Klout… and how it can be manipulated

Guest blog by Jillian Ney

imageKlout was first introduced to me as a status symbol – a symbol of your online influence. Influence is a hard variable to measure, so how can a tool measure your online influence?

Klout attempts to do this by monitoring ‘over 35 variables on Facebook and Twitter’ – with the aim of measuring your overall online influence.

Is it valid metric?

I have always questioned the reality or accuracy of Klout scores. Statistics can be manipulated!

So being a researcher, you gotta love me, I set out to manipulate my Klout score.

I have neurotic episodes with Twitter, some weeks I Tweet constantly, and others, well I guess my research takes priority. The week of the 7th of March I was back to being neurotic and attempting to manipulate Klout.

Can you manipulate your Klout score?

You sure can!

The 7th of March I started with a Klout of 43 (an increase of 10 over the past four months). In the next four days I moved up to 44, 45, 46 and then 47.

  • Tweets sent: 92
  • Retweets: 8
  • Direct Tweets: 59

Resulting in a gain of 4 Klout points in 4 days.

I do not have a record of how many Twitter followers I acquired in those four days but considering I currently have just over 1,200 – I wasn’t setting the Twitter world alight.

Conclusion: Klout can be manipulated if you try hard.

I can’t sustain that level of constant engagement and there is only so much one person can say before they get annoying. To do it without annoying or loosing you Twitter followers, consider this:

Klout scores are moderated by:

  • The number of times you are retweeted
  • The number of tweets directed at you

And of course the dependent variable:

  • The content you post

No one is going to retweet or feel the need to engage uninteresting content, or even overt self-promotion!

Having gone back this week to have a look at the scores on my door, I was back down to 45.

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This would suggest that scores are time dependent. I’ve gone back into research mode and become a half Twitter recluse. For instance since the 11th of March I have posted 138 times.

If your Klout score matters to you, my advice would be to:

  1. Take Twitter at a constant pace – no marathon runs like me
  2. Tweet useful and interesting content
  3. Join conversations

I want to add ‘grow your followers’ to that list, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the number of Twitter followers will moderate the required number of retweets and direct tweets.

So, I’ve found nothing new but we do know that Klout can be manipulated in a short space of time. I also hold my hands up to say the science isn’t exact. Maybe you can try it out for yourself?!

Jillian is a doctoral researcher and marketing tutor at University of Strathclyde. Jillian’s research explores the use of social media in a purchase decision, particularly the cues used to determine the credibility and influence of what she terms social content. The research seeks to understand what cues hold most significance in credibility judgement decisions.

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    • Manipulation or optimisation? It’s a fine line.

      I wonder if, in the future, SEO specialists will add another service: “Online Influence Optimisation”

    • Anonymous

      Good point Mark. I’m sure a lot of SEO specialists would not take too kindly to the term search engine manipulation, although its acronym is in fact SEM… (cf search engine marketing).

      PS Great post Jill. I’ve never really considered klout before. I think whether or not you are interested in klout your three tips above (1. steady pace 2. post good content 3. engage) are to be welcomed. On the other hand I am unusually proud of my klout score of 57 and want to improve it right now! 😉

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