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Klout: Do You Have Enough Influence to Get the Job?

August 31st, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments


I’ve got this little secret. It’s totally embarrassing. And I’ve kept it under wraps since roughly the end of 7th grade. It’s the kind of nightmare scenario you just want to forget. (And really hope everyone else does, too.) They make movies about this brand of teenage atrocity and it usually ends with someone choking on a jawbreaker or drinking Drano.

I tried out for cheerleader.

And didn’t make it.

I grabbed for the brass ring in a protracted herky and fell short. Quite miserably I might add. My dreams of cheering, bouncing, and prancing the halls on Fridays in a cute little skirt were dashed on that unceremonious afternoon in the junior high gym.

At the time, what I didn’t realize (other than the judges were chosen by school board members who all had the daughters that DID make cheerleader) was that I didn’t care all that much about being a cheerleader. Other than the cute skirts. I was never really afraid of being left out or picked on or ignored if I wasn’t one.

What I was afraid of was not having influence.

Of course in the 7th grade, influence was just another spelling bee word. I didn’t sit around my bedroom outlining strategic plans to increase my influence. I just knew in my limited 13 year-old brain that if you wanted to be heard and respected, you needed to be a cheerleader.

You needed to be someone that people follow, admire, talk about, and emulate.

Fortunately, my desire for pee-wee pep rally fame was quickly replaced by the discovery of track, basketball, photography, yearbook, theatre, and the debate team. My high school career played out like the opening scene from Wes Anderson’s Rushmore. In a pubescent haze I must have thought the only way to make up for not being a cheerleader was to be everything else.

But then we grow up. And we realize being popular doesn’t define us. It’s all the other things that reflect our value.

And then we wake up and realize life isn’t nice and neat like an after-school special. This is the real world. And dammit, popularity matters.

So forget whatever they’ve told you. The world runs on influence. Which of course is fueled by popularity. And if you’re not building yours, you might as well hang with the slackers smoking behind the band hall. (That’s the world talking, not me.)

Now you might ask, “Who really cares?”

A few months ago I would have said probably no one (or maybe Fast Company.) But after interviewing Klout for a tech innovations article I discovered something really interesting.

Employers are starting to consider Klout scores in the job screening process.

At a recent Klout-Up in NYC, an HR recruiter was overheard talking about how they’re starting to use Klout to evaluate job applicants. When questioned by a Klout employee, the recruiter said they were using a score of “around 30″ as a gauge of minimum influence.

Yeah. Not only are they looking at your resume, Linkedin, Google footprint, Facebook activity, and Twitter feed… they’re also looking at where you stand in the social influence hierarchy.

So you can add one more thing to the expanding number of balls you need to juggle to maintain your “personal brand.”

Who’s Doing It, Who’s Not
Do you really need to worry about your Klout score? Could it really help you get a job or possibly keep you from getting one? I interviewed a handful of leaders from the ad industry and social mediasphere.

Here’s what they’re saying:

    Landor Associates

      Russell Meyer of Landor says he doesn’t make decisions based on Klout score because of how hard it would be to reduce a full range of competencies down to a single number. But he does say, “as a candidate moves from the HR department into talks with managers in departments, their on-line profile becomes much more important.” Russell said the inclusion of a Klout score in the hiring process would be specific to certain types of new hires, such as strategists and digital directors. He didn’t see junior designers or finance personnel being assessed on their online influence. But for certain types of hires, influence is something Landor examines:

      “More than just a single score, we look at thought leadership across social media – blog postings/creation, response, Twitter followers, content, etc. [We] haven’t really landed on any single metric that I think we’d say is perfect, as the world seems to still be trying to figure out what ‘influence’ really means on the web…”

      Russell Meyer | Chief Strategy Officer —Landor Associates


            Shannon Moorman of R/GA puts a lot of stock into a mobile/social candidate’s online presence and feels the best way to identify candidates is “through their diversity and depth of engagement” in the social media community:

            “Often times, we find our candidates through social media sites based on the topics that they’re following and commenting on… We feel the best way to identify these candidates is through their diversity and depth of engagement in the social media community. Do they have a blog, is it insightful and influential? Do they have a strong following on Twitter and do they discuss the latest trends and tools in this medium? Do they leverage their own social media tools for personal or professional use? Is it a way of life for them?”

            Shannon Moorman | Director of Recruitment —R/GA

                Saatchi & Saatchi

                  When I asked Tim Leake, Creative Director at Saatchi and Saatchi, New York, he was skeptical of Klout’s ability to accurately score candidates and feels the system is somewhat arbitrary. He says it’s “only good at measuring what it’s built to measure,” and doesn’t put a lot of stock into it because he sees Twitter users that he feels are more influential but who have lower Klout scores.

                  “I don’t factor influence in — and don’t know of any recruiters that do either. In the creative world, I don’t think “influence” is as important as ideas. It’s important, however, for candidates to show me that they’re using the digital space and understand it. Most importantly, that they have a thirst to continue understanding it as it evolves. The digital space continues to change rapidly — so we need learners.”

