Love, love will tear us apart. Or was that Klout.

The thing that I’ve always valued most about social media, and blogging in particular, is the authenticity. The mom blogs that succeed are not the ones filled with long posts about the perfection of everyday life. Unless, maybe, you’re Design Mom. We engage with the people who engage us. We open our discussions to the world. And through that process, we find our tribes.

So when I first got wind of Klout, the service that assigns us each a score based on the perceived importance of who you do and don’t converse with , I thought yep. That’s the end of the social media as we know it.

It’s bad enough watching the hand-wringing and drama over those top 50 blogger lists that you can’t influence with votes or a sudden, dubious increase in Twitter followers. But now there’s essentially a list whose results you can change.

Or can you?

Yesterday, I read with interest a post by my friend Amy about unfollowing people on Twitter. I understood most of her rationale. (Not that she needs to justify any of it to anyone.) But one of the reasons she gave, was to influence her Klout score. And I thought, here we go. This is what I’ve been worried about for a year:

Now Klout is not evaluating how we interact on social media, but rather influencing how we interact.

As I wrote to Amy, it seems like a slippery slope to “I can’t talk to you because you’re just not popular enough.” Which…


She equated it with schools teaching to the test. And I think she’s got a point.

The thing is, I like the way Klout evaluates the way you use social media. I think the people who started it are brilliant and earnest and well-meaning. I also find some of its analysis accurate, and pretty engaging. What I don’t like is seeing bloggers living and dying on some numerical score generated by a computer informed by an algorithm that’s so flawed, that it only recently stopped declaring me influential about golf. (Golf, people. Nate’s having a good laugh about that one.)

Now it seems to think I am influential about Amy Winehouse. You know why?

Because one morning this August in Spain, I caught a tweet from Russel Brandt about his gorgeous Amy Weinhouse post. I loved it, and retweeted it. Being the middle of the night in the US, that made me one of the first US people on Twitter to mention it. So it got retweeted. A lot.

So really, I’m not influential about Amy Winehouse at all. I couldn’t even name three of her songs. I just know amazing writing when I see it.

(Klout secrets! Revealed!)

It was heartening to read PR pro Liz Skeen‘s comment that she doesn’t use Klout to make decisions as a PR person. I heard the same from Stephanie Smirnov and Stephanie Azzarone in our Blogher panel this year about building better PR relationships. (Although Smirnov did cop to an addiction checking her score. Eh, I give her a pass on that.)

These are smart PR people. They are active in the space. Which means they know what I know, and what you all know: that there’s no computer software that can measure authenticity. There’s no algorithm that can tell you that Blogger A spends all day yapping on Twitter but turns out unreadable dreck on his blog every day. There’s no algorithm that tells you that blogger B fabricates dramas for attention. There’s no algorithm that tells you that blogger C has only 100 followers, but that your heart skips a bit every time you see a new post of hers pop up in your feed reader.

However what I hope most of all, is that there’s no algorithm that can tear down and destroy what we do best in the digital space–be ourselves.

If that makes me a hopelessly old-school blogger, so be it.


107 thoughts on “Love, love will tear us apart. Or was that Klout.”

  1. Fantastic post Liz. And not only that, but certain, um opportunities, now ask you for your Klout score before you apply. Like that is how we rate people now before looking at how you even write. I also say “I used to blog up hill in the snow both ways” but I remember when we used to write and talk to each other, on our blogs. That was nice, wasn’t it?

    1. I still like the talking to each other on our blogs. One of my great regrets is not having time to comment more.

  2. Exactly. The only thing I’m going to do to influence my klout score is – oh wait, nothing.

  3. I don’t understand klout AT ALL. I am annoyed/bothered/confused by the copious amount of tweets in my stream that say, “I gave XXXXX +K in Old Navy!”

    Apparently, I am influential about ducks. I do not even…I mean, DUCKS?

      1. I have caught Goon Squad Sarah’s addiction to giving out random Klout and tweeting it out. It makes me laugh. For example, Suebob is influential about magic, war, and the bailout. I’m sorry if people are annoyed by it, but eh…it’ll pass soon, and I’ll be on to some other random, annoying thing. 😉

        1. That’s not annoying at all. In fact, I think that entertaining each other is in part what Twitter was made for.

          I give you +K for awesomeness.

        2. I totally do that – the more ridiculous and more random the better. Which means that of course I’m gonna give Liz +K about Amy Winehouse.

      2. I give random klout points to people. Only if the subjects are patently ridiculous.
        Otherwise I can’t see the point.

  4. Wait. People are manipulating their Twitter following to get a “year’s supply” (4 bottles) of deodorant?

    I’ll admit that my advanced (heh) Klout score (which I can’t remember right now) means I can get a free bottle of wine. Except they don’t deliver to MA. So, whoopee for me. But, I had to laugh that Klout had other offers listed on my page but then said something like, “suckit: These are for others with higher scores than you.”

    This just reminds of Technorati, another score I never, ever understood. And where is that now?

    1. I’d imagine it’s not just for the so-called perks, I think it’s for the marketing opportunities, like Jodifur mentioned.

      It’s so ironic – you get popular because you’re authentic; brands reach out, looking for a score that can be manipulated. Gah.

