So this topic has been rolling around in my head for a while, and I wasn’t quite sure how to articulate it.
First let’s talk about Klout. Klout gets a lot of praise and a lot of criticism. I guess I sit somewhere in the middle. I like some of the metrics it provides, and there is merit to it. However rating people by “influence” based on a *top-secret* algorithm, is a little bit bologna.
First what I dislike about Klout: simplify the complex into one single number. First, it turns Twitter into a popularity contest and inflates egos. And it doesn’t really mean what people think it means. Just like all publicity is NOT good publicity, All Klout is NOT good Klout–Just because people respond and retweet someone, it doesn’t mean they trust them, or respect them, or even like them. It’s not news that the Internet LOVES controversy and being controversial can get you followers and retweets, but as a brand targeting influencers, do you really want to associate your brand with controversy (maybe, but my point is it’s being overlooked). It also doesn’t mean that if you give that person a product, they will help sell it by talking about it online.
Ok, now for some positive: Klout isn’t all bad. I like how Klout gives more accurate reach numbers than straight up follower numbers. Unfortunately there’s still a lack of transparency, so we don’t actually know *how* that number is reached. Follower count and the number reached by a message is definitely not the same and Klout at least has started to demystify this. Quite frankly if you’re measuring clicks and conversion, then relying on Twitter follower numbers is doing nothing but setting up you up for failure. Too many are still hung up on follower numbers and mistaking that for “reach.”
Also, ego inflating aside, the ranking is helpful when you are comparing a number of similar accounts and want an overview of their activity and interaction. I’m building a very specific list for a client and I find it useful. I’m not putting a ton of weight into the number, but it is definitely a helpful indicator, particularly if you’re trying to get the focus away from number of followers.
However, to blindly select “influencers” based on this score is plain silly. There definitely needs to be a human element involved, and particularly someone with experience and know-how in social media. Robots simply can’t replace human intelligence… SkyNet anyone?!
All I’m trying to say here is that influence is a really misleading word. I don’t know what the right word is to be honest. I also don’t know if someone who spends a lot of time online interacting with others is any more influential than, say, someone who is clearly passionate about a brand/product/service and already speaking about it. And you don’t need Klout to find those people. It’s usually fairly obvious.