirillo), a well know technology personality, retweeted it:

I wish people would understand the difference between support and training

2:43 PM – 5 Jul 09 via TweetDeck

https://twitter.com/#!/adriarichards/statuses/2487518975

http://www.flickr.com/photos/adriarichards/3691134099/

Why?  Because it resonated with him.  It was shared over and over by people in the tech community via Twitter.

How did I know this?  Because I could see it right within Klout!  Yes!  I was stoked!  That’s right folks.  Klout used to actually provide useful analytics about the performance of your tweets.  I felt Klout was valuable and helped me gain insight into my participation and network on Twitter.

How can you get valuable analytics about your tweets?  Get a Twitter Analytics account.

Those were the good old days of Klout.  Before Justin Beiber joined (who incidentally has a Klout score of 100 yet Justin isn’t a registered Klout member).

Another positive experience I had with Klout was at their party at Blogworld in 2010.  A few weeks before the conference, I received an invite from Klout to attend their Blogworld “Kloutup”.  The invite said I would be getting a VIP invite and get some sort of “goodies”.  Now I wasn’t sure what this meant but it sounded like it would be fun.  At that time, Megan Berry (@meganberry) was the marketing manager at Klout.

When I got to the party, I could tell it was a good crowd.  The event was in a beautiful suite with huge windows that gave us all a view of the Las Vegas strip.  The floor was made of large, semi-see through tiles…I suppose one could get a bit sea sick if they looked down too long.  The suite was huge and had seating everywhere.  There was good music playing and I could tell people were having a good time.

In the center of the room was a large LCD screen showing everyone who had checked into the event and their Klout scores.  I saw several people in the room I recognized.  I spotted Calvin (@mayhemstudios) and said hello.  If you don’t know Calvin, you don’t know jack about social media.  The room was full of movers and shakers in the social media world and that’s when I knew this party was going somewhere good.  In fact, it was during the first 15 minutes of the party that I had a strong, positive brand association with Klout.

I’d brought along a friend to the party, Scott Hanselman (@shanselman).  While he wasn’t invited, he’s influential on Twitter and has maintained a very high Klout score of 70+ so it was nice serendipity for Klout to meet someone who wasn’t on their active radar but who was making waves in their product.

Klout had a gift bag for me with assorted things like stickers and a tank top.  It wasn’t the contents that made me feel special but rather, there was a bag with my name on it.  It’s the small things that make us feel special!

So off I go, thinking Klout is great and it’s here to help me manage my social media and brand growth, la, la, la!

Wrong!

Slowly Klout began to change the interface.  Things began disappearing.  I’m patient with social networks and startups so I don’t freak out when things look a little different.

But then…Klout then began offering, “Perks”.  Little did I know this was the beginning of the end.  I’m not a big fan of reward programs in general or group deals because marketing the purchase decision can reduce the value of the actual product.  This is why I mainly buy from Amazon versus say… Overstock.com or Newegg instead of Buy.com.  So in the case of Klout, this sort of offering could cause people to tweet about things they didn’t really have much interest in, hoping that algorithms were picking up their keywords.

So far, I felt I had a good end user relationship with Klout and was willing to give the Perks a try.  The first perk I participated in was test driving an Audi.  I found this perk to not be a good fit for myself and the people there seemed to be a jumbled afterthought.  They had a taco truck there.  High end automobiles and tacos just don’t go together.

Today I saw an email in my inbox from Klout.  It had been a while since I’d even visited the site as over the last year of these “perks”, I’d become disgusted with how Klout has been treating users like cattle.  Dropping scores randomly, encouraging users to add more social profiles, hiding more of the useful data and in the end, not giving me value.

My roommate Alex wrote up a great post last year on Klout that I fully support: Why your Klout score is meaningless and it starts off with:

As a Ph D Statistician and search quality engineer, I know a lot about how to properly measure things. In the past few months I’ve become an active Twitter user and very interested in measuring the influence of individuals. Klout provides a way to measure influence on Twitter using a score also called Klout. The range is 0 to 100. Light users score below 20, regular users around 30, and celebrities start around 75. Naturally, I was intrigued by the Klout measurement, but a careful analysis led to some serious issues with the score.

Normally I would ignore emails from Klout telling me I got a “+K” from someone but today, I saw a perk that was completely relevant to me.  I saw it at around 5pm.  I’d just parked the car and saw the Klout perk was for the Ignition West Business Insider conference happening March 21st here in San Francisco.  I thought to myself, “Adria, you’ll be back by then”.  Last week a PR company reached out on behalf Samsung because the digital electronics company would like to fly me out to create a video review of a new monitor line.

