Gini Dietrich

Klout Needs to Target and Segment for It to Work

By: Gini Dietrich | February 22, 2011 | 

I didn’t really want to add to the conversation about KloutShonali Burke did a nice analysis, Mark Schaefer created quite the conversation, Trey Pennington discussed why it’s necessary, and even the Wall Street Journal is on board.

I didn’t feel like I had anything new to add.

But then. I received an email from Klout asking if I am interested in learning more about some new movie or something (I didn’t really pay attention) Kobe Bryant is doing. The only reason I care what Kobe Bryant is doing is because my ten-year-old brother LOVES him. Other than that, I’m pretty sure I have no influence that can help Kobe and his PR team reach any of their goals.

(With both Google and a quick search of my deleted emails, it seems I have been offered a poster and a copy of Call of Duty, which I’m pretty sure is a game for the XBOX…and I really don’t care.)

It turns out, according to Klout, I am more influential than Jay Leno. Who, according to their algorithms, is a feeder while I am a thought leader.

Let that sink in for a second.

Me. The kid who grew up in Utah. The communication professional who is “ethical to a fault” (according to some former clients). The one who knows nothing about XBOX or Call of Duty or Kobe Bryant’s involvement in either. The one who can’t even influence what we have for dinner in our house, let alone whether or not people will buy some silly game.

More influence than Jay Leno. You know…the guy who has the late night TV show? The household name?

Turns out, according to Klout, if I say something about Kobe Bryant and Call of Duty, hordes of people will go out and buy the game and the needle will move. And then I’ll be welcomed into restaurants and hotels with champagne and tiaras. Designers will send me dresses, shoes, and jewelry just so people will ask who I’m wearing. I’ll never pay for another thing because companies will be rushing to send me free products and services.

Riiiiiight. In my dreams maybe (I do actually dream about Mr. D becoming President of the United States so I can ride my bike with the Secret Service, but that’s another topic for another day).

I see value in Klout, just like I do in AdAge Power 150, Technorati, and other rankings. But, until they figure out how to target and segment where people are actually influential, they’re wasting time and resources for the companies working with them.

Figure out I likely have some influence for publishers (business and fiction), companies wanting to reach PR and marketing professionals, companies wanting to reach business owners and entrepreneurs, and even cycling, then my Klout score might work.

Until then, I’ll dream of lavish events where the paparazzi are standing at the ready to shoot my shoes, jewelry, and dresses that are on loan from high-end designers.

Or not.

Thanks to Social Fresh for the great image!

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • KenMueller

    Thank you for this. Klout takes the human part out of the equation. Which, after all, is the whole point of Social Media…right? Anytime we try to “automate” the human process, we have to find a balance. Neither Klout, nor any of the others, has figured that out. And the temptation for companies is to just go by the numbers, when they REALLY need to take these numbers, and others…and then insert some human judgment and analysis. But…that takes time, which of course many say they don’t have. Which is why we have things like Klout….and we’re back where we started.

  • krusk

    @KenMueller You’ve nailed exactly what bothers me about Klout–even though it does provide great insight if you dig into the profile (I find the top influential topics seem to be pretty accurate), the issue with having a simple and neat little score attached is people don’t seem to want to look past that.

    @ginidietrich I looked at your profile and it has Chicago Bears as one of your top topics.. I assume since it listed a sports team that you were generally interested in sports hence the Kobe Bryant connection. Still bad targetting but at least you can see where they came from.

  • sydcon_mktg

    This is the thing about Klout that I just do not understand. How can they measure how much Klout you have if they don’t monitor the topics or markets you have authority on?

    And with the freebies/promotional items, if I were Activision (the makers of Call of Duty) I would want free copies of that game to go to gamers or game reviewers to help get the word out. If it were my product that was being given away, I would think it a waste of money if it went to a “influencer” who had no influence in my product area. Giving you a Xbox game makes no sense (although, I would wager that your 10 year old brother would love it, since my 9.5 year old son is addictied to it & Xbox).

