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by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia | LinkedIn

Today sees the demise of Klout, the “standard for influence” in the social world…but is that a good or bad thing?

Like so many things it has its plus and minus sides.

Klout was created to give social media users a “score” for their influence. So depending on the number of followers, the number of interactions, the number of posts etc they would receive an arbitrary score, their Klout score.”

A couple of years ago Klout was acquired by Lithium, the social media management tool company and now they have decided that they no longer are going to be providing that free service. Much of the social media world is in tears at the fact that Klout is being switched-off and we at Digital Leadership Associates are sort of in two minds about it.

The thing is that Klout, like the LinkedIn SSI, is “a measure” of something. In itself it has no value. If I have a Klout score of 65 and you have a score of 75 does that mean that you are better than me? Or more influential than me? Or more well regarded than me? Of course not.

My Co-Founder Tim is the world’s most influential person with regard to Social Selling (according to both Onalytica and Brand24) but does he have the highest Klout score? No, not by a long way. The difference is that he focusses not on “playing” but on sharing valuable content and adding value. For a long time I have sneered at Klout scores simply because they have typified that “social by numbers” way of thinking. Social media is NOT a game of football where scoring more goals is the objective of the game, social media is instead about relationships and trust and that cannot be easily encapsulated in a numerical score.

For people who are starting-out and need an arbitrary measure to check that they are doing the right things then Klout, like LinkedIn SSI is incredibly valuable. The fact that I have an SSI of 87 doesn’t matter, the fact that my SSI has increased in the last week does. This is always about driving “better” behaviours and in fairness Klout has helped achieve this with people who are starting out.

Post more, engage more, share more…these are good things to be doing if you are trying to leverage the power of social for you and your business. Any “measure” of these behaviours is a good thing if you are trying to build habits and success…but, Klout has developed a rather bad name in the social media world. People have been wearing their score almost as if it were a badge of honour meant something rather than a measure that some bearded guy in a funky office had dreamed up one afternoon.

The truth of the matter is that certainly from where I’m sitting Klout has been a distraction for many, social media “experts” trying to game the system, building leaderboards, handing out prizes…rater than focusing on adding value to themselves or their clients. I know of a couple of people who have extremely high Klout scores but very little really “network” or sense of community around their followers. They have focussed on posting things like “do you prefer tea of coffee” in order to get lots of comments (and therefore increase their score) rather than adding value to the people around them.

A couple of years ago I wrote an article which was about checking the Klout score of the person you’re about to go out to lunch with ( you can read it here ) because the higher it was the less likely they would have the money to pay (because they would spend their time gaming the Klout system rather than doing paid work) and this still holds true. So, the big question for me personally is how will I know wether I need to take my wallet to lunch from now on!

People who read this article also read these:

7 Myths About Social Selling

We Sent 200 Inmails and Got Nowhere …

The 4 Step Journey Companies Go Through with Social Media


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