King Klout and Why Its Power Makes Me Nervous

This post takes a deep look at, which aims to be a credit score type metric of online influence.  If you haven’t heard of a Klout score before (or hate Klout), first read my post about why Klout scores matter.  I do believe the topic will affect all 8pm Warriors to some degree.  It’s hard to lead without influence.


We are giving Klout a lot of power.  A lot of time.  A lot of credibility.

Klout scores matter because we believe they matter, and the momentum is only growing stronger. They have something very powerful.

Now I’m getting nervous about it.

It all started when I noticed that my topics and endorsements (+K votes) on disappeared last night.

I was not alone.

Glitches happen in online businesses and they usually get fixed.  Since I make mistakes too, I tried to move on.

However, this morning I had a brief conversation with Megan Berry (Marketing guru from Klout) on Twitter.  She told me it was normal that several of my topics and +K endorsements had disappeared and that I could always “get more”.

I wasn’t buying it.

I got irritated and ran my mouth a bit (sorry Megan).  Why tell us this is normal when it was clearly screwed up?  A lot of my friends had no topics or any of the +K endorsements I gave them recently.

When I give someone an endorsement on a topic, I expect it to be there.  Otherwise I am wasting time.

Believe it or not, but people are taking time out of their day to show appreciation, support, and respect to others that influence them and they’re using Klout to do it.  Instead of sending an email, letter, or phone call of appreciation, some are actually using the +K feature to send a quick note of thanks.  I do that myself sometimes.

With the disappearing topics and +K endorsements last night, I think many people felt cheated and angry that their interactions were erased without warning.  I know that’s how I felt.
Here’s what I said.

Since I wrote a complimentary section about Megan Berry and Klout in my last post, I was embarrassed that this was taking place right before my eyes.  It seemed like a cover up and others were calling/texting/tweeting with me about it because they were irritated too.

I was wrong.

Megan sent me this email explaining what happened (Disclosure:  I let her know I would be using her response in my post):

You’re right, this was something different today. We were experimenting with new ways to display +K’s.  All of the +K’s are backed up and we will be restoring them soon. Sorry for the confusion, we definitely appreciate your support. Let me know if you have any other q’s I can answer.


Sounds like case closed right?

Apparently not.  Later in the day, I noticed that my Klout scores took a rather unprecedented dive after my negative tweets in the morning.

I’m not going to say that my Klout scores took a hit because I was saying something negative about  That would be crazy.

But what if it was true?


What’s anyone going to do about it?  Absolutely nothing.

This matters if you are focused on social media or online marketing for a career. Klout scores matter when selling yourself as a consultant.  A reduced Klout score may pose a problem, just like a reduced FICO credit score poses a problem for anyone looking to get the best rates on a new mortgage.

One of my friends (Albert Qian) who does social media consulting  is labeled a “Dabbler” by Klout, even though he has 15,000 tweets.  That’s quite the dabbler!

Who wants to hire a social media “dabbler” to help them with social media?

No one.

Who has helped Albert with this?

No one.  (Even though I’ve asked)

Who can keep them from abusing their newly acquired power to punish people who tweet or write blogs criticizing Klout?

No one.

This is why I’m nervous.

This is powerful stuff and growing by the day!  In 10 or 15 years, many some positions (sales, marketing, leadership, etc.) will be hired in some way based on scores like the ones found on  Sure, it might be PeerIndex, Tweetgrader, or even Empire Avenue instead, but it will be something.

Some are already screening candidates this way because the next step in the evolution of the web is taking the data from billions of tweets, posts, and updates to aggregate and evaluate them to improve the ways businesses and savvy leaders make decisions.

Let’s be proactive!

Klout should self regulate themselves, work to correct errors like incorrectly calling someone a Dabbler, and avoid making manual adjustments to someone’s score.

If that doesn’t work, then regulations may need to be put in place as more people use Klout scores to make decisions.  It’s no different than credit scores, except controlling someone’s reputation is probably more significant.

Maybe we need to start using an average of scores, similar to how banks use three credit bureaus.  Maybe we need three influence bureaus?

I don’t have all the answers but I sure would love your thoughts on this matter.

Congrats.  You made it to the end.

Have a great night!