                  Tim Leake | Creative Director —Saatchi & Saatchi


                        Edward Boches of Mullen had some interesting insights and shared his opinion of Klout as well as what he values when hiring. At Mullen, he says they don’t use Klout because it’s not scientific and it “emphasizes pushing out of content,” which he doesn’t see as a good indicator of all the skills needed to be good at social media in an integrated environment. Further emphasizing his hesitation to embrace Klout in the hiring process, in a recent post he says:

                        “While Klout is a pretty cool tool, and will no doubt evolve, it appears to emphasize the impact of one’s “push” content on Twitter and Facebook – reach, influence, re-tweeting. But it can’t identify the rest of the qualities – conversation strategy, flexibility, timeliness, and authenticity – that a smart agency or brand should look for in a social strategist.”

                        Edward Boches | Chief Creative Officer & Chief Social Media Officer —Mullen

                            Beth Harte

                              Beth Harte, a respected social media leader who created and writes at the popular The Harte of Marketing Blog is also skeptical of judging employees on their Klout scores:

                              “I think if HR departments utilize Klout as a measure of someone’s social media ability they may be potentially disappointed in the long-run. Social media is not a stand-alone channel, it must be integrated into marketing, PR, customer service, sales, etc… Because people can promote themselves and successfully network doesn’t mean they can do the same for a potential employer. Employers need to remember that what people do on their own time is not limited by corporate culture, time or market.”

                              Beth Harte | Client Services Director —Serengeti Communications

                                  I also communicated with Melanie Mahaffey at GSD&M and Scott Monty at Ford, and they both said their companies aren’t currently using Klout scores for hiring.

                                  The Future of Klout Scores
                                  Currently, Klout is only gauging influence through Twitter interactions (and recently added Facebook to the mix), but according to Megan Berry, the company’s Marketing Manager (and also a writer for Mashable,) they’re working on incorporating other social media channels such as Linkedin, Plancast, bit.ly, personal blogs, and other social networks. Klout currently has 650 API partners. That’s huge.

                                  Regardless of the potential, most hiring managers and department directors are still looking beyond influence during the hiring process, but because many of them are aware of Klout and recognize the importance of online engagement, it’s only a matter of time before Klout becomes a ubiquitous screening tool. When you have 100+ applicants for a job, how easy would it be to quickly eliminate 75% of them?

                                  The temptation is there. As we see in every other technology space, human nature drives development. People naturally feel a need to categorize, rank, judge, and weed.

                                  Given all of the online information about an individual, and all of the interaction and engagement between people, something that assesses and categorizes was bound to emerge. And as much as it feels intrusive (and admittedly I’ve had and still have my reservations) you have to hand it to Klout for seeing beyond the horizon and being prepared to leverage the social media community’s obsession with influence, and the human desire to be popular.

                                  Or at least associate with whoever is.

                                  Klout CEO Joe Fernandez puts it this way:

                                  “We believe that every person that creates content online has influence. Our goal is to understand who they influence and on what topics. By helping people fully understand their influence we believe we can help them become better social media citizens and drive the most impact from their social interactions.”

                                  Joe Fernandez | CEO —Klout

                                    He also says that while Klout is aware that the number of Twitter followers or retweets doesn’t tell the full story, they’re performing “significant analysis” on each individual’s interactions, and are now doing it across other social platforms (Facebook just added, more to come).

                                    Joe says Klout will be making the information available to users in the future to help them better understand and leverage their influence.

                                    Whether we argue that Klout is a superficial reflection of influence or that it fails to capture the full range of talents and the basic essence of an individual, it’s going to turn into a pretty big deal as it evolves. How could it not? We have Google Rank, Alexa Rank, Twitter Grader, Blog Grader, and all manner of other graders for accounts and websites, so it’s logical that grading individuals is a natural progression of our assessment habit. Or as Megan Berry said: “It’s Google PageRank for people.”

                                    The good news: Klout won’t just measure whether you made cheerleader. Once more of our social media activities are tapped, we’ll all have a chance to channel our inner Max Fischer.

                                    And apparently, we’ll also be getting Klout badges to prove it.

                                    Join the Conversation…

                                    How do you feel about being judged by your Klout score? Does your score seem accurate?

                                    Do you think influence should matter to a company when hiring?

                                    What do you define as true influence and can algorithms successfully measure it?

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                                    1. August 31st, 2010 at 14:57 | #1

                                      I just talked to someone yesterday who mentioned that they had some social media director candidates they we’re dismissing because of lack of followers. All I can say is that for the time being stats like this have become the way people who don’t understand the medium measure the medium.

                                      I’m not trashing Klout or any of the influence measurements. They don’t desire to measure people’s ability to do a job. They just want to find influencers and sell that data to people who need influencers for getting the word out about products, event, etc. But there’s no doubt that their data will be misused (as all data is) as folks grope with what influence even means. And one of the areas that will experience the worst impact is the job market for social managers.

                                      Like I’ve been saying, social influence does not equal social expertise.

