San Francisco Social Media “Influence” Firm Klout Criticized for Making Changes

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Klout, the popular social media “influence” firm based in San Francisco, received some criticism this week from users that were unhappy about its recent changes.

The coveted “Klout Score,” which assigns a score from 1 to 100 to users across multiple social media channels based on each user’s ability to “drive action,” has undergone changes to the formula it uses to calculate scores. Many users saw their Klout scores drop by 10 to 20 points in a matter of days. To make matters worse, the firm has been accused of privacy infringements by creating “shadow profiles” of social media influencers who haven’t even signed up for their service.

No one, including Klout representatives, seems willing or able to explain the new scoring method & permission-deficient social permeation. Critics are calling the changes “neither accurate nor transparent” and “a serious mistake.” According to with Morad Benyoucef of the University of Ottawa, who has written on the Klout phenomenon, users who are contemplating abandoning the Klout ship may want to consider factors like Klout’s:

Statistical legitimacy: “I think Klout takes a rather simplistic view of influence,” he said. “They say they measure how much a user’s content is “shared” and “commented” on… Probably a fine algorithm but it does not measure influence. It measures how much a message with certain keywords travels, where it goes, who initiates it, who resends it and who comments on it, etc.” If you believe your online influence is greater than the sum of its parts and your Klout score doesn’t accurately reflect your social media authority, then Klout may no longer be for you.

True influence: Some who have written on the Klout experience have wondered: Are serious businesses really using Klout scores for decision making? Benyoucef says yes, but to a point. “They are all basically dipping their toes in the water,” he said. “The reputation system is far from perfected. To a large degree, the only way it can be perfected is by business running trials and then allowing Klout to analyze the outcomes.” The question is, do you or your social media agency trust them to do this?

Personal value: For many who use Klout, there is a somewhat addictive quality to this social media ranking site. The ability to see a score associated with your perceived level of influence and compare that influence with that of your “friends,” colleagues or competitors can be quite motivating. For some, it encourages them to continue posting, continue interacting, continue engaging. It has been said that if theSan Francisco social media experts who founded Klout didn’t invent it, then Twitter or Facebook may have. If you get something out of , why not keep using it in pursuit of a higher score, no matter how elusive the path to achieving it is?


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