I’ve been on Klout practically since it first started.  Klout measures your online influence by analyzing your social media activity, such as Twitter and Facebook.  When I first started, my Klout score was around 30.  Now I’m up to around 50 because I engage more on Twitter through retweeting, replying, and posting interesting content that gets my tweets retweeted. 

Klout must have become a lot more popular when I wasn’t looking because many people are up in arms over the new Klout scoring algorithm that caused many people’s scores to drop.  Just look at some of the comments Klout received regarding their announcement of the new scoring algorithm:

“The change impacts the job viability and even the ability for people to apply for certain jobs which have minimum Klout scores based on the prior metrics. Similarly, you have retroactively altered the history of our Klout scores as if they had always been this way, which has created a number of financial and employment hardships already this morning.”

“I've been active and used to be at 69, now I'm at 49.  Makes no sense to me, and actually I'm upset.”

“I'm not playing Foresquare, I'm running a financial business. You are playing games with legitimate people's reputation. Who regulates this type of activity? FTC?”

I don’t think the Federal Trade Commission will be getting involved in people’s Klout score; that seems a little much.  But it is interesting that Klout has gained so much traction for those in the social media workforce that professionals are genuinely concerned about their score dropping.  As a CEO, would I look at a potential new hire’s Klout score?  Yes, if they claimed to be a social media expert.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see this on a resume.  But if someone is not in the social media field, what does a Klout score matter?

Klout keeps their algorithms a secret for competitive purposes.  There are no hard and fast rules about why one person’s Klout score is higher than someone else’s.  For example, my Klout score is higher than Thomas Barnett’s.  That doesn’t really make sense considering Barnett has much more real life clout than I have.

For some, the scoring change threatens the validity of a person’s overall score.  One active Klout user put it this way:  “Before the Klout switch, I could get a general impression of activity and influence by a score in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.  Now many of those accounts have all been squeezed into a range between 40 and 60.”  But does a change in algorithm really make a score useless now? 

Some are saying this Klout score change is as big of a flub as that of Netflix.  I think that might be comparing apples to oranges.  Netflix is a paid service while Klout is a free service still in the beta stage (which is pretty amazing considering how much traction they have).  But both of these missteps are similar in the fact that their PR seems to brush off a large group of unhappy customers.  Klout claims that only a small percentage of users will see a score drop.  Either Klout is wrong or that small percentage is a very vocal group.

Why are companies getting it wrong with their loyal customer base during a time when corporations are under such scrutiny?  

Curt Finch is the CEO of Journyx.  Keep up with more small business news on the Journyx Blog.