Independent Thinking Blog

How Klout Measures Influence

I quietly reconnected my Klout profile a few weeks ago.

Klout scores are popping up all over. More specifically, in Nimble–the social CRM software that I started using to help me better keep track of everyone and more-wisely manage my workflow.

Silly little numbers. 41. 70. 55. 45. 80. So what?

People are being reduced to a number. 

Which means it was time I took a fresh look at how Klout measures influence.

The last time I checked Klout (some 30 months ago), it was an easily-gamed, unstable platform that rewarded people for social activity. And the company spent a lot of time pushing out e-mails telling you to give people props for their influence over all kinds of crazy (wrong) things and suggesting “friends” you should urge to get Klout.

There are two important ways that Klout has gotten smarter.

First, your Klout score is stable (i.e., it’s not jumping up and down depending on whether you’re posting and tweeting all day or largely offline getting real work done). This suggests the algorithm is finally measuring influence based on your network and relationships–which would be a good thing.

Second, Klout’s “influential about” feature seems to have a better idea of what people are actually talking about online. Which, hopefully, means no more influential about sheep faux pas. This improved feature correlates better to your interests graph–though it’s not clear this necessarily correlates to your sphere of influence.

People are not numbers.

I’ve written before about Klout, influence, context, and trust. I still feel this way. The colleague with a Klout score of 28 might be a rock star at generating revenue for her business. The person with the Klout score of 10 might be my next, best client.

The problem with Klout is that people want more Klout. But, really, a Klout score is still shorthand at best for something far more tricky to quantify: influence.

IBM’s Sandy Carter said in an interview recently that too many people (and companies) are focusing on the wrong thing:

It’s not #myinfluence. It’s really #myvalue.


Influence should really be created by being influential. By having something to say and having a point of view, not by focusing on that number.


I’m embedding the full interview below because it’s worth taking a few minutes to watch.

 Photo by geishaboy500 (Flickr).

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