      1. I think pretty much any of these influence algorithms can be gamed. I have two twitter accounts with Klout scores in the 50s (hootsuite makes it insanely easy to check scores). They are three points apart, but one account has thousands of followers and one has less than 200, so focusing on the end score certainly leaves out a lot of important detail.

        After railing against it, I recently joined Triberr with my smaller account. I figured I’d bother fewer people with my stream of auto RTs during my little experiment. Although it’s fun to see so many RTs of my posts, it only gives me a hollow feeling, knowing they are auto tweets. I think they are bringing in some readers (my goal) but not sure if the “noise” factor is worth it.

        In addition, I feel odd sending out links for posts I haven’t read. Along those lines, I’m trying to click over and read AND comment on those posts, which I think it the most positive impact of Triberr for me. I don’t think I’ll stick with it much longer, though I think I’d be willing to try it with a niche group.

        1. I had never heard of Tribber until Amy mentioned it today, and then someone else and then you. Looking it up…eek.

          It seems what you give up is your credibility (recommending/endorsing posts you’ve never read by auto retweeting them) in exchange for some visits. Is that a good trade?

          1. Not a good enough trade for me and it actually makes me look twice at those I know are using it. Makes them seem less authentic because I know they aren’t doing it because they believe in the product.

            And I love the Technorati reference. When I was blogging a couple of years ago…I left to go to work full time but now I’m not working…that was a number asked for by companies. Now it’s Alexa and/or Klout. But the only constants I’ve seen over the past couple of years are Facebook “Likes,” Twitter followers, GFC followers, and email/feed reach. I do think Stumble is worth the effort because besides finding new audiences, I find it a LOT of fun. I don’t even see much interest in page rank since I’ve been back.

            Now we have Picket Fence, Top Mommy Blogs, Klout, Alexa, and Blog Frog screaming for our attention. Too much noise for me. I’ve chosen to focus on the cores that have stayed constant and let the others pass me by. If they turn into more than a fad, I’ll look into them again. I also use Goodreads, but I’m a book lover so that’s a completely different kind of “Follow”…more one for my personal enjoyment. I do give people Klout for fun. Cracks me up. I’m influential in Blogging, Fiction, and I can’t remember the third. Mind blowing because the tag with the largest number in my tag cloud is “Oklahoma.”

          2. Grreat post, and I agree. I stayed away from Klout for a while, and then found it fun. Funny. I am influential in politics. My husband would LOVE that one! I love the crazy ones.

            And for what it is worth, so far I like Triberr, though. I do not tweet ANYTHING out automatically and I also edit my tweets so they do not end up formatted. And if what I see doesn’t gel with who I am, or what I want to say/share, I simply delete it. I like my tweets to come from me and represent things I would enjoy sending. It’s the real me I share on my blog, I would never change that person on twitter just for some +Ks!

  5. Ugh, I vowed to be done with checking Klout and haven’t looked back. Honestly, I don’t get it and I don’t even want to try. And I do think – like everything- things will cycle back around to how it used to be in the good ol blogging days. Or at least I can dream.


  6. I check my score ever so often but I don’t live or die by Klout. I do like to see how it classes me (I tend to vacillate between “broadcaster” & “pundit”) because I do think that has some merit in describing how I’ve been using social media.

    However, changing the way you interact with others through social media solely to affect your Klout score is disingenuous. (notable exception is a Tweep who has NO topics & kept tweeting about that fact to Klout…it was quite funny)

  7. Great post, Liz. I honestly don’t check my Klout score very often. I blog and tweet because I want to and because I enjoy the engagement, not because I want to make a number or score increase.

  8. Man, some folks are starting to take this Klout thing very seriously! I wish I had come up with the idea! The makers of Klout must be sitting back and counting the bucks 🙂

  9. I’ve been tracking klout and its competitors since inception (so go +K me on “social influence”! ). I hope you enjoy this Marketing Technologists perspective:
    – Measured social influence is a data point – nothing more. Yet people naturally ascribe higher meaning to a klout score. You’d agree that people should not assign personal value to a klout score.
    – The Klout score is…weeellll…kind of crappy.
    Three points on this:
    1. A klout score doesn’t mean this person is ACTUALLY INFLUENTIAL. A person may be super passionate, for example, Fage yogurt, but they are likely not involved with purchasing – they just eat a crap ton of quality yogurt. They person who is actually influential is the person making purchasing decisions about how to stock shelves (or whatever). This gets to your point about yapping vs authenticity.
    2. Klout lacks context – you may have a klout score of 70, but that doesn’t mean you know jack about sewing, mountain bikes, grilling, scrap booking, etc. However, klout is in beta with Topics. If it works the way one would hope, this will be a huge improvement in the system since it proves context. I may have a score of 70 on the Boston Bruins, but a score of 1 on dating Gisele Bunchen. I’m actually quite excited to see how this plays out (still need access to their beta if you’re holding).
    3. vacation – if I go quiet for a week, my score drops ~5 points. Did I suddenly become less important?

    In summary (I ramble worse than Nate?!?) I think social influence is good. klout continues to improve its service and I think Topics will make scores relevant. Marketers will be able to find who actually has an audience on a topic – and there is value in that. I don’t think people will say, “well I have a low klout score so why bother”. People are social be it writing letters, sewing circles or blogging. People will converse – I don’t think klout can kill that.

