Klout, which measures and assigns a numerical score to digital influence, has had its shares of critics since its September 2009 launch. Some have questioned Klout's scoring methods, its privacy policies and its psychological/societal impact. The Klout service was even deemed "socially evil" by CNNMoney.
The Klout controversies have quieted in the past year. With the service entering its fifth year, a few questions still remain. Does Klout matter? If so, to whom and why?
We interviewed social media experts, digital marketers, Klout users, and Klout CEO and co-founder Joe Fernandez to gauge the state of Klout in 2014.
Your Klout Score Can Help Get Hired
Dave Link, chief technology evangelist at PaySAFE, wrote in a recent blog post that true influence is "subjective, not objective" and therefore can't be so easily measured by an algorithm.
Link adds: "To get a true sense of a person's or content outlet's authority on a subject, you have to actually invest time and energy. Klout and other platforms can give you a good baseline to determine someone's activity, but quantity ` quality."
That said, those interviewed for this article say, overwhelmingly, that Klout does matter.
"Considerable debate exists over the legitimacy of Klout scores," says Ron Culp, instructor and professional director of the Public Relations and Advertising MA Program, DePaul University College of Communication . Even so, Klout matters "big-time" to hiring managers, often serving as a tiebreaker in hiring decisions involving two equally solid candidates.
"You should care about your score, especially if you're jockeying for a job with social media responsibilities," Culp says. "One agency head in Chicago told me he personally checks the Klout scores of anyone applying for a social media position. For such jobs, he expects a Klout score of 40 or higher."
Klout can be used as a factor when considering job candidates in other fields, too. Klout CEO Joe Fernandez recently visited a long-time friend in Los Angeles. This friend had been turned down for a job as a bar manager. As Fernandez explains it, another candidate had better social media presence and a higher Klout score.
"From a consumer perspective, your online persona is really starting to matter," Fernandez adds. "Whether you're looking for a new job, dating, or going to a university, people will look for you online, and they will make a judgment about you based on what they see. Klout is the standard for measuring the effectiveness of your online persona on social media."
Your Klout Score Helps You Interact With Customers
Klout is particularly important for those in sales, marketing or any position that requires interacting with consumers, Fernandez says. "The ability to activate and leverage an audience via social media is an incredibly valuable skill for almost any worker."
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