How Klout Scores Could Be More Useful To Marketers / by Chel Wolverton

klout post

If you want to sell, let's say, Cat Genie's.  Are you going to contact every blogger with a huge reader base on the internet and ask them to blog about the Cat Genie?  No. (I hope you said no to that. If you didn't, you have far more important things to do that do not involve Klout scores.) First you need to know if they have a cat or talk about cats or are influential about cats. Enter Klout.  It has a nice nifty easy number for you to tell you exactly who to approach, right?  Wrong.

It doesn't matter how high a blogger's Klout score is, if they don't have a cat or talk about cats, they really don't care that you have a fancy cat litter box for sell.

But Klout's +K topics?  Klout is on to something there that is slightly more useful to marketers, but it's still a system that can be gamed.  There has been a lot of talk about this recently and a lot of folks are calling Klout out and for their poor judgement in ranking underage profiles on Facebook (which I agree is a very stupid move on their part).

How can Klout make it more useful and accurate?  One way: if +K influenced your score on a topic or topics specifically rather than overall influence.  Imagine a scoring system for influencers on topics as a variation of Postrank.  Let's call it KloutRank (I want idea rights on this one!)

What's PostRank?  PostRank "gathers where and when stories generate comments, bookmarks, tweets, and other forms of interaction from a host of social hubs. Publishers and people interested in their content use PostRank Data Services and Analytics to gauge influence and reach with audiences."

In Google Reader, I've installed a Chrome Extension that allows Postrank to rank every RSS post and give me a number between 0 and 10 for how popular the post is based on actual reader activity.

Let's dig into how it would work...

Instead of basing a score on the users activity without acknowledging the quality or focus, KloutRank would be a great variation on this based on the topical areas of influence using the topics/+K scoring system.

klout topics

If I have a score of 52 on the area of Black Lab's music (52 +K on Black Lab) and that scoring is done by my peers and their fans who are influential in the area of said music.  They know I know my stuff about the music, the band and score m as a result. That topic influence demonstrates my influence far better than randomly picking people above the score of 50 for perks.

In other words, a moderate quality highly targeted summary would be better than high quality off target score.

This idea came to me while listening data extraordinaire Tom Webster's presentation at Blog World Expo which point pointed out the significant flaws with Klout's scoring mechanisms. A number is just a number and it conveys nothing about the person's "influence" on all topics.  If you're a marketer that needs to target a specific audience, picking a random Klout number and aiming high won't get you the results you or your clients are looking for from a campaign.

We'd still have to do the work (Thanks Tom for making that stick in my brain.) to find out if this person is actually as influential as the score/other people claim them to be.  If that wasn't a part of the strategy anyway, that's just plain lazy.  Nothing will ever give you a one button solution to anything in life, the sooner we accept that the better.

And why would you want that one button solution anyway.  A big part of what makes life exciting is finding the answers to the questions that intrigue us.

NONE of this would be a *true* measure of influence in reality.  Christopher Penn is going to influence me to a different degree than someone that I do not know, no matter what their Klout score is,

Simple way to make your own topic influencer lists?  Search Klout for your topics and then add the folks who got a +K for those topics to Twitter lists and make a list of the folks that retweet you too.  Then at the end of the day you've organically grown a list that will be responsive to what your business has to offer.