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30 April 2012

Has your social media graph got enough Klout?

Tim Gibbon, director Elemental By Tim Gibbon

There’s no doubt that having a strong understanding of social media is increasingly important, even critical for many careers these days. But is your own social presence and graph up to the scrutiny of employers? A Wired article highlighted how an individual interviewed for a VP position at a Toronto marketing agency was unsuccessful when he wasn’t able to explain what Klout was and subsequently returned a poor personal score with the social profiling site. It has caused debate in the marketing industry, but has further repercussions as recruitment and other professionals seek to use social media measurement to place what they deem the perfect candidate.


Why social Klout is seen as the ‘must’ have currency?


It’s obvious how services like Klout may be used (particularly in the advertising, marketing and PR sectors) to source digitally high net worth people for careers and campaigns, but it won’t stop there. As the importance of social connections within digital environments becomes more realised, brands and business owners have caught onto how networking online is just as important as offline, if not more so. It’s often said that a business is only as good as its people and this school of thought is translating in to social arenas where the popularity of individuals and the digital currency is reaching dizzyingly new heights.

Image of Klout homepage


The application of services like Klout could be infinite and its impact great, hence the heated debate in now measuring the all-important personal value - but it will have winder implications than this. The social score of brands, the people that are associated with it and now the curators (yes expect to see this new buzzword a lot more this year and beyond) is being seen as just as important. Brands and agencies want to reach social media ambassadors, adopters, advocates, influencers and opinion formers; rewarding or pacifying them in some shape or another to push products and services (whether it’s within a B2B or B2C environments). It can be a great buzz for the individual or group on the receiving end, but if managed incorrectly it can turn sour very quickly.


Social magnetism


Employers will naturally gravitate to what are perceived as influential and powerful individuals, but are they reading between the lines? Hardly. In the early days of Twitter madness, a UK employer based its selection for an interview based on the candidate having a certain amount of Twitter followers for a role that warranted more than an understanding of a growing microblogging service. It seems that this kind of thinking hasn’t changed and unfortunately, it’s more the norm than an exception.


More than a number

Klout, Kred and Peer Index logos

When the emphasis is about the volume of followers and fans is everything, rather than conversation and how followers are amassed (e.g. a mass follow to be followed strategy), you have to wonder. Shouldn’t the focus instead be on if and how the individual can create strong social channels for clients or brand rather than themselves? You could argue that a marketer at this level should be more in tune with that is transpiring within their own industry and at least have a basic understanding of what is shaping it (whether these services are worshipped or not). You have to wonder if the recruiter didn’t see they had other attributes to offer?


Researching, using and obviously understanding Klout isn’t a bad thing, especially as the popularity and usefulness of it grows. However, it needs to balanced with realism that it has positive aspects as well as flaws, as raised over at Forbes and why we shouldn’t be so hung up on it. After all with similar services such as Kred and Peer Index to consider, there needs to be a better understanding of how social scores are collated, crunched and presented. Indeed, the positive or negative impact of them.



The question is, whether this marketer has now checked out Klout and are they succumbing to what could be an unhealthy trend?


Reality checks for social media scoring service luvvies


  1. Busy? Are they interacting across social media when they should be working? Are your calls and emails being ignored or left unanswered as you see their social profiles curated with vigour? I’ve just been so busy….hmmm, yes of course, busy social whoring more like.
  2. Follow to be followed syndrome. OK, the number of followers may be impressive, but is the strategy there to boost follower love by following anyone and anything to rack those numbers up?
  3. Just another broadcast channel. Social media is a two-way dialogue (yawn yawn, we all know this, enough already). Are advocates doing little more than a digital news channel using the original sources’ content? Do they post too much? And, do they respond when reached out to?
  4. I only invite those that bring me love. With a few social scoring services loving the curator angle and them becoming brand advocates, are they open to others outside of the cool circle? Do these people interact once they’ve built their lists, or do they fade due to a lack of social stamina?
  5. Trendy. Do they regularly jump from the one social trend to the next without any real insight and/or substance? OK, trends shift now quicker than a dance move, but if the analysis is thin without historical or devine insight that shows different and/or new thinking, it should present a few warnings.


Lets all remember, there are individuals or even brands that may have a healthy social profile. Lets face it anyone can create and manage them if time allows. I’ve seen many an impressive LinkedIn profiles with wonderful testimonials and within a few minutes of meeting them face to face your BS radar is working overtime.


The true test is meeting and greeting and pressing the flesh and sounding them out, listening to what they have to say, how and why they say it. It’s not always possible face-to-face, so you may need to this by video calls (Hangouts in Google+, Skype or other visual VoIP at the very least).


Is it a wise move to trade your gut and instinct for a score?


A version of this article first appeared on Technorati.

Categories: Technology, Social media, Research, News, Marketing

Tags: Klout, Kred, Peer Index, social media marketing, social media, marketer, social measurement, social graph, advertising, marketing, pr, recruitment, curator, digital curator, social curator, social score

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