Analysis: Offline Influence is Deeper Than Online Klout

Spoiler Alert: If you base your entire self worth on your Klout score, you may want to read something else.  Try these instead.


Klout says I’m less influential the past few weeks because my focus has been on some new projects and the opening talk I’m presenting at a conference tomorrow.  I haven’t been tweeting much.

Am I less influential?

It appears as though I have to choose between offline and online influence.  If I have to decide, I’d like to give this some thought tonight.

Here’s what I’m seeing:

  • Online influence can affect offline relationships.
  • It doesn’t seem to go the other way as effectively.
  • Most business leaders I know aren’t blogging or using Twitter and Facebook.
  • My influence with them has no effect on my online influence.  The worlds are very separate.

If you accept that we each have only 24 hours a day, then it is necessary to choose what we do with our time (scarcity).  Should we focus on building online Klout or offline influence?

Let’s look at one situation:

I’ll use the example of Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE and author of several top business leadership books.  He has been one of the most influential people in the business community for years.

I know with 100% certainty that I am NOT more influential or important than Jack.  I laughed when I saw this:

Is that how Jack and I “stack up” in the offline world?  Do I really have 19% more influence than Jack Welch?


Would I rather have his offline influence?  Would I prefer to get $100,000 speaking fees and million dollar advances on my next book?

Or, would I rather have a higher Klout score?

Definitely not.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, but here are four conclusions I’m coming to:

  • I always give up some online influence when I focus on offline relationships
  • I give up an lower proportion of offline influence when I focus on online relationships
  • I make more money from offline relationships
  • Many of the most influential people I know have lower Klout scores than me

After looking at the issue, it looks like we’re wasting time online when we could be building more lucrative offline relationships with people who aren’t on Twitter or Facebook much.  Why are people like me so focused on Klout scores?  It looks like higher online influence means lower offline influence.

Do I feel conflicted because there’s a score for online influence and no “Standard for Influence” in the offline relationship world?  I still believe Klout scores matter.  When people are keeping score, I like to win.  It’s why I like business so much.

However, I have yet to book a speaking engagement or new consulting project because of my Klout score.  Even though I’m now less influential online, hopefully my “real life” influence goes up tomorrow morning.

Wish me luck!

Have a great night,


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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!

37 comments on “Analysis: Offline Influence is Deeper Than Online Klout”

  1. Well, I was waiting to see what others wrote, but I guess everyone else is too busy checking their Klout Score to comment. :-)

    HANDS DOWN… offline relationships should be the priority in my opinion.

    I’ll admit, I do a “driveby” once in a while to see where my Klout score is at (I too like to win), but mainly I’m just curious what goofball topics they have me listed under. It appears as they crawl the web and my profiles they are starting to get a slightly better representative sample (although I still don’t understand why I’m influential about photography, or coffee – I don’t even DRINK coffee).

    However, in my humble (but accurate) opinion, a more important number is the number in my bank account. If I start generating revenue or connecting with potential business partners as a result of my score, I will give Klout more Kredence.

    1. I didn’t send out the email yet, so we’ll see in the morning. I appreciate you being the brave one. :-)

      James, I’m not going to give up checking my Klout score, but I would like to see it go down a bit more. That’ll mean I’m doing more offline networking.

      Thanks for the comment and the insight. Love it!

  2. I think it depends on situation. If you’re comparing something as silly as Klout score to the influence of a professional speaker, the result should be obvious to anyone.

    However, a high-profile blogger or internet video producer might be able to gather way more eyeballs than any speaker. If page views turn to internet fans who follow and take in the materials, the (one-sided) connection is quite “deep”. It’s usually easy to add your shop link to the website without feeling too pushy, whereas it might be hard to directly sell your products in real life.

    Of course, offline and online go hand in hand.

    1. Heikki, I think you make some very solid points.

      It probably depends on who you are, what you do, who you know, how you distribute your ideas, etc. It’s very complex.

      I appreciate your help.

  3. Aaron:

    Thanks for revisiting the subject of Klout and I especially like that you’re leaning to the right side of the conversation. [grin]

    Here’s some light-hearted parody of Klout from yours truly:

    Klout is measuring something in social media. That’s for sure. It’s gullibility. Ours. And that, in fact, may be valuable information.

