I Love Klout, and You Should Too

Since original inception in late 2009, Klout has done a masterful job becoming the default authority for assessing social influence. Then again, they could probably use some help when it comes to their brand perception, but at the same time, it almost comes with the territory of their business.


Consider this: Unless you're Justin Bieber, you're going to want to see your Klout score higher. We're all a bit (or a lot) narcissistic at the end of the day (and even Bieber is *only* at a 95 now). So who's to blame for my score being lower than it should? Easy -- Klout! Those bastards!

Jay Baer, one of social media's preeminent thought leaders, put it in a similar fashion:

My point, however, is not that Klout gets a free pass because we've willingly accepted other scoring mechanisms that have shortcomings. But I do find it interesting that reaction to Klout is so visceral, and that is of course because what it purports to measure is by definition personal. If CSI: Provo (or whatever city is next) gets a better rating than Law & Order: Illegal Left Turn you'll likely do no more than shrug your shoulders. But realize that your Klout score is unexpectedly high or low, and you instantly go supernova because it's not measuring Hollywood's increasingly feeble attempt to entertain us en mass, it's ostensibly measuring some dimension of YOU.

C'mon people. Let's get real. Marketers have known for a long time that all consumers were not created equal. Some have louder voices and more powerful networks than others. To that end, marketers have been calling for a way to prioritize their social engagements. Customer service departments in industries like travel & hospitality are bombarded with social requests every hour.

In a traditional sense, just think about your favorite airline's frequent flyer program. There's a reason they ask if you're a frequent flyer on the front end -- provide the top service to their top customers!

In a similar vein, whether you like it or not, it's in the best interest of an organization to prioritize the problem they resolve based on that individual's ability to impact the public perception of their brand. The severity of the issue and loyalty to the brand are certainly among other factors, but social influence is a powerful factor that marketers need to take into account.

If you don't believe me, look no further than this statistic from this NM Incite's State of Social Customer Service 2012 Report: 71% of those who experience positive social customer care are likely to recommend that brand to others, compared to just 19% of customers that don't get a response.

It's an ambitious mission that Klout CEO Joe Fernandez and his team have set forth: assign a score to every individual on the social web for their ability to influence others.

Their algorithm is not perfect by any means. Considering how quickly the social media landscape evolves, it'll probably never be. But, at the very least, let's give Klout the time to refine their algorithm. They need to be nimble enough to adjust accordingly (e.g. anybody heard of this new "network" called Snapchat, who believes they're worth more than $3,000,000,000? Kinda crazy, right?)

Rather than giving them a hard time, why aren't we giving them support? Klout is in an unenviable position. I sure as hell wouldn't want to tell you, the consumer, you're not as 'important' as you may think you are.

As Jay Baer went on to explain in the earlier article, "if companies are going to succeed in a chaotic, real-time environment, they need some mechanism - even a flawed one - to triage promotion and reaction."

According to IBM's Insights from the Global Chief Marketing Officer Study, CMOs see customer advocacy and loyalty as their top priority in the digital era. It's no wonder influencer marketing is an increasingly important piece for any marketing department.

But, it doesn't stop there. Klout scores can be a valuable resource for any organization. Whether you're in the marketing department, accounting department or even legal department, influencers can have a dramatic impact on your public perception and ultimately, bottom line. Just ask GoldieBox and their current PR whirlwind from the Beastie Boys (and Radiohead's Thom Yorke) for a celebrity influencer example or United Airlines and Dave Carroll for a citizen influencer case (no pun intended).

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I just wanted to express my appreciation for a resource like Klout. Thanks for making the lives of all marketers a little easier.