Klout, My Story, and Why Opting Out Was My Only Choice

It’s My Story


When I was growing up, what we knew about each other wasn’t called data. It was called interaction, stories, and information. It came in the form of experience and shared events, gossip and oral history, and reports and report cards. Not every story told about us was unbiased, accurate, or even true.

In my youngest years, my dad taught me three guiding principles about such stories:

  1. Don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.
  2. Consider the reliability of the source and what the source’s purpose might be.
  3. People can see what you do, not why you did it. Stick to your values and your actions will prove them true.

This Saturday those three guiding principles loudly came back to me. And they came with advice I give every day, “Own your own story. Never give power to tell your story to someone you don’t trust.”

Why Opting Out Was My Only Choice

I had high hopes for Klout when it started, though I thought they were taking something close to impossible in trying to quantify influence. I was interested to see how they would approach it, hoping they might identify something useful toward sorting the gamers and spambots from the people who were making the social web work. Did I think they would identify true influence? Not really. But I thought they might find a stone of solid respect around engagement activity that was worth looking at. It seemed a big quest, but possible.

As months passed, I grew leery. The algorithm that seemed to make sense, started changing violently. The first change rated inactive accounts higher and people I respected lost ground. The second or third major change came with an explanation using the word transparency, but what it transparently said was “We’re changing this to something better and we’re not telling what that is.”

People who had started using their measure, who had trusted it enough to include it in their client work, woke up one morning to find Klout had changed the algorithm without notice and with abandon.

It was at best a naive decision to move without thought to the people who were building on what Klout offered. Those people who were putting Klout scores in their marketing plans and on their resumes were building Klout’s credibility.

Still I stuck with them, because who hasn’t made a bad decision, especially when starting something new? But I watched with new interest in what they would do.

I became more aware that my data, your data, our stories are their product and they seemed to become less aware of the responsibility that might come with a offering product like that.

The Klout perks I was offered — especially the invitation to audition for the X-Factor — were all about my number not me. The additional unannounced tweaks to the algorithm that made it unpredictable and unstable did more damage to a sense of credibility.

Over the past few months, as changes have occurred, I’ve worked with folks at Klout via email, sending screenshots and describing problems that included:

  • Some pages never have loaded completely.
  • Notifications numbers and the notification report page varied widely from click to click and at times dropped out a whole month — skipping from 8 hours ago to 53 days with nothing in between.
  • My Facebook connections still never linked.

The service response was that of begrudgingly tolerant, but helpful people who lost interest when they couldn’t find a fast fix to their problem — which they saw as my problem. And in each case, the problem was never resolved and my last screenshot went into the ether, even though they had asked me to send it to them.

Saturday’s algorithm change brought this all back to me.
All this, my dad’s guiding principles, and my own words were staring me in the face.

Why I Opted Out of Klout – Three Guiding Principles

Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to align my goals and share my data with people who share my values and care for my story. I see the value in marketing data to brands who want more information and to brands who want to identify appropriate outreach partners. But when I considered a partnership with Klout and my dad’s three principles this is what I realized.

  1. Principle 1: In the last month, I played with Klout giving out +Ks like they were candy. I didn’t broadcast them. I was checking how the tool worked.
    • I compared my list of people I influence and people under my profile pix to the people who actually gave me +K — thereby saying that I’d influenced them — only 1 person was on both lists. I have never exchanged conversation with the people on the Klout list.
    • I received several achievements for “Raining Klout.” My last badge was for Raining 800 +K.
    • The more +K I gave and the more profiles I visited, the more +K I got for “doing something awesome.” One day I couldn’t get the amount of +K I had to give down to zero for over an hour.
    • As I looked to give only 1 +K to each person, I found that many of the people I admire had already opted out. The puppy on the 404 page and I became good friends. I also found that about half of the profiles I visited who still have a Klout presence have few to no +Ks on them.

    Even at their best, numbers flatten the data. They tell the what but not the why. In Klout’s case, we don’t even know the what and the what keeps changing.

    As my dad said, “Don’t believe anything you hear and believe only half of what you see.”

  2. Principle 2: The business model seems to be collecting data, identifying influencers in topical areas, and selling access to them via Klout perks. That model is like selling real estate where you and I are the houses. In their model, we aren’t the customers because we “get” the product for free. The people who pay the bills are the brands who read our profiles and “buy our stories” based on what they see. To make the model work well and be profitable, Klout needs “influencers” across verticals (real or make believe) that attract brands who want to reach them.

    When I looked at the story that my profile was telling, I found this.

    • Like most of us, my topic list included things I only mentioned once
    • My topic list didn’t include the name of my own event — SOBCon — though I tweet about it often and had it as a Klout list, a Twitter list, and admin a Facebook page by that name.
    • Others are considered experts about SOBCon, but my partner and I who founded the event are not.
    • All but one of the people listed as those I influence have never exchanged a word with me.
    • The latest label they gave me was Broadcaster.

