Klout sent the social media world into a bit of an uproar this week when it tweaked how it measures influence. According to Klout, influence is the ability to drive action and is based on quality, not quantity.
When someone engages with your content, they assess the action in the context of the person’s own activity. Klout uses three metrics in its “PeopleRank” algorithm: how many people you influence, how much you influence them, and how influential those people are. I’m still not sold on using an algorithm to measure influence. But, there are folks out there who do use Klout to prove how influential a person is. In announcing the adjustments, Klout said:
A majority of users will see their Scores stay the same or go up but some users will see a drop. In fact, some of our Scores here at the Klout HQ will drop—our goal is accuracy above all else. We believe our users will be pleased with the improvements we’ve made.
Scores dropped as much as 20 points in some cases. Users were not pleased. I did a scan of the Twittersphere and people were pretty ticked off. Need more proof? More than 1,000 comments in Klout’s blog announcement backed Twitter users’ complaints.
I’ve said this before in Twitter chats and speaking engagements: a Klout score does not accurately portray influence or who is influential. In a guest post I did for Jeff Esposito’s blog in August on Klout (and the new Klout Perks), I said:
Klout has come under fire though as making influence a popularity contest. And with influencers now getting rewarded for their scores, it in many ways backs that angle up.
Imagine you’ve pitched a client on using Klout scores as a way to show who is influential. Now someone who seemed to have influence, has a score of 47 instead of 67. You’ll have some explaining to do in a client meeting for sure.
Gauging influence must come from listening and then engaging. I don’t believe for a second you can put a score on it.
Jason Mollica is the president of JRMComm, a public relations and social media marketing consultancy. A version of this article originally ran on PR Breakfast Club. Find Mollica on Twitter @JasMollica.