Klout is a funny concept. Basically, it’s an internet popularity contest. It uses an algorithm, pulling from sources such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to put a number to your “Standard of Influence.” Engage with the right people, and a lot of them, and sit back as your Klout score rises.
People put a lot of emphasis on Klout scores. In fact, an article in PC Magazine actually encourages social media users to increase their Klout scores by urging them to “Sit at the Popular Kids Table.” (I hate to think that my Klout score goes down because I like to engage with my hilarious-yet-introverted niece, one who doesn’t have a high Klout score because she’s too focused on her career to spend much time on Twitter.)
I am of the opinion that your Klout score IS important, but only within fields that demand high Klout scores, and within which it is necessary for a person to have established a certain level of digital presence or online reputation. Basically, if you’re vying for a position that requires you to sit with the cool kids, then you should probably at least be sitting near their table.
Does this include entry-level social media marketers or students seeking internships? At our Orlando advertising agency, we personally don’t care about our interns’ Klout scores. I care more whether that person is competent, hard working, creative and has the skills to complete the work required. We don’t care as much about Klout because, if that entry-level applicant or intern DOES have a high Klout score, we might actually assume that she was too busy tweeting in class or at work to actually pay attention, as it takes a lot of work and dedication to actively maintain Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and a variety of other platforms (which is why it’s a full-time job!).
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However, if we’re planning to hire to digital marketing expert to speak at a conference for thousands of dollars, we would certainly want to know that the person has a high level of influence across a number of platforms. But, this is strangely in stark contrast with Klout’s business model. Klout offers Klout Perks to people who have high Klout scores, but the last thing I would want is for someone I deem reputable to be plugging products on their social media sites (unless that person is a brand marketer and is actively promoting his or her own brands).
But, the reality is that Klout does matter. It matters to some employers, who think that Klout’s algorithm shows that a highly-scored person knows how to engage in social media behaviors that drive results. It matters because influencer marketing is big money – if you can get your products into the hands of influencers, you can get them to write about your products. If they become loyal fans, then it’s essentially easy publicity for you, the only value exchange being the price of the discount or free goods you’ve given them to cover or review.
Whether Klout signifies the dawning of an era, or the demise of the next generation, it’s essential that every brand marketer knows what it is and how to use it advantageously. Still, in my mind, and at our Florida marketing agency, Klout is no real comparison to real-life experience.