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Does Klout Score Really Matter?

CTCT Employee

If you don’t work in internet marketing, chances are good that you may not know what a Klout score is — but there’s an even better chance that you’ll learn very soon. (Like, right now.) A Klout score is an easy way for someone to gauge their personal influence on Twitter or Facebook, or other social media sites. The score is a quick, numerical rating of that influence, based on everything from comments to shares to number of followers.


Businesses and organizations can take advantage of Klout by seeing who the most influential of their followers are and involving themselves in the hottest topics of conversation, but many organizations may feel like looking into Klout may be just another foray into the already overgrown jungle of social media. That’s why we decided to take the topic to managing editor Martin Lieberman and senior content developer Dave Charest, so we could find out whether Klout actually matters or if it’s just a passing fad.


What’s your personal Klout score? What trends have influenced it?

Martin: Right now, my score is 60 (out of 100). It’s high because I'm an active and consistent user of Twitter who shares good information with my more than 1,450 followers, and also because I'm active on Facebook and Foursquare. But more importantly, it's because I engage on those channels — I'm not just talking for the sake of talking. When someone responds or retweets, I usually write back.


Dave: My score is 54. Klout tells me it's increased by +1 in the past 30 days. That's despite the fact that, last time I checked, my score was 55. So, apparently, the score isn’t influenced by math.


Why would a small business or nonprofit look at Klout scores?

Martin: You might think that because I have a high score, I'd say, "Because it means a lot." But I'd actually say it's because Klout is gaining, well, clout in social and marketing circles. It's a quick, short-hand way to measure who your strongest and most vocal advocates are. After all, word of mouth matters. If a person has a high score, then his or her positive or negative tweets and posts about your business or organization will probably be seen by more people.


To that end, savvy marketers can use their customers' high scores to their advantage. One business I frequent, a restaurant called In a Pickle, has actually acknowledged my Klout score and rewarded me for it. I got a free lunch once just for sharing with my followers a picture of what I ate.


Dave: The only real reason to look at a Klout score would be to decide the weight of a person’s comments, especially if you want to form a partnership or something. Even then, I’m not convinced that Klout is a real indicator of anything useful.


What’s the disadvantage for businesses that aren’t measuring Klout?

Dave: None.


Martin: I'm with Dave on that. At least for now. Keep in mind, though, that a lower score could hurt your credibility if you're a B2B business or consultant trying to show you're a social media "expert." And picking up on my lunch example, you could be losing out on "free" marketing by not creating social media relationships with your influential customers. So I think it's worth looking at and at least considering.


Does Klout matter for all industries? Why or why not?

Martin: I'd say it matters for some more than others. No one really knows what individual Klout scores mean, and it's tricky: Someone can be influential offline but not online, and vice versa. So it's silly to base any serious business decisions on it. What it comes down to is that everyone deserves the same high level of customer service, because you never know who's going to talk about you and who’s going to hear it, online or off.  


Dave: Again, I don’t think it matters for any industry, simply because it’s not a true measure of influence. There are so many unknown factors. To Martin’s point — you could be the CEO of a company and have a low Klout score. Does that mean you aren’t influential in the business or the community?


Is Klout score going to be increasingly more important going forward or will people lose interest in it?

Martin: More and more businesses seem to be catching on to Klout, offering up Perks for those with higher scores. There's even a Perk for Small Business Saturday. I've also heard of bigger businesses using Klout to gauge who it will respond to when it comes to customer service. For the rest of us, I think Klout is a novelty right now. We're all trying to measure social media, and Klout gives us an easy, albeit not always reliable, way to do so.


Dave: I don’t think it will ever be more important, but people will always want to at least see a rough estimate of their scores. They just shouldn’t take it that seriously.


For once, maybe we can learn from Justin Bieber, whose Klout score is 100. What did he – and his fans – do to achieve a perfect score? We may not all be a teen pop singer, but what can others do to apply some of these social media successes to their businesses?