I parked the car and told myself I’d register for the perk after my meeting.  The event had a great lineup of speakers spanning business, gaming, startups, investments, mobile and social media including:

  • Dave McClure, Founding Partner, 500 Startups
  • Kevin Rose, Co-Founder & CEO, Milk
  • Sarah Lacy, Founder & Editor, Pando Daily (Formerly at Techcrunch)
  • Kevin Systrom, Founder, Instagram
  • David Ko, Chief Mobile Officer, Zynga Inc
  • Brian Lee, Co-Founder & Chairman, ShoeDazzle; The Honest Company
  • Peter Vesterbacka, CMO, Rovio
  • Richard Kerris, VP, Global Head of Developer Relations, Nokia
  • Holger Luedorf , VP, Head of Business Development, Foursquare
  • Ben Horowitz, Co-Founder & General Partner, Andreessen Horowitz
  •  Shishir Mehrotra, VP, Product Management, YouTube & Video, Google
  • Matt Murphy, Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

And yes, I’ve sorted the list of speakers in order of importance to my career focus.

Why would the Ignition West conference be relevant and thus a value for me to attend?

I have been running my own business as a technology consultant for the last six years.  I’ve been a consultant, power user, evangelist and trainer on cloud apps and website platforms during that time.  People know that if they present me with a problem, I’ll do my research and come back with tools to become more productive.

I’m creative, curious, technical, logical and have a passion for helping people solve problems.

I am currently seeking a position as a developer evangelist and going to this conference would give me the opportunity to meet product managers, developers, sales engineers, marketing managers and decision makers.

I came out of my meeting, flipped open the laptop in the car, signed into Klout only to see that it said, “This perk is full”.  Really?

In less than an hour all the spots for this perk filled up?

What I suspect now happens behind the Klout curtain is no longer a curation around relationships but a turnkey algorithm matching keywords to dollars.

Klout is a reverse Groupon for businesses.

Let’s imagine that there were eight tickets to go to this conference as a Klout perk.  If Klout were truly trying to match influencers to brands, they would release the tickets to groups of influencers and give them a window of opportunity to redeem the perk.  Instead, I suspect it’s more like a cattle call where, let’s say for those eight tickets, they notify two hundred people at once…and move on to their next, ahem, perk.

The average no show rate for a free event on Eventbrite is about 30%.  I wonder what the attendance rate, let alone the “social sharing” rate is for the Klout perks since it seems so little effort is going into the experience anymore.

Yes, when startups first get going, they want to get the word out about their service and will throw parties.  The smile, hang out with you and then…the startups with the wrong advisors or pushy VC’s have to start doing things to make money…often at the expense of the user experience.

Because of the dwindling value with Klout, I unlinked my other accounts including Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr and Tumblr.  I refuse to hand over my interactions, activities and network to be a part of your cattle drive.

Klout, I quit you.

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This entry was posted in Klout, Social Media, Status #Fail on by .

About Adria Richards

Adria Richards is a developer and entrepreneur focused on digital equality. She has been involved in more than 35 hackathon events in the Bay Area and abroad. Embracing her inner nerd, Adria moved moved to San Francisco in 2010 to pursue her passion for technology. Previously she has worked in technical and training roles for enterprise, nonprofits and startups; from Apple to Zendesk. Adria has been teaching technology and developing curriculum since 2007. Adria is a popular speaker at major tech conferences including SXSW, O’Reilly Web 2.0, Launch, The Lean Startup Conference and TEDx. She speaks at startups and coding boot camps about culture, communication and diversity. Adria has attended TED, LeWeb and MLOVE. In her free time, Adria enjoys snowboarding, yoga and bacon; not necessarily at that order. Her Twitter account is followed by President @BarackObama. She blogs at ButYoureAGirl.com and is a YouTube Content Creator.

5 thoughts on “Why Your Klout Score Doesn’t Matter

  1. Mark Jaquith

    Klout is just a tacky idea. Gamification is not beneficial when publicly applied to communications. You don’t need a big orange number to tell you whether you value your communications and your social network interactions. That’s why I quit.

  2. Miha Ahronovitz

    This article was long due to be written. It speaks what all feel and could not find the right words

  3. adriarichards

    Right on Mark.  I value gaining insight into my actions and how I can be more effective.  Now that Klout has turned the tables and is focusing on landing deals for dollars without regard to delivering value (in exchange for us linking our accounts), it’s doesn’t make sense to keep it in your social media toolbox.

  4. Hashim Warren

    The Klout score and perks system is messy and inaccurate, but think about the alternative. I’ve watched panels where I thought, I know more than the guy sitting up there. And I’ve been on panels where I’m sure I wasn’t the best person in the room to represent.

    Klout is doing a better job of connecting people based on interests and expertise than LinkedIn or any other social network.

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