    On the other hand, despite all my objections and questions about Klout, someone had to throw themselves at online reputation in a massively multi-player approach. And Klout hasn’t made more mistakes and faux pas doing it than I had expected of any contender.

    Here’s an interesting assumption that I do believe is indicated by your higher Klout score:

    Aaron Biebert is significantly more accessible than Jack Welch. Jack Welch may earn 10x more than Aaron Biebert, Jack Welch may command more attention and trust in the world, and Jack Welch may even bring more value to the corporate boardroom, BUT I can connect with Aaron Biebert and maybe have dinner with him after some depth of exchange is reached. There’s little to no chance of the same with Jack Welch – unless I foot the bill.

    Do you like my thinking on this?


    Recently on my blog: Money Can’t Buy You Happiness. And Other Social Media DOHs

    1. Hi Stan, I was on a little retreat this weekend with family and finally got a chance to read this.

      It is brilliant.

      Influence might be the wrong word. I like how accessibility sounds. Since it measures retweets/mentions/etc, there is some level of influence, but I think it really is more effective at measuring accessibility.

      Thanks for that!

  4. When Klout reflects my effective engagement with people online of really good stuff, then I know my efforts are worth it. But I have to be offline to create the good content!
    I’m very aware that there are many ways to share what I do. And you’re right, Klout only measures how you’re sharing that online (although it also measures retweets of stupid stuff, too!).
    I’m having to take a step back to see if I’m TALKING about doing something or actually DOING it!
    Thanks Aaron!

    1. Hi Betsy, thanks for the comment. Yes, one of Klout’s drawback is that lack of quality measurement. I’m guessing that since quality is in the eye of the beholder, we need to judge the type of quality by Klout x Audience Type to get a measurement of what kind of quality.

      Something to think about. Thanks for the thoughts!

  5. Hi Aaron…first of all good luck this morning! Positive thoughts your way and…as an aside…I would love to know what topics you speak on.
    Two…this is a struggle that I think about all of the time. With your post a few weeks ago on the importance of Klout, I expressed my concern over the overvaluation of Klout and you brilliantly and gently explained that Klout really does matter and was important in my online presence. So I put some effort into following my Klout scores and seeing if I could improve them. But, today’s post here really speaks to what I have found…there are not enough hours in the day to build both my online and my offline relationships…AND…as a result, I am getting frustrated and feeling like a “failure”. And that is never good. I loved your example of Jack Welch and how your Klout score is higher than his and yet….
    I guess at the end of the day, as with most things, it is all about balance. It is finding what that balance is that is the trick. Your points today are so compelling and thought provoking. I love to “hear” the progression of your thought process.

    1. Hi Claudia, sorry for the slow response. I wrote a response in the car while I retreated with my family after the talk, but it didn’t post. The talk went well, so thanks for the positive thoughts!

      I gave your comment some thought over the weekend and realize that I must be quite confusing! :-)

      Here’s my thought progression:

      1) Some people go too far and say that Klout doesn’t matter
      2) I wanted to remind my fellow 8pm Warriors of why it does matter
      3) As I continued to research and learn more about the changing landscape, I realize that some people may overvalue their Klout score
      4) I then wanted to remind the other side of the Klout debate that it’s not the main thing people should be driving
      5) I’m now in the middle, still trying to figure out how soon (if ever) before online influence levels eclipse offline influence levels on a scale of effort to results.

      All I know for sure is that there is scarcity of time. Thanks for spending some of it with me, giving this changing world some thought.