    It sure seems the concern was not about telling a reliably true story. Consider the reliability of the source and what the source’s purpose might be.

  3. Principle 3: My values are these:
    • Loyalty — an honor for trust relationships with all of the people who help our businesses growth. Trust means that I can believe that you hold my best interests high.
    • Brilliant decisiveness — the ability to see a solid business decision and to understand how decision we make impact the people who help our businesses thrive.
    • Generosity of Spirit — the humanity to find solutions that serve all of the people who help us thrive as well as our own business growth.
    • A Playfully Responsible Sense of Humor — the room for fun and meaning in aligning our goals to build something bigger than ourselves.
    • Creativity — the expansive approach that allows everyone who helps our businesses thrive to have a “Wow! I wish I’d thought of that!” idea.

    All of my work has these values. All of the people I work with — employees, customers, partners, vendors, clients, and sponsors are the outstanding examples of the same values in business and in life. As a friend who works for an international PR firm said recently, “Klout has become the outreach for lazy companies — those who don’t want to build relationships.”
    I’ve always been about relationships.
    People can see what you do but not why you did it. Stick to your values and your actions will prove them true.

In the process of opting out, I was faced with a list of options that asked why. I was looking for one that said “Changes in the algorithm” or “Too many changes.” I found it telling that the only choice I found that might describe my reason was “I don’t like my Klout Score.” That, of course, implies something that could be all about my ego and not in the least about their product.

The disclaimers went on to tell me that it might take a few days to totally remove my data and to be sure I should go to every network and revoke access myself. They also said should I decide to opt back in I needed to know it would 90 days for me to get my influence back.

I suppose the lawyers wrote those, but they read like softly worded threats. … which sealed the deal for me. I don’t recall seeing a statement of regret … something that said, “we’re sorry to see you opt out.”

Never give power to tell your story to someone you don’t trust.
If I listen to my dad, my values, and my own advice, opting out was my only choice.

I hope Klout becomes what they want to be and if, one future day, our values align, I’ll be back.

Be irresistible … to yourself first.
–ME “Liz” Strauss


  1. says


    The only surprising thing about your post is that it took so long to opt out.

    I’ve not found one single benefit to using Klout. Not one. It seems completely arbitrary, woefully inaccurate and singularly useless.

    Good on you for dropping it. And I hope more people read this and decide they’d be better off focusing their energies elsewhere.

    • says

      Hi Andy!
      I understand your point of view. My background is product and I come with a lot of curiosity about what products are and what they are meant to do. I also like to give new products a chance to “find their feet” before I make decisions about them. I don’t make decisions lightly.

      I appreciate your support. Thank you. :)

  2. says

    Liz what a great summary of your thoughts, feelings and experiences.

    It does amaze me that Klout has not taken more action from the feedback they have received. Many companies would be paying to get this type of feedback (focus groups of years ago) that would allow them to know what works and what does not from a third party, to hopefully insure “clear data.”

    They have so many of us that want them to succeed ( how lucky a company). This does give the next “one” a clear path of what to do better-who do you think will pick up that torch and run with it?

  3. says

    One of my Twitter buddies sent me a link to Klout and I found it to be an interesting site. But I am not the social attention whore I could be, so none of the numbers meant much to me.

    It’s fun to look at once in a while, but I never thought of it as anything remotely useful-it’s fun, like seeing how many hits you to your most popular blog post-it doesn’t really mean anything.

    The idea that a Klout score has some real world value is totally new to me.

    • says

      If your clients are brands that are just learning the social space, Klout might have more meaning to you. Just as alexa.com has meaning to people who are in ecommerce, even though it’s not considered useful to most blogger. Klout has found a niche that could serve a market. I think seeing it only as an “attention whore’s device” is a surface view.

      But your view don’t need to be my views. Thank you for weighing in on the subject.

    • says

      Hi Diane,
      You asked if I would explain my decision. I wrote this post for you. I did two days of thinking to be sure I could verbalize my values and my reasoning in a way that didn’t in any way assume that other people should think as I do. I very much see this as a personal decision of living up to what I stand for.

  4. says

    Hey Liz,

    Your feedback has always been a huge help to us here at Klout. I appreciate it and am sorry to lose you as a user. I will be going over this blog post with our team today.

    As you mentioned, we are taking on a seemingly impossible task and working really hard to iterate our way through it. We have a long way to go but we have a passionate team. My hope is that you will keep an open mind as we continue to evolve.

    Happy to chat any time.


    • says

      Hi Joe,
      Thank you for reading my thoughts and for sharing them with your team. It’s of course nice to hear that your appreciate my thoughts and that you’re sorry to lose me as a customer.
      But Joe, saying that you’re working really hard to iterate through it and that you’re passionate is not saying that you own the missteps you’ve already taken. Saying you have a long way to go isn’t the same as saying you own the road you already built.

