Trusting Klout as authoritative in measuring peoples’ ascendancy and influence with social media is like believing a Golman Sachs analyst who gave the company a buy rating and justifies why the company’s employees are receiving an average bonus of $292,000 this year. The people that clog my stream most on Twitter are using software to auto post regurgitated information. Similarly, much of the financial services industry involves a blizzard of transactions which bring high profits and salaries for activity that doesn’t produce real value.
It’s misleading for Klout.com to claim they are providing an accurate measure of meaningful online influence. Users with a high Klout Score are often people that take content from other websites and “share it,” re-purposed in some cases to try to show they are adding value. In fact, I’ve noticed a trend on Google Plus where many users post a torrent of photographs with improper copyright citations. They are siphoning off the value from original content creators in the same way that made-for-adsense spammers used to auto-create websites to spam Google’s search results. A well-designed spambot can achieve a similar Klout rating to a minor celebrity, but that won’t generate real interest.
For businesses becoming increasingly focused on social media, the news of Klout’s release must have been a relief. At last there was a concrete way to measure Twitter influence or track responses on Google+. However, many have reported complaints from users, saying Klout’s scoring is seriously flawed. Elevate Local demonstrates how a person behing @_BorgCollective spams twitter to increase Klout ranking.
The biggest problem is that Klout crunches numbers regardless of content—a serious omission, considering the dependence of social media on credible content. The plain figures Klout provides are useful enough for personal sites that chase trends looking for followers and retweets, but are too unreliable for business or social media power user tracking. It remains to be seen whether Klout scores can live up to there current high reputation with those that haven’t looked closely at how it judges online influence.