                                      Bob Knorpp
                                      Host of The BeanCast Marketing Podcast
                                      Host of Ad Age Outlook

                                    2. August 31st, 2010 at 15:36 | #2

                                      Hello Michelle,

                                      Great post. Whether Klout score should be use for hiring really depends on what kind of jobs the candidate is applying for. If they are applying for an interactive marketer position, sure. A high Klout score would be great. But if they are applying for an back-end engineering job, maybe not so relevant.

                                      As more and more people are on social media, and personal branding is becoming more important, I think that Klout score should be something nice to have for most jobs, but shouldn’t be a criterion unless the job functions needs that specifically.

                                      I’ve recently talk to Joe Fernandez (CEO of Klout). I think their current implementation of the Klout score is still not very accurate. Meaning that it is still heavily based on popularity and not really influence per se. Although popularity (which I call high bandwidth) is one of the factors in my framework for finding influencers (which involves 6 necessary factors, but none of them alone is sufficient). You can read more about it here

                                      However, Klout have recently hired couple of scientists to improve the accuracy of their algorithms. So I believe their accuracy will increase over time.

                                    3. August 31st, 2010 at 15:43 | #3

                                      This is an interesting one to think about. I think that what people seem to be looking for is someone that truly knows their stuff. Their resume may say that they’re well-versed and their interviews may rock – but when the rubber meets the road, is that all still true?

                                      It’s a lot like Bob describes – “stats like this have become the way people who don’t understand the medium measure the medium”. It takes a good amount of knowledge to be able to determine if the interviews/resume live up to the real-world identity of someone, and Klout is one tool that could be used as a starting point for determining if it holds up in real life. I agree with Ed Boche’s note though… Klout does focus a lot on pushing out content.

                                      I think that Klout is a step in an interesting direction, and I’m personally interested to see how their scoring system evolves over time.

                                      Community Manager | Radian6

                                    4. Teresa Basich
                                      August 31st, 2010 at 15:46 | #4

                                      Bob made an incredible point in that last statement of his — “…social influence does not equal social expertise.” And that’s just it. While it’s important to understand how social works, where influence counts is within the community you want to reach, and around the causes those communities care about.

                                      While it’s nice to see that folks in the agency world are hesitant to use Klout as a measure of influence, where I see this taking hold is within those organizations that don’t yet understand social and are searching desperately for ways to quantify and rank what they think matters in the social space. To some degree, I view this a bit like I view automated sentiment — we want an algorithm to tell us about human nature. Is that possible? I just don’t think it is.

                                      Kudos to Klout for attempting to quantify that which makes us…well…us. But I just don’t believe a mathematical computation can tell us what we need to know about human influence.

                                      Great post, Michelle!

                                    5. August 31st, 2010 at 16:12 | #5

                                      I agree, there’s some relevance. But as long as you’re not dawdling down in the teens, this algorithm isn’t very relevant for people like me who aren’t necessarily looking for a job in SM. That said, my old @smashadv account has a score of 62, which I think is pretty high – and kind of proves my point about relevance.

                                    6. August 31st, 2010 at 16:28 | #6

                                      What a fascinating discussion!

                                      I’m not at all sure the aggregate Klout score is, as it stands, a reliable measure for determining a job-seeker’s fate, especially as “volume” seems to be a key metric in determining how one will score there… but Megan berry’s “PageRank for humans” analogy seems to me to be right on.

                                      Just as we don’t allow PageRank to determine whether or not to subscribe to a blog, or to take as authoritative the information presented on a website – because there are too many complex, unmeasurable, idiosyncratically *human* factors involved in the relationship we have with both people and the works they produce – to judge a potential employee by Klout score alone is clearly just not on. But in any hiring situation there has to be a way to create a shortlist of candidates, and if the position is directly related to social media management, Klout’s as good a tool to throw into the mix as any, along with the applicant’s work history, references, community service, reputation within the industry, and so on and so on.

                                      In short, whether it’s Klout or some other social media rating system, throwing one more metric into the mix is rather like having a larger sample for a survey: the more data points, the better the odds of getting a reliable picture. Does that make sense?

                                    7. August 31st, 2010 at 16:36 | #7

                                      Another great, insightful and important article.

                                      While Klout is fun and interesting, their perceived clout in fact has changed some behaviors on Twitter. The math, when paired to the behaviors needed to get a higher score, may not be as desirable for social interaction.

                                      In the same way having pretty infographics doesn’t make the data more correct, measuring behaviors in a certain way does not make them more relevant.

                                    8. August 31st, 2010 at 16:52 | #8

                                      As someone “dawdling in the teens” AND potentially looking for a job in SM, I’d still like to think that I have meaningful content posted that is be worthwhile for others to see. Building “influence” via Klout score is more difficult when you’re not representing a company and you’re just starting out in the workforce, IMO. I’d hope that I’m not turned down for an entry-level SM job just because I don’t have enough followers or my Klout score is too low.

                                    9. August 31st, 2010 at 17:20 | #9

                                      Hey Michelle,

                                      Great post. Really appreciate you reaching out directly to us.

                                      I think the main point here is that hiring is incredibly difficult and that managers will look for any signal they can find to help qualify a candidate. The Klout Score is helpful signal to consider but (obviously) can’t be the only factor considered when making a hiring decision.