    What you should be worried about is data mining. Klout started with twitter and with Google+ recent API, klout now can score 12 social networks. If you allow klout to access all of your social networks, that’s a shit ton of information you have given them. You’ve given them access to your public and personal information. Probably more information than you’ve shared with your spouse.

    1. John, I’m turning my next post over to you. John Refford 101.

      And yeah, I haven’t connected Facebook or anything else to them. In part because of privacy issues. In part because Facebook is where I make dumb jokes with my coworkers and post family photos for the grandparents. I don’t need my engagement there quantified. (Is there a +1 for stupid Instagram photos? Because I’ve earned it.)

      1. I’m like you then. I keep Facebook separate from the world. BUT over the past two days people started treating Facebook like LinkedIn. I’m getting all sorts of notifications about people tagging me in their work history or some such nonsense.
        I’m really disappointed in the social network platforms, esp. Google and Facebook. They are in some sort of feature-matching arms race – I don’t see evidence that they have a clue of why someone would want to use their service. OK, yes, they are free – so we have limited right to complain, but I think the platform “sameness” is devaluing people and the conversation….or something.

    2. Right – it’s that lack of content thing. Like Liz points out, she’s been dubbed an influencer about Amy Winehouse. And me? Beer. Silly.

      And there’s no way to give +K to someone for something that they actually do do well, if it’s no already up there on the list. (If there is, I’ve not found it.)

  10. Having never heard of Klout before, I guess I don’t hold out much hope for a high score for myself!

  11. I made a joke in a post last week (and on twitter) that Klout needs to step up and give me authority in anything beaver related. Because hello, Redneck Mommy is the unofficial spokesperson on all things beaver related. Everyone knows that. Instead, I’m influential on all things SARAH PALIN and LADY GAGA??? Really?

    My klout score dropped THREE points the next day. Beware of the Klout gods. They don’t piss around when you anger them.


    It’s BEAVERS I rule dammit. Recognize it Klout already. Dammit.

  12. I have a festering issue with so much of how klout, in the literal sense, not the brand, is measured online. The game playing, pandering and willingness to be whatever is wanted on a given day saddens me. You talk about the quality of writing and it just kills me what rises to the top in some of these very public measurements.
    I find it hard to believe that there is real value for a company to hitch its hope on someone solely focused on the next get. Are people really being influenced by these things or is a marketer checking off a box marked “Blogger outreach” and is a blogger just scoring more free shit or a meager check? Are these really relationships?

    I guess I’m a dreamer, wishing decisions were rooted in something more substantive than one dimensional numbers.

  13. I totally take Klout with a grain of salt, because there are so many ways to game the system.

    For instance, you can host a popular Twitter Party…and your Klout will jump up 20+ points. (That’s what happened when I hosted the one and only Twitter party that I did …for the launch of Kinect.) It doesn’t mean anything…except that people wanted to win a really great prize.

    You can also join several Tribberr tribes where everyone just retweets everything that you post on your blog. (Well, not everyone – there is a manual setting, where you actually look at the posts before you tweet them out, but you get the picture.) The list goes on…

    Personally, I’m not going to waste my life chasing a social metric number…especially when some of the most meaningful bloggers that I know have Klout scores lower than 50 because they are not on Twitter a lot. (I know…gasp, the horror!)

    1. Thank god for this post. I am fairly new to blogging (6 months) and am fairly savvy in the social media space from a “how to properly leverage it” point of view, and along comes Klout. Which does very much feel like “system” and that chasing it in and of itself feels inauthentic. Thanks for the insight, I feel a little less intimidated by the Klout now and don’t have to throw it all away just yet:).

  14. Thanks. I won’t even step foot (or finger) over there because I refuse to equate myself with a score. We do that enough in other areas. I’ve seen too many people becoming ‘influential’ about random, irrelevant crap I KNOW they’re not writing about. At least I have company in my defiance. For now.

  15. I could not agree more. I don’t pay any attention to my Klout score–and I’m sure it’s low. I use social media/twitter but I use it for me and not to get followers and not to win accolades. I use twitter the same way I use my blog–for me. It’s my space. I miss the days when people actually read and commented on blogs. I have been tempted to turn off comments on my blog as it’s become depressing since FB and Twitter have erased much of the commenting.

    I have started to take the time to comment again, because I know nice comments are and it lets people know you have read their words and they have connected to you in some way. A Klout score can’t tell me that. Klout is objective and subjective at the same time and what does it really tell us?

    I miss the authenticness of blogging the way it was when I started in 2006–now so much of it is commericalized. I guess I’m an old-school blog body as well.

  16. I totally get a kick out of giving people +K in ridiculous stuff, and I love that Klout thinks I’m influential in “bikini” when I haven’t worn one in over ten years. That ought to tell you how seriously I take Klout.

    Though I do dig the perks. A $50 gift card to Dick’s Sporting Goods is valuable to a mom whose kids keep losing their damn swim goggles.

  17. In a perverse move, I’ve actually stopped using Twitter altogether except to announce new posts, because fuck Klout. I reject it wholeheartedly. I may go back to tweeting when it feels fun again, but I cannot bear the feeling that I’m competing against other people for a score. Argh.

