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Klout for Klout’s Sake?

So you have a Facebook account for sharing your personal moments with your friends, a LinkedIn Profile to promote your professional credentials, your (and others’ ) ideas are shared via Twitter, your photos are shared on Flickr and you’ve been tinkering with Google+ to see what gap it fills or what other network it might replace. You may also have a more formalised output of ideas via your Blog. But how effective is all of this undoubted effort?

If your aim from all of the effort is to drive interest in you and your business or brand then surely the aim is to be influential in the right places and with the right influencers so as to drive awareness and ultimately make it pay you. There is a difficulty here however, each of these major social outlets fills a different space and thus the measures of how influential you are different from one network to the next and also for different purposes so how do you get a general measure of influence that encompasses most if not all of these in a single metric?

This is where Klout (among others) comes in. The aim of Klout is to measure how influential you are across your social media outlets (and also what subject matter you are influential on) By integrating the data and interrogating the content, Klout ranks your influence on a scale of 1-100. As such this provides a metric that is easily measurable and also understandable against others’.  Whilst this is no doubt valuable it does prompt the question as to how the scoring is compiled and how accurate this is.

A key question I have been pondering (and the something of a reason for this blog entry) is does the Klout score become self fulfilling to an extent and does this lead to use of the social network platforms in a manner designed to improve or maintain a Klout score as opposed to using the platforms for the original intended means? Or more succinctly, does it cause usage patterns designed to maintain and increase the Klout score, Klout for Klout’s Sake and thus miss out on the point of social media – to interact socially? In recent weeks, changes to the algorithm that calculates the Klout score have resulted in a downward shift in the score for many of those with higher scores, in other words the algorithm changes caused certain social media users to become less influential overnight. This change (and the associated loss of influence) has resulted in a spate of highly vocal Klout opt-outs over the last number of weeks and also some humourous swipes at Klout such as Flout!

The fact remains however, that as a means of tracking progress in social media for social media newbies, and as a means of identifying those more influential people in certain subject matters (in a less than perfect manner) Klout is no doubt a useful tool and will probably continue to have a place as “The Standard For Influence” for most social media power users.

However, for the average user, with whom, you or your brand are ultimately trying to engage with in order to drive your revenues, do they really care about Klout scores? Or are they simply using social media platforms for the fun of it and as a result are those engaged in social media missing out a key element of the whole marketing process, that is understanding the consumer??

By Simon Bell

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