                                      Over the past 5 months our company has grown from 3 employees to more than 15. During this hyper growth phase we have interviewed hundreds of candidates and we run the Klout score on all of them. For us a person’s Klout score is a great validator of their domain expertise. When we hire for roles like marketing or community management the Klout score gives us the ability to really dive into the details of how a person leverages social media to spread their message. We look at historical trends on all the components of the score and gain insight into a person’s communication style. Sometimes we find that a person has a high Klout Score but is a terrible fit for the job. We then ask those people to help share the job listing online :)

                                      We are very much in early days around the type of measurement we are doing here at Klout. We have a lot of great stuff coming and I look forward to seeing how people use this data in the future.

                                      Thanks again Michelle!

                                    10. August 31st, 2010 at 17:29 | #10

                                      Michelle -

                                      Great information here!

                                      And kudos to you for actually trying out for the cheer leading squad. I was a swimmer because it’s awfully hard to fall down in the water.

                                      Klout is a metric. And metrics are nice, if you believe they tell the whole story. My fear parallels your own; is this something that will be used to eliminate 75% of candidates before they even get past the initial HR screening?

                                      Personal influence might be important if the company is looking to up their profile by bringing on a big name. But that’s propping up your brand, not promoting it. Using personal digital influence as a high requirement seems short sighted. I have yet to see a measurement tool for charisma. A person may do 600 @replies a day, but if they’re all “Thanks” or emoticons, is that really influence? Are they communicating in a way that promotes interest and further conversation? Do people want to interact with them?

                                      Nor is there a tool for measuring the “chameleon effect” of how an individual will be able to step into your culture and brand and communicate it effectively to an audience. Can a person who was successful at Thinkgeek be valuable at The Omni? Klout isn’t going to tell you. But a real conversation might.

                                    11. August 31st, 2010 at 19:14 | #11

                                      Michelle –

                                      How have I not connected with you before? You’re magically brilliant, and also a former high school theater geek. (The key to making cheerleader? Join the basketball team, which is open-invite, and suck. Badly. So badly that the entire basketball team votes for you as cheerleader just to get you off their squad. But I digress…)

                                      I think Klout is a silly thing to hang your hat on as a marketing candidate (or hirer, either). Then again, I think there is disproportionate emphasis on personality typing and other tools. Tools can be gamed. In fact, tools are made to be gamed, to a certain extent.

                                      Excellent post.

                                    12. August 31st, 2010 at 19:34 | #12

                                      Bob, Thanks for the response! I completely see your points and have to admit that when I first encountered Klout, I thought it was a scary concept. In some ways it still is, but only when in the wrong hands. ;)

                                      It’s kind of like how you say using the numbers is for people who don’t understand the medium. I understand the potential value of a Klout score, but if I was applying for a job I’d really want to have faith that HR and the hiring director are looking at my Klout score in combination with skills, background, and online presence. Not just using my Klout score as the quick way to make a snap assessment.

                                      I think for some, Klout will end up confirming an already promising candidate, or it will eliminate one that’s on the fence. Is that bad? Maybe, maybe not. But you’re right, social influence doesn’t equal expertise… Klout or any other analytic will have a hard time evaluating that.

                                    13. August 31st, 2010 at 19:47 | #13

                                      Michael, I really appreciate your response! I also enjoyed your recent post on influence http://bit.ly/cIX3wY and can see how we’re both wanting readers to realize there’s more to an “influencer” than a number or an expectation, and that there are different levels of influence and not all evidenced by a number.

                                      I’ve talked to Joe and Megan at Klout recently as well, and the company is obviously committed to finding smart ways to gauge influence using social media stats. Will it eventually be highly accurate? Maybe. Is our reliance on it a good idea? I’m not so sure about that. Yes, it has its benefits, but we could also go back to the high school scenario where everyone is striving for popularity, we start being judged on superficial factors, and the “cool kids” ignore anyone who hasn’t “made cheerleader.” I’m starting to see the value of Klout in some ways, but I also see how Twitter is more cliquish than it used to be, and I think Klout scores are going to unwittingly perpetuate a “popular kids vs. the unwashed masses” mindset.

                                      Thanks again for commenting!

                                    14. August 31st, 2010 at 19:52 | #14

                                      interesting post. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I agree that unfortunately most of the time influence is defined by popularity (not really the right way to define it). And it is rather sad that HR is looking at Klout metrics. I don’t have anything against Klout; however, what a shallow way to look at a person’s skills and true influence. I’ve worked with folks who are influencial and deliver enourmous number of brilliant ideas and do outstanding work, but who are not interested in personal brand promotion or much of personal digital presence.

                                      I guess if you are hiring for a specific role, Klout might be an interesting metric to look at. But just interesting, nothing more than that.


                                    15. August 31st, 2010 at 20:12 | #15

                                      Katie, thanks for participating! It’s great to hear from Radian6. You’ve hit on something really important… if a candidate for a social media position has to be screened by HR before being interviewed by the hiring manager, if HR isn’t immersed in social media it could be intimidating to have to evaluate someone.