Like my blog? Subscribe to “Thoughts from an 8pm Warrior” via email

Published by Aaron Biebert

I'm a director, film/video exec producer, leader & 8pm Warrior. I am passionately chasing my goals at all times. I'm listening. Let's talk!

60 comments on “King Klout and Why Its Power Makes Me Nervous”

  1. Aaron,
    There’s a part of me that laughs when Klout says I’m influential about pizza(I like it but…?), technology (haha!), and children (I wish my children were influenced by that!). But don’t we all think about the subliminal messages this scoring system sends to our friends, coworkers or potential clients? It’s one thing if someone else’s score plummets, quite another when it’s yours. If it all happened in a bubble it would be laughable. But Klout does has influence, like it or not!

    1. Betsy, I’ll tell you it doesn’t feel good. I’m a competitive person and when someone’s keeping score, I like to win.

      I guess that’s the “Warrior” part of me.

      There is quite a bit to laugh at regarding Klout. For instance, I’m influential in Justin Bieber.

      However, I believe that it’s getting less and less fun and more and more serious. Huffington Post is letting Klout scores influence their news now…

      That’s why I’m nervous.

      1. Thanks Aaron. It seems according to Klout I influence photography? WTH? I don’t do photography, I don’t write about photography, until this post, I’ve never even commented about photography. LOL.

  2. Wouldn’t it be nice if FICO scores were properly regulated as well? That might give the economy a boost! Sorry to digress…

    1. I agree, and there has been legislation dealing with it. That’s why they now offer the free credit reports each year.

      Luckily, Klout is pretty transparent about what your score it…just not how exactly it works. Since that’s the magic of their business, I’m not sure we’ll ever know it.

      I get that.

      Anyway, thanks for the comment Gess!

  3. Klout is deeply, deeply flawed.

    I had a similar anomaly on my score, yesterday, Aaron, and I’ve had no contact with them for a while – so unless they’re picking up telepathic insults, I wouldn’t worry about it being anything personal.

    I’ve had days when my Twitter following has increased by 500-600 and my Klout ‘True Reach’ has dropped. I don’t believe there is any real science in True Reach… I’m sure it’s just a percentage, rather than any real reflection of activity.

    Also, they’re adding all these new networks, but it’s just show, now. They’re trying to pull in as many endorsements as possible, without ensuring that the system works already.

    I don’t have a massive influence on YouTube, but my vids have been watched a few thousand times. Adding it added nothing at all to Klout. Removing it didn’t affect it, either.

    My Blogspot blog… I have 420 followers and over 120,000 page views… adding it didn’t change my score whatsoever – not even .1 of a percentage point in any area.

    I think Klout is in danger of shooting itself in the foot. Unless they actually get their act together, more and more people are going to realise how flawed it is and just stop using it. Nearly everyone had a MySpace account a few years ago…

    1. Les, I think they may be telepathic. :-)

      It has its flaws and adding Instagram didn’t help. lol They obviously know an influential person though, hence the reason why you have a high score. Flaws? Yes.

      I wish they’d respond to some of these issues themselves. Maybe they’re upset, but if they look at my last post they’ll see I gave them major kudos for at least being open about responding.

      No responses here…

    1. Katie, that’s a great post you wrote as well.

      It’s definitely important to remember what Klout is and isn’t. It definitely isn’t a measure of offline influence.

      Great comment!

  4. I know I’m old and therefore, inherently old fashioned, but I don’t get it. Why do we even let ourselves care about “scores” that are out of our control. Shouldn’t we just care about and be accountable for our actual behaviors and online presence? Shouldn’t we be done with the high school mentality that seems to affect much of social media in the whole popularity contest thing? I was finding myself getting worried and frustrated that my posts were not being promoted by Triberr but, I finally realized that I was just allowing myself to get caught up in wanting that which I can’t have. I hate when I feel like that. Rather than being a productive feeling…it is actually counter-productive. I would rather nurture and revel in the true online community that I have become part of over time…because of actual credibility…not because of some random score. I am so lucky to have connected with so many people, including you Aaron, in my blog travels and, by giving genuine and heartfelt support where appropriate, I know it will be paid forward. I don’t want to know my Klout score…it could either depress me or give me a false sense of security. I just want to know that the people I have connected with and met through SM know that I sincerely care about them and that I have their back. You are an awesome writer, Aaron and you seem to be a really genuinely caring guy…in my eyes and, I’m sure the community you have become part of would agree, your score is just about perfect. And, at the end of the day, that should be all that matters.