  18. “There’s no algorithm that tells you that blogger C has only 100 followers, but that your heart skips a bit every time you see a new post of hers pop up in your feed reader.”

    I assume you’re referencing me here? 🙂

  19. Hey Liz, I totally agree with your points, and I hate to see people use Twitter in a way that negatively impacts the experience, just to raise their klout scores. I’m seeing it with Triberr – I wrote a whole post about it it pissed me off so much. But I really don’t like the slippery slope argument. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with cleaning up your follower list if it might help your klout score. I feel like putting that practical advice in the same area as unfollowing someone because they’re unpopular is just unfair. Everything is a slippery slope.

    1. Thanks Amy. To be clear, this wasn’t a condemnation of you at all – like I said, I liked your points and it was well-reasoned. But any mention of Klout as an influence of any behavior at all gets me uncomfortable. As I said in your comments, I have real life friends and coworkers who don’t tweet much, but I follow them out of respect, and in part so they can DM me. Now what if I started unfollowing them because it would help my Klout score? In other words, they’re not popular enough, they don’t tweet enough…unfollow.

      I hope that better explains my analogy.

      1. Unfollowing your friends would be a completely shitty thing to do just to raise your klout score – but who would do that? I hope nobody I know would. I just don’t think things are that dire.

  20. I’m always astounded to learn that people care so much about these arbitrary numbers. Popularity really is not that important. At least not to me. Like you mentioned, I would rather build meaningful relationships than build an arbitrary number.

  21. Great post, Liz!

    I’ve never heard of Klout, so this was very interesting to read. Isn’t it something how when we all first start blogging, stuff like this really begins to influence our own uniqueness because we begin concerning ourselves with stats, ranking, rating, numbers, etc.

    Then eventually, we come back to why we first starting blogging….

    “However what I hope most of all, is that there’s no algorithm that can tear down and destroy what we do best in the digital space–be ourselves.”


  22. Yes, what you said about valuing authenticity.

    But we humans seem to be competitive by nature. Perhaps more so in this day and age — or maybe technology merely heightens our awareness of it (we’re no longer just keeping up with the Joneses; now there are people all over the country, let alone the world, with whom to compete). And for some people Klout feeds into that need, that need to be liked, influential, successful. Actually, I’m sure we all like to be validated in some way. So I guess I’m not surprised that people may be using Klout in this way. Though like you, I don’t like the idea of Klout manipulating and influencing people’s behavior.

  23. I have to say, Klout cracks me up, or it would if everyone didn’t take it so seriously. I mean, at one point I was influential about exercise. Which…yeah, no.

    I would NEVER use Klout numbers to put together a blogger campaign in my day job–if you think just a little bit you can see how easy it is to game the system, and that’s without doing the slightest bit of Googling–and it hurts my heart a little as a blogger to see people care so much about it. I admit I’ve taken advantage of the perks, but that’s what I see it as–a silly way to get some free stuff without having to do anything other than hang out on my preferred social media site. I hate that I see it influencing HOW people are using my preferred social media site though–I’ve started trimming my following because of the clear gaming I see. I want connection on Twitter (well, everywhere online if I’m honest), not posturing for a mythical number.

  24. A friend of mine took a trip to Kenya recently, and we tweeted briefly about how I would love to someday go on a safari.

    Guess what Klout thinks I’m influential about now?

    I find Klout interesting, but baffling at the same time. I mean, I don’t blog, tweet, or really ANYTHING about beauty, but somehow it’s in my top three.

    In other words, I like it for the free water and amusement.

  25. I’m new to klout and it seems my number is going up slowly now. when I first joined it actually dropped for weeks I hated seeing that. I also hate that they show you the perks on their website that you are not eligible to receive according to them. Why would I want to be notified about perks if I can’t take advantage of them. Makes no sense to me.

  26. Just this week I realized that I had a Klout score. I hope that it doesn’t correlate to my credit rating.

    I don’t want to be selected for a campaign because I have the right score. I want to be selected because of how/what I write and what I say. And for my cheekbones, obviously.

  27. I kinda wish it would die in a fiery plane crash. So I guess that means I will never be popular. Which, I suppose I’m perfectly okay with.

    Really, if Klout is what people look at before talking to me? I don’t want to know them at all.

  28. I love this: “There’s no algorithm that tells you that blogger C has only 100 followers, but that your heart skips a bit every time you see a new post of hers pop up in your feed reader.”

    I’m an old-school blogger in that when I do blog, what I’m hoping for is to reach or touch someone. I’m hoping that the words and the feelings I put into the universe will bring someone to me that shares something with me. I stopped writing openly on my blog when some family members stumbled on it, but some life events drove me back there to make sense of what was happening with me. In that vulnerability and yes, the freedom that came with it, I rediscovered why I started writing there in the first place.

    Now, I work in social media, a second, hybrid career that wouldn’t be possible without the current state of affairs. However, that for me is separate from what I do at Chicken and Cheese. What I do there is from my heart. I miss spending time with others who do the same, and I’ve started taking the time again to read and comment and share the amazing prose that is out there.

    This is a terrific post.