    There are a lot of people on Twitter with loads of influence, yet small amounts of followers. It just depends on your niche market. Take the two of us for example Gini, you are a PR/Communications whiz kid with a deep audience and a lot of knowledge to share, you have a lot of followers and a well deserved high Klout score. I on the other hand target a smaller, more specific market, custom development to a specific niche group. My follower number is thousands lower and my Klout number reflects that. However, does that mean that I dont influence my niche market (and no I am not claiming to be a key influencer, but we have gottten many inquiries as well as new clients thru our Twitter use, so we must be doing something right). But my point is, to say Justin Bieber has more Klout than you Gini, or that you have more than me means exactly what? Not that we have more or less Klout in our specific markets, just more cummulative Klout? In the long run are we not more focused on our niche vs cummulative? After all I am not targeting Bieber’s market and you are not looking to develop custom code on a sophisticated platform.

  • Nicely done Gini… you didn’t fall victim to it. You know, the thing you caution PR clients about… good press! It’s so easy to fall in love with your own good press and take your eye off the ball.

    Glad to see that’s not going to happen with you. 🙂

    –Tony Gnau

  • ginidietrich

    @krusk Which is TOTALLY weird because I never blog or tweet about the Bears. The only place it’s even mentioned is in my FB personal profile. Just goes to show how untargeted and non-specific it is.

  • ginidietrich

    @KenMueller Totally agree – people love to see the “simple and neat little score,” as @krusk puts it. And it’s not a great measurement of anything. skypulsemedia and I had this conversation. If he has a blog, with 3,000 readers, and he recommends a book, he might have 1,000 people who go out and buy it. But because no one tweeted about it, he has no influence, according to Klout.

  • ginidietrich

    @sydcon_mktg It means Justin Bieber is a little shit and I’m going to beat him at influence! 🙂

    I totally agree with you. This goes back to the same thing as always – when I started my career it was how many bottles of Ocean Spray juice could we send to reporters. It didn’t matter if they weren’t the right reporters. We just had to send 2,000 bottles out and we were measured against that. Same thing here, unfortunately.

  • ginidietrich

    @T60Productions I am not a big believer in publicity for publicity sake (as you well know). I’ve had many a conversation with CEOs to say, “Getting in this story is only an ego stroke for you. It will do nothing for the business.” Sometimes we get fired over that conversation. Sometimes we fire the client. And sometimes the client listens and we can actually help them achieve their business goals because they’re not stuck on getting an article in the newspaper.

  • KenMueller

    @ginidietrich still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that you have a 10 year old brother!

  • sydcon_mktg

    @ginidietrich LOL, my 12 yr old daughter agrees with you 150%…that Bieber is a little shit! 😉

  • sydcon_mktg

    @ginidietrich @krusk I have topics listed that if I mentioned it was one time, long ago (and I don’t even remember doing so) and topics I do mention often are not listed. Same goes for influencers…I have never heard of some of my influencers, so how does that work?

  • HowieSPM

    All of these Social Influence systems are faulty. They see so little of your communication. And only Twitter is really visible. Not sure if they take blogs into account. They are clueless about real life. And the measurable segment of the population so small, I just think this is like 20 years too early, which by then it might eb too late. Klout has zero way of connecting online to off line behavior. If 4% of US consumers are on twitter today (I am being generous at 10mil) they are missing 96% of consumers.

    So I agree segmentation is important. Every business has goals and objectives. Klout said I was an oil spill expert during the BP crisis because I tweeted a lot about it. So by measuring key words even segmentation will be hard. What if Green Peace was looking for an Oil Spill expert and found me through Klout? LOL

  • @ginidietrich Sounds like a common conversation I have with our clients. Is this video intended for you or potential customers? If it’s to make you and your employees feel good, we’ll do it one way. If it’s to earn you more business, we’ll do it another way.

  • krusk

    @sydcon_mktg @ginidietrich Interesting, I always thought mine was pretty accurate but I supposed could have been a fluke.

    I do agree on influencers–it sort of seems like it randomly plucks people I’ve interacted with (sometimes only once)

  • Yep they really don’t understand who they are ‘Klouting’. Love the Mark Schaefer infogram about the Justin Bieber account today. Really shows that Klout has a long way to go before it means anything.

    Perhaps Klout will be useful in creating ‘fake’ online influencers like you discussed yesterday. At the rate they are going, the way they segment is about as useful to us as a ‘fake’ online persona.

