Before the Internet shook things up, turned them upside down, and then made our lives this awesome, advertisers paid blind money as an investment with returns they couldn’t measure. Then came Google and its brilliant pay-per-click model in 2003. Mel Karmazin, the head of Viacom at the time, was selling $25 million of advertising when he heard about Google’s advertising model. He famously told founders Page, Brin, and Schmidt that they were, er, “messing” - to put it lightly - with the magic.
Measurement has only grown in importance since then. It has moved beyond advertising and into the realms of social media. Numbers are everywhere – you have 200 followers on Twitter, 800 friends on Facebook, your meme has been reblogged 632 times on Tumblr, you’ve added 30 pins to your Pinterest board, and now, you have a Klout score of 53.
Klout is a social influence measuring website. It links to all the social media platforms you use and assigns a Klout score based on how strong your influence on the Internet is. The about page on Klout explains that since most of our interactions have shifted to online platforms, we have an unprecedented shot at measuring it.
Klout calculates your score based on the number of people you interact with, their popularity, the number of followers you have, and the number of people who actually click on your links or messages. Your Klout profile has a score between 1 and 100, information on the number of people you influence and your influencers. You can also pick topics and find out exactly how impactful your contributions are.
Sounds great, right? We think it’s pretty great, too, along with its 100 million users. However, there are some clear criticisms for the service. Some critics say that Klout doesn’t actually measure your influence, since Obama’s score is lower than that of Justin Bieber. There have also been critics that say Klout is turning the process of online sharing into a popularity contest where people are scrambling to score higher; in fact, a certain dating site uses your Klout score to measure compatibility. More intensely, a recent article speaks of how a low Klout score can ruin your life simply by quantifying your influence online.
So, at the end of the day, is your Klout score just one more number to worry about? Do we see a change on the horizon once again because of a number? Klout is born of a brilliant idea, but might just be messing with the magic of social media, the magic of sharing information because you want to, not because you have to.