@h+klefevre and the Quest for Klout

Maybe you noticed and maybe you didn’t, but last week I was a social media fiend. There’s a reason. A little over a week ago, a comment was made by a client responsible for social media that they would expect someone offering advice on social media to have a higher Klout score than themselves. I wasn’t in the meeting, but one of our art directors made the comment “Wait until you meet our head of planning. She’ll give you a run for your money.”

When my colleagues return and tell me about the meeting we go online and compare Klout scores. Mine is 40. The client’s is 51. I’ve never paid any attention to Klout before this but they insisted I try to do so and get mine up. So I connect my Facebook account. Then Foursquare, Instagram, Google+ that I never use, and LinkedIn (that ought to take care of this competition). And then I simply put attention into all of these networks. After 24 hours my score had gone up 6 points. By the end of the week I was at 53 and it seems to have leveled off there. But that’s still 2 points higher than the client’s.

What did I learn from my experiment?

1. We are not our Klout scores. Klout cannot measure the latent goodwill that your networks have for you. If I start communicating openly through social networks, then I get a bump in my numbers. But it doesn’t see the fact that I have many side conversations over DM or Facebook messages. I can call people and they will answer the phone. If I go to other countries, there are friendly people willing to meet for coffee.

2. Klout, though an imperfect algorithm, measures something. It measures the fact that I am creating more content than I was a week ago and it is being spread because the content is interesting in some way and I have said latent good will. No algorithm is perfect anyway. No computer can measure human interaction perfectly. Have you had a conversation with Siri?

3. Keeping score inspires competitive spirit and action. This is why a dashboard and select KPI’s isn’t just something to do for fun. It gives you or a brand a sense of progression. And comparing your results with others’ given different approaches can certainly help in that quest. Have a look at this picture comparing airlines. What can we learn simply by the number of followers, the number of tweets and what we know about each of these brands. They are certainly yielding very different results. KLM is up to their elbows in tweets, but JetBlue has so many more followers with far fewer tweets.

4. Scheduling consistent posts reminds the world that you are alive. I have never scheduled my posts before, so I dip in and out when it is convenient for me. But I know a few people with very high scores who do schedule their posts so I gave it a go. I set up Buffer on my browser and now when I read something interesting the tweet goes in a queue that I can control. I’ve set it to post 3 times a day at times I’m generally not tweeting. That way I can still post whatever I come across and I hopefully won’t get spammy.

5. You’re presence can mess with your perceived value. One of my planners says that seeing me in his feed all the time makes him less likely to click on links and pay attention to what I’m saying. It’s perceptual supply and demand. Most brands forget this I think. Exclusivity with great content is often better than a deluge of great content.

6. There is not a huge amount of cross-over between my Twitter network and my Facebook network. I stopped posting all my Tweets to Facebook shortly after trying it out a few years back. But what I tried this week was taking some of my most popular Facebook posts and tweeting them. Such as “I just saw a wireless network called ‘prettyflyforawifi.'” It got a lot of play on Twitter just as it had 4 weeks ago on Facebook, just among different people. Funny is funny so cross-pollination is a good tactic.

7. Digital memory is short. Perhaps even flea-esque. There are a lot of great things I have read and a few I have written that many people haven’t seen. Or with the planner survey I figure a lot of people are considering new positions and may want to refer back to it. Something from a few years back even may still be very relevant today. Greatest hits are definitely good sources for posts.

8. Klout can be gamed. Klout has their own currency called +K. There are topics of influence that you need 5 +K’s in order to add to your own profile or another person’s. Then once the topic is added you can spend 1 +K to agree that a person is in fact influential on a subject. As I was looking for people to spend my +K’s on, I was rewarded with more +K’s for visiting more profiles. Then more for visiting Klout.com. It is reminiscent of Farmville. Lots of clicking.