  6. Life has weddings, funerals, births, and vacations for all of this life occasions your klout score drops. I’m an online influencer, however I also make more money then most by working smart not hard round the clock. I’m sure I am not alone, by saying I most view people with high Klout scores as wanna be’s as we say in hollywood. So many are unemployed looking for attention, starting twitter chats on their on ego’s, pumping books they’ve written that haven’t made the NYTimes best seller list, people I would never want to meet in real life because they just don’t shut up, and sadly parent that are losers. Why are you a diva chatting Friday night? You could be spending quality family time or dating? Often, I will be catching an early morning flight and I’ll see the same people tweeting at 4am, that I see tweeting at 1am, and yes these are conversational tweets not scheduled. Of course these high ranking klout score people tweet on holidays like Thanksgiving all day long, and all others…obviously this is a very lonely people.
    The first thing I teach in social media is look at the URL not the number of followers, or the klout score. Social Media types I have categorized as people tweeting from rented apartments, with a lack of real life friends, and in many cases ignoring their families. As klout adds more and more social media tracking devices it’s a commercialized brand selling other brands, come on people “HELLO!” A CEO, a Entrepreneur who is a wealthy person could care less about a klout score, it’s your credit score that matters.

    1. Sidney, you make some good points about balance.

      I’m not sure I agree with you about non-NYT books, late night tweeting, or credit scores. I’m not sure those particular topics matter.

      In my book, it matters if people are growing, pushing, and making a difference. Do you agree?

      Thanks for the comment, I appreciate your thoughts.

  7. I don’t think spending time online it is a waste of time, and Klout scores are merely directional. A 360 degree approach is necessary now because of the myriad of ways people interact with each other.

  8. Aaron, I love reading your blogs….lots of common sense which many forget. It all comes down to who you’re targeting. For me, I target the Executive level…like you, the majority of my clients are generated through in-person networking or referrals….I then spend a lot of my time establishing credibility, and educating execs on how much the on-line world can/does influence end-users in their decision making purchasing process. I too wonder if there will be a day where the productivity of our off-line approach to establishing relationships will intersect with on-line relationships…. much like an economic curve between a legacy product and an emerging new product which provides a better experience. It takes time for price and awareness to replace the legacy but as we all know eventually, the downward trending legacy product will intersect with the upward trending new product. However, human relationships are not products driven by technology and the 5 P’s; So the question to me is will the trend lines one day interconnect in the near future?

    1. This is one of the best comments I’ve ever read. I like how you describe the current changing environment in terms of economic curves.

      I thought the intersection would be sooner, but lately I’m starting to wonder if it isn’t a couple years out. Perhaps as much as 10 years…

      In the late nineties, we experienced a tech bubble. I think we may be in an influence bubble now. It’s hard to know for sure.

      What’s your take?

      1. Thanks Aaron…what an interesting comparison! The tech bubble was focused on our insatiable demand surrounding emerging technologically based products and services….however, “influence” trends are founded on human relationships(a little trickier to predict) which are exponentially expanding due to the growth of communication portals(which could be argued as a continuation of technological advancement). So I think the best way to address your question is to slightly shift the comparison to the medium supporting communication portals/access (vs. we humans) which I believe will continue to advance and allow for a more dynamic way to communicate with “influencers”….. supporting a more personal relationship between 2 or more people. A great example of this is the impact of on-line Video which provides a platform for a person, product or service to build credibility, authenticity and ultimately a personality which earns trust. The best on-line videos support an interactive experience….which is similar, but not quite the same as a human relationship. I don’t believe we’ve begun to tap how we interact with one another on-line however, with all those brilliant & innovative minds working towards taking us to places we may not be able to imagine today, I see nothing but opportunity ahead. Do we make tons of money if were right? : – )

          1. Hey Aaron…sorry for for the lag time in my response. Thanks for sharing. I reviewed both, and think each vignette serves as a very good example of how video can humanize an organization…defining personality, character. It doesn’t replace the benefits of one-to-one engagement but, video moves us closer to similar benefits, the key to really optimizing is making sure the audience can easily engage/respond. Interestingly, I came across this “hot off the press” research regarding Lead Gen Source trends from DemandBase…thought you and others would find it of interest & relevant to this discussion:
            You will note that although video currently isn’t perceived as a key driver it’s an emerging trend which had no presence in prior research tracking. I anticipate we will see this number soon exceed banner advertising, align with email and creeping both mediums closer to personal connections. Have a great Friday!

          2. Thanks for sharing that study. Interesting to see.

            I wonder how well video performs when it’s coupled with email and company website.

            One example is how each property on has a video progression on the property page as well as a weekly email that goes out announcing progress on the project.

            It seems to be working well. I wish I had some scientific study behind it.