Martin: Oh, Biebs. And he's not the only one; YouTube also has a perfect 100 score. All kidding aside, though, I don't really think you can try to have a higher Klout score. You just have to engage with people over the long-term and your score will take care of itself. It's the same advice we at Constant Contact always give: Find great content that your fans and followers will benefit from, and share. Ask questions that get them involved. Listen and respond when people talk to you on social media. The more "present" you are, the higher your score will go. And don’t forget to check your customers’ scores. When someone tweets "at" you, go to and search for his or her Twitter handle.


Dave: Want a score like Justin Bieber? Become a celebrity. I know that’s a little glib, but this is exactly why things like Klout are kind of lame. Bieber’s score shows that it’s not really a true measure of anything. Similarly, Paris Hilton has a Klout score of 79 and is considered a thought leader. So ... Here’s what’s really important: Do good things for your customers and let the scores take care of themselves. 


What do you think about Klout? Does it matter to you or your business or organization? Share your thoughts here or on our Facebook Page.


I'm interested in all things content marketing, especially how they relate to good writing. I'm an author at heart and I think that the internet and quality books and articles have a healthy future together.

Rory Carlyle
Not applicable

Klout is nothing more than Mafia Wars for Twitter. It's a game where no one wins, but everyone keeps trying to best each other. It's more of an online beta lab for studying human phsyce rather than a tool for business or a channel for validity. Your score goes up by the amount of networks you're on, tweets you have, photos you share, etc. In reality your "clout" has nothing to do with this service. I'd step out and say it's a service where "Cool Kids" can validate they're cool online, but really has nothing to do with expertise - more to do with how much time you spend posting data online and how many people interact with those posts or are linked to your account.  


Justin Beiber isn't old enough to have "klout" on anything other than pimples, but the swarms of teen girls who follow his social accounts bolster Klout's algorythm in a way that pushes his "expertise" or Klout up. 


Now, can you benefit from having a high Klout score? Sure you can, but then you're just using a fake id to take advantage of people who don't know any better. My score fluctuates 5-10 points weekly and I'm supposedly an expert in things I barely tweet or post data about.


What does Klout validate? How much time you really waste online when you could be spending time volunteering for a local charity, working at your desk, or walking your dog for the longevity of your life. 

Not applicable

I think this article (and Rory's response - sorry, love you man) totally miss the real power and value of Klout.  Once you think about Klout Perks a bit, then realize the massive amounts of data they are accruing, you see that this is an engine to deliver the true influencers for a brand or product type. Klout is going to charge companies a pretty penny for this data, and justifiably. 


Companies are trying hard to find the real value in social media, and I think Klout provides that.  Whether or not individuals are trying to game the system, the system itself is aggregating all of this data.  In theory, it should then be able to spit out nice chunks for companies to reuse.  Are you AAA and want to know who all the influencers are in the automotive space? Here you go. And oh, by the way, this is how influential each person is on the subject. At that point it becomes a fairly arbitrary task to reach out to those people and try to spread some good will.  Does this cross the spooky/creep line?  It certainly can, so the strategy will need to be well thought out.  But the data is there.


Marketers want to know everything possible about their consumers, and Klout is the ultimate data set for the social space.  At least in my mind, and right now.  Competitors are already emerging, and you can bet this will ultimately become a business very similar to Experian/FICO/TransAmerica.


Those are my thoughts anyway.

Rory Carlyle
Not applicable

I understand your point, Chester and agree with the theory, but there's more to it than that. Plus, the current algo is full of flaws and indescrepancies currently. Social media doesn't completely tell the true picture of any given person or entity and we all know you can spin data to reflect whatever the point you're trying to make is. 


Klout collects probably most of the social data out there that they're allowed to and to look at the majority of the data they collect - it's probably mostly garbage. 


In five years if Klout is still around, maybe there's something to talk about. For now I won't be putting much validity in there databases. 


True story: If they're gathering tweets, I bet they can tell me what the majority of tweeting Americans had for breakfast or lunch. Which in itself could be useful for someone.