Why Danny Brown is NOT an Influential Shepherd – The Klout Debate

photo credit from Klout.com

Klout is one of the most controversial and yet extremely convenient ways to measure social media presence on the internet today.

There have been plenty of arguments as to why Klout is the best, why Klout sucks, why Klout is completely inaccurate, and why Klout is a stupid program that can be gamed to get a better score.

My readers know perfectly well that I am a Klout supporter, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t read and understand other opinions on the tool. And one in particular caught my eye that I would like to share.

Make Yourself An Influencer By Playing The Klout +K Game is a post by Danny Brown, and is one of the most popular arguments against the +K system. If you’re not familiar with Klout, please click here first.

But for those only unfamiliar with +K, it is a new feature that allows you to let Klout know directly who has influenced you and on what topic. (For instance, you might go to my Klout profile and give me a +K for “social media” because that is what I talk about here. My readers on The Schmittastic Vlogs might go to Klout and give me a +K for “video” because that is 90% of what I do over there.)

Danny used this feature to game the Klout system to show he was an online influencer in “sheep” (please see my conversations with Danny in the comments section for a correction to this statement that I found out is not entirely true), thus proving his point that you can manipulate your Klout score to reflect whatever you want and it is not an accurate measurement system for social media.

Interesting experiment (and quite hilarious actually… you should watch his video if you haven’t already), except Danny Brown is ALREADY an online influencer who has shared his negative thoughts about Klout previously. So he had plenty of readers/advocates on his side to help him achieve his influential shepherd status. So this argument is totally bogus for me because he wouldn’t have been able to pull this stunt off without the help of the people he has already influenced through his social media and blogging advice on DannyBrown.me.

I especially knew his take was a little off because he stated in the post that he is one of the people who doesn’t find real value in Klout because he doesn’t feel “you can measure influence purely by what you do online.”

Huh? Who said anything about that?

Klout clearly states in their bio that they measure your online influence — NOT the entirety of your influence as a human being.

If Klout has an algorithm that measures how many people click my links, retweet my posts, like my status updates, and share my stuff with their networks, there is CLEARLY value in that statistic for me. The first step to making a sale is getting people to respond to your call to actions. What you do from there is up to you. What you do from there cannot be measured by Klout.

If you build trust, relationships and engagement online that lead to an influential online presence and then can’t close the deal by making a sale or getting their e-mail address, that has nothing to do with your Klout score. But having this scoring system as a way of getting started to see where you need to make improvements in your engagement is absolutely priceless to help you measure for success in the long run.

Keep in mind what Klout was built to do and don’t expect it to be the end all be all of your online marketing measurement.

Full Disclosure: I am one of Danny’s readers and respect his opinions a great deal. This one in particular, I just don’t happen to agree with. What do you think about his thoughts on Klout? Do you think he’s right about the +K system?



  1. mikestenger

    The reality is, very few actually know what Klout is outside of our industry and is not what I would say very important. Now, it is a great way to gauge yourself and go from there. Have done several posts and videos on the topic of influence and Klout.

    Good to see another person with a similar opinion and not the typical response saying if you don’t have a good klout score, you’re not influential.

    Nice to see you’re using Livefyre, Amy!

  2. Schmittastic

    @mikestenger Thanks Mike! I am lovin’ Livefyre!

    You’re absolutely right about people with low scores being against it, but I just don’t get the argument against this being a great measurement tool within all the other statistics to measure your business’ ROI of social media. It’s a no-brainer for me that this number does mean something in the social space.

  3. MostDarren

    I think a lot of people are starting to recognize what Klout is, and not just social media experts. I find when you give people “K” for the first time they get excited about it and usually want to learn more. I enjoy the service, even though it has a few massive bugs.

  4. Schmittastic

    @MostDarren The +K system is definitely exciting for people. Especially because they can contribute to the score for someone if they are legitimately influenced by them. Klout definitely has bugs, but what website doesn’t? I think they can come out on top and master their algorithm over time.

  5. MostDarren

    @Schmittastic I’m a big fan of Klout. I rose to a 58K in two weeks of joining Twitter, so I can’t pretend I’m not interested. My technical problem is being solved by them, so I can’t complain. They responded to my tech support request in one minute indicating its being fixed in ‘a week or so.’

    That’s great service, no matter who the company is. I like the idea of ranking all social media personalities into a gladiator pit of competitive social media marketing. Only the strong will survive!

  6. joebertino

    @Schmittastic @mikestenger Hi Amy! Joe from Livefyre here. I was stopping by to thank you for installing our plugin (super awesome that you’re loving it so far), but I saw this post and just had to jump in.

    I won’t sugarcoat it, I’m not a fan of Klout. I don’t have an elaborate reason, I just question their methods. This doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in social currency. I do. I also respect of hell out of their initiative in rather unchartered territory.

    I just have a hard time embracing something that, in my opinion, is still largely based on aggressive chest beating rather than content creation and/or social interaction for good. Also, Mike brings up a good point, until social influence complements real world transactions/behaviors the general public will continue to ignore it. It’s fun to think about the potential though.

    Wow, that was a long-winded hello. Anyway, Amy, welcome to Livefyre. If you have any comments or feedback for our team, please feel free to email us at support [at] livefyre [dot] com. Cheers!