  29. Finally, I have a good excuse for wasting half my day on Twitter! I’m not procrastinating. I am increasing my Klout Score!

    Man, if it only worked to pick up women in bars.

  30. Thank you so much for writing this! I hate Klout, particularly how I have watched it influence the behavior of others. Social media should not be able scores. It’s about connecting with other human beings. And you can’t measure the value of that.

  31. I definitely see the pros and cons of Klout. But as long as it exists I’m going to use it. I’m not into the idea of it influencing who you choose to follow or unfollow, but so far I have used it to find some people who are active in social media and blogging that for some reason I wasn’t already following on Twitter. That’s been good.

    It is kind of a vicious cycle though…authenticity creates a following and influence, followed by marketing opportunities, followed by not quite as much authenticity.

  32. I’m pretty sure the fact you gave me a shout-out when you tweeted the link to this post will pop my Klout up by at least a point. Which is so awesome. Equally awesome, Klout says I’m influential about vodka.


  33. I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about my Klout score but I have received some very cool perks from them ranging from tickets to athletic events to gift cards for Subway.

    No system is going to be perfect at measuring influence. Klout can’t tell you whether people respond to your posts and run out to purchase whatever you were just raving about.

    But for better or for worse it is probably not going to go away. People like metrics and brands will pay good money to find out where they should spend their ad dollars.

    As for Triberr, it can be a great tool if you use it properly. I have been a part of it since around March and have found it to be exceptional at expanding my reach and introducing me to some very interesting people.

    1. Looking closely at Triberr I could imagine that if you’re a certain kind of Tweeter, with a certain kind of blog that it could make sense. My biggest question is how it would impact my readers. If suddenly @mom101 is a syndicator, retweeting multiple posts a day from the same blogs over and over, I imagine I’d lose credibility. Especially when they’re giveaways or less than stellar posts.

      Even my favorite blogs in the world have posts I wouldn’t recommend–the way even my favorite readers wouldn’t recommend every one of my posts. It just seems indiscriminate. And then the things you really *do* love and want to recommend, get lost in a sea of retweets. Expanding my reach I guess is less important to me than maintaining trust with followers and readers. But hey, maybe I’m missing something.

      Have you found differently?

  34. I’m on Klout but I don’t take it all that seriously. at first I thought it was kind of a nifty tool until I realized how off the mark it was with my influential topics. E.g., saying I was influential about cars, when I tweeted ONCE about my boys and their Cars 2 backpacks. Also, I don’t manipulate ANYTHING in the way I socially network to increase my score. I do like taking advantage of some of the perks…but you only have to have a score of about 20 to participate in those. I don’t compare myself to others or tweet out an announcement when my klout score goes up. It’s just kind of “there” for me.

  35. It really makes me crazy when things like this become a “big deal” or at least perceived as a big deal. I thought it was just for fun at first…and besides the whole concept that who you follow can lower your score, I’ve also heard that who you tweet or RT can lower your score. As in, don’t talk to or RT low score people if you want your score to go up. Makes me SO mad. Thankfully tweetdeck doesn’t try to tell me ppls scores, I have no idea anyone’s scores on anything actually!

    1. Yes, I saw it that way too–that was my slippery slope thinking. Even if we are all too smart to do that, I’d imagine a lot of people get caught up in the numbers game. Sigh.

  36. Whoa –the retweeting/follower stuff is bananas. I had no idea about that.

    I don’t care about the numbers, other than that I’m pretty sure I waste far too much time on Twitter, so I should probably examine that.

    It does blow my mind that they send me things, for nothing. As a non-mom blogger, I get pitched with real “stuff” very infrequently, and it’s been a kick to get presents in the mail. 🙂 That said, I don’t believe that this number means anything about me or what I represent, besides the too-much-tweeting thing. I do think there are people who will consider it important when recruiting bloggers for projects, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. I consider a Klout score absolutely NEVER when it comes to who I interact with. That concept makes me very nervous.

    (And I’m totally with you on many influence measures being random and inaccurate.)

  37. I just got an email yesterday from Klout .. “Oh no! Your Klout score has fallen!”

    And I could not give the slightest shit. I’ve spent the past two weeks actively engaging my children and re-assessing all of my social media mediums. Because they’re out of goddamn control.

    Bloody unreal post.

  38. I passionately loathe social media scorekeeping. It resurrects everything I liked least about middle school. And every service that has ever tried to rank social influence — Technorati, Alexa, Klout — has done it demonstrably, ridiculously imperfectly, and that’s not an emotional judgement– that’s my professional side talking.

    I refuse to check my Klout or anyone else’s. It’s not worth free wine to me. If I want free drinks, I’ll make friends with a bartender.

    (Yes, this is my attitude even though I spend half my day gaming Google according to Google’s own self-published gaming rules . Takes a thief to catch one. I do try to be the Robin Hood sort, though.)

  39. I KNEW there was a reason you don’t follow me on Twitter! It’s totally to keep your Klout score high! 😉 I kid, I kid.