      The last time I wrote a blog post even close I remember was in 2006 about Technorati … David Sifry’s comment shows more ownership.

      I’m happy to chat too — here’s my number 773.809. 5499 or email me at Lizsun2@gmail.com if you need to find a better time.

      Thank you again for noticing,

  5. Jean Pickering says


    Beth has been telling me for several weeks that I had to write something about Klout since I have been following their floundering since their big algorithm change. You have so eloquently said what I believe.

    Like it or not, we are constantly being judged and that is just life, but Klout has done a lot of what I consider to be unethical because of the fact that other less informed folks take their score as the legitimate truth. There scoring could actually hurt people’s careers, ability to get hired and/or their business.

    So thank you for writing this. I hope we can all spread the word about this.


    • says

      Hi Jean,
      … other less informed folks take their score as the legitimate truth. There scoring could actually hurt people’s careers, ability to get hired and/or their business.
      That’s the reason I stayed as long as I did. I needed to know for myself what was there.

      Always a fan of yours. :)

  6. says

    Very well outlined, Liz.

    You reason for and decision to “opt out” of Klout are well-founded. This further shows how Klout and similar efforts to quantifiably qualify our online communications impact is a challenge at best.

    Not only does Klout’s technology get in the way (my Facebook account has twice been “unlinked” and the Perks are seldom relevant to me or my “friends who are eligible”) of itself, but the notion that my influence can be gauged by what happens within a select group of online destinations is wrong.

    • says

      Hi Tim!
      The people who have the most influence in my life are either not online or barely there. :)
      And I couldn’t think of anyone I know online — except the random musician — who could seriously use an invitation to audition for The X-Factor.

      You have plenty of clout in my mind. :)

  7. says

    You really know how to express yourself well and build a good solid case! I was all enthusiastic about Klout when I first signed in, started inviting friends etc. I noticed as a new user and become becoming more social the score was rising and it made me feel good! Ha! I thought that it seemed to be a great system and was amazed at how serious it was taken by employers, Universities and the like (scary!) But one day before they changed the algorithm I had a very busy day with the highest ever interaction and on that day my score dropped by a whopping 3 scores! It then became apparent that it was bit full of holes. Obviously I was not alone as within days I began to see numerous negative feedback concerning Klout. I have since pretty much ignored it altogether and am now less stressed! Ha! I surprised myself that I had gotten so into it at any point. I REALLY enjoyed reading about your dad’s advice and how you applied it to this Liz! Great post!

    • says

      Hi Rusty!
      The decision model I used in this blog post has become my center for decision making throughout my life. It keeps me to my true north.

      Thank you for sharing your experience. Yeah it was a little like candy at the start … then not so fun when it broke. :)

  8. says

    I agree with what Diane is saying…when I finished reading this I thought…this really sums up a lot of what I have been thinking. Liz, as I read this I felt as though I was in the same room with you…listening to one of your great stories. I love how you aligned this decision with your values – just as it should be.

    Many of us had high hopes for the potential of Klout, however it really has turned into something else. For me it has been a bit of a love hate relationship…sort of like a guilty indulgence. You want to see how your score is doing, who your influencers are etc. Deep down, though you know that so much of it really makes little sense and is not very reliable or accurate. I have also experienced many of the problems that your post mentions…so perhaps it is their product that is at fault – as opposed to all of us not doing things the way we are supposed to.

    • says

      Hi Jane!
      So loved your comment. I hear the educator in you talking to the educator in me … saying “yeah, we believe in grades even though we know they don’t work.” The hope sure was there. The reality isn’t hopeless, but it’s not worth worrying over. :)

      Thank you, Jane.

  9. says

    Amen. Amen. Amen, sister! I opted out of Klout a few weeks ago for many of the same reasons as you.

    I also wrote a blog post a few weeks ago that basically explained that there is no way that you can create an algorithm for relationships (ie: influence). It’s like putting a score on how good of a friend you are. Ridiculous.

    I think that if a company were to show metrics of activity along with online and offline accomplishments, this might be a better metric for brands to measure their effectiveness on social media. In the meanwhile, I am so happy to know that through social media, I have connected with brilliant women like you who know with clarity who you are and what you stand for and you aren’t afraid to SAY it! Well done, Liz. (PS: your dad’s words rocked!)

  10. says

    your Dad and my Dad would have enjoyed a pint together!
    I opted out of Klout with great disappointment and was especially appalled at the ‘exit interview’. Never mind the lawyers – you don’t need to include barely veiled threats when customers say I don’t like your ‘new improved’ product because it makes my product turn ‘grey’.
    Hope you are well.
    Kind regards

  11. says

    Hi Liz!

    FAB post.