  7. Schmittastic

    @joebertino @mikestenger Thanks Joe! Definitely loving the plugin so far… switched on here after I got familiar with it on my personal vlog: schmittastic.com. So loving it over there as well!

    I completely understand the argument of how the algorithm is calculated and what methods Klout is using to develop a score. I think there is still a lot of room to improve since they have only been around for (how long?) and social media only gets more complicated by the day. It will be really interesting to see how well it does and if it becomes more accepted by society outside of the social media manager circles.

    Thanks for the hello!!

  8. joebertino

    @Schmittastic @mikestenger Yeah, I definitely admire what they’ve been able to accomplish in such a short time frame. I assume it will only get better as they continue to iterate.

    I’ll make sure to check out your vlog too, thanks for the link!

  9. Hi Amy,

    Great counterpoints, and I actually agree – you can measure your online impact, and take steps to see if that can be improved. So on that, we definitely agree 🙂

    The problem I have with Klout is that they themselves declare their system to be “The Standard For Influence”. Not *online influence*, but influence full stop (see the linked screenshot below, taken from their home page just before commenting here):


    That’s a dangerous statement to make because it makes Klout sound much more than it is. Because of this, we’re already seeing crazy decisions, like companies hiring people based on their Klout score (as opposed to their actual qualifications). Or hotels give preference to people with higher Klout scores than other guests, in the hope they receive favourable reviews.

    Sorry, but for me, that’s encouraging elitism and something I want no part of. Who’s to say that I should get a better hotel room, because I have a bigger Klout score than a couple that have saved for months to get their special weekend away from their everyday problems but don’t have a clue what Klout is?

    The funny thing about the sheep expert knowledge is that I had no idea about it until people started tweeting it at me. I still don’t know how it happened – I’m guessing because I wrote a post with the “sheep” and “shepherd” in the title. But if that’s how Klout defines influence, then I’ll continue to question their methods.

    I will give Joe Fernandez kudos for the way he’s responded to criticism of his service. However, when the system lowers your score because you haven’t tweeted in a couple of days, then there’s something wrong with it. That’s basically saying Seth Godin isn’t influential about marketing because he eschews many of the popular social networks.

    Anyhoo – I’ve taken up enough of your time as it is. 🙂

    Thanks for the post and the thoughts – always great to have opposing views. It’s be boring otherwise. Cheers! 🙂

    PS – It’s dannybrown.me – the dannybrown.com site is one for a Minister in the US. Probably woudln’t want to be associated with some of the stuff I write. 😉

  10. Schmittastic

    @DannyBrown Wow! Where to start? Thank you so much for taking the time, Danny. I really appreciate it!

    Let me first say (and I should have mentioned this in the article itself) that Klout does indeed need to fix the issue of dropping Klout scores because of days of less activity. Tom talked about this on brandsavant.com recently. http://bit.ly/qnzmHa The fact that your online influence drops because you went on vacation is absolutely ridiculous. So, that is one big indicator that Klout is definitely not where it needs to be yet.

    I’m very interested that the sheep incident didn’t start as a stunt! (Maybe I missed that somewhere?) I guess looking at the website, I don’t see a way to suggest a topic that someone is influential on, if it is not already listed. So I should probably edit that statement in my post. If Klout is pulling information from your blog titles, that is quite interesting as well. I would think maybe searching tags would make more sense (or did you also use the word “sheep” in your tags?) What a riot!

    I agree that it is quite a jump we’ve achieved in social media for people to be selected for a job because of their Klout score. Great post from Mark Schaefer on that here http://bit.ly/qr0t6M. But as a social media consultant myself, I do understand why someone who is looking for a job in marketing would need to prove their familiarity with the social space. Especially with new grads today who grew up entirely dependent of the internet for school work and communicating with friends. For those who are older than that and are experienced and looking for a job in marketing… they need to be on their game to compete with the internet generation. Don’t people who work with money in certain industries have to have their credit checked? I think that’s worse! Who says you can’t handle the position because you have had flaws in your personal credit history? But, it still probably makes sense, depending on the position.

    As far as the slogan at the top of the Klout homepage, you’re right that it is a dangerous statement. They should probably be more careful about that and change it to reflect the statements of their bio. If someone comes to their site and doesn’t know what Klout is, that could definitely be misleading.

    Like I said, Klout has a ways to go, but I think online measurement is all anyone who is investing in it wants. So if someone is bold enough to get the ball rolling to measure social media success, then why not try to work with it?

    So sorry to get your website wrong! I will correct that ASAP. Thanks again for your input! I really appreciate it.

  11. POTUS31

    Klout CEO, Joe Fernandez, claims ‎”People put Klout score on their resume.”Why would you hire someone who spends all day keeping Klout scores up? You don’t. You hire someone to get your work done! Klout scores could hurt your chances of landing a job.

  12. loseweight

    I have no idea about Klout actually, it sounds new to me but it finds me interesting. Well, thank you for this great information about Klout and I learn something new right here. Thanks!

  13. Schmittastic

    @loseweight So glad you could learn something from this post! Klout is a way of measuring your online influence. Definitely not the end-all be-all, but a great way to see how your affecting the community that you grow. Hope to see you around here more often!

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