Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Twitter Klout: Accurate or Arbitrary?

{Klout has gotten out of control}

Klout, klout, klout. How much drama must you cause on the internets? My Klout has stayed steady between 40 and 55 within the last year or two - but it fluctuates no matter what I do, no matter who retweets me, no matter how much work I put into it, it fluctuates (like a yo-yo diet).

Society is becoming too reliant on Klout as a measurement for success: airports are making special lounges for people with 40+ Klout and top executives are not being hired because of a low Klout score. And you know you're a thing when people make a parody tool after you ( to be exact).

So here's where I come in: while I tend to be overly skeptical (I find this to be a strong suit, by the way) about most social media measurement tools, I decided to give you the breakdown of this one. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Enjoy, klouchebags.

What is Klout?

According to, Klout is a measurement of "online influence". They take into account 35 different features in order to measure how important your tweets are, how many people they reach, and how they influence the online society.

As a score between 1 and 100 (100 being the highest), they believe that your online influence is measured by your "action" or ability to drive people action. This could mean a comment, a click, a retweet or a mention. The three main categories of Klout include True Reach, Amplification, and Network Influence.

{@aplusk vs. @cnnbrk: clash of the titans? Meh...}

True Reach

Your True Reach is dependent on how interesting your tweets are, how far your content has spread on Twitter, and if you are included in lists. Other things taken into consideration are how many people follow you, and if your follows are reciprocated.

Accurate aspects: Yes, your follower count should definitely be taken into consideration. Someone with 1,000 followers is definitely going to have more online influence than someone who has only 40 followers. The spread of your content can be a reflection of how interesting your content is (emphasis on could). Lists also are a good indicator of reach - this means that people want to filter you into more concentrated groups to see your tweets more often.

Arbitrary aspects: The reciprocal follower count is quite arbitrary because there are many tools out there that automatically follow back people ("I ain't no follow back girl"... a moment of weakness, forgive me). Although this does encourage people of higher influence to follow people who engage in conversations with them (yes, Britney Spears and Ellen DeGeneres both follow me!), the follow-back ratio should not apply to the average person. You should not have to follow back every spammer that follows you. Moreover, how interesting your tweets are have no ability to be numerically measured - that aspect would be only measured on a subjective level which gives Klout less credibility.


Amplification is a measurement of engagement (mentions and conversations you take part in), velocity (how likely it is for you to be retweeted and how often you get retweeted), and activity (if you tweet too little or too much or if your tweets are effective at getting retweets, replies, or new followers).

Accurate aspects: Mentions and retweets are definitely things that should be taken into account when measuring online influence. These aspects make amplification seem like it would be a great tool for measuring your online influence.

Arbitrary aspects: The quality of the person who retweets you should definitely be taken into account as well - since there is no numeric way to measure how "likely" you are to get retweeted, this is arbitrary too. People who tweet too often should have their Klout decreased, but tweeting too little shouldn't also decrease your Klout. A lot of people don't see the need to tweet every hour (or every minute in a lot of cases). Quality over quantity creates the biggest flaw in the amplification measurement.

Network Influence

Network influence is, according to Klout, the measurement of influence of your online network. For example, Justin Bieber or Britney Spears has a much higher level of network influence than the Average Joe because people obviously care about their tweets. However, how is your network determined? By the online influence of the people who follow you and the people you follow.

Accurate aspects: If a celebrity retweets you and you gain followers from that, your Klout should definitely see a spike. Also, if a lot of your Twitter "friends" hang on your every word, you should definitely also get a few extra points towards your Klout score.

Arbitrary aspects: (Prepare for the rant.) Network influence is probably the most arbitrarily measured aspect of the Klout overall score. Yes, we all know Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian have a higher network influence than, say, me. However, distinguishing me from one of my friends might be more difficult to see in terms of network influence. How influential the people who retweet you, mention you, or follow you is important - but when you tweet incessantly at one celebrity and have them tweet you back one time could raise your Klout 10 points. This means that people who only tweet at celebrities and get responses (even if it's 1 response per 100 tweets) will have a higher Klout than someone who tweets about important, interesting matters. This part of the Klout score kind of defeats the whole purpose of Twitter which is the spreading of information, news, and trends.

{Do we really want to live in a world where Justin Bieber is our definition of online influence?}

The Verdict on Klout

Eventually, Klout will be a great measurement of online influence (since nowadays everyone has to put a number on everything). However, right now they need to work out the kinks in order to figure out how to OBJECTIVELY measure the Klout of all of the Twitter users in the web-o-sphere. Right now, Klout is measured too much by the people with whom you interact (whether it is one-sided or reciprocal). Klout should be measured on the impact of what you tweet as opposed to turning it into high school (ex: making everyone yearn to interact with the "popular people"). This also leads to pre-teens taking over Twitter talking about Justin Bieber and the Jonas Brothers. Let's be honest, no one wants that. Please Klout people, change your ways to reward the savvy and put the obsessed in time out!
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1 comment:

  1. Hi, Amy - I'm glad you liked my Klout cartoon and felt it was worth sharing with your audience! But I notice the cartoon has been cropped to remove my site's credit.

    I'm happy to have people repost my cartoons, but I do ask that people 1) credit me, and 2) link back to the original cartoon page. In this case, the page is

    By the way, if you're ever having trouble finding the original source of a cartoon or image, is a fantastically useful resource.



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