    My favorite line….”Never give your power away to someone you don’t trust.”

    I speak to that often and believe our “power” of owning our own story is a critical step to business success.

    I am surprised to see Joe of Klout here. I have asked to have klout join me on a live simulchat event via #SmManners repeatedly but they remain quiet to me and my many communities.

    It is nice to see that for the first time, Klout may be realizing that the very influencers they have been creating “scores” without consent for…are leaving in droves. Any business should respond to their consumers who have concerns, not ignore them.

    As I always say, if you do not tell your brand’s story, someone will do it for you.

    I am telling my brand story now. I will not be defined by a number that has a secret data mining operation behind it. I will not be defined by a company who make errors and only replies, “we have a glitch”. I will not be defined a brand who does not answer my questions and misleads me repeatedly.

    In my opinion, Klout continues to play the game and clearly misrepresents all who opt out now. Just take a look at the sad puppy now found when you I am searched for on Klout. The words lead to the fact that I do not have enough data to support a klout score at all. Unacceptable. Where is the integrity? Where is the respect? Why not tell the TRUTH Klout? The page should say….This user has chosen not to have a Klout score. Simple. Honest. Real.

    These “little glitches” as Klout calls them can cause brand damage. At some point Klout should be held liable. I actually had a VERY big client question my lack of score. They believed I must not have a global reach if I did not have a Klout score. Absurd. Misleading. LIes.

    Klout should be sorry. Klout should be careful. Klout should not play unfairly with the very individuals who supported them early on… before they were a marketing company.

    But then…that is another story.

    Bravo to you Liz.


  12. Melanie Strout says

    Loved your thought process from beginning to end. Your method of giving it a chance, understanding and allowing room for error, remaining hopeful, testing the process, reaching out in effort to help, realizing the lack of interest in fixing issues, which leads to you opting out all together, builds the perfect case in why Klout doesn’t carry much Klout anymore. Thanks!!

  13. says


    What a shame. What seemed to be an interesting way to measure REAL influence, seems to have become more of a case of how often they could shoot themselves in the foot?

    The moves they made and the defensive posture they took when challenged, only served to make folks distrustful of their methods if not their motives.

    Today, I regard Klout as entertainment and some friends and I enjoy gaming their system. You can create your own topics of influence quickly and easily.


    • says

      You make a great point of how the loss of trust was exacerbated by the defensive posture. I’d see it as a game, but I don’t want people who take it seriously to think that I might.

  14. says

    Liz….you know me well.

    The educator in me often wants to support the “concept of a system”; but truth be told they all usually fall short in my mind. That is often why I am so far outside of the box in my thinking I guess.

    In honesty, I don’t believe in grades or standardized tests or even homework for that matter. What I do believe in is following individual children and helping them to achieve their true potential based on who they are as a person. Not on what a system tells us they should or could be. Which really when it comes down to it; is all about building an educational relationship with each individual child that is based on trust, respect and authenticity.

    Not unlike what we are talking about here :)

    Thanks Liz!

  15. says

    There are no short cuts to measuring “influence” and what is influential to one, is not influential to another. The specific goals of what you are measuring against have to be present to make the assessment reliable and credible. I simply wouldn’t place any business decision on Klout’s one size fits all approach. Like horoscopes, perhaps their results are for entertainment purposes only.

    • says

      Hi Adele,
      First they need to define themselves … then we can figure out whether they do what they say they do. But what is the what?
      Love your “one size fits all” — I so agree with that. :)

  16. says

    The catalyst for leaving Klout myself was a few months ago. My father had emergency quadruple bypass surgery. I tweeted twice in 3 days – once to announce it and once to say he was OK. I received over a hundred responses between the two.

    My Klout score went up 3 points in 3 days.

    It was obvious to me that their algorhythm has everything to do with sheer numbers, and not actual influence.

  17. says


    Your principles resonate well with me. Though it appears to me you were ‘drawn’ in too much into Klout and took it way too serious.

    I never removed an account from some media unless they turned criminal or something.

    I could tell a story about the fake on Quora which I discovered right in the beginning. Yet I keep my profile rather than delete it.

    And if for the only reason as a placeholder and claim. I’ve seen too much identity theft for that.

    Another reason would be . . . let them develop and give them a chance to return on the path of integrity and honor.

    • says

      Hi Andreas!
      I understand your thinking, and tested that argument while making my decision. The difference here for me was that this particular tool was being used and self-defining as a descriptor of my influence in ways with which I didn’t agree. I decided I didn’t want my name on it and I feel connected enough to protect my online identity in social media circles.

  18. Bewitched in Salem says

    Quite informative Liz!

    I didn’t put much into Klout when it surfaced and apparently for good reason.

    I enjoyed reading your article and look forward to more in the future.


