Klout: A good idea. Too bad it’s complete bullshit.

Oh, Klout.  I want to love you, but you just won’t let me.

Let me begin this post by saying that Klout, the web site that claims to measure social media influence, isn’t a terrible idea.  There’s a really good reason to want a decent methodology for determining influence online.  After all, if you’re going to be spending time and effort to reach out to your audiences through social media, it makes sense to try to target the audience members who are most influential, and most likely to use their influence to talk up your product or service.

The idea is solid.  But Klout’s implementation is terrible, for one simple reason.  Their algorithm is ridiculously bad.

I’m not the first person to point this out.  But until today, I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt; maybe it works, mostly, with little problems here and there.  But in fact, their ratings just don’t bear any resemblance to reality.

To demonstrate, have a look at the screen caps after the jump.  These were all taken today.

 So here’s my Klout page.  I have an active Twitter account.  I often tweet several times a day.  I have a very active Facebook profile, and it’s tied in to Klout, so it’s taken into account as well.

My current Klout score

Klout thinks I’m influential about Groupon?  That’s weird — I wrote a single post, nearly a year ago, about Groupon, before they went public, but I certainly wouldn’t consider myself influential on the subject.  I’ve never tweeted or posted anything to Facebook on the subject, that’s for sure.  But ok, we’ll let that go.

My Klout score is totally respectable, as far as I’m concerned.  Let’s look at the associated Twitter account:

My current twitter page

So, nearly 1,400 tweets, 437 followers, newest tweets were in the last few hours, including re-tweets from other people.  I’m not saying I’m Justin Bieber over here or anything, but it’s obvious that I’ve been using Twitter, engaging with people, and spreading ideas around.

Heck, on Monday of this week, I had a tweet that got re-tweeted by a dozen people.

Now, for the sake of comparison, let’s look at the Twitter page of a friend of mine.  I’ve highlighted some things that warrant attention.

My friend's twitter page. Notice the details.

This particular friend of mine very rarely uses Twitter (though she’s active on Facebook).  Nothing wrong with that; we all use the tools we find most useful.  Her Twitter account has 22 followers, and she hasn’t sent out a tweet since March 5th — that’s about twelve weeks ago.  Notice also that virtually every tweet she’s sent is a duplicate of this KONY2012 message, with different celebrity twitter handles included on each one.

Again, nothing wrong with that.  She was really into the KONY issue, so much so that it takes up a good 95% of all the tweets she’s ever posted.  Her account has only been active since February, and as you can see, she’s pretty much lost interest in it.

So you’d assume from this that my friend wouldn’t be considered very influential by Klout, right?  Few followers, new account, few tweets, no new content in the last twelve weeks.  Doesn’t sound influential to me.

But guess what Klout thinks?

My friend's Klout score. 63!


Uh, what?

How does that have any basis in reality?

Until Klout gets some kind of sane algorithm, I can’t take them very seriously, and neither should you.

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