Klout scores at the bar

“I told them ‘No, I don’t know how to put together TPS reports… but I have a really high Klout score!'”

Recently, I was awarded a “Best Answer” award on LinkedIn to the following question:

“Do you look at social media before hiring? Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, Klout. Do you care what a prospective employee’s Klout score is? How many followers they have on Twitter? “

Here was my response:

“Klout scores are only a means of capturing one’s influence online, not one’s ability to do a job. That would be like hiring the person who tells the funniest jokes at happy hour.”

See, I think we’ve allowed those “inside” the social media bubble to grossly over-exagerate the impact that Klout scores have on our lives and it’s changing the way we conduct business online – but not offline. It has led to making social media less about being social and more about automated tweets. We thrive off of creating new content and blogging the same old information but in new ways yet I rarely hear headlines that read “Social media helped me land a job.” We’ve traded in tips on professional and skills development for tips on how to boost your ability to be liked online: Klout scores. Don’t believe me? Here is the definition of a Klout score straight from the source:

“The Klout Score is a single number that represents the aggregation of multiple pieces of data about your social media activity. We compute the Klout Score by applying our score model to these signals.” – http://klout.com/corp/klout_score

But without further ado, my countdown on why Klout scores should not impact hiring decisions *that much*

3. Klout scores measure social influence, not performance. Let’s face it: a Klout scores doesn’t actually measure your ability to do a job, it measures your ability to be liked and engaged with. The rating system that the Klout franchise uses to rank your influence is one based on an on-going ability to engage with a crowd of followers, friends and fellow four squarers with high intensity. Did I forget to mention that it includes Wikipedia as a credible source of verifying influence? Not even my High School English Teacher, Ms. Loftin would approve of that!  Have you tried to maintain a high Klout score? I have… and it took time and focus from things that really matter like focusing on my customers and spending time with my family and friends – people who really value my influence.

2. High Klout scores are for the vain. Ok, to be totally fair – if you have a high Klout score because you crank out really great content, are passionate about what you do and have amassed a cult-like following because you’re all-around awesome then you totally deserve it and this point isn’t about you. But if you are neglecting people that you know in real life, attribute a low Klout score to a low self-worth and/or look up ways to boost your Klout score on a daily basis then I have news for you: You’re probably trying too hard. While there are in fact jobs that require a high Klout score – like Social Media Community Manager and Consultant-turned-Social-Media-Expert – more often than not your job won’t require a high Klout score and in fact, maintaining your high score (or the pursuit thereof) may take a backseat to you actually doing your job.

1. Some of the highest Klout holders are robots. Well… that’s not entirely true but it sounded cool, right? What I really meant to say is that people who have the greatest Klout scores are those who have learned to harness the technologies that make their Twitter-lives more efficient and robust. Call it Performance Enhanced Tweeting if you will, but there are tools that let you schedule tweets for maximum exposure, automatically tweet and retweet, and more. Social media these days is less about being social and more about forcing your way in front of an audience. Can someone remind me how this relates to a job again?

These are just a few thoughts on the subject… Hopefully we don’t get swept up in the tide of social media to the point where we abandon job training for “how to be liked online” but I think it’s already too late…