During one of my social media strategy presentations this summer, an audience member asked me if I used Klout as a measurement tool. You see, we were discussing goal-setting and defining success so that progress can be measured. Truly, until I was asked about Klout that day, it hadn’t occurred to me that people might use a Klout score as a concrete gauge of social media efforts.
There’s been a lot of talk about Klout lately. Most recently, an article in the U.S. News & World Report cited a couple of my very-smart higher ed colleagues, J.D. Ross and Patrick Powers, “Professor Sparks Controversy for Klout-Based Grading.” Then yesterday, a recent graduate from my university posted this on Facebook: “I’m looking at Foursquare because I’m working on upping my Klout score…” He wasn’t even talking to me, but I couldn’t keep my nose out of the conversation.
Turns out my friend Marcus, who’s new to the job market, is applying for social media positions, and the companies hiring for these positions are asking for a Klout score as part of the application. The applications also ask how many Facebook friends and Twitter followers applicants have.
Say what? Sigh. So many articles written. So many smart people opining about this very thing. Why aren’t hiring companies paying attention? Why are things like Klout scores and Twitter followers impacting hiring decisions? While I’ll concede that high Klout scores may result from quality social interaction and relevant content, I fear that considering counts and scores as part of an application will weed out smart, qualified candidates that have great ideas but little time in the field.
Social media marketing is growing as a profession, and companies are still struggling to define those roles within their existing structures. I understand the desire to apply a metric to something. I do. But let’s all agree to define our own metrics. Let’s not use Klout (or anything else) as a measurement tool simply because we cannot come up with a way to measure on our own. What if Klout’s definition of social media success isn’t the same as ours? Or these companies’? Then we’re making decisions based on someone else’s criteria—or, in this case, “standard of influence.”
That sounds dangerous to me.
Image source: Wired