Klout Scores to Aid Hiring??? Bad Idea


 In my Northwestern grad class on Social Marketing, we start each 10 week session with the “Great Kout Contest”.  It is designed to see how much we can raise our Klout scores in the quarter.  The goals of the “Great Klout Contest” are to:

  1. Give students a way to measure the impact of their professional social marketing activities for the quarter
  2. Show them how Klout works and the activities it measures in growing your Klout score
  3. See how developing a multi-channel marketing approach for blog articles and other social commentary grealy impacts your Klout scores

While it is a fun “game” and does help students measure their social activities, there is a danger to these scores as well.  What we emphasize in class is that Klout measures activites…not expertise.  While it does reward re-tweets and social posts that appear to go “viral”, it does not look at the content of the posts nor the expertise of the individual re-tweeting or “thumbs upping”  the post or the article.  As a result, students are able to raise their Klout scores by 30 or more points in a 10 week period.  Some go into the 50s with their score from a starting point of less than 20!

Klout is a Game 

While Klout is a useful tool, it is a game and, once you know the rules, you can grow your Klout score to whatever level you want.  It is more about focused activity than expertise.  This means a student can engineer their Klout scores and we prove it every quarter in my classes.  Know the rules and the game becomes a skill you can master.

How can you quickly grow your Klout score?

  • Identify the most influential people in your area of expertise on twitter and follow them
  • When they post an article, re-tweet it to your base AND also do separate re-tweets to the hash tags used by your target market. 
  • Create your own bitly link and post key articles on your LinkedIn and other sites in addition to re-tweeting them.  Give the author and source creditials and then tell the target reader why the article is important
  • Create a blog article and then publish it to all of your professional social sites.  Do multiple re-tweets of the article using hash tags of your peers, your profession and the publications you use.  Use multiple links to see what works
  • For all of the above, use logical and emotional messages [which you test and track] to find the best way to impact your targeted markets

Follow these recommendations and you can greatly increase your Klout scores

What is the danger here?

The danger is its use in business hiring.  Todd Bacile of Florida State recently posted a blog article on Growing Businesses – a blog by Mark Schaefer.  In his article, Todd wrote:

“And here is an inescapable fact. Many firms are sizing up college student’s Klout scores as a quantitative metric to use for job applicant screening. Therefore, I decided to create a class project in which the final grade earned is solely determined by a student’s Klout score.”

My concern is businesses using Klout scores for hiring decisions.  What we found from our “Great Klout Contest” is:

  • You can radically change your Klout scores
  • Your Klout score will remain higher only if you are contunally “priming” the Klout system with new activity
  • Klout looks at activity and re-tweets NOT the expertise of the content.  Many students raised their scores by having friends and relatives re-tweet their posts…in addition to business professionals
  • Klout is a system you can GAME.

Klout does show an individual’s ability to “Play Klout” which does show they know how to use social media to some degree but really what does it actually show an employer?  Companies using Klout as a source criteria should probably look elsewhere.  Once a student knows they will be “Klout Evaluated” they can raise their score in less than a couple of weeks. 

I like the teaching applications of Klout to show how individuals can manage their professional personas and contribute to the conversations on social … but not much more than that.  Employers who are using Klout as some sort of long-term quantative measure…BEWARE.  Klout is a short term game which can be altered once you know the rules.


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Randy Hlavac
Randy Hlavac is a marketing futurist who – since 1990 – has worked to integrate new technologies into the marketing strategies & tactics of B2B and B2C companies.

August 2012
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