    1. Claudia, thank you so much for the warm words of encouragement and support. I too am thankful to have met you and others through the 8pm Warrior community and I’m sure that none of my fellow warriors will judge me based on my Klout score. It was 44 in November.

      Also, you’re not that old and your thoughts make sense at first glance. It’s tough to see this evolution happen. As you can see my my post, I’m not that comfortable with it.

      However, I would urge you to consider the importance of others scores that seem out of your control like credit scores, insurance risk scores, Cubs scores. :-)

      At the end of the day, Klout scores are a way to measure someones level of engagement and connection and it won’t go away if we ignore it.

      I’m going to write my next post to help answer some of the questions/thoughts I’m seeing here in the comment section. I think I can help.

      Thanks so much Claudia!


  5. Okay Aaron let’s you and I create a influence bureau that is reliable. I hate the fact that my Klout score was hovering around 68 in mid July and because I had to disengage from my normal reality for a few weeks it is now 60. It is hard to regain 8 points especially when your apple cart has been upset by a major life event. So I worked very hard for what? I haven’t been away for months or abandoned my SM accounts. Thank goodness for my 8pm Warrior mates or I would have probably disappeared off the radar completely.

    1. Cheri, you are still just as influential to me.

      Don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll see your score go back up once your bright smiling tweets are all over the internet again. Glad to see you out and about. We all missed you.

      Hey everyone, follow Cheri at @ArveyColumbus on Twitter. She’s one of the best I know.

    2. Cheri, were you being influential ONLINE during those days you were OFFLINE? No. Klout measures ONLINE influence. Of course your Klout score would decline. If it didn’t decline, that would be an issue.

        1. Cheri, you’re welcome. Let me give you an example. Say there are two brothers in a family. The older brother (Adam) is more well-behaved then the younger brother (Davey) and has a great influence on him. When Adam is around, Davey tends to behave well because of his older brother’s influence. When Adam leaves, he won’t be as influential since he isn’t there to influence. Of course, Adam’s previous presence and time spent with Davey will still hold some value, but there’s no way it will be the exact same. And Klout takes that into consideration, that’s why it dropped by 8, and not 50 points. Does that make sense?

  6. Aaron, thank you for being there and vigilant for those of us on the net who only spend a few minutes a day on social networks. I owe you many +K’s once I am convinced it is working as it should.

  7. “This matters if you are focused on social media or online marketing for a career. Klout scores matter when selling yourself as a consultant.”

    Are you kidding me? Anyone that is trying to sell their services or expertise by using their Klout score does not understand Klout and is someone I wouldn’t trust with social media marketing.

    Klout score doesn’t matter for consulting, it shouldn’t matter, and you’re only making things worse by saying it should matter. Klout has nothing to do with expertise or knowledge. Please STOP trying to turn it into something it isn’t, you’re creating the monster.

    1. Depends on who is doing the hiring- I have talked to more than a few people who take it seriously. If it were only a few people it might be easy to tell them how they are wrong or misguided to use it, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. At least in my experience it doesn’t.

  8. My perspective: ignore your Klout score…seriously.

    Worry about other scores, like how many clients you’ve signed, or how many speaking engagements that you’ve booked.

    Instead of paying attention to that number, spend some time reading and educating yourself so when a prospect tells you that they can’t work with you because of your Klout score, you can intelligently tell them where to “stick that Klout score.”

    Playing the Klout score game is the same thing as playing the Twitter follower game, it’s a garbage metric for people who can’t see past scores and ego-stats.

    If 98% of the people who talk about Klout spent that same time ignoring Klout and making new connections, we’d have an entirely different Social Media discourse.

    1. Hi Jeff! Thanks for adding to the discussion.

      While I completely agree that there are more important numbers than Klout (your bottom line for instance), it is not something to be ignored for anyone looking to lead people, market things, teach, blog, speak, or entertain.

      I’m going to write my next post to help elaborate on why that’s true.

      Thanks for joining in. I greatly appreciate it.

