Klout is to 'personal influence' what Google is to 'page ranking.' While the Big G's algorithms determine the relevance of the Internet's every web page, Klout supposedly ranks the influence of every person online. As a 3-year old start-up, it's raison d'être is to measure influence based on the digerati's ability to drive action.
While their algorithms are a mystery to most, it's become apparent to many, Klout scores could score you incentives when you travel, and perhaps even determine your fate on a job interview. So for instance, in my case where my Klout score is clocking in at only "52" - I was disquieted, because if I had received THAT grade in school, it would have been considered failing.
However, upon further investigation, it appeared I wasn't doing "half" bad. Labeled a "Specialist," the blow of a 52 grade was softened with their following description of me:
Lifting my spirits some, I was quickly brought back down to earth, when I noticed that some of my Twitter and Facebuck buds had racked up scores that exceeded mine by 25-35%. Yes, Jackie Bigford, Shelly Kramer, Michelle Mangen and Michelle Harris were receiving "passing-or-better" scores, when compared to my previous school grading analogy.
But is Klout all about "bragging rights?" And if so, should I not dismiss spending any more time thinking about improving my Klout ranking? Or does one's Klout score actually provide folks with motivation to keep feeding the beast?
Then I learned about Klout Perks. Comparable to the brand loyalty programs so popular in the last century, one can actually be incented with products and experiences to become more of an Klout super star. Perks enable brands to connect with influencers in their area of expertise.
In Klout's TOS, they explain how one can become eligible for Perks:
Since brands have greater access to end-users today, Perks enable brands to connect with those who are proficient in specific areas of expertise. According to Klout, "Influencers have taken a new Audi for a weekend-long test drive, gone with their kids to an early screening of a Disney movie, and brought home new HP laptops loaded with films," all as result of high Klout scores.
And if you're thinking brands are not biting on this whole Klout-thing, just this past month, Hong Kong-headquartered Cathay Pacific Airways announced a promotion for travelers departing for flights out of their international airport terminal in San Francisco. According to the promo, any one with a Klout score of 40 or higher will be allowed into the airline's executive lounge, which is normally limited to Cathay's first class and business class passengers. Wow, my 52 Klout score actually qualifies me to a shower and a noodle bar the next time my travels take me to San Fran.
OK, so maybe not such a great a reward and perhaps the geographic location is a little limited.
But then I read, Klout scores could also affect my livelihood. Last spring when Sam Fiorella was recruited for a VP position at a large Toronto marketing agency, he thought he had the job in the bag before he got blind-sided. Midway through the interview, he was caught off guard when his interviewer asked him for his Klout score. Fiorella hesitated awkwardly before confessing that he had no idea what a Klout score was.
His score was 34. “He cut the interview short pretty soon after that,” Fiorella says, learning later that he’d been eliminated as a candidate specifically because his Klout score was too low. “They hired a guy whose score was 67.” Damn, with my 52, I would have also lost out on that job opportunity.
Long story short, I guess I need to spend more hours contemplating how to make and influence more online friends and how to turn my personal brand into one that has more reach, and yes, more Klout.
However like Google, it's hard to put your head around what more one needs to do to get those extra Klout points. Like the Big G, one has to wonder if there isn't a Wizard of Oz standing behind the curtain, making random determinations as to who's entitled to the big scores . . . and who has to settle for a 52.
Your thoughts Klout proselytizers? Provide us with more insight and words of wisdom as to how we too can get to burn a fire under our cable companies, when next our service goes on the blink.