            Maybe I need to do one. :-)

  9. Well… i have higher Klout than you so: Let me Influence You.

    Actually not.

    All this text has forgotten 2 basics of klout:

    1- Klouts reads your influence FOR YOUR FOLLOWERS. So you can have a klout of 70 with 2000 or a klout of 60 with 99.999 followers. Starting from that, everyone can understand that klout is not a solo meassure for influence… is a part of an expert view

    2- Is not YOUR influence… is YOUR ACCOUNT influence. U can be the most influencial man of the world, but if your tweets are not atractive your klout will be low.

    Im a Digital Planner for DDB & i specialize on PR 2.0 strategies (using influencers), and Klout is just a door… the hard part of selecting influencers is lot harder.

  10. Well… i have higher Klout than you so: Let me Influence You.

    Actually not.

    All this text has forgotten 2 basics of klout:

    1- Klouts reads your influence FOR YOUR FOLLOWERS. So you can have a klout of 70 with 2000 or a klout of 60 with 99.999 followers. Starting from that, everyone can understand that klout is not a solo meassure for influence… is a part of an expert view

    2- Is not YOUR influence… is YOUR ACCOUNT influence. U can be the most influencial man of the world, but if your tweets are not atractive your klout will be low.

    Im a Digital Planner for DDB & i specialize on PR 2.0 strategies (using influencers), and Klout is just a door… the hard part of selecting influencers is lot harder.

    1. Hi Ignacio, thanks for the comment.

      I wasn’t sure what to think about #1 or #2 and haven’t heard of either position. Here’s what Megan Berry from Klout said about them:

      #1 — Follower count is not a part of the Klout Score. We believe influence is about the ability to drive action

      #2 — We measure your influence on 11 networks so to the extent that you’re influencing people there then we are measuring your influence.


      Hopefully this helps clarify. Thanks again!

      1. Thanks for the comment Aaron, but i think u didnt understand me.

        Number of followers is not part of the score. What i said is that, your lvl of influence exists in relationship of how i influence the others. That means, you have “X” Klout or “you have X lvl of influence” on the ones who follow u.

        For example. TyraBanks has 78Klout with 4.000.000 followers. I have 77Klout with 10.000. Of course that number is not part of the Klout score, but… Dont u think is weird that i have almost the same online influence than a worldwide famous star? Is because both our klouts are measured in reason of how much can we influence OUR CROWD. Not a global metric, just a metric on your own follower/fans/whatever lists.

        If you see it that way is easy to understand that klout is helpful, but is probably not intended for a solo influence metric. At least on my job, i dont trust klout alone… always use it, but without strategic view of who am i watching is kind of useless.

        Maybe now i explained myself better (sorry, english is not my first lenguage so i may have some problems)


        1. Ignacio, I understand what you are saying and appreciate your thoughts.

          After talking with Megan, I believe that your score is similar to Tyra’s because you influence a similar number of people. Many of her 4,000,000 are either inactive, bots, or don’t reshare her stuff.

          On the other hand, many of your 10,000 may be very active and spread your tweets to their followers.

          I believe their intent is to make it a global metric, not an individual one.

          Thanks so much for the discussion. I appreciate it.

  11. Interesting points, article and comments each. I find Klout interesting, but not sure it has a lot of value in all ways just yet. I’m a crochet designer and because I RT a funny phrase about bacon, that was RT by a lot of folks, I’m now a bacon expert on Klout. Which I find silly. Another friend of mine in the crochet niche is not considered influential about crochet at all, because the word is not often used in her posts about her comedic crochet drawings. She’s on the cutting edge of what she’s doing and people are flocking to her left and right. But Klout thinks it’s all about Texas instead. So it seems an imperfect system to me. Online or off, it’s all about relationships. I figure on just making those the best I can and let the Klout fall as it may. If it provides interesting information – great. Otherwise, I take it with a rather large grain of salt.

    1. Hi Julia, thanks for stopping by. Welcome!

      Yes, Klout is interesting and silly too. Bacon seems like a very ridiculous topic to be influential about and it misses other important topics (like crochet in your case).

      We’ll have to see if they can perfect their system. It’s the only way it will be relevant. Right now it is the idea that people are holding on to.

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