  19. says

    Very thoughtfully written and influential in helping me redefine my own principles and values. The How of anything we do Means Everything. I recommend Dov Seidman’s book “how” in addition to applauding you for making and sharing the right choice going forward. All the Best to you in your future endeavors.

    • says

      Bill Whetstone!
      Thank you for the book recommendation sounds like one I’d like. My values are at the core of my value proposition these days and it’s working really well for me. :)

  20. says

    Liz, I opted out last night. I know the system was for their benefit not the benefit of those who clung on to the hope that their numbers would rise.

    It is a money making company and I look at it and I can’t see the reflection of me in the mirror, all I saw was dollar signs.

    I called my friends in a few HR departments and they never heard of Klout and then I called a few headhunters and the same thing. One had heard of it and he felt it was an unstable platform.

    Told me to go with my gut and I did. If someone wants to know who I am, I suggest them to call a friend of mine, a past associate or google me.

  21. says

    Liz: Thanks and praise to you for this outstanding post. I appreciate so much your coming from a place of personal values. We should apply this kind of thinking to all our business and personal dealings. Thanks too for joining (leading) the voices calling for people to opt out and delete their Klout profiles. RJ

  22. Frank Hannigan says

    fairly damning but I guess Klout are not done pivoting yet…..but if its not natural – you are right, don’t engage.

  23. says

    Hi Liz. Thanks for sharing your story, all what you wrote beautifully makes senses, we [husband webmaster & wife (DES Daughter)] fully understand… To me (husband webmaster) EAv and Klout are similar in the fact that it’s very pleasant to see a growing value but I could not care less of the ‘exact’ value… which is all virtual… and depending from algo fluctuations… The reason ‘DES Daughter @des_journal’ is still on Klout is because it help us to spread DES awareness further, scores continued to increase meaning some started to notice us, Klout help me to engage with people, and we even made few new connections! I never took Klout seriously yet and we are not looking for public profile… I just use Klout as an extra social media means. To me, the real issue is some businesses using a system which is not ready yet and this despite Klout still mentions ‘beta’ on ‘website’… Best regards

    • says

      Thank you DES Daughter!
      I don’t think anyone needs to do what I choose. I was only explaining my choice there. I appreciate your support and your stopping by to add to the conversation. That means so much. :)

  24. says

    This is excellent. Klout really dug its’ own grave. Seemed like a great idea. Your dad was so insightful, those three principles are timeless. Thanks for sharing!

  25. Ed Nix says

    Hi Liz,

    Excellent post, thank you for sharing that experience and decision process.

    Decisions like yours are spreading for some of the same reasons.

    All the best.


  26. says

    Hi Liz:
    I certainly respect your choice, and I don’t think you are alone.

    I never considered Klout to be an authority and don’t take it very seriously, so I haven’t opted out because I think giving k+’s is a nice thing to do. Other than that it’s a pretty (or not so pretty) number to look at.

    Hope you have an awesome day!
    Anne Thomas

  27. says

    Hi Liz,

    A very impressive post!

    Congratulations on your analysis and honesty at the end (the ego) of the article.

    I understand your decision to quit Klout and you did it by keeping your head up. I am waiting for the next stage of Klout and wonder me how they will handle this situation, which seems to be more and more complicated.


    • says

      Hi Martin!
      Thank you for seeing my post in such a clear light. It’s the “waiting” you speak of that did me in. I wasn’t ready to have another go at hoping the next time would be better.

  28. says

    Welcome to the “drop-outs” from Klout group. lol I dropped out a couple of weeks ago for many other reasons which you didn’t mention here. I used it as a tool for evaluation others earlier in the year, but once they changed algorithms all that I’d based my survey on would have been destroyed later on. Nope, totally useless.

    • says

      Hi Mitch,
      I’d put that in the category of the people who used the score to build their own work (and by so doing were helping to build credibility for Klout) who weren’t consider when changes to the algorithm were made unnanounced and with abandon. heh heh

  29. says

    The point I was trying to make in my tweet to you was that none of the social media analytics tools are reliable yet. They are new. It is a developing but important field. The Topics feature on Klout is recently introduced and no doubt still buggy.

    Like most social marketers, I was not happy with the recent algorithm change. I think the fatal flaw was how Klout handled the change with us as a group. We had had a great many interactions with Klout at parties, with Perks and with the program. When +K came out, we weren’t sure what it did (and they said clearly it didn’t influence score) but many of us were happy to participate in that.

    When Klout introduced the new algorithm, they had to realize that many of us would see drastic drops in our scores. The communication to prepare us for this was inadequate. A prolific sector on social media was frustrated, confused and angry.

    I was at BlogWorld LA when shortly after it happened and had the opportunity to hear it discussed in person. Like many, I tried to figure it all out by reading comments around the blogosphere. (Klout itself was not terribly helpful).