    Could not agree more with your post. I think people (and brands, probably more so) became so obsessed with this idea of “influence” and finding “influencers” that something like this was bound to come along. It’s wildly imperfect, but harmless, so long as people know not to take it too seriously or start making important decisions based on their scores. But, as you pointed out, that’s starting to happen and that’s a problem. Not necessarily Amy, trying to improve her Klout, but the people she’s trying to improve it for. Why are they deciding whether or not to work with her based on her Klout score? I don’t like that at all.

    1. That’s an awesome point Liz. I’m wondering if 2-3 points (or whatever) would greatly influence someone’s opinion of her. I mean, just look at her blog and her twitter stream and you get that she’s engaged, and engaging.

  40. I’ve always thought Klout was a joke from the beginning, then all these people I follow started taking it so seriously. I have no interest in falsely raising my Klout score (I don’t even know what it is), nor do I care what they consider me influential on. I think they’ve hit it big in some regards. I’ve never seen a group of people so worked up for $12 of free deodorant. I’m biding my time hoping it fails sooner than later.

  41. I am so happy to see this post and all of the subsequent comments from seasoned bloggers. While I can’t say I am an “old-school” blogger, I can say I am perhaps an “old-soul blogger.” The Klout score still remains a bit of a mystery to me and while you often find the the most successful bloggers are authentic bloggers, the Klout score complicates that scenario because as so many people above me suggest, it is a bit of a game and that some of them have become influential with Klout based on an opportunistic retweet or 1 Twitter party.

    I do think also think it’s very interesting how your influence can increase as it relates to Twitter and how Amy suggests that people are trimming back their Twitter followers, but in turn there is also a direct correlation to the Klout score and people’s livelihoods. In theory, the more influential the more likely you are to secure partnerships that allow you to monetize your blog.

    To add to this changed mindset around authenticity, it also saddens me to read posts or articles that things like #FF on Friday are starting to be seen as gratuitous and superficial, when in reality it can be purely a way to thank people for following you. It’s a social media thank you note and/or recommendation of sorts.

    I suppose in my “old soul blogger” mind, while this is a business, and people should do the best they can to increase their influence which thereby increases their opportunities, it changes the dynamic in which we interact with others in the social media space and what can be someone simply wanting to be supportive or say thank you can be seen as having an ulterior motive.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I love “old soul blogger!”

      I will admit, I hate follow friday. Mostly what I see are people linking to lengthy lists of bloggers whose attention they want to capture. Then I see the bloggers acknowledged, retweeting every mention they get.

      Once in a while I’ll acknowledge someone specific, and say why. Or if I’m lucky, someone does that for me. Those are the tweets that are meaningful; not a list of celebrities and huge bloggers. (I mean does Kim Kardashian really need more followers?)

    2. Thanks for your comment. I love “old soul blogger!”

      I will admit, I hate follow friday. Mostly what I see are people linking to lengthy lists of bloggers whose attention they want to capture. Then I see the bloggers acknowledged, retweeting every mention they get.

      Once in a while I’ll acknowledge someone specific, and say why. Or if I’m lucky, someone does that for me. Those are the tweets that are meaningful; not cramming me into a list of celebrities and huge bloggers. (I mean does Kim Kardashian really need more followers?)

  42. OMG, THE perfect excuse to get that fancy Iphone! I need to have access to social media all the time to actually get a Klout score!
    As a newbie-blogger I had never heard about it, but now I will obsess over it for the rest of the afternoon and I won’t rest until I am entitled to that free bottle of wine…
    Thank you for teaching me this very important blogging lesson!

  43. I guess I’m an old school blogger, even though I finally started this year. I’ve been reading blogs for years and I love them. I like Twitter because I feel like it allows me to have conversations with my favorite bloggers without being a gushing fangirl. A scoring algorithm can’t tell me who is being hilarious or is going through a rough patch. I suppose it’s good if you’re goal in blogging is to be “the best” and get free stuff. But that’s not why I started blogging or started reading blogs.

    I have no idea what Klout is; I’m not up on all this new stuff. Now where are my orthopedic shoes and bi-focals?

  44. I probably have the lowest Klout score ever in the history of social media and blogging, because I have never even checked it out.

    And I’m okay with that.

  45. Heard about this nonsense at the She Stream conference. I didn’t know anything about K+ or how the rankings worked. I got an earful today. Do brands actually use klout when evaluating bloggers?

    I’m sure readers don’t use klout when evaluating where to spend their precious time.

    1. I’ve quoted you in speeches, Nicole, when you commented that you don’t care about being on lists and all this stuff – you wrote “I’m too busy enjoying the best job of my life.”

      That’s always stayed with me.

  46. I don’t know what klout is or how to use it or even if I have any. What I have noticed is that I’ve been writing a blog for a relatively long time (2008? Isn’t that like light years in internet time?) and I do it because I like to write (and because maybe by some miracle Angelina Jolie will read my blog and decide she wants to play me in the movie of my life). Sometimes my blog even makes me (and my mom) laugh.
    There is so much good writing out there in cyberspace, so much good art and photography and wisdom and humor – it’s amazing. I’ve noticed, though, that the more attention I pay to the blogosphere, the more I feel this nagging sense that I’m not doing what I SHOULD be doing…I SHOULD be building up my readership; I SHOULD be “monetizing” my posts with paid reviews; I SHOULD be doing google + and running a linky meme and blog hopping and…and…and…all in an effort to “get my numbers up.” It all feels a bit like the high school lunchroom: I walk in thinking my outfit is okay, but by the end of lunch I’m thinking I absolutely need a new haircut, probably new shoes, and my pants are absolutely horrifying, plus the cool kids are over in the corner laughing at me. (Which just goes to show what a narcissist I was in high school: the cool kids never even knew I was alive, much less paid enough attention to me to laugh at me. Hmm…should I be drawing a parallel here?)
    I’m sure klout is a good idea and probably useful to some people klever enough to use it, but I wonder about the drive to professionalize, monetize, and otherwiseize this capacious writerly space. Is that really what drove us all out here into cyberspace in the first place? Trying to make a buck? I thought it was about more than that, somehow. (Yes, cue the soundtrack of “Kumbayah” right about…now).

