Martin Waxman

My Klout Score: It Loves Me, It Loves Me Not

By: Martin Waxman | August 7, 2013 | 
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My Klout ScoreBy Martin Waxman   

A few weeks ago, I wrote a two-part series here on the future of PR, and what a model for New PR might look like.

And I got a lot of great feedback and comments from readers. Thanks so much!

I also got another surprise. My Klout score increased by three points.

Big deal, you might say. (I would.)

But, I also have to admit when I noticed the upward trend, I felt like a kid who’d put in some extra effort studying for a test, and passed – as in, all that work can pay off.

I had a Klout Bump.

Social Klout: Bump!

By my definition, a Klout Bump is a noticeable yet meaningless increase or decrease in a Klout score that happens quickly, but only lasts for a short period of time.

From a purely egotistic perspective – and if you pay attention to those things – it can make you feel artificially better (or artificially worse). Personally, I don’t believe that quick jump up or down says anything about your long-term influence. It’s a minor popularity blip.

The Kid in High School Who Drops You Like a Hot Potato

Klout Bumps remind me of that kid in high school who hangs out with you – or not –  based solely on what s/he thinks the cooler kids’ perceptions are. It’s the equivalent of having insider info. You share it, it creates a furor, and suddenly you’re in the center of things. You’re one of the cool kids. But it quickly passes and you go back to your regular, non-influential self.

In that respect, social Klout is a fair-weather measure of influence.

Not the First Time

This isn’t the first time I’ve had a Klout Bump. It happened on my last birthday.

You see, that’s when the algorithm picked up on the good wishes I received (thank you!), and spurred a short-term upward influence swing. Gini Dietrich and I talked about it at the time, and she said I should tell people my birthday is every month to see how much my score would increase.

I was tempted.

The reverse has happened, too. One year when I was on holiday, I was quieter than normal on social channels. I got back to find my Klout score had plummeted. (OK it fell by two points, but you get the idea.)

Did my influence – or non-influence – truly change during such a short period of time? I don’t think so.

So What is Influence?

That is the question. For communicators and marketers, it’s something we’re trying to identify, understand, and quantify.

But true influence is complex, and not simply the difference between being ‘liked’ and ‘well-liked’ (reference: Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman).

Influence in business is the measure of how well one person can persuade another to perform a requested action for a brand. With social media that’s become more important than ever.

Clearly we need to figure out how to measure influence, and some people are doing a good job pointing us in the right direction.

Danny Brown and Sam Fiorella wrote a book on the subject, Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage, and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing, with insights on what makes influence matter.

And while there are many factors, they believe much depends on the situation you’re trying to influence. The context, as well as whether or not you have any real clout. And that makes a lot of sense.

My Klout Score

My sphere of influence differs from yours. Grasping that fact when trying to find people influential in the areas important to your brand is key. Otherwise it’s just a game of high scores, with no particular skill – or influence – attached.

In the meantime though, let’s have a bit of fun with this. Pretend I’m running for class president, and tweet/share this post all over the place!

Let’s see if I can get above a 70 Klout Score. There will be prizes if I do.

About Martin Waxman


Martin Waxman is executive vice president for our Canadian partner firm, Thornley Fallis. He is a social media and communications strategist, founder of three PR agencies, blogger at myPALETTE, Inside PR co-host, social media instructor, and former fiction writer, comedy MC, and Winnipegger.

  • I’m in for seeing if we can raise your Klout score!

    • ginidietrich Thanks! I just checked today and I’m down a point to 67 – so it’s going to be more of a challenge. Let the hard work begin!!

      • martinwaxman ginidietrich We’ll save you Martin!!!

        • belllindsay I need the life-preserver – or should I say Klout preserver… ginidietrich

      • JodiEchakowitz

        martinwaxman ginidietrich Happy to help 😉

    • ginidietrich Me too! I love a challenge!