      1. I look forward to that post Aaron. I’ve been waiting for someone to make a compelling case to me as to why Klout makes one single bit of difference. To me it’s only marginally different that looking at the number of followers someone has on Twitter.

    2. I think that telling people to ignore their Klout score could be the social media equivalent of telling people to “just ignore your credit score.” After all, who cares what TransUnion thinks about you? You can tell them where to stick their score…

      Well, the guy approving your mortgage does care about your credit score, and he cares about it a heck of a lot more than he believes your words about how you’re “really good with money.”

      While I think you’re right that we should focus the attention on our actions rather than the score, in theory at least, the score will reward the actions.

      So, yes, the actions are the most important part of the equation, but that certainly doesn’t make the score irrelevant. Especially once people of importance in your life (clients, bosses, etc) start taking the score seriously. At that point, it doesn’t really matter what you think about it.

      1. I disagree on the comparison of Klout score to credit score; in fact, it’s that comparison that is at the heart of my disagreement. Klout scores don’t actually mean anything. They don’t translate into a mortgage or a better rate on things. In most cases amongst, at least among the more well informed prospects, it’s not getting anyone any jobs either.

        The client that bases their decision around Klout score is the same one that has social media goals that include getting more followers and accumulating “likes” and +1’s.

        Does ANY of that help our industry in the long term? No. I haven’t heard one good reason why anyone should pay attention to their Klout score in a meaningful way.

        While I am unlikely to convince a bank to give me a mortgage because of my credit score I can easily explain why a prospect should hire me regardless of Klout score.

        Many people consume themselves with these stupid metrics like Empire Avenue and Klout and miss the reality that Klout cannot possibly measure someone’s influence accurately, therefore putting any weight into that score is silly.

        1. I don’t disagree with your rationale, but if Klout becomes a standard metric for social media effectiveness, potential clients, bosses, etc may not give you the chance to explain yourself at all. If they take your score into account, then they could pass you over before you have a chance to be sitting in front of them in the first place. You can’t explain anything to someone that never bothered to ask you for an explanation.

          1. I would never pass over a candidate based on a Klout score. I would based upon a review of their blog, twitter, linkedin, facebook page, etc.

            Klout is only a partial measure and therefore, IMO, not worth putting trust in.

          2. Even if Klout becomes the standard metric I highly doubt it will overshadow referrals, case-studies and good old fashioned word-of-mouth. Beyond that, standard or not it is simply full of gaping holes in measurement.

            Consider this: WHAT IF I had a massively popular vimeo channel and show, I routinely guest blog for mashable, techcrunch and RWW, I have the #1 podcast in the iTunes music store BUT, I’m not on Twitter, FB, Linkedin or any of the 10 services Klout measures…

            Do I actually have Klout?

            The point is that if it’s not actually accurate, why does anyone care?

          3. Probably…but WHAT IF I didn’t.

            If Klout is to measure influence, I want to know how it measures the thousands of ways people can influence others without the 10 networks they support?

            It’s about how much weight you put in that number. If it is actually the reason you make a decision, you are missing significant critical thought.

            It is ONE of MANY pieces of data to base a decision around.

          4. Probably…but WHAT IF I didn’t.

            If Klout is to measure influence, I want to know how it measures the thousands of ways people can influence others without the 10 networks they support?

            It’s about how much weight you put in that number. If it is actually the reason you make a decision, you are missing significant critical thought.

            It is ONE of MANY pieces of data to base a decision around.

          5. Hey Jeff. What you’re saying is completely logical. But, translate it back to your credit score. What if you use cash only your whole life. You pay cash for your car, fancy-pants TV’s, and everything else in your life. You never used a credit card because you didn’t value building up your credit score, and you just trusted your own cash-based system.

            Well, the day comes that you want to buy a house, and despite how amazing you are at managing your money, you don’t have enough to do more than a down-payment. You need a loan.

            So, you go to your bank, and sit down to ask for a loan. Their assumption about you, before talking to you and by looking at their data, is that you are a bum. That’s not because you really are a bum, but because you have chosen to work in a way that is outside their system of rating you. You can plead your case, and in some banks probably win them over. BUT, that doesn’t change the fact that you have been working outside their “system”.

