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08 December 2011


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Edmund Amoye


At the least, I applaud Klout for trying to measure online influence. The mistakes that they make will be great resources for people a new generation of social media experts. Innovation is a process not a destination.

Courtney Shelton Hunt, PhD

Thanks for your comment, Edmund - I agree. I think that's a point many critics seem to forget. I'm not anti-Klout; I'm just keenly aware of its limitations and think no one should put much stock in it or any similar measure until their validity and reliability increase.


Good summary Courtney. I did sign on to Klout and Peer Index early out partly because my usual sense of curiosity left me wanting to see how they would develop and how better to get a feel for that than to see what shows up for myself. I only linked my Twitter and LinkedIn accounts as this was an experiment and I wanted to limit the amount of cross access provided. Peer Index was more puzzling than anything as it consistently show my 'influence' in topics that could not have reflected either of my accounts linked and no topics that would have seemed realistic. I did have some email exchanges with someone at Peer Index regarding this and they seemed interested in fixing this but they never quite got there. There was some improvement but the results still had my 'influence' showing on topics that I know little about and have not mentioned in those SN accounts. I still have the account but stopped looking at it a long time ago.

I recently cancelled my Klout account because since the changes they have suddenly started showing topics that I could not possibly have 'influence' in which were added to ones that did make sense. I also grew a little bored with the confirmation that the quantity of posts in either account appeared to be the basis of the numbers that showed up rather than quality and that isn't a factor that matters much when ones business is based on knowledge rather than consumables. I had added my Google+ account to Klout at one point but I rarely use that account so it should not have made a difference in my numbers but it seemed to. The other day I decided just to cancel it to stem the increase in emails Klout is sending out since the changes-I get enough emails as it is, and the ones from Klout were not providing value.

I do agree with you about the tone of the articles, I have followed quite a few and they are all pretty much along the same theme as well as the comments that follow. I find myself intrigued by the sameness of the articles-they seem oddly angry and unprofessional but there is a sense that they could well have been written as a group effort they are so similar in feel. The tone of several of the articles appears to indicate that the writers accepted the credibility of Klout at face value yet that leaves one wondering exactly how well-informed they are regarding the state of social networks today. Surely a knowledgeable person would understand upfront that these are experimental in nature and that there are several core difficulties in arriving at a realistic measurement of influence in the social network world. Just a few of which are the ability to create partial or completely false profiles, the ability to automate posts (remember the quantity versus quality point) and that it doesn't seem to differentiate brands from individuals.

Robert Keahey

Interesting post Courtney. I've followed Klout for quite some time now and have been pretty vocal about its shortcomings. Of course those shortcomings are in the eye of the beholder, as I have had some interesting discussions (debates) with colleagues on the relevancy and value of Klout and the other "influence" measuring sites/services you mentioned. Especially when the discussion centers around using Klout as a screening tool in the hiring process (see related threads over at Focus.com).

I have no problem with Klout measuring "activity", which to me is a relevant indicator of social/digital participation. But like you, I cannot see how that translates into "influence" - mainly because there is no way to link my activity to causing the people whom I supposedly "influence" to behave differently as a result of my actions.

On top of that I simply don't understand the context of Klout's scoring algorithms, even in the area of activity. To demonstrate my point I penned a post comparing my activity to a colleague's. You can read my "analysis" (I use that term loosely since there was little science behind it) at http://goo.gl/LGm7I I also penned another post a few months back on the notion of "meaningless indicators of performance" - http://goo.gl/jvVhe

Like many others, I follow Klout simply out of morbid curiosity at this point. I have "tweaked" numerous aspects of my social behavior to see if I can make some correlation between what I actually do and what Klout thinks I do. To date, I can see no validity in their algorithms. But, in the end, as I have said many times, even if their algorithms appeared to be valid, I would question a site that ties "influence" to "perks". One strange business model...

Courtney Shelton Hunt, PhD

Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Karin and Robert. I appreciate your insights, which continue to make me wonder how/why anyone would put much stock in these tools.

I activated my Klout account for the same reasons you did - curisoity and ongoing experimentation/study. I have chosen to keep it open, but I disconnected it from Facebook after I read about the issue with them creating automatically new accounts based on your friends. After I disconnected FB, my score dropped 20+ points!

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