      • I am very lackadaisacal about my Klout score. However (and I know this is kinda mercenary) I started feeling grumpy about not getting any perks so I revisited mine recently. I’ll let everyone know how the perk of a Lean Cuisine Honestly Good entree is! But seriously martinwaxman : A) I love a challenge so I am full on “in” in helping you get there. AND I just followed you on Twitter – that should have a HUGE impact (my tongue is firmly in cheek just fyi) and B) If you follow me quick, you’ll be my 4700th follower and I give a valuable “prize” every 100 followers so you could be the lucky recipient!! 🙂 🙂

  • Nate Towne

    I admit I used to have rather mixed feelings about Klout, especially after some issues with it losing my account info and having to start over. (But let’s not go there, shall we? Water under the bridge!) I’ve come to see the value of Klout in my own special way – it’s a motivator for me, almost like that calorie burn counter on the elliptical at the gym. It’s my own social media cheerleader of sorts, I like the bump I get from writing a blog post, commenting on a blog, etc. In fact I’ve worked my Klout score into my performance metrics at work – simply because Klout helps motivate me to do more of the stuff I “should do” (and want to do) and not because it’s a sign of my digital eminence. Here’s hoping you get to that ever-elusive 70 before you actually TURN 70. 😉

    • Nate Towne Thanks for the encouragement. And I like the way you approach it – as a cheerleader to spur you onto your goals. That’s a really novel approach!

    • John_Trader1

      Nate Towne I really like the idea of using Klout as a motivator and cheerleader of sorts. In some respects, I am the same way – Klout drives me to improve my reach and continue to construct my sphere of influence. Astute comment Nate.

      • John_Trader1 Nate Towne martinwaxman Interestingly, I get the opposite motivation from my Klout score. Over months and months it seems to move in a ridiculously narrow range — a point up here, a fraction of a point down there. And very often with no apparent correlation to what I’m doing online (other than the birthday bump). Yes, I pay attention to it, but it doesn’t drive my behavior any.

  • It is always fun to game Klout.  I’m in.

    • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Thanks! Let the bumping begin 🙂

      • martinwaxman Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Count me in too!

        • yvettepistorio martinwaxman Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes OK – now we’re picking up steam!

  • I always get a little goosey when my Klout score climbs to 71. And then back down to 69. And then back up to 71. And then back down to 71. It’s like my driving speed when I go to the beach. Klout’s fun but I’ve yet to win over any new business by saying “Hey! Do you know what my KLOUT score is??” Because they don’t care. It’s only people like us that care 😉

    • KristenDaukas Great point. I’ve heard about some businesses asking potential hires to list their Klout scores and don’t know what that would signify – unless it starts measuring whether or not you’re a jerk or a team player.  It’s a marker of sorts, but I do think it’s tied to popularity. My score will fall back to its normal level – but it might take a bit longer thanks to the Spin Sucks community.  Thanks!

  • Awesome post, and so glad you brought up the fabulous book by Danny and Sam; reading that was like getting certified in what Influence is.  Here’s to getting you up to 90 on Klout, and of course, your next post about it.

  • Great post, Martin. I’ll do my part for the experiment!
    I’ve long had a question about Klout, so I might as well ask it here. You link your key social networks to Klout, so it measures activity there, obviously. But does it capture the other stuff happening elsewhere? So if I write a guest post on someone’s blog and it gets 10 comments on the blog itself, does that affect my Klout score? Or what about the “scores” you get on commenting systems like livefyre or on sites like PR Daily — does that have an impact? What if 10 people recommend your comment on a New York Times article?
    My assumption is none of that gets captured, and that’s one of my beefs with Klout. It’s not really a full picture of your “influence.”

    • RobBiesenbach Not to mention, what if people are interacting with you a bunch, but negatively…

      • JoeCardillo You’re right. I don’t think they take sentiment into account. 
        RobBiesenbach – Thanks! I’m pretty sure they measure what you link to your account on the Klout site. So that means it doesn’t capture any social interactions outside of that. And it sure doesn’t record anything to do with influence in real life. Before Warren Buffet got a Twitter account, someone said that Buffet’s Klout score would be zero – not exactly a reasonable measure of his influence online in articles, blogs, interviews or offline.