  • Nick

    If Kobe wants me to buy a video game, it is done and done! GO KOBE!!!!!

  • HowieSPM

    @ginidietrich @KenMueller @krusk Also Edelman is the same. In fact Edelman’s influence is from what I read 100% on RT’s.

  • Maybe you should become a Klout whore like Mark Schaefer, it sounds like you’d get a lot of cool free stuff haha!

  • JoeFernandez

    Hey Gini,

    I am one of the founders at Klout and the CEO. Have you taken a look at Jay Leno’s twitter account? It’s terrible. We aren’t saying that you are more influential in the world then him but in terms of the social web people are more deeper engaged with you then him. This blog is great proof of that.

    Also, just wanted to clarify that we have never worked with Call of Duty so I am not sure who that offer came from.

    Happy to chat about what we are working on here.


  • ginidietrich

    @GACConsultants I should do that so I can get free dresses, shoes, and jewelry!

  • ginidietrich

    @johnfalchetto I haven’t been to Mark’s blog today. I’ll have to go check it out. After I read your blog post.

  • ginidietrich

    @HowieSPM Perhaps @JoeFernandez can answer these questions!

  • ginidietrich

    @JoeFernandez Hey Joe! Nice to see the rumors are true – you do a great job of connecting and engaging.

    Sure, I get that I might be more influential on Twitter than Jay Leno, but I used the example to show how much more work there can (and should) be around this. For instance, @krusk noticed that one of my top topics in my profile is the Chicago Bears, but I rarely tweet about them. Yeah, I live here and love them, but the football smack talk I do is on Facebook, not Twitter. So the algorithm isn’t perfect.

    I’d love to see Klout begin to target and segment. Just like we did in the early days of email, we need to figure out how to use your tool to find the right influencers for our clients. If that happens, there will be nothing that can compete with you and you’ll be printing money.

    Weird about Call of Duty – I pulled up the email when I wrote this on Sunday to be sure it came from Klout. Was there an offer with Kobe and I’m mistaken? I had the poster sent to my brother.

  • ginidietrich

    @KenMueller Well, he’s a half-brother. My parents split up when I was 18 and my dad remarried and they had him. But he’s definitely my brother, which is evident in how he teases me.

  • Weltbrand

    As someone who is in social media constantly, I find fault with the consistency of Klout’s scores. When I’m active/engaging/influencing, my score goes down, and it does the opposite when im not performing so well… Maybe I have the results turned upside down or something like that… I do like Klout, but I think some of the back end needs to be tweaked. IMO it is the best tool for Twitter analytics, but I think consistency should be the next step in it’s evolution.

  • I’m late replying here… aargh! @ginidietrich first, thank you for including my post! I’m also impressed with @JoeFernandez taking the time to reply here.

    I’ve pretty much said what I had to say, but at the risk of repeating myself: influence is much more than a number. Kudos to Klout as well as all the other companies that are trying to quantify online influence, but until I can see more instances of where a score actually relates to how things function in the “real” world, I’m going to take them all with a large fistful of salt.

  • caroljsroth

    Intereresting discussion. I would say it needs to be taken a step further to not just things that you are interested in (wine, shoes), but also that your community is interested in. While some of us may care about the shoes, knowing a lot of your followers, they wouldn’t.

    So, just like business (and on my customer loyalty 3.0 rant), you would need to be talking about something your community cares about and that you are uniquely passionate about to make the discussion authentic.

  • ginidietrich

    @caroljsroth Totally agree, Carol. I was being facetious! 🙂 If Klout can figure out how to rank based on where the real influence is (for me it’s business books and tools for PR and marketing pros), they will have a very powerful tool.

  • ginidietrich

    @Shonali You’re not late! As prtini just said on Twitter, PR pros need to use this tool coupled with RELATIONSHIPS to find the real influencers for the business they’re working with.

  • ginidietrich

    @Weltbrand That is so weird that it goes down when you engage more. I’m curious to learn more about that…I’ll see what I can find.

  • bdorman264

    @ginidietrich …….you said it again……………but I’m not going to repeat it…….:). BTW I think my Klout score is – 3 w/ my 27 followers………, uh 26…… mom just dropped off again…………

  • ginidietrich

    @bdorman264 Your mom is on Twitter?! COOL! I can’t even get mine on Facebook.

