Does Klout Measure Your Influence?

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Klout CEO Joe Hernandez hosted an awesome party at the Klout Krib during SXSW this past weekend. We were able to catch up with him for a few moments to see what he’s been up to, the challenges he faces in leading a fast-growing social measurement company and how things have changed within the Klout ratings themselves.

Klout brands themselves as “the standard for online influence.” A Klout score doesn’t tell you who the “A-list” people are. It measures the influence of anyone – and everyone – on Twitter and Facebook. The service uses more than 35 different variables between the two social sites to measure your True Reach, Amplification Probability and Network Score.

Your True Reach is the actual size of the audience you engage. It’s based on the people in your friends and followers who listen and react to what you’re saying. The Amplification Score tells you what the chances are that your thoughts will generate some type of action, such as a reTweet, @ message, Likes and comments. This is measured on a scale of 1 – 100. Your Network Score lets you know how influential your engaged audience is and is also scaled from 1 – 100. The total Klout score directly relates to clicks, comments and Tweets.

Joe indicated the company is hard at work on a new version of the website, which is due out in the near future. He is quick to point out that they are constantly updating site features and figuring out more ways to connect influencers with brands.

Just a few weeks ago, a new measuring algorithm was introduced into the mix. The company felt that they were starting to see what they called inflated scores, mainly amongst people who are using Twitter as though it is a chat room. That type of back and forth conversation definitely isn’t an indicator of strong influence. Therefore, the company changed the way different things are weighted in order to attempt to come up with a more accurate score.

The problem with Klout is that it isn’t always accurate. During the interview, Joe mentioned that they are determining your score based on “meaningful conversation” instead of chit-chat. I’m not quite sure how the heck an algorithm can determine what is actually meaningful. He even throws out the whole “if Ashton Kutcher reTweets you, that’s pretty important.” But WHY is that important?

There have been stories about people who have been turned down for speaking gigs and jobs due to not having a high enough Klout score. As much as I like the company and its service, I feel that it is absolutely ludicrous to base someone’s viability as a presenter or employee based on their so-called influence score. As Kelly plainly pointed out in her article a few weeks ago, the scores are often dreadfully inaccurate. However, those inaccuracies aren’t apparent to anyone other than the person they belong to.

Klout is on to something good, there’s no doubt about it. It will be interesting to see where the company heads in the future as they figure out more ways to make their scores foolproof and measure the true indicators of influence.

What are your thoughts? Do you feel that a Klout score is something to covet and throw around? Or is it a novelty that will quickly wear off as some other method of bragging rights comes to town?