                                      I mean, seriously. I can’t even imagine how I’d evaluate someone in social media if I wasn’t already engaged in it. Where would someone start? It makes sense that HR would feel some comfort in using Klout to help them assess a candidate’s “knowledge and application” of sharing tools. But as Tim Leake said in his interview, Klout can only measure what it’s designed to measure. And at this point in time, Klout doesn’t paint a complete social influence picture.

                                      It wouldn’t make sense to use it as the single deciding factor. But Klout isn’t advocating that. I think the key is in people using it with a dash of wisdom.

                                      Thanks for commenting, Katie!

                                    16. August 31st, 2010 at 20:17 | #16

                                      Hi Teresa, I really appreciate your comment… (And another Radian6 perspective, too!). So true about “social influence does not equal social expertise.” So far I think we’re all in agreement here that Klout measures the ability to push out content and build relationships around the content. Whether that is true influence remains to be seen. Just like Russell Meyer said… we’re all still trying to figure out what influence really means.

                                      Klout is just here trying to answer that question and back to Katie’s comment, it will be interesting to see where it leads.

                                    17. August 31st, 2010 at 20:21 | #17

                                      Hi Jim, thanks for commenting! We’ve gone back and forth on this a little bit in Twitter, and I’ve watched as you experiment with trading a “highly Klouted” account for a “name branded” account. You already know I think you’re committing “Klouticide.” LOL!

                                      But your social experiment points out something so important… just because someone has a low Klout score doesn’t mean they don’t have influence, or that they don’t have the connections or channels for marshaling it when needed.

                                      Thanks again for your response!

                                    18. August 31st, 2010 at 20:28 | #18

                                      Where I see klout being more applicable is in outreach. When businesses are looking to spread the word about their projects, they not only want popular bloggers but influencers in many areas of the web. Getting the support of someone who’s influential on twitter can be comparably effective as a prominent blogger these days.

                                      I love what klout is doing and think they’ll continue to improve their score over time. I don’t think it will ever get to the point where it could determine the caliber of a potential employee though. As far as hiring professionals based on their klout, I think it’s pretty ridiculous to use this as a filter.

                                      I’d much rather hire someone to manage my social media projects who understands business, who understand people, and who has a solid grasp of branding, then someone who can get a lot of RTs and the other factors that are included in a klout score.

                                      And I love to use the example of Erin Bury, who has said herself that until she started working with Sprouter, she wasn’t doing much in the social space. Now look at her.

                                      David, Scribnia

                                    19. August 31st, 2010 at 20:33 | #19

                                      Thanks for the comment, Tom… you’re bringing up something really valuable… if someone is just starting a career in social media, it will take time to build influence. And in the meantime the Klout score may not reflect the person’s true ability and influence potential. Maybe that’s something Klout could add to the matrix… analyze the influence potential of a person based on their amount of activity and current strategies. Although we’re getting back into scary territory again… it’s bordering on the equivalent of telling someone at what age they’ll probably get married or die.

                                      But if you think about it, over time there will be SO MUCH information gathered that Klout could probably be used by insurance companies to determine who’s a safe or bad risk based on the topics they’re influential on, their channel activity, and whatever else they end up assessing. Take it a few steps further and you get to Google level power. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, and I won’t say it’s poised to be the next Facebook, but Klout could weild some serious power. Joe, are you listening? ;)

                                      Thanks again for the comment, Tom! And for leading to some deep thoughts about the future of Klout.

                                    20. August 31st, 2010 at 20:36 | #20

                                      I know, Rebecca… This has been a great discussion! Thanks for participating!

                                      PERFECT POINT! Love it! We don’t use Google PageRank to decide whether we follow a blog, so it makes sense that Klout won’t be able to tell us who we’ll enjoy following, connecting with, or hiring. Some things just can’t be measured.

                                      Although I get the feeling Klout’s going to try. They’re really working hard to create a well-rounded product. Again, it just needs to be used for good, not evil!

                                      Thanks again, Rebecca!

                                    21. August 31st, 2010 at 20:46 | #21

                                      Very interesting conversation, I think that this subject in general will continue to develop as more and more data sources begin to publish their own user metrics. Even though it seems that many commenters assert here that the scores are unable to encapsulate the entirety of a person, I expect that we will see more, not less, use of data like this to aid in hiring.

                                      There was one big assumption throughout the post and the conversation here in the comments that I think went unspoken, and might be worth discussing. It seems to me that the notion here is that a candidate with a higher Klout score is a *better candidate* than one with a lower Klout score. Am I correct in sensing this? Why do we suppose that the more influential a person is (leaving aside questions about the methodology of measuring that influence), the better candidate they are for a given job? I could in fact imagine situations where hiring managers would prefer somebody who was NOT so influential. There are, after all, risks associated with attaching your company or brand to highly-followed ‘influencers’ (e.g. if they make a big mistake, blow up at a client, slam their own employer, etc.).


                                    22. August 31st, 2010 at 21:37 | #22

                                      Thanks for participating in the discussion, Wayne! I’ve been thinking about this, too. One of the things about Klout that I first posted a few months ago was how I felt it would change people’s behavior on social networks, and not for better.

