photo2I recently attended the last Converge event of the year. Converge is a tech/design/management collaboration seminar that runs in London. Perhaps the most interesting revelation of the night for me was a speaker that touched on Klout. And how businesses are using /abusing it.

Klout isn’t new to me but it’s always one of those things in the background that has very little relevance to me and my life. For those unfamiliar with the tool, it’s an interface that aggregates their social reach based on retweets, facebook updates, the importance of your contacts etc etc.

I always viewed Klout as a tool for the always fidgeting social media gurus to show their self importance. Kind of like a tamagotchi. Interesting, but ultimately useless. In some ways I can equate it to foursquare. Foursquare as far as I can figure out is a tool for social media narcissists. Without discounts at every mayor location (i.e. a tangible incentive), foursquare becomes a battle to out-geek your two other social media geek friends by logging into the most places. For the three months I used to use it, I’d just take a train trip and check in every 10 seconds to a new place until I beat the social geeks on my friend board.

One day I woke up to have the eureka moment of “foursquare is not only useless but it’s making me a cock.”

Coming back to Klout, it came as a revelation to me that businesses are taking Klout very seriously indeed. Earlier this year, Cathay Pacific for example started offering free entry to their business lounge at San Francisco airport for anyone with a Klout score over 40. As you can tell the social pundits waivered from calling the move, progressive and strategic while others called it callous and destructive to the brand.


But call it was it is: Klout is elitism by social media. It’s a far cry from what everyone thought: that the online community is the ultimate democracy.

It also goes further. Certain companies won’t even interview you with a Klout score under, say 40. Some of the low scorers (me included) should at least take consolation that Warren Buffet (who has a score of under 20) wouldn’t get through the first stage of these job interviews either.

However the shadowy world of online elitism has its own flaws. And perhaps the worst of which is the fact that it isn’t incredibly policed. My ad partner who has a score of 10 (apparently socially brain dead despite being a facebook addict as well having a LinkedIn account and twitter account) recently joined a LinkedIn group called the ‘Klout networking group’. In its overview, the group described itself as a meeting of minds for those who shape the online world. To be frank it sounded like an online meeting group for people without jobs. But what was heartening to see is that in its requirements was a stipulation that you MUST have a score over 40 to apply…. Yet my ad partner requested to join and was accepted.

I guess the elitism of social media can be matched with a much older skill: the bluff.


I just retweeted this article so I'm sure your Klout score will rise rapidly.

posted by Peter Thomson / 12.07.12 - 11:01 pm
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