Monday, February 14, 2011

Klout as a Tool for Community Managers: Why I Don't Buy it

I've recently been seeing a slideshare presentation about Klout for Community Managers making the rounds to general fanfare. No offense to the authors of that presentation, but I totally don't buy it.

The biggest factor that goes into a Klout score is Twitter use. The more you tweet and the more followers you have, the higher your score. People have proven this theory by setting up bots who, just by tweeting at a set interval, have achieved high Klout scores in a few months. People with high Klout scores have seen them plummet if they happen to take a break from tweeting for a few days or a week. There's no denying that Klout score is intimately linked to Twitter use--after all, it's tied to your Twitter account, isn't it? What else, besides Twitter, does Klout even measure? For now, Facebook--although what, on Facebook, I'm not sure. Not blogging. Certainly not any activity that takes place offline. So basically, Klout score is a Twitter score that rewards prolific Twitter users.

Now picture the community you manage: does every person in that community use Twitter? Almost certainly not. And say there are a few prolific tweeters among your community members; are those people the ones who will automatically be the most engaged and/or influential in your community? Maybe, but equally likely, maybe not. Especially if the community you manage is an association community, not a brand community--the liklihood that many of your members are prolific on Twitter is pretty slim. Or say some of them are big on Twitter and have high Klout scores--would this make them more valuable than other members of your community? More engaged? More anything? Sorry but no--the only thing it would indicate is that they use Twitter a lot.

I suppose if you manage a brand community on, say, Facebook, I could see where members' Klout scores could be slightly relevant, but honestly, it's a reach. And going out of your way to identify these people and give them preferential treatment above other non-Twitter-crazy community members? A waste of time, in my opinion. Instead of preparing elaborate spreadsheets of Klout scores and influenced by/influencers of as the presentation I mention above suggests, use metrics relevant to YOUR community. Spend your time identifying which people are most engaged in your community, not on Twitter. Who takes the time to share thoughtful suggestions or offer help to members of your community? Who logs in regularly? Who is active in offline communities of potential new members--for instance committes or other associations? Those are the people you should pay special attention to, not the ones some broken cookie cutter formula based on Twitter use deems perk-worthy.

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