                                      I follow several lists and even of the people I respect and pay attention to, sometimes I see them in the list tweeting back and forth to only each other (very high Klout scorers, all!) I just feel like Klout perpetuates that kind of behavior. I try to make sure my lists are populated with people who have genuine content value regardless of their scores, so it’s a shame to see users who should know better than to enclose themselves in an echo chamber and bounce off each other all day. But with Klout, that kind of behavior may be rewarded if everyone you’re bouncing off has higher Klout than you do.

                                      Not really a good way to “give back” and support your followers. I don’t know about you, but I always have respect for Hollywood celebrities who take the time to talk to fans… and alternately get a bad taste seeing the ones that break cameras or turn away from fans and act like they don’t see them. When you see a Twitter feed of someone with 10,000+ followers with all high-profile @replies you know there’s a hundred “low Klouters” they’re not responding to.

                                      Thanks for bringing up an interesting counterpoint, Wayne!

                                    23. August 31st, 2010 at 21:40 | #23

                                      You’re so right, Tom. There will always be people who will use Klout as a shortcut. I love how you compare “Klouting” to “Googling.” I think you’re onto something there. And seriously, Klout has extreme potential beyond what most of us are probably imagining.

                                      Thanks for your comments!

                                    24. August 31st, 2010 at 23:08 | #24

                                      Ouch! That rules me out then. Despite the fact that I know industry leaders in several countries and have a life offline too!

                                      I’m wary of any statistical-based system that assesses influence. After all, I might not influence very many people today, but tomorrow a video or blog post could really catch on, go viral, blah blah blah and then I’d be massive.

                                      I suppose I would also want to know who exactly someone could influence. For example, if you happen to be close friends with the prime minister, that’s pretty influential. Perhaps more so than having 2000 anonymous friends on Twitter.

                                    25. September 1st, 2010 at 00:26 | #25

                                      I don’t think any of us would say that this would be a good thing. There’s definitely merit in understanding a person’s influence if their position directly requires a preexisting network to leverage. However there are compelling arguments in the opposite direction if the person is just being hired to manage online conversation. In those cases it can sometimes be a detriment to the brand to have popular individuals stealing too much of the limelight.

                                      One great argument about the latter point of view was referenced in Michelle’s post. Edward Boches talked eloquently in a recent post about how twitter followers aren’t what’s most important for him — ability to generate quality ideas is paramount. You can find it at http://edwardboches.com.

                                      Another good argument came from Kevin Briody. I interviewed him for an AudioBoo a few weeks back and he share succinct reasons for not always evaluating job applicants based on their social participation. You can find that here: http://www.beancast.us/xn/detail/2038174:BlogPost:11605

                                      Thorny issue to say the least. And all this convo is making me realize that I need to get Michelle on my show. Because she has influence. ;)

                                      Bob Knorpp
                                      Host of The BeanCast Marketing Podcast
                                      Host of Ad Age Outlook

                                    26. September 1st, 2010 at 00:53 | #26

                                      Hello Michelle,

                                      Thank you for keeping the conversation going.

                                      I think whether influence scoring will perpetuate the “popular kids” vs the “unwanted masses” really depends on how the score is computed. Right now it is primarily based on popularity, so you get this undesirable side effect. But if they become more accurate, and focuses more on reciprocity data (see http://lithosphere.lithium.com/t5/Building-Community-the-Platform/Finding-the-Influencers-Influence-Analytics-2/ba-p/5709), then it could turn out that the most popular people are not the most influential.

                                      In fact several study has already confirm that. Popularity is not well correlated with true influence. If that is the case, maybe influence score will actually help equalize the population a bit and help people recognize those influential, but not necessarily popular individuals. Just my thoughts.

                                    27. September 1st, 2010 at 02:22 | #27

                                      Oh, look, another tool that people can use to show they are a social media guru! “Hi, I have a high Klout score so I know what I’m talking about.” Bah, humbug, to all the social media analysis algorithms. I checked my Klout score. It’s 39. So what? It doesn’t change the fact that if I don’t tweet things that are interesting, entertaining, important or relevant to the people considering following me, then I’m not going to have any followers.

                                      The dangerous thing about measurement tools like this is that they are arbitrarily arrived at by entrepreneurs (more power to ‘em!) who come up with some way to try to make a buck and build a business. Personally, I’ll just keep having conversations via social media with people who I’m proud to have as followers and I am happy to follow back regardless of their Klout score or any other score they may have.

                                      It’s not about what value some company like Klout thinks a person has that matters. It’s the value they provide to my Twitter stream. People considering hiring or not hiring candidates because of something like a Klout score really need to think about how ridiculous the whole concept is in the grand scheme of things.

                                      ~ Ari

                                    28. September 1st, 2010 at 14:27 | #28

                                      Joe, I really appreciate how you stay so engaged with your community. I know there’s a lot of questions and Klout is still growing and evolving. It will be interesting to see what Klout becomes. Whether we like being judged by a number or not, there’s no doubt that Klout is a pretty brilliant idea and you deserve to be commended for seeing what’s next and leveraging it.

