Influence is More Than Klout-Deep

By Ava Naves, Principal


I’ve been in a blogging slumber for months, but some recent experiences with Klout and Twitalyzer, combined with Veronica Heringer’s own good post about Klout, caused me to put my fingers to the keyboard.

Veronica expanded on her thoughts regarding, well, how much clout one should give to Klout’s numbers as a measure of our individual influence on Twitter.

Here’s my take on it: services like Klout and Twitalyzer can be a good accessory in helping marketers to identify potential influencers in a specific realm, but at the end of the day, there’s no substitute for common sense and actually reading an account’s Twitter stream to detect if that person’s (or company’s) updates are valuable.

Why do I say this? Because, yesterday I noticed that a specific Twitter user who, in my books is a spammer (with the best of intentions), ranked very well on Klout. Other than this individual’s malpractices on Twitter, I don’t have anything against this person. What makes it even more difficult to swallow it is that we have met before. I enjoyed our interactions, and would have sincerely thought that this person would think twice before sending me a Direct Message that was clearly promotional, about a topic that I have no interest in.

That Twitter stream – once personal and engaging – is now littered with links upon links that regurgitate headlines, in a fashion that is only employed by less-than-reputable accounts.

As I was saying… as a marketer, I might think that this account is a key influencer in my geographical area were I to solely rely on Twitalyzer and Klout. But, as my parents used to tell me as a kid: “Tell me who you walk with, and I’ll tell you who you are”. Regardless of their score, I’d sure as hell not want to associate myself, nor my clients, with that Twitter user.


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3 Responses to “Influence is More Than Klout-Deep”

  1. Megan Berry says:

    Nice article, thanks for sharing your opinion about Klout. I’m marketing manager here and would love to get further feedback from you on this issue. If you get a chance you can email me at [email protected].

    Paul — we obviously can’t share our exact algorithm but we are pretty open about what goes into it. See We believe influence is the ability to drive action so we do reward retweets as well as @messages and we do look at the influence of the person doing those actions when scoring. We do not reward someone simply for posting links.

    Eric – – Would love to hear which people you feel have high klout scores but are spammers. We’re constantly working to improve our algorithm and that would be helpful. Can you reach out – [email protected]


  2. You make some very good points. I am not overly familiar with how Klout actually works, and I agree that rankings should be taken with a grain of salt in determining who the true influencers are. There are several people whom I consider to be good friends, with relatively high Klout scores, yet from my perspective come across as spammers on Twitter. I find that true “Klout” is measured by the value and number of meaningful relationships I have been able to build offline, as a result of activity on Twitter.

  3. Paul Rickett says:

    Klout and other ranking systems meet a basic human need to rank and sort. This form has been around a long as the press itself.

    The problem with the ‘single score’ fixation is that it does not reflect the complexity of social relationships.Compared to other grading systems Klout does a better job of providing underlying detail – which is more important than the overall score.

    Since the methodologies used by the grading systems are generally opaque to the consumer it’s difficult to challenge the scoring system. And if they make the scoring methodology too open, it will be gamed even more than it is now.

    However one element that seems to be consistently over-weighted is the ‘RT’ function. RT seems to be the basis for determining ‘Trust’ in some graders.Bots RT stuff like crazy and it’s nothing to do with the sender’s credibility – so if these tweets are counted then they inflate the ‘trust’ scores considerably. I don’t get a lot of RTs (which is fine) but my Klout score soared after a single RT by one person (w/400K followers) then gradually declined since. Am I less influential now than then to the people I correspond with on twitter? Probably not.

    Publishing links is also well rewarded, notwithstanding that many are merely links to the poster’s own blog/marketing site etc. rather than true ‘sharing’ of news etc. You’ll probably increase your Klout score simply as a result of posting the link to this blog in your twitstream

    All the scoring systems can produce silly answers.One informed me that “You are not following enough Influencers” (influencers as defined by their system) – excuse me, maybe I’m not following them because they talk about nothing I’m interested in!

    The scoring systems will evolve though – hopefully they’ll become a lot more sophisticated and measure more carefully true content and influence. In the meantime, as you say, use them very cautiously.