Will Your Klout Score Get You Hired? Have You Got Klout? 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Care About Your Klout Score. These are some recent headlines on Forbes.com that might make you wonder if you should be paying attention to this buzz-worthy social media metric.
The business world is now filled with social media management services that try to calculate the social reach of brands and analyze their social sentiment, but Klout is an attempt to apply this kind of ROI thinking to individuals. Whether you are building your personal branding, looking to improve your career prospects or just curious about your place in the world, you may find yourself at Klout’s doorstep. Watch out.
The first thing you should know, is that Klout has an emotional journey in store for you that you may or may not want to take. The kernel of it is that, like a Disney movie, they will make you feel bad before they make you feel (if not good, than, at least) better. Here’s what you should know before you ring their doorbell.
1. Prepare to Be Manipulated: Klout makes its money by collecting your data that it uses to help advertisers who want to promote their products usingyour social influence. All of the perks and nudges are designed to groom you for that eventual assignment. And if Klout deems you to be insufficiently influential, then it wants you to be aware of those who you consider influential enough to follow theirrecommendations.
2. Beware the Klout Drop Kick: Here’s the one baked-in design decision that drives a lot of immediate engagement. After you set up an account your are alerted that it will take 24-48 hours for your initial score to be calculated. In the meantime (at least according to the sources I have heard from) Klout sets your score at an ego-annihilating 10 (out of 100)! Be patient. Walk away. Come back in a couple of days. In my case, when I checked back my score had risen to a respectable 50. I felt much better about myself. But the point is, Klout could just say “score pending” until its processed whatever it has to process. You have to assume, however, that any internet company with some number of $ millions behind it looks at their user data and makes their design decisions accordingly. I suspect that if they waited to give you a score until it had been fully tabulated initial user engagement would be significantly less. That first low score is a prod to do whatever necessary to get to some level you’re not embarrassed about. Hanging out there in the breeze with a score of 10 is a pretty vulnerable feeling. I cynically wonder if the lag time is really a red herring and Klout could indeed produce an accurate score in minutes but has chosen not to.
3. Decide How Much to Participate: Lo and behold, as soon as you begin to feel bad about your score, Klout gives you lots of ways to earn little +Ks. When you sign up for an account with either your Facebook or Twitter account and they will immediately ask you to “connect” those accounts so that your “actions” can be recorded on Klout. You may think that this is so that you get credit for social media activity on Klout, but what it really means is that it wants you to broadcast your activity on Klout through your social networks. Consider avoiding this. Klout already has access to all of your publicly available content on Twitter or Facebook through the public APIs of those networks. You will be given the opportunity to invite fleets of your “friends” to join Klout as one such “action.” Think about how you feel when you receive these kind of bulk requests.
4. Limit Your Check Ins: Once you do have an idea where you stand, avoid the temptation to check often to see how your score is doing. It doesn’t change that fast. And each visit is another opportunity to be manipulated. It’s not like investing, however, where excess intervention underperforms less frequent assessments—doing the things Klout suggests you do will raise your score. The question is, at what cost of time, attention and annoyance to your social connections. And how high do you really need your score to be? The answer to these questions depends a lot on who you are and what you do.
5. Remember, This is a Consensual illusion: Will a high Klout score help you on a job interview? Depends for which job. “The hiring managers at Klout, for their part, do take prospective employees’ Klout scores into account when reviewing applicants,” reports Forbes contributor Jeanne Meister. In general, I would say that for jobs in sales or service where a willingness to go the extra mile for customers is an important qualification, employers probably consider Klout a good metric. But for management or positions that require creativity and critical thinking, too high a score could be a red flag. The fact is that your Klout score says a lot about your willingness to play somebody else’s game. Given time and attention, anyone can improve their score. But thequantity of your social interactions is a very different matter than the qualityof those interactions. As you increase your social velocity you will naturally attract followers and it may take some of them a while to prune you out if you are not contributing worthwhile content to their social feeds. Social media is, I dare say, a bit of a Ponzi scheme in that way. One can maintain a large but churning base of followers without delivering value—stealing from Peter to pay Paul over and over again.
6: The Parody Pressure Valve: If this is all too much to bear, you can always slide over to one of the Klout parody sites. I wrote about Klouchebaglast week, but there is also Garth Knutson’s hilarious What the Klout blog that lovingly lampoons the whole enterprise. Even if your Klout score is low, you can still be deemed “quite a nice person,” on Klouchebag. And seeing how a fanboy like Knutson has gotten pushed over the edge by loving a product that has been in beta for three years, is pretty amusing, as well. As with Facebook’s “MCA” gaffe over the weekend, there is no end of humor that will be generated by algorithms that claim to understand unstructured content.
Klout is a really interesting concept that fails in some important ways. Being able to apply a single number to a person is useful in some situations, and being able to identify the topics that a person has some clout with their peers about is even more useful. But the Klout score is still a blunt instrument, and as such, dangerous in the wrong hands. Your mileage may vary, so while Klout is scoring you (which they are whether you participate or not) be sure to keep a tally on what that score is worth to you, and drive accordingly.