                                      Thanks for the comment!

                                    29. September 1st, 2010 at 14:50 | #29

                                      Thank you, Jana! LOL. I only tried out for cheerleader that one time at the end of 7th grade, but I still look back and (obviously) laugh! Maybe I should have taken up swimming! ;)

                                      You have some great thoughts here. It’s exciting to see so many comments packed full of interesting perspectives. You hit on something excellent. Just because someone knows how to game a system, or just because they know how to curate content doesn’t mean they’ll have all of the intangible qualities that make you want to work with them. Your point about charisma hit home. Especially in a sales or account service role: “People buy from people they like.” If you want them to run a community from behind the scenes and never have client or co-worker contact, a demonstrated ability at building a community online would be extremely valuable. But if they’re going to have to work dynamically with other people in a physical space, a Klout score can’t possibly reflect whether they’ll be awesome or disastrous. But again, Klout isn’t measuring that so we’re safe for now!

                                      As you said, conversations are the way HR and managers can learn what they really need to know about a candidate. Enthusiasm, passion, and energy can’t be genuinely reflected in a metric.

                                    30. September 1st, 2010 at 15:02 | #30

                                      Hi Kat, I’m flattered! So glad you enjoyed the post and that we got connected. I think you’re right. It would be silly for a job candidate to think they could use Klout as a surefire way to get hired.

                                      No doubt Klout will be gamed, there’s always someone who has enough time to figure it out. Just look at World of Warcraft and other MMORPG’s. People develop an obsession to leveling their characters and come up with all kinds of crazy ways to beat the game. Klout offers similar opportunities for achieving a certain “rank.”

                                      That’s why it’s so important for other factors to be considered when reviewing job applicants. Klout can only measure a person’s influence online. It can’t take into the things we do outside… like creating a brilliant concept that increases company revenue, being a company rainmaker, volunteering as a child mentor, or being a good parent. Not to mention, showing whether a person is honest and ethical, a team-player, or honestly understands the content they’re sharing online.

                                      Thanks again for commenting, Kat!

                                    31. September 1st, 2010 at 15:17 | #31

                                      Hi Ekaterina,

                                      Klout is definitely an interesting tool, and yes, we do need to remember it’s just a tool. When I asked Edward Boches what he thought about Klout, that was one of the first things he said. It’s cool, but it can’t possibly measure all of the things that really make someone capable and successful.

                                      Kind of like how Rebecca said earlier, that we don’t let Google PageRank to let us determine which blogs to subscribe to, we shouldn’t let Klout determine who we should or shouldn’t hire. Do we look at the number and value it for what it is? Yes. But do we let it be the decider? No.

                                      Great point about personal digital promotion. Not everyone is interested in being involved in social media, and just because they’re not doesn’t mean they wouldn’t make a fantastic employee. Although, I believe that social networking activity can be a good indicator of a person’s willingness to embrace technology, roll with change, communicate, and learn. Which are qualities that aren’t always easy to find, and definitely prized in an employee. When you look at it that way, Klout has a lot of value in analyzing at least that one dimension of a person.

                                      Maybe we can get to the point where we appreciate Klout for its ability to measure that one dimension. I think once people feel secure that their entire value isn’t being judged by that number, it’ll be easier to relax and embrace Klout for what it is.

                                      Thanks for participating!

                                    32. September 1st, 2010 at 17:41 | #32

                                      Hi David, I really appreciate your opinion and I bet Klout does, too.

                                      I have to agree. Klout has made it clear they’re committed to doing this the right way. It’s no secret that I originally felt Klout was the end of the world and would discourage genuine sharing and encourage snap judgments. But I have an open mind and decided to look past my initial reservations. That’s why I decided to interview Klout.

                                      After talking to Joe and Megan, I began to understand, like you do, that there are benefits to what Klout will provide. Granted, it’s still in the development stage and they’re evolving the product. But they want to make it better.

                                      The point of this post, essentially, is to make it clear that Klout is serious business. Employers are paying attention to it, too. Maybe not all of them, but eventually it’s possible. And we all need to consider it when preparing for a job search. Whether we agree with it or not!

                                      And as you said, there are also examples of people who started out with little or no influence and have succeeded. No doubt this is a complicated space!

                                      Thanks for your feedback, David!

                                    33. September 1st, 2010 at 17:56 | #33

                                      Hi Richard! Great point! Definitely there are some roles where an employer would prefer to have an employee with a low Klout score, or maybe even not that engaged in social media at all. Although, it seems like that’s probably not going to happen much in the media, marketing, or advertising industry… or even at most high-profile brands. An engaged, active, communicative employee that keeps up on technology is generally going to be an asset.

                                      The fear could come in if the employer sees questionable activity, such as blogs criticizing former bosses, complaints about clients, or using inappropriate language. Which is why everyone keeps saying to be careful what you put out there! Again, it just means employers should be factoring in more than just Twitter followers and Klout scores. But it doesn’t mean those things won’t help them in evaluating.

