Teenage girls who regularly post photos on Instagram of their newly painted nails or Starbucks beverage can watch with glee as their Klout score rises. The influence measuring service announced their incorporation of Bing and Instagram via blog post on Wednesday. Klout partnered with Bing last fall, so it only makes sense that its search results would be incorporated into the scores, but the decision to add Instagram was in the hands of the people.
According to the post, Instagram was one of the most requested social networks to be added to Klout scores. Ask and ye shall receive. Following the same guidelines laid out for Facebook and Twitter, your influence on Instagram will likely be measured by your number of followers and number of likes and comments on photos.
However, the question usually asked about Klout isn’t “How do their algorithms work?” it’s “who cares?”
In 2011 Klout scores were really taking off in popularity. People didn’t know exactly what to do with them, so influencers made up the rules as they went along. One fashion boutique created a VIP event where only attendees with a Klout score of 40 or higher could attend.
In theory, Klout scores are a good idea. They underscore the importance of quality over quantity. Just because someone has the word “guru” in their twitter bio or buys thousands of followers doesn’t mean they actually know what they’re talking about. After all, this is the Internet, we can be anyone we say we are. By measuring influence, (as Klout defines it: the ability to drive action) users could gauge the quality or respect for that person in their community.
The problem lies in the vagueness of one’s Klout score and its algorithm. Would that fashion boutique want me, a content marketing blogger with zero fashion sense, to show up to their VIP event? Probably not, but I have a Klout score of 54, so technically I’m good to go. Yes, they would get higher exposure from my photos than someone with a score of 12, but there’s no guarantee that my tweets will reach their target market.
If Klout wants to gain back the respect of its users, it needs to tweak its algorithm. Each user’s profile has a list of topics that he or she is influential about so they can see which posts gain traction over others. Your influencers can also give +Ks on topics to verify that you’re knowledgeable about a topic. For marketers it can be an eye opening experience about what posts work and what don’t, but more likely it’s a sad realization that live-tweeting their friend’s wedding was more popular than the release of the White Paper they spent considerable time and resources on.
After a quick survey of the CopyPress office, I discovered that my coworkers were “experts” on a multitude of hidden topics, and they didn’t even know it! They were experts on Internet Explorer, unemployment, Glee, Wyoming and even Trident gum. We’re a talented bunch.
For those of you who are reading this blog to learn about content marketing, let me come clean and admit that you have been misled. I am not an expert on SEO or even social media. According to Klout, I am an expert in pizza.
Clearly the algorithm has a long way to go. Only time will tell if Klout is a long term measurement for influence, or an irrelevant number that claims to measure popularity.
So what’s your Klout score? Try and comment only if you’re an expert in dinosaurs or sending Christmas cards. I have a reputation to uphold.