  • HeatherWhaling

    @ginidietrich @Shonali prtini I’d add that critical thinking is sometimes missing from the equation, too. Klout, coupled with other tools and resources, can be helpful. But, to really develop the plan or solution that meets clients’ need, we have to use our brains. Anyone can pull numbers from Klout. That’s not why we’re getting paid. We get paid to think about the bigger pitcture and connect dots for clients in ways that can’t be automated.

    Love this post, Gini! 🙂

  • caroljsroth

    Gini, I know you were being facetious, but in jest there is always some truth! I think we are on the same page though- the intersection of customer need and influencer passion is where the real magic is.

  • Weltbrand

    @ginidietrich Yes… I’ve been in contact with Klout… They said they would look into it. Was hoping for some feedback, but am still waiting.

  • ginidietrich

    @HeatherWhaling What?! We have to use our brains?? Dammit.

  • @Weltbrand @ginidietrich I’ve found that too, and I believe hackmanj has as well. Particularly on Twitter. I have never contacted them, because if my Twitter presence is all that it takes to keep a Klout score high, they can have it.

  • TheFriendlyBlogger


    This has been my issue! Exactly whom am I showering my influence upon? Beiber fever fans? poodle skirt lovers? Who??

    I do like the feature that shows me who influences me, however I don;t always agree. You are absolutely correct that this is necessary for Klout to INFLUENCE the net.


  • amfunderburk1

    Thanks Gini! Before the conference I attended this past Friday I never really used Klout and I just started really using it this weekend. I think there is still a lot to learn about this service (for me anyway) and a lot this service can offer in the future.


  • ginidietrich

    @TheFriendlyBlogger You know poodle skirt lovers are following you now! I totally agree with that feature, but it shows people I haven’t talked to, on Twitter, in more than a year. Mine even shows someone who hasn’t had a Twitter account since 2009. Weird.

  • ginidietrich

    @amfunderburk1 Was there conversation about Klout at the conference?

  • Trace_Cohen

    I see Klout as just another popular way to benchmark your online presense and nothing more. They, like numerous other companies are creating a system that can be gamed and still has some inherent flaws to it, which is perfectly fine.

    From a marketing/PR standpoint, I commend them on their brilliant execution. They are putting everyone against one another depending on your “klout” and then giving you free stuff to make everyone else jealous – making it almost like an exlcusive club.

  • ginidietrich

    @Trace_Cohen That’s exactly what it is right now, which is why I’d like to see them target and segment people’s influence. If they can do that, it’ll be a pretty powerful tool.

  • lisagerber

    @ginidietrich @GACConsultants haha! because markschaefer is a mom blogger!

  • I don’t know much about Klout, so I’m just leaving this comment to let you know that I spent a few minutes dreaming about fantastic dresses and jewelry and SHOES – that was lovely! and just so I know and can file it away – what size shoe do you wear?? because if you start getting showered with these things – well, I might need to help you out – lol 😉

    However – Leno may have the airwaves – even after the daily show debacle – but I think you have him beat on Twitter and Facebook and Blogging and business… and growing every day – so is Klout really all that wrong?? #justsaying

  • “it seems I have been offered a poster and a copy of Call of Duty, which I’m pretty sure is a game for the XBOX…and I really don’t care.”

    It was like a kick in the gut reading that. I love me some Call of Duty! ha ha

    But I agree with you overall. It definitely has value and will get better over time, but the algorithms and segments have got to evolved before it’s any reliable measure of influence. Well said, gini dietrich !

  • TheDavecable

    Great article Gini. As much as I love seeing my Klout score go up, (not easy to do!) and like the fact scores are now refreshed on a daily basis – the fact that sentiment cannot be taken into account, (a big flaw with many social tools) there is still something missing. The recent debacle of JC Penney and Kenneth Cole has seen that ‘any publicity is good publicity’ hold true. February 4th saw Kenneth Cole make a truly misguided tweet about the grave situation in Egypt, from which his Klout score went from 48 to 70 overnight!
    I think it has it’s place, just not to be relied upon!

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