                                      Thanks again for your thoughts!

                                    34. September 1st, 2010 at 18:02 | #34

                                      Thanks for keeping the discussion going, Bob!

                                      I particularly liked Edward Boches’ responses when I asked him if Mullen uses Klout in the hiring process. His quote is worth repeating. He said “I am a big believer that you never force fit someone into a job, but rather find talented, creative, ambitious, people that you want to work with and build jobs around them.” Isn’t that incredible? Every company should be that forward-thinking. Even he admits that Klout is a cool tool, but it doesn’t influence his decisions.

                                      I have to check out that AudioBoo you did with Kevin Briody. Taking the topic in that direction is an interesting way to turn the whole “influence” debate on its head!

                                    35. September 1st, 2010 at 18:23 | #35

                                      Hi Jon, I appreciate your comment!

                                      Excellent point about real influence. This is why even though Klout has positive aspects, we can’t rely on it to define a person or reflect their ultimate value and influence. That’s where the danger is.

                                      Klout is measuring online influence, which is such a narrow space compared to everything that makes up a human life. Is there anything wrong with that? Just like any tool, it can be used for good or evil.

                                      Using Klout:
                                      Good = understanding a person’s influence and passion areas and level of online engagement.
                                      Bad = believing a person’s value can be boiled down to a number, and judging them against it.

                                      As you said, there are so many things that reflect influence that can’t be evaluated by online activity. It’s up to each individual to use Klout wisely or foolishly.

                                      And clearly distinguishing “influence” from “online influence” would probably be a good start.

                                      Thanks again, Jon!

                                    36. September 1st, 2010 at 18:50 | #36

                                      Ari, You have the perfect attitude toward engaging in online communities and I hope there are a lot more people out there just like you. My initial fear with Klout was that people would stop engaging genuinely and would start ignoring followers with low Klout, and only acknowledge people with higher Klout. Even before Klout you have to admit there’s a reason someone came up with “echo chamber.”

                                      I never liked the idea of losing that “innocence” Twitter had. I loved how when Twitter was new, anyone could engage with anyone. One minute you could be bantering with a CEO (and you might not even realize it yet), the next you could be joking around with a recent college grad. You could talk to people from right down the street, or across the world. There weren’t any numbers… no “influence” or huge follower counts to create walls between sharing and engaging.

                                      Of course as things evolved, separations formed. And now it’s really hard to participate in certain circles if you have a low follower count. (“Why exactly is that?” I ask rhetorically.)

                                      My stance… I caution people against using Klout to screen out people they could be engaging with, or to screen out potential job candidates. Yes, it may seem like a contradiction that I respect Klout the company, and I like that they see the future and are exploring entrepreneurial opportunities. (Hey, I love technology and the future!) But I think the two opinions are not mutually-exclusive. What I don’t like is the idea of people using Klout scores as a “one-stop” assessment tool. The more I listen to Joe Fernandez describe his vision, the more I understand what’s good about Klout, and feel that the user is the one who needs to be held accountable. Klout is just assembling the information and evaluating it. It’s the user who can use it for what’s it meant for, or choose to abuse it.

                                      Thanks so much for commenting, Ari!

                                    37. September 1st, 2010 at 19:25 | #37

                                      I’m going to check that post, Michael! Thanks!

                                    38. September 2nd, 2010 at 14:43 | #38

                                      Employers are always looking for ways to make more effective employment decisions. In the past, we had IQ tests, Myers-Briggs and so-called career aptitude tests. Klout is one of many measurement tools — Twitalyzer and TweetLevel are others — to give some view as to the intangible value of “influence.” It’s new and exciting but it’s real value is still yet-to-be-determined.

                                      The concept of influence is not new, but for the first time in history we have two factors: 1) data points to potentially measure influence; 2) proliferation of access for individuals to “create” influence.

                                      Klout is a good start but it’s not quite there yet.

                                    39. September 2nd, 2010 at 21:17 | #39

                                      No – thank you for the stellar post – it came at a perfect time!

                                      I really, REALLY agree with your closing comment – Klout (and tools like it) can be used a part of the evaluation process, surely. But right now, I don’t think a tool exists that should be used as THE deciding factor. Perhaps one day, but right now they’re just not advanced enough.


                                    40. September 7th, 2010 at 21:17 | #40

                                      This was a very informative post. I just learned about the true purpose of klout today and I can see its promising applications as it evolves. I do agree with most of those you interviewed in the fact that klout alone will not and can not determine a person’s overall true influence once you factor in everything else like timeliness, relevance, and like-ability. Overall I like the concept of klout but am eagerly anticipating the evolution and mas integration of it all.

                                      I currently have a clout score of 27. It says I’m on my way up so I hope this helps.

                                    41. September 7th, 2010 at 21:22 | #41

                                      I definitely see where things could start to go down hill. I see it all the time on Twitter with people bantering and begging celebrities for “follows” so they can look cool because they are “friends” with Kanye West. I guess it doesn’t matter where and what type of equal system is set up to connect us all there will always evolve a pecking order from the mirk that is equality. If you believe in evolution that is. ;)

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