Type of business
Joe Fernandez, Binh Tran
Type of site
Joe Fernandez (Mar 2008–)
San Francisco, California, United States
Joe Fernandez (CEO) Emil Michael (COO)
What is klout
Klout is a website and mobile app that uses social media analytics to rate its users according to online social influence via the "Klout Score", which is a numerical value between 1 and 100. In determining the user score, Klout measures the size of a user's social media network and correlates the content created to measure how other users interact with that content. Klout launched in 2008.
- What is klout
- How to use klout social media for sustainability professionals
- Klout for business
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Klout uses Bing, Facebook, Foursquare, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Wikipedia data to create Klout user profiles that are assigned a unique "Klout Score". Klout scores range from 1 to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a higher ranking of the breadth and strength of one's online social influence. While all Twitter users are assigned a score, users who register at Klout can link multiple social networks, of which network data is then aggregated to influence the user's Klout Score.
How to use klout social media for sustainability professionals
Klout measures influence by using data points from Twitter, such as following count, follower count, retweets, list memberships, how many spam/dead accounts are following you, how influential the people who retweet you are and unique mentions. This information is blended with data from a number of other social network followings and interactions to come up with the Klout Score. The social networks that influence a user's Klout Score are Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn (individuals pages not corporate/business), as YouTube, Instagram and Klout itself, as well as Wikipedia. Other accounts such Flickr, Blogger, Tumblr, Last.fm, WordPress, and Bing can also be linked by users, however they do not weigh into the Klout Score as of March 2013. Microsoft announced a strategic investment in Klout in September 2012 whereby Bing would have access to Klout influence technology, and Klout would have access to Bing search data for its scoring algorithm.
Klout scores are supplemented with three nominally more specific measures, which Klout calls "true reach," "amplification" and "network impact." True reach is based on the size of a user's engaged audience who actively engage in the user's messages. Amplification score relates to the likelihood that one's messages will generate actions, such as retweets, mentions, likes and comments. Network impact reflects the computed influence value of a person's engaged audience.
The primary business model for Klout involves companies paying Klout for Perks campaigns, in which a company offers free services or products to Klout users who match a pre-defined set of criteria including their scores, topics, and geographic locations. While Klout users who receive Perks are under no obligation to write about them, the hope is that they will effectively advertise the products on social media. Klout has offered the Perks program since 2010. According to Klout CEO Joe Fernandez, about 50 partnerships had been established as of November 2011. In May 2013, Klout announced that its users had claimed more than 1 million Perks across over 400 campaigns.
Klout for business
In March 2013, Klout announced its intention to begin displaying business analytics aimed at helping business and brand users learn about their online audiences. At this time Klout doesn’t allow for corporate/business Linkedin pages to be connected so the tool is of limited use for measuring influence in this channel.
In September 2012, Klout announced an information-sharing partnership with the Bing search engine, showing Klout scores in Bing searches and allowing Klout users to post items selected by Bing to social media.
Several objections to Klout's methodology have been raised regarding both the process by which scores are generated, and the overall societal effect. Critics have pointed out that Klout scores are not representative of the influence a person really has, highlighted by Barack Obama, President of the United States, having a lower influence score than a number of bloggers. Other social critics argue that the Klout score devalues authentic online communication and promotes social ranking and stratification by trying to quantify human interaction. Klout has attempted to address some of these criticisms; a recent update to Klout's algorithms does now rank the importance of Barack Obama in a way that better reflects perception.
The site has been criticized for violating the privacy of minors, and for exploiting users for its own profit.
John Scalzi has described the principle behind Klout's operation as "socially evil" in its exploitation of its users' status anxiety. Charles Stross has described the service as "the Internet equivalent of herpes," blogging that his analysis of Klout's terms and conditions reveals that the company's business model is illegal in the United Kingdom, where it conflicts with the Data Protection Act 1998; Stross advises readers to delete their Klout accounts and opt out of Klout services.
Ben Rothke concluded that "Klout has its work cut out and it seems like they need to be in beta a while longer. Klout can and should be applauded for trying to measure this monstrosity called social influence; but their results of influence should in truth, carry very little influence."
Klout has been criticised for the opacity of their methodology. While it is claimed that advanced machine learning techniques are used, leveraging network theory, Sean Golliher analysed Klout scores of Twitter users and found that the simple logarithm of the number of followers was sufficient to explain 95% of the variance. In November 2015 Klout released an academic paper discussing their methodology at the IEEE BigData 2015 Conference.
In spite of the controversy, some employers have made hiring decisions based on Klout scores. As reported in an article for Wired, a man recruited for a VP position with fifteen years of experience consulting for companies including America Online, Ford and Kraft was eliminated as a candidate specifically because of his Klout score, which at the time was 34, in favour of a candidate with a score of 67.