  • Jen Zingsheim Phillips

    There have been entire months when I haven’t thought at all about Klout. Are companies still using this?

    • @Jen Zingsheim Phillips Yes, they still are – if you look at the perks being offered. Sounds like you have a good attitude about it – what do you use to measure influence?

  • Paula Kiger

    We don’t know but based on Martin’s post, we’re all valiantly trying to get him to 70. It’s the thrill of the hunt. 🙂

    • @Paula Kiger It is – I think I maybe should have aimed higher – but being Canadian we go for what’s within reach  🙂

      • martinwaxman EdenSpodek (also, coincidentally, being Canadian) inspired me to aim higher 75OrBust 🙂

  • I love contests. 🙂 I laughed out loud when Martin emailed me to tell me his score had bumped after blogging on Spin Sucks. So. Awesome. Let’s get him as high as we can!!

    • belllindsay Thanks! And of course, there will be some prizes – or should I say perks?

  • Dan Gershenson

    1) It doesn’t capture information as immediately as it should. 2) It weights Facebook and Twitter way too heavily compared to other channels. So you have to take it with a grain of salt. Is it nice to get a Klout Perk now and then? Sure. Still, I can’t imagine what kind of person would brag about their Klout score – probably the same kind of person who says, “Google me.”

  • Hmm, I wonder how much the folks klout are paying attention to your experiement martinwaxman? You’ve hit the nail on the head when it comes to the problem with most of these influence scoring tools. They’re meaningless if you want to understand someone’s true sphere of influence. Unfortunately, there are still many agencies that hang on to their importance. 
    Here’s a challenge to you martinwaxman, once your Klout score increases from this experiment, let’s see how long you can keep it there.

    • EdenSpodek Thanks! I haven’t hear from klout yet. But I can tell you how long the increase will last – about a week. That’s from previous experience with Klout bumps. Mind you keeping it up there, could be the inspiration for another contest :).

      • martinwaxman EdenSpodek have you seen Social Chorus and Collective Bias? They have very bizarre influencer campaigns. The sole measure of success seems to be number of pieces of content created, tweets generated etc from an influencer campaign. Then they estimate what that would cost in paid advertising. The difference is quality. I would rather pay $500k for a 30 sec spot on a top show than what they call $500k worth of earned media solely because I bet 95% of all the impressions were far less than 30 secs. Most fleeting. 
        I never see case studies that show sales or actions. They never say ‘Web traffic up 25% leading to X increase in ad views’ or ‘Led to a 15% increase in sales” Even the % increase numbers are wishy washy…..BUT I would take it for this!

        • Howie Goldfarb martinwaxman EdenSpodek Great point. Your examples sound a lot like ad value (measuring PR coverage, figuring out how much an equivalent ad would cost then multiplying it by some number to make it sound valuable). As you say, they’re like looking at pretty pictures, but there’s no outcome or action.

  • Oh, how I laughed at the title of this post!  Just like a fickle mistress! (or mister)
    I was pleasantly surprised by my initial Klout score. And then it did seem to rise as my level of engagement and interaction increased. Then I forgot about it until Sam and Danny brought it up just to laugh at it. 
    I think of it as a novelty that motivates you to get interacting early in your social media life. But even then — it motivates you to interact just for the sake of interacting, with no nod to content or actual engagement.
    The other day, I started getting several spammy comments on my blog. And then I got an email that my Klout score went up. I didn’t even open it. Just like I never open that “perk” I “earned” from them — the Red Bull adverzine.

    • DwayneAlicie It’s funny – all the ups and downs remind me of the hill of beans Humphrey Bogart talks about in Casablanca. It’s the conversations and actual engagement that mean something. A popularity score is a bit too much like impressions.