    The positive result for me was that I became much more informed about social media analytics in general. Klout is of course, not the only platform addressing this field. I copied in my tweet to you because I enjoyed a six hour dinner with him in NYC recently. As you will find in his book, “Social Media Analytics”, published by McGraw Hill, no current platform is really correct. This is a new field full of flaws. It gives us hints but brands should certainly not rely on one source.

    As it stands, Klout is currently “baked into” Hootsuite so constantly visible to a broad swath of social media users. I mentioned that your score was 68, which was no so bad, because while I was trying to decipher what was going on with the algo change, I actually made a spreadsheet of some of my friends Klout scores, so that’s why I have a record and since scores are comparative, that is not a bad score at all.

    Klout may not adequately account for the full spectrum of our influence. Obviously the influence of SOBCON and your blog is large. But one expects to some degree, that will be reflected in mentions of such on social media.

    I don’t think that Klout or Facebook or any of these platforms is “evil” though when there is a large change that affects us personally, it may feel that way.

    (cross-posted on your Google+)

    • says

      I’m delighted that you have such feelings about social media analytics tools. I’m glad to know you got over your unhappiness with the recent algorithm changes. Thank you for your explanation of them. I’m also glad that you become much more informed. I trust your experience and your experts. Did you think I don’t these things or were you stating them for the larger audience?

      Did you read my blog post?

      If you did you might have noticed that I made no reference my score and I see no reason that you should have. My score is totally irrelevant to the reasons I decided to opt out.

      My score was fine when it was 76, 84, 80, and it was fine again when it was 68. I don’t value myself by other people’s numbers. I’m really disconcerted and feel misrepresented publicly by your response which took this conversation there.

      My analysis is clearly states that I opted out because my values and their values don’t align and for that reason I don’t want to partner with them until some future day when they do. It’s about my name. Not my number.

  30. says

    After reading most of the comments, I would pretty much be an echo of the masses, but I will say this…

    Your father is a wise man. Now I need to call my dad. And, get around to deleting my klout profile too.

  31. says

    I’ll just add my voice to the list of people in agreement with your excellent post. Thank you.

    I tried paying attention to Klout for about 30 days as a measuring device for my activities, trying to see how I could improve my online contributions. Then Klout changed their algorithm and showed that Klout now views my prior ~30 days activities that had been growing my Klout scrore to be a sizable net negative on my score, with a continual decline over those past ~30 days. To understand why I found their blog post where people were asking reasonable questions and making reasonable suggestions and Klout’s responses were condescending at best. It was then I realized that I definitely could not trust Klout.

    I haven’t yet removed my account — I probably will — but I’ve paid zero attention to my score and given no +Ks since.

    • says

      Hi Mike!
      Thank you for adding your voice to the discussion. Everyone has to make the decision based on their own position, conditions, and values. I know your choice on this will be the best one for you. :)

  32. says

    Thanks Liz.

    Well put, as always. Typically thoughtful and compassionate, but unequivocally firm.

    I was thinking for a while, with some of the influencer and influenced-by profiles being displayed, that Klout and I were inhabiting different universes. Now I believe I was right.

    The way Klout co-opts people’s online identities and requires you to opt in if you want to opt out is particularly irritating.

    But I was thinking also that maybe I was remiss in not recommending to clients that they make use of Klout. Now I’m glad I didn’t.

    On my way to the Klout checkout.

    • says

      Hi Des!
      I love this sentence -> I was thinking for a while, with some of the influencer and influenced-by profiles being displayed, that Klout and I were inhabiting different universes. Now I believe I was right. That is my experience too! I’m glad that we still have this venue to share our thoughts. You inspire me, Des.

  33. says

    Oh..THANK YOU!

    I think I have been suffering an personal debate lately where my internal compass is telling me to resisit some things, yet the world of marketing feels like it’s dragging me in the opposite direction. I kept on not really buying into the importance of Klout and then felt like *I* was the one being stubborn.

    But I don’t like being reduced to a number.. I don’t care who is doing it. I don’t like being judged by a number either. How can there be a number that really encompasses all that a person is?

    Now I just have to remember that much like your values, I have to listen to my gut. It’s not wrong, just maybe it needs that validation. So I thank you for giving me that validation!

    Now I can openly say I was never a huge fan of Klout.

    • says

      Hi Claudia!
      My decision may be right for everyone. I’m cool with that. I’m also delighted that it helped you see how you feel about things. It’s easy for us when we work alone (even in a corporate setting) to look first to ourselves as being the one who’s got it wrong. That’s the grownup form of peer pressure I think. heh heh

  34. says

    Liz, that was an insightful article – thanks for sharing your experiences and thoughts. I also agree their topics seem to make no sense and are so limiting – like trying to fit a round peg in a square hole. You influence me regardless of what Klout or anyone else says – your integrity, authenticity, leadership and insights continually inspire me.