            Right now, Klout is so new, that their “system” is very limited. However, they are working to expand the networks that they include in their ratings, and as they do, your examples of blip, vimeo, and iTunes will probably become increasingly irrelevant.

            However, until they do include those other networks, you have to understand that by ignoring what Klout defines as the system is to choose to work outside of their system. You’re cash-only in a credit score world. That doesn’t make you a bad person or bad at what you do, but you will be passed over by those people who make decisions based on the system. That’s just life. Whether it’s fair or not is a different matter.

          6. Luke,

            1st off, I am truly enjoying this dialogue.

            2nd, while I can see the value in your analogy of the credit score, you still assume that “the system” matters. Let me explain.

            Let’s say I live off of cash, no credit whatsoever, but I have a TON of cash. Do I care that much about getting a loan from a bank, and if I do, can I not show assets or cash as collateral?

            To continue with that example, do I care about my Klout score if I’m swimming in new business and speaking engagements? NO.

            The system only matters if you put your faith in the system. You can try to win inside of the system that Klout is busy creating and short-sighted people are busy worrying about, OR you can go out and get that money.

            If you are making relationships that yield results on Twitter, stop worrying about Klout. If you are putting up content on Facebook that only gets one interaction per month, but that leads to new business, stop worrying about Klout.

            I contend that those that would disregard me or anyone else based solely on Klout score don’t deserve my contributions because they are short sighted. I would rather focus my attention on those that see a bigger picture than one individual metric. I’ve been blogging for 3 years and that does not show up in my Klout score at all.

            I’m not saying Klout is totally irrelevant. I’m saying it takes a distant backseat to winning the game you are playing.

    1. Hi Brendan, it’s been a busy day so I haven’t had time to give proper thought to the longer posts. Just got home.

      Let me read through your comments and I’ll respond in a thoughtful manner. Thanks for the eagerness to discuss this topic. I’m looking forward to it.

  9. I’m sorry, but it’s really sad that this kind of trivial thing is the kind of thing you’re worried about.

    I’m apparently extremely influential about dentistry and dogs, and my friends and I have made it a game of giving each other “+K” about all sorts of random crap that has nothing to do with anything. Why? Because we know that “Klout” is crap. And we like to mess with the system.

    Some of us are, in fact, what you would consider a “social media professional” (whatever that actually means), and the bottom line is if you’re good enough at what you do, none of this matters.

    You say, “This matters if you are focused on social media or online marketing for a career. Klout scores matter when selling yourself as a consultant.”


    Who are your clients? I can tell you one thing, the majority of the clients of “social media/online consultants” don’t know enough to even pay attention or care what your “Klout score” is, and THAT’S WHY THEY’RE YOUR CLIENTS.

    This is nothing but navel-gazing, and you (among others) need to realize that.

    1. Stacy, I am worried about many things and this is definitely something you should be worried about too. Especially in the career you have chosen.

      I am not an agency with clients. I am someone who hires social media consultants and I care about their Klout scores. I know I’m not alone.

      It helps me weed out the fakers.

      Looking at your Klout score, you would definitely be someone I would want to talk to. You can thank Klout for that. It saves me time and I find it to be very accurate for what I’m using it for.

      Just because Klout says you are influential in stuff like dogs and dentistry, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Apparently you are influencing your friends to endorse you on it. :-)

      If you try to screw with Klout, it will be screwed. I personally don’t like wasting time screwing with it, so it has identified topics for me in a fairly accurate way.

      I think it works.

      Others agree with me and they are choosing to give it credibility. That poses a problem for anyone trying to have “fun” with it, especially when it comes time for you to look for a new job in social media. With the new topics pages they are launching, I think you’ll see even more why it’s important to take it seriously.

      Results matter, but Klout provides a nice comparison point to measure actual reach and engagement.

      The Klout focus has only begun…

      Thanks for the thoughts. Look forward to talking more about it.

  10. Thanks for taking the time to share, Aaron. I’m at that point where the numbers don’t phase me anymore.

    Instead, I use it to give kudos to the people I’ve been engaging with on Twitter. I like to think of it as a virtual high-five, and give out +k’s when I can –

    If they disappear, like they have recently (although I see they’re back), it’s not a big deal.

    The day our use of social media is seriously measured by a score someone else gives us will be a sad day indeed.

