Sunday, November 14, 2010

Can you trust Klout's accuracy?

For those of you not familiar with Klout, in short, it is a service that rates the influence and reach of someone in the social media space. Klout looks at Twitter and Facebook accounts, and will soon add LinkedIn to determine a user's Klout score.

There are several companies out there trying to quantify people so that companies know who to target to get the best results for their marketing efforts. A PR friend of mine directed me to a recent post from Peter Shankman (of HARO fame), who praises Klout on providing "real information." Real? Really? I'm just not convinced. But maybe it's me.

I knew that the system wasn't perfect, but the issue that really put things into focus for me was on October 29th when I went to Klout's homepage at and was presented the following image:
If you see the image in the square on the far right, with the name RYE_BREADY, it may look familiar. Anyone who has been on twitter for a while will recognize it as a spam bot.
I wanted to verify if this was indeed a spam bot, and how they were able to get such a high Klout score, so I clicked through. The profile link was here, but has been removed by Klout after they were made aware of its existence: I took some screenshots before it was removed.

Her stats are on the thin side. She also only has one badge. This gets even stranger, and also adds weight to my argument that this might be a spammer. I checked out her twitter profile.
That's right. It's suspended! Makes you kind of wonder about the scoring huh?

From speaking with other members that have a Klout account there are more discrepancies that add doubt as to the accuracy of the service. The "influenced by" and "influencer of" sections. Many people have told me that they are very wrong, if never updated. I for one have person in the "influenced by" section that I haven't had contact with in months. When I contacted support for assistance they where not able to resolve this error after three tries.

The mystery on how they get their scores and determine who influences who makes it impossible to verify or reproduce. The service and its algorithms are a black box. There is no way to tell where the service is, where it was, and if there are any improvements in the future.

Through a personal contact at Klout I was introduced to Megan Berry who is a Marketing Manager there. First off, I would like to say that Megan was extremely helpful and very responsive. She informed me that the problems with spam accounts is something that Klout is very aware of, and is a problem they are still trying to solve.

I am not sure exactly if the examples I have given above negates all the work that they have done to quantify clout, but it does show that they do have a way to go before their numbers can be fully trusted.
I hope that the people at Klout take their accuracy seriously. Phil Hotchkiss, the Chief Product Officer,  has made accuracy his number one mission, but he has yet to reply to my inquires. If you have used Klout please share your experience in the comments below.

Special thanks to the following for all their help with this post:
@ckieff @aqiylah @MisoHungry @davidgiesberg @TheJenATX @luannsaid @gregarious

Posted via email from Wesley83's Posterous

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