Why Klout is doomed

Your Klout score may help you land a job or snag a better hotel room -- but not for long.

You may not know this but I am a freakin’ expert on cigars. If it’s rolled up in dried tobacco leaves and smuggled in from Cuba in diplomatic pouches, I am your guy.

This must be true, because I read it on my Klout profile.

The world has gone a little Klout crazy, lately. There have been several recent stories about how Klout scores are now one of the things employers look at before hiring someone, especially for positions in sales and marketing. Want a job at Salesforce.com? You’ll need a score north of 35.

You can use a high Klout score to get discounts on concert tickets, access to VIP lounges at airports, or a nicer room at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.

Klout scores are a gumbo made mainly from how many friends/followers you have on the major social networks (though it seems to lean hardest on Twitter), how often you tweet or update your status, and how frequently other people repeat what you say. It’s an algorithm, but I can’t imagine it’s a very sophisticated algorithm.

Wanna know what else Klout scores are? Total b***s**t.

For the record, my Klout score is now 63. I’m told that’s a respectable score, but it’s as meaningless a number as I can think of. It was only 49 last April when I wrote this post about Klouchebags. The reason it climbed is most likely because I’ve started using Twitter a lot more over the past couple of months. Gee, I feel so much more influential now.

So I don’t really pay much attention to Klout. But today I received a tweet from Bev Robb, someone I know only via Twitter. She wrote:

I noticed that U R knowledgable in cigars over at Klout, so I 1 upped U ;)”

Cigars? Me? Really? But sure enough, Klout seems to consider me a highly regarded expert on Robusto Cubanos.

klout tynan influence-600p.png

Also for the record, the last time I attempted to smoke a cigar was during the first Reagan administration. I still remember it, not at all fondly.

So maybe I write about cigars? Not really. Using the magic of Google, I searched for all the influential cigar statements I have allegedly made.

On July 5, 2011, I posted the following tweet:

tynanwrites cigar tweet.png

The answer: Theoretically, yes. But I’ve never seen it.

I also made references to cigars in three pieces I’ve written over the past three years – one was a joke about Rush Limbaugh lighting his cigars with welfare checks, another was something about Michael Arrington. I’m pretty sure there may have been a few Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky jokes in there somewhere, but Google couldn’t find them.

Dear Klout: Not close, and no cigars.

Other topics Klout says I’m influential about include Technology, Social Media, and Blogging (probably true); Forbes (probably not true); Peanut Butter (love the stuff, rarely write about it); Addiction (nice!); Pinterest (ick); and a bunch of generic categories like Branding, Employment, Job Search, and Money.

These latter categories aren’t so much topics I’m influential about as much as topics Klout desperately wants its users to be influential about so it can monetize its services.

Here’s what I think. I think Klout is making this stuff up as it goes along, and companies that are sucked into this are just that – suckers.

Yes there are people out there who have more influence and reach than others, often for reasons that elude all logical understanding. (Robert Scoble, I’m talking to you.) It used to be just people in certain high-profile positions in the media, and now it might be the Joe or Jane down the street.

But having a zillion Twitter followers and churning out dozens of tweets every day doesn’t make you influential, it makes you annoying. When people retweet or repeat what you say, it’s most likely because they already agree with whatever you just said. That’s not influence, that’s an echo chamber.

I think the whole Klout score mystique is a brilliant scam that’s going to melt down like a beach house built out of butter. In less than two years I predict Klout will be bought by somebody like AOL or Yahoo and allowed to quietly die in its sleep.

Trust me. When it comes to houses made from dairy products, I’m extremely influential.

Got a question about social media? TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan may have the answer (and if not, he’ll make something up). Visit his snarky, occasionally NSFW blog eSarcasm or follow him on Twitter: @tynanwrites. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to’s, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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