    1. You are very welcome Ben!

      I’m sure you must let numbers phase you in some way. I agree that +K’s are nice high fives, but I don’t agree that it’s no big deal if they disappear.

      That’s a waste of time…

      As for the day when social media is measure by a score, it’s here. I’ll write more about this soon.

      1. Hey Aaron,

        When it comes to Klout, the numbers are interesting, but I wouldn’t use them to make a judgement on people’s capacity to use social media. For me, the concern is whether people are using it or not so I can use it as a way recognising their contribution with +K.

        For me, that recognition is for that person, for that time. It’s a chance to give them that virtual high five or pat on the back. So, I don’t see it as a waste of time if somewhere down the track, that gets reset or disappears… might be a chance to do it again!

        In terms of social media and score – after I made the comment above, I was thinking about it for most of the day, and you’re right. I know I place value on things like followers and comments etc. But, I also know that what I value, may be different to what others value.

        I guess the concern for me is when sites like Klout take all of that, put it through their own algorithm and pump out a number and say “this is the measure of all your social media activity”

        Anyway, thanks for the thought provoking conversation! Look forward to the blog post on numbers… I might write one of my own :D

  11. You know what? You just captured something my gut has been telling me for awhile. I really think there might be things going on behind the scenes that we don’t really know about at Klout. After all, it’s run by HUMANS and they have feelings too.

    The really scary part? I was at BlogHer this month and several PR agencies told me that they definitely weigh someone’s Klout score when decided to use a blogger for their client’s advertising whims. People in high places are taking Klout scores seriously. This lady told me that she doesn’t even consider contacting a blogger with a Klout score of less than 60. Yes, be scared my friend. I’m glad you posted this. We’re giving companies like Klout, Facebook, Google, etc. way too much power.

    1. Desiree, it seems like many people would like to dismiss the whole idea and tell me to stop writing about Klout. However, I don’t think it’s going away and we need to deal with it.

      The world is changing….

  12. Hey Aaron,

    We would never lower someone’s Score because of something they said about us. Klout Scoring happens based on the actions your audience and how much they engage with your content. Our algorithm analyzes over 200 million pieces of content daily and there is absolutely no incentive for us to mess with the science of what we’re doing. We take influence scoring very seriously and are always looking to get better at it. We wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize that.

    Marketing Manager, Klout

  13. I respectfully disagree Brendan Lowry — they do matter because potential employers and even blogger contests are now asking for your Klout score in certain industries, as a way of verifying your social media savvy. Will this matter to a nurse or a barista? Probably not, but the fact that some industries will be affected means we should all be aware of it. If you are a blogger, copywriter, SEO expert, social media consultant or work in advertising or marketing, your Klout score could be (and in some cases already is) like your credit score and used as a tool to thin the herd. I, for one, do not want to miss out on an opportunity because Klout was messing around and “trying something out.” Much like credit scores, no one knows for sure what exactly goes into your Klout Score (as evidenced by Aaron’s “dabbler” friend.)

    Thanks for the heads up Aaron!

  14. Hey Aaron,

    You have spawned quite the debate here! Props for that.

    Maybe Klout is more like weighing yourself, you don’t need to do it so frequently. Many are very focused on their scores, checking daily or through out the day. My Klout was broken for more than a month & I could not check it, give +K or see what others had given me: guess what? I lived! I did reach my all time high while I couldn’t see it but it was fine. Yes, Klout does change their algorythms and it changes people scores but I wouldn’t think that they would influence scores based on complaining or blogs, they would not nothing else if that was the case.

    The bigger question is not what Klout does with our scores, topics or +K but WHY as a Social Media community are we so obsessed about our Klout scores.

  15. Aaron, quite the discussion here. Hard to say, but the whole chain of events is interesting.
    My suggestion is just keep being you. Your Klout will follow.
    If and I say If because I would be surprised. But If Klout is gaming their own system it would be unfortunate and it would trivialize the product.
    Hopefully this was just a mistake and you can move on.
    But Just keep being you. Trust me, that is all you need to do.

  16. Hi Aaron,
    While I agree with you on most points, Klout has gone through some glitches, Megan has always been very helpful to me, responding to e-mails etc.. we need to remember Klout is still in it’s beta stages and all things considering I think they are doing a pretty good job.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.