    1. Oh Deborah, such good points. It’s a whole post in itself. I think that blog are whatever the blogger want it to be. Some of us are here to write, some here to make money, some here to make friends. All that matters is you know what you are doing here.

      I gave a keynote this year in which my first tip to bloggers was “know why you blog.” Write it on a post-it, stick it on your laptop, and let that inform what you “should” be doing. If you want to get the attention of editors (and Angelina Jolie) it seems like you’re doing the very right thing. I know people bitch about those Babble lists, but their editors look at quality of writing; not Klout scores.

      Let’s get a drink sometime and make melancholy slurry talk about 2008.

      1. I’m super late to the party (I was on vacation, and didn’t read blogs while I was gone…) but I loved this post and I love the comment about knowing why you blog so much that I had to reply.

        I thought a lot about why I blog earlier this summer, when BlogHer was in my home town and I chose not to go. I ended up writing an entire post about it (, if you’re curious), because well, one of the reasons I blog is to work through my thoughts on things.

        I don’t know my Klout score, but I’m sure it is low, because I have a small blog and an infrequently used Twitter account. I have chosen to keep it that way so that blogging can stay fun for me. I have lots of ideas I’d like to try on my blog, some of which would be “monetizing”, but things move slowly on my blog. I think it would be insulting to say that I don’t have time to work on my blog- your day job is every bit as demanding as mine, if not more, and you find the time! So I guess I’ll just say it is not a priority for me. I’m just grateful that there is still a place for the amateurs like me.

        1. Cloud, in this (very rare) case, I would say amateurs are most welcome.

          I’m always glad to see your name here. There’s no way for me to quantify that.

  47. Klout scores can be stressful, and for what? What does it all mean? I just want to read good blog posts about things I can relate to, that leave me thinking, shaking my head, or nodding in agreement. I want to feel connected to my online friends, to share in people’s good news stories, to laugh at funny things bloggers write, and to offer support when needed, and to learn something new as often as possible. I’m glad people keep giving me a +K in shopping, but unless that comes with a gift card to Anthro, um… thank you? 😉

  48. loved this.

    and yes, Klout impacts behaviours. all metrics, in a sense, impact behaviours. in the old-school days, numbers of comments were the metrics by which we knew who was “big” or had “clout” (my god, the word looks wrong now with a c! shoot me)…and those who had the most comments were understood to have the most eyes on them and to have influence and were generally treated accordingly. it’s not like blogging was ever free of some level of scale and celebrity. but it was still focused on connections and community.

    the issue with Klout is that, like teaching to the test, it’s reductive. it is okay to be a mid-size or small blog or have a mid-level or niche place in the community…and when relationships are the focus there is still room for connections between so-called “big” and “small.” but in the far more business-minded ethos that social media’s become in the past few years, it’s hard NOT to emphasize numbers over relationships, particularly with people with whom that old-school history doesn’t exist. and i worry about what that does for those of us who invest parts of our identities out in this space: do we get depressed if our Klout goes down? do we, as you say, cultivate only the powerful in order to raise our own apparent power? what does that do to the ethos of the community in general?

    ironically, the night we had the “old-school blogging” conversation on Twitter, which sparked Loukia’s post that you link above, my Klout jumped. snort. sigh. 🙂

  49. Klout is way too high maintenance for me. Kind of like plurk was. And consumating (I think that’s how they spelled it).

  50. I haven’t had time to figure out Klout yet.

    Just like everything else coming at me now a days: I’m hoping it just goes away, kind of like google plus.

    I just want to blog to make people laugh, and to make friends, because I don’t fit in with the small town people here, and I was lonely before I began blogging.

    Now I have friends everyday.

    That’s why I don’t care if I make money from my blog. Like ever.

  51. I sort of get what Klout is supposed to do, but I dont’ think it’s working. I try not to pay attention to it, I blog because it’s fun and I interact with whomever I want to, whether they’re “popular” or not…

  52. I resisted Klout for a while, but finally gave in and joined. But then I saw that one of the perks was Axe Body Spray hair gel or something like that. And it reaffirmed to me that it is indeed a joke. (Who over the age of 15 uses Axe products??) It’s a great business idea though – come up with organization that claims to validate people’s knowledge. As much as you might not like it, you DO want to be validated….The fun/funny part is that you have limited control over what you are perceived as a expert in.

  53. I saw the conversation on Amy’s site and now here — thank you for bringing it up in such an open way. (Love Amy’s honest responses as well.)