    It’s a shame that Klout took something that held such promise and has really severely damaged it’s credibility the last few months.

    My concern is I’ve heard Google is using Klout scores in their patent as a factor in measuring authorship / site / authority -:( , hope to understand ramifications of Klout on SERP and am watching and assessing my future actions too.

    If I earned a living in social media consulting I would definitely opt out due to the inaccurate representation it leaves – I also think it’s gone down hill with the advent of +K and the ability to give people K+ more than once – just invites gaming imho

    PS you’re making me fall in love with Chicago sunrises 😀 with your diverse and stunning instagram pics – look forward to your shots daily

  35. says

    Terrific post – I couldn’t agree more. From your father’s advice (my father told me the same 3 pieces of advice throughout my life) to the standards with which you live by, and of course your comments on Klout. I’ve always been skeptical of the logic and math behind the numbers but I too was curious about where it might go. All the changes and fluctuations though have made me less interested as of late – so I’ve kind of ignored it. True interaction and engagement are what creates influence – not numbers.

  36. says

    Thanks for this interesting discussion on Klout. I found myself nodding along to all of your points as I read.

    I signed up with Klout only recently, just to see what all the +K fuss was about.

    I can’t say whether or not my score is accurate, but I was quite disappointed that I was rated influential on topics I’ve mentioned only once on Twitter, and not at all influential on topics I tweet and get re-tweeted often.

    As such, my influence doesn’t seem to be accurate and the idea that employers, schools and businesses might judge me by Klout is no less than frightening!

    The other aspect of Klout that troubles me is the idea of rating influence of the human experience. While I can see the benefit to rating influence in products and brand names, my blog and my social media relationships are built on the practice of living a happy, healthy and balanced life.

    I consider all life to be precious, and as such impacting just one individual is enough value for me. I don’t become a better person the more people I influence positively.


    • says

      Hi Chrysta!
      That’s it … it’s the feeling of looking in a mirror and seeing someone else’s face. It’s uncomfortable and leads to distruct.
      Keep your focus where you have it. That’s outstanding! :)

  37. says

    Hey there Liz,

    Awesome overview, miss, and far more pragmatic than I could ever hope to be about Klout and its practices.

    You know what I find really sad? For a social company, they’re anything but.

    1. They make it really hard to opt-out, and hide the Delete Account option in a place no-one would really look.

    2. They offer pat company responses to the critical questions, while fawning over the praiseworthy ones.

    3. Their advice if you don’t want tracked? “Make your feeds private.” Yes, because that really makes sense for a business on the web…

    It’s a shame, they could be offering something really cool. Instead, they’re just offering something for the perceived cool kids.

    Be interesting to see how their privacy breaches play out in Europe…

    Thanks for a great post, miss!

    • says

      Hi Danny!
      Thank you! As I think longer on the difference with Klout, it’s the way they are choosing to represent us — almost in an agent role. A business that does that really needs to show me a profile that looks like me when I look in the “mirror.” I don’t want them representing something other than me under my name. :)

  38. says

    I found the post interesting, but honestly I don’t know what Klout is all about. What does Klout success look like, and is it worth whatever time investment required, or is it another social media addiction that hooks folks with micro bursts of dopamine every time the needle moves?

  39. says

    Love what your Dad taught and love even more that you still apply it to your life today. Core values like that are critical. And applause for sharing your experience and reasoning for your decision.
    Thank you.

  40. says

    Hi Liz,

    Thank you for your reply.

    I did read your blog post. I have the highest respect for you and what you have accomplished with your blog, SOBCON and the work that you do.

    I’m sure you are well aware of the data crunching geekery that goes on behind social media analytics. I was just suggesting that perhaps all of our expectations on their early tackle of “topics” is too high.

    I brought up scores because the core of the widespread emotional response to Klout has been related to scores. Your score has always been relatively high and the only reason I mentioned your score is because at least they got that part right. <>

  41. Lucretia Pruitt says

    Great post Liz! I tend to love any story of yours that includes lessons learnt from your Dad… Wise man, that Dad of yours.

    I so want to come down on one side or the other of this – but I still can’t. Blame it on the constant war I’ve got that rages between my inner programmer and my inner social media observer. I am not quite ready to call that game yet – but you know how heavily your insight weighs in to the picture, so this tips the scales more against Klout than before. The irony being that you might just be ‘influential about Klout’ isn’t lost on me here.

    I’ll keep listening though. Hopefully Joe & Co. Will too.

    • says

      Hi Lucretia,
      Thank you. I think my dad was pretty cool too!
      Don’t worry about rushing your thoughts on this. My decision came from my values. Yours will come when you have the information you need. Then you’ll know what’s right for you. I trust that. :)

  42. says

    Hi Liz, well thought out and detailed post. Wow that is a ton of comments for so many “that don’t care about Klout” – Measuring influence is impossible both online and offline. Can you measure influence in the “ballpark”? Perhaps, but I look at Klout as I do just about every other network. A catalyst to meet new people and build rapport. So I’ll be out there giving my +K’s and building. Have a great one Liz.