      • martinwaxman Indeed!  Popularity score — that is exactly it. Sharing your post around town now …

  • I hope the bump didn’t put you out of my acceptable to hang out with range which is over 50. Yes that means I can’t be seen with ginidietrich or bdorman264 

    I view klout mostly as an activity measure. Who is spending too much time on social media. But the whole influence issue to me is hokey. I shared with ginidietrich recently a customer for a client. She joined twitter just to talk to my client (me) her favorite gourmet dessert. Learned she brings so many people to try my client’s product (over 25 at last count). Not using social media…using in person direct communication to influence people. I will take 100 of her vs 10000 people with 50 klout score.
    But if I was Spin Sucks? Not sure. Does Gini want content spread or real life action.

    • Howie Goldfarb ginidietrich bdorman264 What, 50?!! I only hang out with people who score over 60.
      Influence is definitely more than reach!

  • My take? Klout = business Favstar.

    • RebeccaTodd Yep! And thanks for taking on the thankless role of campaign manager!

  • I don’t obsess over my Klout score, but I do open the “perk” emails and cash in. My kids actually loved getting that Red Bull magazine and I recently got a bunch of free organic skin care lotions and such. Not sure why I “earned” them, but I took them with a smile! So basically, my experience with Klout can be summed up by the phrase “Tara likes free stuff!” 🙂

    • TaraGeissinger LOL perfectly debunked influence right there. I mean do you buy your kids red bull? And you didn’t even know that you are influential in skincare.

      • Howie Goldfarb TaraGeissinger I don’t drink Red Bull and I would never let my kids! LOL I was definitely the wrong target market.

        • TaraGeissinger Howie GoldfarbTaraGeissinger I got influential in religion some time ago and didn’t know what to do about that since I do everything I can not to share my personal #beliefs – oops, maybe that’s how it happened…
          Not unlike the subscribe to the record club and get a free album, except the exchange (social updates and chatter) won’t require parents to pay the bill :). Thanks!

  • ElissaFreeman

    Loved this post! Yes, I check my Klout score, every now and then; and yes, I check out the perks (got to test drive a Cadillac and go tot their driving school!). While it doesn’t dictate influence – it does feed into something else we sorta/kinda care about. Popularity. And that’s why it continues to exist. Whether you care about your Klout score or not? I believe people secretly check to gauge their own popularity.

    • ElissaFreeman Yup!  No matter what its objective function or worth, Klout has tapped into that basic human want — to be liked. That’s probably they’re really selling. A way to quantify how much people like you.

      • DwayneAlicie ElissaFreeman It sure does and turns us all into Sally-Fields-at-the-Oscars clones. Thanks! And btw, ElissaFreeman – I didn’t get the Cadillac, I got a Buick…

        • martinwaxman well, not all of us. 😉  
          DwayneAlicie ElissaFreeman

  • I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Klout. Sure, it’s nice to have some sort of benchmarking tool that allows you to get a vague sense of someone’s online reputation, but it’s a ranking that’s very easily gamed as you pointed out in your post.
    Much like others have commented, I’ll take the free stuff – but despite there being an ability to account for context, most of the giveaways and freebies seem to be targeted at a raw number, not applicability.
    Klout is great as a jumping off point, but it’s really more of measure of someone’s posting/replying frequency than their true influence. Measurement of that type still takes a fair amount of good ol’ fashioned time and elbow grease.

    • dave_link To do anything right sure does take time. Thanks Dave.

  • Klout’s an indian giver. Giving and taking the same point from me. LOL! I don’t like it, think it’s really pretty ridiculous but I do think Klout would look a little more stable if it cut it down the middle and just gave me the 1/2 point. 😉

    • LauriRottmayer I know what you mean. I’ve said this before but sometimes I feel like a day trader seeing the minuscule variations in my score. Thanks!

    • colincrook

      LauriRottmayer I mean…this is a pretty offensive comment. Sorry, was taking a look at Martin Waxman’s work as I was thinking of asking him to meet up at SXSW V2V. Might want to re-consider some of the language you’re using.

      • colincrook LauriRottmayer Are you going to V2V? Would be great to connect there. Let me know!

