2011-05-23

Should you trust Klout Scores

There are a slew of social media measurement tools out there. Most of which are free to use and can provide a wonderful insight into what you are doing and how effective you are with your personal social media strategy.

Several months back I talked wrote about 2 issues with these tools. One was how a personal issue with Twitter was killing my scores ("How Twitter Killed My Influence Score"") and the second was focused on understanding what these numbers really mean ("How Big is Your Social Media Pond?").

My biggest concern regardless which tool you make is that many business are now using these tools to evaluation you. That's correct, many companies seek out your score to target potential companies (product give promotions), to provide premium services to existing customers and even to determine which complaints get the addresses the quickest and perhaps even addressed at all.

This is the problem, when companies look at simply your score on any given day. The most well known of these social media measurement tools is Klout (http://klout.com). While I think it's a lot of fun to monitor my score, I don't stress out over the the daily fluctuations, and merely pay attention to what doesn't seem to be working or to measure which types of activities stimulate social media engagement and hence my score. I can then make the decision to repeat these activities & increase my score or not to.

Over this past weekend I was thrilled to see that Klout appeared to have fixed an issue with their "True Reach" score which many had pointed out was broken for a long time. In reality, I noticed it was finally being updated on a daily basis for nearly a month (since April 27) and with a big update/fix on May 20th.

While the fixing of one element didn't seem to have any major impact on my total score, the last update on May 20th, did change my "Klout Style" (social media profile type) from a "Socializer" to a "Thought Leader". Now this is something that I could relate to and had felt that was an appropriate adjustment.

Now here is the issue. Organization who evaluate you based on your Klout score only look at your total score (my personal score has been floating between 60-64 for the past 6 months) and not at the details behind it. So I logged into today for some screen captures to be able to start writing a blog post talking about the fix to the "True Reach" score, I was shocked to discover that my total Klout score had dropped over night from 61.31 to a mere 8.89. Plus my "Klout Style" was changed as a result from a "Thought Leader" to an "Explorer" (aka a newbie). I quickly checked and it appears that almost everyone I know scores crashed over the weekend including the notable @mashable (some more than others) so it wasn't just something I had personally done or not done.
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While I'm sure that is just some glitch in the Klout algorithm that will be fixed within a day or two it once again demonstrates the problem with free tools and when business put their faith in these products blindly. Any company that is using my Klout score today may feel that I am not a force in the social media world (or yield any significant influence on any subject) and might treat me differently than if my true score was known.

On this note, a couple of points. First, business should never treat me any differently today vs. yesterday merely because of a third party score. That's just bad business, they should treat everyone like they're the last person on earth who can make or break the company. Secondly, if business are going to use tools like Klout they need to understand how they work, what the number mean and the companies like Klout have to step up to the plate and be reliable.

3 comments:

Alan K'necht said...

As I was writing this post, Klout did tweet out the following:

"There is an issue with one of our DB clusters which is causing scores to crash. We did not change the algorithms."

I sent them a suggestion via about locking out access in the future if this happens again and within 2 minutes, Joe Fernandez (@JoeFernandez)President of Klout did respond with the following

"we are re-evaluating our proceeders now".

Now that is responding in a timely manner! My hat goes off to them for that.

Alan K'necht said...

By 11:30 am eastern, Klout had started to address this issue and peoples scores were returning to normal but graphs still need updating.

Once again, Klout shows they are a quality organization, but tell the world what went wrong and fixing it immediately.

However, how users use this data in their own business models will continue to be an issue for a long time.

JVRudnick said...

@Alan...
Klout (for me at least) now displays this large banner over the dashboard --

"Klout is currently under going maintenance and some functionality may be temporarily disabled. Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause..."

sigh....

Jim