Klout is for Advertisers; Not Influencers

Klout - Ed Lee

There’s a lot of talk about the merits, or otherwise, of the Klout score. Some call it the new AVE while others say it is just one way to measure influence. And, from a consumer’s perspective, they are right. From an advertiser’s perspective, it doesn’t matter.

From speaking to clients, colleagues and peers, the biggest bug bear holding brands back from social outreach programmes is that they are almost impossible to predict their success and they do not scale. The product that Klout offers to advertisers solves both of these problems. You are guaranteed a set number of participants and with that guarantee comes a reach and scale that you cannot model with traditional outreach.

Everything comes back to the oldest truth about the web, and media in particular.

If you don’t pay for the product; you are the product.

  • You don’t pay for Facebook but you give it your data in return for a more contextualised, relevant experience.
  • You don’t pay for news online (unless you subscribe to The Times etc) but you act as an impression for the news sites to sell on a CPM basis.
  • You don’t pay for Klout but you accept the perks that its advertisers pay to give you.

So, as an advertiser, do I care whether your Klout score is one or two points higher than it should be? Do I care if, out of the 1,000 influencers I want to reach, 100 of them are slightly mismatched? Do I care that I’m considered influential about 50 Cent? Do I care that Klout can be gamed?

As long as I get scale and reach within my geography, I don’t think I do and I don’t think clients do either. As long as, in aggregate, the 100mm people that Klout indexes are, plus or minus 5%, the right place on the bell curve, I think it’s a worthwhile system to use. As practitioners who live and breath in social media, of course we strive for complete accuracy and the purity of the data, but I think we’re missing the wood for the trees by focusing in on the little things. Yes there are outliers and while we should be cognizant of their presence, we shouldn’t ignore the platform.

It’s a horrendously practical thing to say but its the same with Facebook likes, Twitter follows and YouTube views. We want quality first and foremost but without scale, social media is an inefficient way to spend marketing dollars. Without scale, as my boss says, social media is little more than a science experiment that will struggle to attract repeat funding. And that is the ultimate litmus test of Klout – will advertisers return? My sources say that they are.

UPDATE: Logic and Emotion has an interesting guest post on Klout.

4 Responses to Klout is for Advertisers; Not Influencers

  1. Great post Ed, love the perspective. No system is perfect, but Klout does provide the scale required for advertisers, even if some of that scale is slightly off.

    I have no doubt that influencer measurement will get better, but for now, Klout is a good system…especially for the ad man.

    – Troy

  2. Bill Jula says:

    Very well written. I think Klout has a few challenges ahead. One is the fact that the vast majority of those 100M profiles aren’t even aware they have Klout. Klout has apparently scraped every Twitter profile available to create profiles. Which is fine, except for the fact that advertisers won’t actually be able to reach most of them. Conversion will be key.

    Second, Klout will have to improve their scoring system. Currently there is some backlash over their algorithm which is based predominantly on Twitter usage which is hardly a true measure of a persons influence. For example, I have an office mate who has the same Klout (influence) score as Shaquille O’Neal. My office mate can’t get a stray dog to follow him around the block… whereas, Shaq can sell millions of shoes with a single tweet.

    It will be interesting to watch no doubt. – Bill Jula, CEO of PROskore

  3. […] Lee, director of social media for DDB Canada blogged “Klout is for advertisers; not influencers”. Lee writes: “If you don’t pay for the product; you are the product … You don’t pay for […]

  4. Molly says:

    Wow — very insightful. I questioned whether a post I read (http://socialmediatoday.com/rohnjaymiller/385168/delete-your-klout-profile-now) was original material or not. A simple google search led me to your article that was well research, explained and executed. Thank you.

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