    I don’t have much to add beyond echoing your sentiments. I just wanted to say about blog comments…they continue to be special. One of the regrets I have about social media is that is has diluted the conversation in the comments.

    I have put reading and commenting on blogs back on my priority list, up there with the tweeting and the FB responses. I love social media for plenty of reasons, but it can’t match the reconnection I feel when I visit my friends in *their* homes.

  54. I have so much fun with Klout and if you take stuff like that too seriously someone will come up with a g+ circle called “takes shit too seriously”.

    Not that I did that.
    *point finger at self*

  55. Hi Liz! I miss you and just spent the last half hour reading your most recent posts. (My new job is getting in the way of my blog fun. Evidently 24 hours in a day just isn’t cutting it anymore…) Anyway, I love that you quoted Joy Division in your title here and I love that once again, you are promoting content as opposed to coolness. There are so many fantastic blogs out there just waiting to get noticed. Klout scores totally discount the quality of the writing. In my limited amount of blog reading time these days, I find I’m most likely to hit the posts that speak to me, and not so much the ones that don the “Hey Look I’m Famous!” button in their sidebars.

  56. “She equated it with schools teaching to the test.” Yeah. I don’t agree with that. Only because ‘teaching to the test’ is a federal law. Are we asking users of social media to meet adequate yearly progress by getting a good klout score? I just think it’s silly. I’m in the middle of dealing with this on ESEA hence my knee-jerk reaction.

  57. The idea of Klout was attractive to me, but it brought on one of those “oh shit” moments as well. I knew how people interact on Twitter, etc. would be different after people started paying attention to their Klout scores.

    As a user of these channels (most notably Twitter), I try to justify the time I spend interacting with others. Klout represented a semi-official, tangible way to measure and quantify my activity.

    On one hand, Klout scores can turn into a popularity contest. On the other, it can actually be a decent measurement of our network. Either way, it’s a number that goes in one ear and out the other.

  58. What I don’t like about Klout is that it encourages me to give my entire life over to social media to get a score. Sorry, but I rarely tweet on the evenings or weekends when I’m with my family, and I’m not taking my cellphone to bed with me. I’m not going to use Facebook on vacation. I’m not going to make sure I’m tweeting at a certain time, or only to certain people, or only certain kinds of tweets in a certain kind of way. I follow people because I like what they have to say, I write what I feel and that’s that. Period.

  59. I must admit – being a “small” blogger myself – I find the whole Klout thing hilarious. My score is a nice, round 40 (whatever that means) and I apparently have Klout in France (kind of makes sense, as that’s where I am), as well as, more laughably, physics and the Nobel Prize. Sounds good, eh? Except that I haven’t studied physics since 3rd grade (yeah! English education system!) and – obviously – don’t have a Nobel Prize in anything (though I’d be eligible for one in time-wasting and Pinterest use, I suspect).
    I joined a Triberrr (how many “r”s?) group – a specific, pretty small group appropriate to me – and have enjoyed all the retweets: there aren’t many of us, I DO read the posts (after the auto-retweets, admittedly) and have hooked up with some cool people. But I would baulk at joining a huge group – hundreds of retweets a day would kill me and turn me off Twitter for sure.
    I also enjoy giving out Klout in odd things because the “topics” thing is so random. And I certainly don’t live or die by it. I much prefer reading people’s blogs and commenting, or when people read my blog or comment (rare occurrences). I’m not in this blogging thing for world domination or fame (fortune would be nice, though). I write (occasionally) to express what’s on my mind in my own language rather than in the French I have to speak all day. I couldn’t give a damn about my Klout score and am disheartened by anyone who’s genuinely upset when theirs goes down…

    1. I just read a post from someone whose score went down yesterday, along with everyone else’s. She wrote “I’m worth less now.”

      That phrase bums me out big time.

  60. I sent Klout a Monster Pooper yesterday as a sign of my appreciation.
    You see, I dwell in the Klout low-rent district and I’m in the midst of digging myself into the negative numbers.
    (Must go faster..pant..pant.. pant…)
    The inexplicably peachy thing?
    Klout says I’m influential about Harvard.
    So, while my Klout score is tanking into the minus zone, my IQ is skyrocketing upwards of 46.

  61. Add me to the list of folks who don’t use Klout to evaluate bloggers. It really only takes a few links and some experience to see who has real influence and who doesn’t, right?

  62. A commenter on my “Open Letter to Klout” post today left your link to this post for me to read.

    I kind of “fell into” an accidental case study with my 2 Twitter accounts. With this “new and improved” algorithm that just debuted, my main Twitter handle that has 38K tweets, 3K followers, tons of engagement and has all my other SM accounts linked to it, now has a lower score than the Twitter handle I started just a few months ago, that I tweet maybe once a day from, gets zero engagement and has nothing else linked besides my FB account.

    When you look at 2 accounts side by side like that, it’s pretty undeniable that their algorithm is seriously flawed.

    1. A friend recently tweeted the same to me – my @mom101 account (19k followers, good amount of engagement) and her new twitter account (200 followers, little engagement, per her) have the same Klout score. Which is why I get bummed when other people get bummed (or too happy) about their scores.

      Heading to look at your post right now!

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