9. The quest for Klout is not sustainable. I have a lot going on at work, personal projects, friends, etc. Writing and thinking about my brands usually has to trump tweeting my ass off. That’s why brands need a team of people focused on creating content and communicating with customers. It’s a full-time gig.

I’m curious to know what you think of my little experiment. And the competitor in me will gladly accept any +K’s, RTs and @replies you’d like to give me for Christmas.

9 thoughts on “@h+klefevre and the Quest for Klout

  1. It looks like it’s been a fun experiment, in any case I’ve certainly enjoyed getting you in one of the random inane group tweeting sessions I have with some friends 😉

    It is an interesting one, at the same time I hate what Klout represents because it is starting to be The Value of social media influence for many people in the industry and while it does measure some things, one is not one’s Klout score as you rightly point out. It’s funny I inadvertently had a similar experience with Klout a couple of months ago when I played around with it and integrated all my accounts to see my score – the playful (or not) competition aspect can be fun and that time was combined with a increased Twitter activity so my scores shot from 48 to 55 in the space of a few days. Then I stopped being so active and it’s gone down again. I’m quite happy with it that way.

    Lastly your points 4 and 5 are interesting as well – there’s at least one pretty prolific planner I know that tweets loads of automated links and it has changed the perceived value of what they tweet – not that I’m annoyed, if I was I could stop following them, I just know it’s more like mass broadcasting than curated content so I don’t pay it the same sort of attention. It’ll be a while until an algorithm can take that into account.

  2. What I am puzzled about is that Klout doesn’t rank the pertinence of a conversation.
    For example: I post some silly thing on my facebook, i get 20+ likes, some sillier comments, lots of interaction and my Klout score goes up.
    I post some planning-driven subject, I get 5 to 10 likes, maybe two or three comments of people who are part of our industry, but generally I get a lower Klout score than the silliness.
    A client should be more interested in my planning klout score than my overall right? But none of us (I think) use every social space exclusively for work reasons. So it seems to me like it’s not a super-reliable indicator.
    Is this wrong? Did I completely misunderstood everything?

  3. Hi Heather, very intresting but I think and you share that, there are no KPI’s in social media inly on what you achieve and do, for example in the Retail business there are a lot of KPI’s but these are based on hard numbers; some many customers a day, so many unique sales transactions, average selling price, sales m2 etc etc. I saw your Klout experiment and I created an account for myself ( I have no Twitter) and my score was 48 after 1 week due to some Xmas part pictures from work and that’s it. I don’t work in the social media biz but I have a high klout score because of non relevant things for clients or employers. So Klout is fun but surely no KPI tracker, KLM has a lot of tweets because their service suck 🙂

  4. Interesting update here: Evil social networks. How to get out of Klout.
    One of the many problems with this platform is:

    “Here in the civilized world we have a fundamental right to privacy. Klout, by its viral nature (and particularly by tracking people without their prior consent) is engaging in flat-out illegal practices. Don’t believe me? Well, here in the UK activities relating to the processing of personal information are governed by the Data Protection Act (1998), a law enforced by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

    As we saw earlier, Klout assert that they have the right to collect information about you and conduct direct marketing campaigns if you visit their website….”


  5. Dear Heather,

    you should have told your combative Client that the Web is quite a collaborative social landscape, not a dog-eat-dog arena. Anyway, there’s a lot of different ways to measure influence, buzz, followers, readership, momentum and stuff as much as many possible distortions along the way.

    There’s a good chance your Client is such a smart cat who just wanted you guys to admit the difficulties in measuring social media ROI. In this case, he deserves all my appraisals, because he/she’s damn right. Arrange a few KPIs on your project and be sure they can do the job properly.

    On everything else, I’m completely agree with Monty Munford in this particularly crushing remark here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/twitter/8884941/Forget-Klout-you-cant-measure-influence-on-Twitter.html: “in its present form these companies only seem to measure influence of the past few days and they don’t do it particularly accurately either.”

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