Don’t pay attention to social scores. They’re all flawed.

There might be a lot of hype around them, but as far as I’m concerned Klout and similar social scoring mechanisms are too flawed to be useful right now.

To the best of my knowledge, the first social scoring mechanism that really caught on was tweet grader (formerly Twitter Grader). I never liked it. Of course, it was great if you had a higher number than the next guy, but how was your score determined? Was it game-able? Did it really tell you anything?

Last year, Klout started to become very popular. For the uninitiated, Klout is a sort of social scoring system that attempts to tell you how much real influence you have online, whether you’re a tastemaker or a listener or something else, and a number of other things. Now, I believe that Klout might be flawed, but is at least doing a lot of work toward making social scoring legitimately valuable.

BUT, how can I put stock in a system that is so obviously gameable?

My Klout score seems to hover just slightly north of 50.

Eric Pratum's Klout Score

And, I’m apparently a specialist.

Now, this guy:

NewMediaDevotee's Twitter Profile

He only posts fake retweets of my account. Take a look at my Twitter account and then his. I doubt you’ll see a single one of my tweets in his stream. Somehow, he has ~1,500 followers and is amazingly on 12 lists, but when we consider that 92% of Newt Gingrich’s Twitter followers are fake, we should perhaps not be surprised.

Klout Score for NewMediaDevoteeHow is it that an account that only fake retweets me has a Klout score of 14 and not a Klout score of 0? And, how exactly is it that this guy is a thought leader?

NewMediaDevotee Klout

I’ve been watching this account for quite a while and have never once seen it respond to anyone. There’s no engagement. There’s no nothing except for spam retweets of me. So, I’m pretty sure this isn’t even a human, but rather just a bot…one of the main reasons that I do not feel bad calling it out.

Klout and other services might have a lot of great information, and actually, I think that Klout is really on to something with its Perks program, but ultimately, if it is supposed to show me who really has influence online, it’s going to have to clean up things like this before it’s worth paying any attention to.

2 thoughts on “Don’t pay attention to social scores. They’re all flawed.

  1. Klout scores reflect little when you consider it is very easy to artificially inflate one’s score.
    For instance, having large numbers of @reply conversations with other Twitter users; unscrupulously adding followers regardless of their authenticity or relevance to your stream.

    Paul Anthony wrote a great post ( http://bit.ly/vVMnEM ) containing an easy 4-step process to obtaining higher Klout scores:

    Step 1. Find a popular blog.
    Step 2. Grab their RSS feed.
    Step 3. Autotweet when a new item is published
    Step 4. Rinse and repeat for other popular blogs.

    And or course there’s Loren Feldman’s take on Klout: http://bit.ly/w2yf0J

  2. Agreed. There are a lot of interesting aspects to Klout (Perks for example), but when it comes down to it, the claim that it’s a true measure of influence is highly overblown.

    Thanks for the Loren Feldman link. That was a slightly awkward, but entertaining, watch.

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