Does Klout Matter?

There’s a lot of speculation in the air about the accuracy, relevance and importance of Klout scores – people seem to be doubting the sites ability to measure influence. After all, what is influence? And can it be reduced to an algorithm. Many people are arguing that since Robert Scoble ranks higher than President Obama, the whole thing must be a sham.

What’s slightly more concerning is the suggestion that some brands are taking the importance of Klout a little too far. As Twitter becomes one of the key tools in providing a valuable link between brand and consumer, more and more brands are leaning on it to provide an extra layer of customer service. There is the concern that some customers will be ignored by brands, as their lack of perceptible influence will make them less of a priority, while more influential users will be given preferential treatment.

I like to think of this as a form of negative influence marketing, and I would argue that any brand seen doing this would see their image damaged as a result. If Klout is indeed just a ego-boost for the socially active, then basing your customer service strategy on this arbitrary number would be a huge no-no. Even if Klout is an accurate measure, there is no way of knowing if that user with an egg profile picture and 15 followers isn’t a highly influential person that doesn’t use Twitter all too often. Klout doesn’t offer any kind of insight into offline influence, meaning Robert Scoble probably isn’t more influential than President Obama.

If brands are going to use social media as a customer service tool then they have to treat each and every comment and complaint in the same way they would an anonymous e-mail. To take into consideration the social influence of a customer and then decide their priority level based on this would be a highly public way to show poor customer service.

What do you think of Klout? Useful indicator of performance? Or utter nonsense?