22 Oct 2012

What the hell is Klout?

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Signing up for Klout was a result of a bout of blackout binge registering. Just one of those things I was magically subscribed to and whose app was installed on my phone when I woke up one morning.

This new “Klout” thing promised to measure my social influence and give me a numerical score for how influential I was online.

All right, cool, I like assigning arbitrary importance to things. After all, my old high school agenda was riddled with iconography representing the priority levels of my crushes. My menstrual cycle was over-documented with symbols denoting the different levels of shitty it made my day. Charts and graphs about things that don’t matter, hooray!

Actual page from my high school agenda documenting an obsessive-compulsive need to rate things.


I started instantly connecting Klout to all of my social accounts. They offered me a chance to boost my social ego the more they knew about me. All the Likes I get on my Facebook posts and Retweets of my clever one-liners raised my score and instantly meant I was an influencer, and advertisers are willing to spend money on these influencers.


The chance to get free “perks” from these advertisers was certainly appealing to my free-stuff-lovin’ self, especially if all I had to do was pimp them out on my social networks. Sell my soul for a perk? Don’t mind if I do!

Months passed and things didn’t really pan out as I had expected them to. I had only checked my Klout a handful of times. There was not a ton of change, and it failed at making me feel excited about my contributions to the digital world.

And with that, Klout was quickly forgotten.

One day, I received an email from a friend telling me to check out a new “perk” that became available to users with a certain score or higher.

I logged in and found an amazingly appealing freebie in my inbox – a set of tickets to catch the premiere of “Argo”, the new Ben Affleck flick, before anyone else. To sweeten the deal, there would be free food and drinks before the movie. The sponsor behind this? Cadillac.

I jumped at the opportunity and arrived at the movie theater that day. Walking inside I noticed signs leading me to a “VIP” event. Mountains of food quickly appeared before me, an army of servers were walking around with tons of hors d’oeuvres. Open bar. Holy crap. I’ve unlocked the Gift of the Klout. The Magic of the K. The Legend of the Hidden… okay, okay.

The only thing I was asked to do was tweet about the event and tag it with whatever the hell Cadillac wanted me to tag it with. If they asked me to tag “MonkeyBalls” on every one of my tweets for the next two weeks and post of video of me making out with the new Cadillac ATS on Facebook, I’d gladly do it. ANYTHING FOR YOU CADILLAC, PROVIDER OF FREE ALCOHOL.

In all seriousness, all I had to do was whore Cadillac out just a little bit in return for some free stuff. Was it a good trade? Let’s see:

The Product: The new Cadillac ATS.

The Audience: Klout members from specific cities with pre-defined scores (let’s assume a score of 50+)

The Budget: My guess would be ~$10K per city for this particular event.

The Social KPI: Recipients of the perk were asked to tweet about the event with hashtag “ATS”.

The Result: It’s hard to say how Cadillac fared from all of this without the data and their business objectives, but we can safely assume there’s a bit more work to be done from the branding standpoint to get me to think Cadillacs are cool. Ben Affleck and free chocolate chip cookies aren’t exactly immersing me in the experience.


  • Klout: The event did little to convince me that Cadillacs aren’t just for grandpas, but I sure as hell will be logging into Klout more often knowing that perks can be pretty sweet.
  • Me: I can cross “Double Fisting Drinks at the Movie Theater” off my bucket list now.

So is Klout an annoying fad that serves to feed the narcissistic social dweebs? Is their purpose watered down by questions surrounding the importance and impact of “influence” online in the first place?

Perhaps. While you guys try to figure that out, I’m going to go ahead and claim my free organic baby food perk. Not sure why it’s being offered to me, but free is free… right?

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