The Great Klout Plunge of 2011
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A few minutes ago I saw a friend tweet about his Klout score and I figured since I hadn't looked at mine in a long time I'd swing by and see how it was doing. When I got there I saw this:

Now, I got a good laugh out of this because it was obvious to me something was borked on their site (they are having DB issues), but I'm also sure that more than one person out there who hasn't figured out what truly matters in life had a heart attack when they did their daily check of their score.

But, this raises an important point that I've been trying to make to my clients and co-workers for years.

That is that you can not measure online influence by numbers alone.

This is not a slam of Klout because I think their service and business model is an interesting one. Plus, I've been on the receiving end of some fun Klout Perks from time to time. They are a very helpful tool to use when looking for people you may want to reach out to on behalf of your company or client.

I've pulled together lists for this purpose numerous times over the years. We always used a mixed bag of tools to build our lists because no single tool will ever get it right on it's own. I'm sure this morning interns somewhere are pulling together an influencer outreach list and if they only used Klout to get that list while they are having some problems there is going to be hell to pay in a few weeks when their list prooves to be faulty.

Numbers are important. But, you've got to look beyond them to look at the person behind the numbers. Who are they? What do they do? Just because they tweet about a topic a lot does not make them an expert or influencer in that area.

I've watched more than one person take these sorts of numbers and suddenly think themselves more important magically because a system told them they were special. That is both dangerous and a bit sad at the same time. What does it say about a person who only finds worth and validation from numbers?

Klout will fix their bug shortly, but will you fix your idea of how to define and find influence? Please always think beyond just the numbers.