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Klout the Destroyer

by Miki Saxon


As an official digital dinosaur I never heard of Klout; now that I have I wish I could go back to my ignorance.

Watching stupidity unfold is never pleasant, but watching stupidity that has the power to destroy lives is much worse.

It started when I saw a recent article on TechCrunch, talking about a Salesforce.com job ad requiring a Klout score above 35.

I searched for more info and found what seems to be the earliest article from Wired back in April

Klout uses a proprietary algorithm to crunch your activities in social media, especially Twitter, to assign you a score.

The scores are calculated using variables that can include number of followers, frequency of updates, the Klout scores of your friends and followers, and the number of likes, retweets, and shares that your updates receive. High-scoring Klout users can qualify for Klout Perks, free goodies from companies hoping to garner some influential praise

Worse, employers are using them as a hiring make-or-break.

The interviewer pulled up the web page for Klout.com—a service that purports to measure users’ online influence on a scale from 1 to 100—and angled the monitor so that [Sam] Fiorella could see the humbling result for himself: His score was 34. “He cut the interview short pretty soon after that,” Fiorella says. Later he learned that he’d been eliminated as a candidate specifically because his Klout score was too low. “They hired a guy whose score was 67.”

I saw ridiculous job requirements in my 20 years as a headhunter and more since then, but to use a criteria that so easily manipulated is nuts.

There are four actions you can take to raise your score according to product director Chris Makarsky.

  1. Tweet a lot more; this is strictly a quantity not quality thing, food porn works well.
  2. Concentrate on one topic instead of spreading yourself to thin.
  3. Develop relationships with high-Klout people who might respond to your tweets, propagate them, and extend your influence to new population groups.
  4. Keep things upbeat. “We find that positive sentiment drives more action than negative.”

It works.

Partly intrigued, partly scared, Fiorella spent the next six months working feverishly to boost his Klout score, eventually hitting 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.”

People are always looking for shortcuts to evaluate and rate the people they meet. I’m old enough to remember when the first question people asked upon meeting was “what’s your sign?”

With the rise of MySpace and Facebook it was “how many friends do you have;” then Twitter arrived and the questions was “how many followers.”

Now there’s Klout to promote arrogance or undermine confidence and accomplishments, damage people’s psyches, and give them yet another false yardstick that has nothing to do with skills, value, accomplishments or any of those old fashioned intangibles like loyalty, honesty, ethics, empathy, the list is endless.

But Klout doesn’t care.

Flickr image credit: seanrnicholson

8 Responses to “Klout the Destroyer”
  1. Julie ENo Gravatar Says:

    Oh no! I’m sure I don’t even have a Klout score since I don’t Twitter.

    I guess it is a good thing I work in a profession that hasn’t gone to using that for hiring yet.

    What short cut for hiring will they think of next? I can’t believe that a score which can be manipulated (since you can purchase blocks of Twitter followers) is being used to make a decision like that . . . is it really a predictor of success – I think not!

  2. Miki SaxonNo Gravatar Says:

    Hey Julie,

    A score like mine, but it looks as if you need to join to be scored, so neither of us need to worry.

    People look for silver bullets, since the vast majority of managers don’t have great hiring skills (although they are learnable).

    Alas, silver bullets for anything are in short supply (as in non-existent).

  3. MAPping Company Success Says:

    […] Politics. Religion. Work. Followers. “Friends.” Klout score. […]

  4. MAPping Company Success Says:

    […] Many personal brands rest on nothing than the person’s ability to manipulate social media (especially true about Klout). […]

  5. MAPping Company Success Says:

    […] To that end they amass thousands of friends and followers, network their way well beyond what’s needed to be a LinkedIn Lion and work ceaselessly to raise their Klout score. […]

  6. MAPping Company Success Says:

    […] do it because their friends do; to raise their Klout score; to prove they […]

  7. MAPping Company Success Says:

    […] Not only is it an acceptable goal, there are sites like Klout that track your influence and even companies and managers dumb enough to hire based on a candidate’s Klout score. […]

  8. Change: interview post Says:

    […] means choosing their role models wisely. Good role models aren’t just measured by their success, Klout score or position, but by what you can learn from them and sometimes that means doing the opposite, […]

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