      • colincrook Offensive? LOL! Okay. 🙂

        • colincrook

          LauriRottmayer i guess you’re using it in context similar to 1765 then.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_giver

        • colincrook I was taught the term indian giver when I was probably three years old. Imagine going for almost half a CENTURY not being told or being aware that the term was offensive. I have indian friends who use the term and have had it used towards them that are not offended. I was raised in a very open family. We are kind of like the United Nations with race, religion, etc. Red or yellow, black or white, they are precious in His sight. I learned also as a small child and it’s what I believe. If you were offended, I apologize deeply  but I was, quite honestly, shocked to that anyone would be offended by what I wrote. 🙂

  • Ahh, Klout. It’s fun to watch it travel up and down, but I’m still not so sure that it means anything. Interesting post, thanks Martin.

    • Thanks. I’m not sure either beyond a certain type of popularity. Only their algorithm knows for sure…

  • Okay, martinwaxman my Klout score went down a half-point between yesterday and today. I blame you! The first rule of Klout club is to never talk about Klout club …

    • Ha! I think this is a Woody Allen quote from Play it Again, Sam but it applies: ‘I was nowhere near Brooklyn at the time’.
      But my score was flat and is down from when the image was taken. So what’s that mean???

  • Hi everyone, I’ve got an update. 
    Fanfare, please….
    I received one of those mass Klout emails this afternoon saying my score had gone up. It’s now at 69 (well, just under but they round up).  I am so close…
    But I’m not at 70 and I don’t want to give up this experiment or the prime ministercy just yet. RebeccaTodd – we’ll need to talk.
    But first, I want to say a big THANK YOU!! to Gini Dietrich, Lindsay Bell-Wheeler and the entire Spin Sucks community. You guys are amazing, awesome, astounding and all other A-cronyms you can think of – of the positive nature, that is!
    Now a big favour. We’re not there yet and I’m determined to see if we can push the old score to 70 (or beyond). Of course the reward is the prizes – or should I say perk – and maybe Paula Kiger can speed up the design of a virtual coffee maker :).  
    I’m going to tweet the news and a link to the blog. And if you can share, RT, post and otherwise take the @martinwaxman handle in vain, I would more than appreciate it. After all, it’s for a good cause. No not my ego – but science!
    From the bottom of my influence, THANK YOU!

    • martinwaxman RebeccaTodd Gini Dietrich Lindsay Bell-Wheeler Paula Kiger Happy to report that I consulted with my extensive design staff. They consulted with the production staff. Everything trickled up to me as the final decisionmaker and the twcoffee maker concept has been expedited. But we’ve gotta get there first, right? #75orBust

      • biggreenpen martinwaxman RebeccaTodd Gini Dietrich Lindsay Bell-Wheeler Paula Kiger We sure do! Thanks so much!!

  • I’ve never been a great fan of Klout as a influence monitoring tool (as I’ve written about before: http://www.andrewisidoro.co.uk/blog/social-media-influence-and-klout-you-are-not-a-number/), really more of measure of social media activity rather than influence. 
    Far too many unknowns and much to easily gamed for my liking; and that’s coming from an SEO Strategist. Like the idea of this little experiment though.

    • Andrew_Isidoro Thank your for your comment and sharing your insightful post. You make a great point about the importance of knowing what it is Klout’s algorithm purports to measure rather than just the result as the starting point to decide whether or not it’s a useful platform. 
      We’ll be posting results of the experiment on Spin Sucks.

  • I have no interest in this post but am commenting because I’m hoping to catch some of the second-hand effects of your Klout bump. Thanks!

    • samfiorella Ha! You’re welcome to Klout-jack whenever you want! But I think it only works off-the-blog :).

      • martinwaxman samfiorella The Klout-jack idea might work if Klout actually added some more credible sources like Disqus and Livefyre where the spirited discussions might actually sway people’s decisions/opinions…thus truly influencing them.
        Now, if Sam were to tweet this post with the #Klout and #Influence hashtags 5x/day for a week, THEN he might get a Klout-jack effect.

        • dbvickery Thanks and good point about not measuring LiveFyre, etc. It’s missing a lot of conversations… samfiorella

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