Will Klout's Shiny New Features Make a Difference?

Klout recently revamped its algorithm for determining influence which had many Klout users noticing a change in their scores. Not only did your personal score probably jump or drop a few digits, but the debate over the questionable Klout scores of the President vs. a certain teen heartthrob finally ended – Barack Obama went from 94 to 99 and Justin Bieber went from 100 to 92.

But what does this change mean? In a recent TechCrunch article, Klout Founder and CEO, Joe Fernandez, explained that the old Klout looked at less than 100 “signals,” while the new one looks at more than 400 – meaning that the amount of data points that Klout analyzes daily is expanding from 1 billion to 12 billion. One of the biggest adjustments is that Klout now includes measures of real-world influence to come up with your score – like your Wikipedia page or job title on LinkedIn. So even if you don’t have millions of followers on Twitter, Klout is looking for signs that you’re a pretty big deal outside of the internet.

One of the goals of the Klout revamp is to have user profiles resemble those on other social networking sites by highlighting individual influence and capturing their influential tweets, statuses, and updates in the form of Klout Moments, as outlined in a recent AdWeek article. The ultimate hope is that users will look at profiles and not just see a high or low score, but get a better idea of what kind of person a user is online, and help determine if they’re worth following on Twitter, or if they are a good target for their brand’s latest announcement.

With Klout Moments, brands awarding influencers with Klout Perks now have an even bigger opportunity to reach a wider audience. If a user like myself is awarded a free bottle of polish from the Essie Fall Collection 2012, and I proceed to tweet about it and post a picture to Instagram, followers might see what I’ve posted if they’re watching my updates at that moment and head to the store to buy their own bottle. But if my tweet or photo were to reach my Moments profile on Klout, it would be displayed for others to see and be influenced by for months to come.

So now that Klout is rolling out shiny new features that are said to make finding influencers easier and keep your score in-check, the big question is: will it actually work?

As someone who often needs to determine influencers for clients and uses multiple resources to do so, I’m still not completely comfortable with having one tool acting as the deciding factor. Even though the new algorithm theoretically compiles all of the information you would need to determine influence, there is still a bit of back-end work that will be needed in most cases to determine if a said “influencer” is actually the “right influencer” – although the new Klout is a bit more difficult for the ever-present self-promoters to abuse. In the end, it’s going to take more than one algorithm update to turn around the opinions of Klout’s critics, but there’s no denying that Klout is taking steps in the right direction by listening to user feedback.

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