What your Klout score really means and why it doesn’t matter

What Your Klout Score Really MeansGood piece on Wired delving into Klout. The more I read about it the more convinced I am that it is really not much more than a game that people try hard to work while others neither care nor want to play.

In the US it is serious business and brands are looking out for people with powerful social networks as they want to reach those who can influence others.

Not so much here in the UK or at least not that I’ve noticed. At least I have never heard of an employer here cutting an interview short as the candidate had a low Klout score, but this is one of the stories related in the Wired piece.

The interview in question was for the role of VP position at a large Toronto marketing agency. The candidate had 15 years of experience working with major brands like Ford and Kraft, but he had no idea at the time what Klout was.

The interviewer pulled his Klout score up on the screen. It was revealed to be 34 (sad face) and it was at that point that the interview was cut short. In the end the company hired someone whose Klout score was 67. What a hero.

None of that makes any sense. Surely experience with brands and the ability to do the job should count for rather than the amount I tweet, post on LinkedIn and Facebook or how many high profile social networkers I interact with?

What does Klout tell you about anyone’s ability to do the job? Even more so when you learn that the guy who didn’t get the job, didn’t know about Klout, then spent the next six months working his Klout score and got it as high as 72.

“As his score rose, so did the number of job offers and speaking invitations he received. “Fifteen years of accomplishments weren’t as important as that score,” Wired says.

The article also highlights how businesses in the US are starting to use Klout to hand out benefits to customers.

There is the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas last summer. It discreetly checks the Klout scores of guests as they arrive. If they have a high Klout score they might get an upgrade although they won’t be told why:

“According to Greg Cannon, the Palms’ former director of ecommerce, the initiative stirred up tremendous online buzz. He says that before its Klout experiment, the Palms had only the 17th-largest social-networking following among Las Vegas-based hotel-casinos. Afterward, it jumped up to third on Facebook and has one of the highest Klout scores among its peers.”

If hotels like the Palms start using will airlines and other service based firms do the same? Will high social socring customers emerge as a new force whose importance rivals that to some degree of high network customers? The ability to influence becoming as important as the ability to spend.

Then there is those that work Klout feverishly like a game, like Foursquare but much more seriously. The piece interviews a graphic designer called Calvin Lee.  The man is a Klout obsessive.

He has a Klout score of 74. Lee is the kind of guy who “once” went on holiday for (like) a week and had no internet. He did not like this at all. He was “worried that brands couldn’t get in touch with me. It’s easy for them to forget about you”. He was worried his Klout score would go down.

That’s a sad story, but for Lee Klout does things. It gives him freebies and he works hard to keep up:

“He has received 63 Klout perks, scoring freebies like a Windows phone, an invitation to a VH1 awards show, and a promotional hoodie for the movie Contraband. To keep his score up, Lee tweets up to 45 times a day—an average of one every 32 minutes. “People like food porn,” he notes, “so I try to post a lot of pictures of things I eat.”

“When he was loaned an Audi A8 for a few days as a Klout perk, Lee knew exactly where he wanted to drive it. He road-tripped from LA up to San Francisco, eventually arriving at the Klout offices and shaking hands with Joe Fernandez. Naturally he tweeted and hashtagged the entire journey.”

All this says is that influence can be easily bought and sold and those who work it, work to get this notional score higher, so that they can be rated and slotted into some global social spreadsheet, get stuff. Possibly even jobs.

But it seems like people are buying into a system, putting huge amounts of stock into it, and a way of doing business, that is entirely shallow and whose value is questionable.

I could be wrong as Klout has many true believers. These include people with deep pockets such as venture capital firms like Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Venrock who are among those who have invested as much as $30m in scoring our future. Game on.

Image via socialglitz.com.