  43. says


    You rock. I just had to blab here about how you are so reasonable. I just spent the last 40 minutes reading your opus magnum: “Technorati – The Rise and Fall”, chronicled over a two-year period, from 2006-2008.

    You demonstrated what a true fan is really about. You also showed by example (with your benchmark post), how loyalty can not be taken for granted. And, finally, you showed why a company must not rely on a rock-star (Janice Myint) to carry their brand.

    Between that epic and now this fiasco with Klout, I think you’ve made it abundantly clear that we must control our own stories.

    Should we also sever the link that associates quantity with quality? I personally believe that too much is made of Google PR, Alexa, Twitter followers, +1s, etc.

    The only number I think matters is how many comments are on a post. If the post is excellent but has few comments, that tells me that either the site isn’t well-read or the readers are not commentators. If a post has lots of comments then, good or bad, the post has generated interest.

    I read all 112 comments in your Janice Myint post. The rise and fall is frightening to observe. On a positive note, it was wonderful to see the engagement, the quick fixes and the nuggets of business wisdom (Go, Mike!)

    Having taken the time to check out that “side story”, it turns out to be a perfect preamble to your “Klout Resolution”. Anyone who is curious about the depth of consideration it must have taken for you to this conclusion need only read that post.

    For my part, I’m not so patient. My problem is that I don’t join networks out of necessity or to experiment with their system; I join because of reciprocity! ARRRGH. People gave me +K and I felt bad about not returning the favor.

    I’m only now learning to evaluate that knee-jerk reaction and pausing before make such decisions. I realize that there are other, established ways to return favors.

    Thanks for providing not one but TWO awesome lessons in Business 101.

    1. Service providers should recognize the clout (with a C) of successful bloggers – and act accordingly.

    2. Excellent customer service should not rest on the performance of a single person. Attrition and Overwhelm will undo that stellar reputation.



    • says

      Your comment laying out that analysis goes into my heart and my comment hall of fame. It’s really a blog post in itself. I’m thrilled and delighted that you took the time to read all of that history. You’ve gained a fan! :)

  44. says

    Nice thoughts and memories about your dad!

    I used to hate Klout with a passion, because I didn’t understand it, it kept messing up scores purely based on a singular twitter account (which I have many) and kept merging different accounts differently, and like many kept seeing topics I’ve never heard of before. Although it did start to get a few topics right.

    In November 2011 I tried to honestly participate and do the +k thing, passing them out fairly, creating lists and tweeting about them. I found that one topic that I was influential was Klout, and another topic one of people’s topics that kept recurring and tweeting +k’s and appearing in my twitter timeline.

    I’m not opting out, but not participating anymore. Although, I am adding people to lists with their number as the list name, and I’ll come back next year and see where they are in that list.

    PS Happy Holidays Liz!

    • says

      No need for anyone else to opt out. I was only writing about the process I used to decide. I did many of the same things you did and when I realized they weren’t what they said they were, I didn’t feel good about them offering my name up for “perks.” Most brands don’t know me, but then the ones who use a Twitter count or a Klout number, probably aren’t the brands that would be in my portfolio anyhow.

  45. says

    Thank you, Liz!
    For your eloquence and meticulous attention to product and user experience perspectives. I joined klout when some respected colleagues took it seriously. I lost trust after the mismanaged Klout Chat event where none of the Klout company behavior during the event matched the promises of the promotion messaging. They didn’t answer people’s questions or respect people’s time. We all bought in to the promise, but Klout cried wolf too many times…we can’t forgive arrogance and disdain for users…Klout doesn’t seem to have the human touch required…

    • says

      Thank you, Cindy, for sharing your experience with me too!
      I think a lot of us had high hopes that we might have discovered an interesting new tool.
      But you’re right the promise doesn’t meet the reality for me either. :)

  46. says

    Liz, great piece. Not trying to be ‘that guy’ but I’d remove the link to your Klout profile on your left navi 😉

    Always insightful, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  47. says

    Liz, the reasons for leaving fit your ideals. The last few weeks I have gone back and forth with opting out for various reasons. I like to try services and see where they lead and how they grow. In the case of Klout, its becoming a punch line and marketing nightmare. The only benefit to me is having it the score to compare to other services. However, its not something I use, or recommend anyone else to use, a solid measure of “influence.” After on of their updates and additions of Topics, it was clear to me it highlighted the usual list of social media “experts” in those fields and never really looks beyond who others think are contextually innovative.

    Back to the thinking board, but still on Klout for a bit longer.

    • says

      Your choices have to fit you. It did seem to shift to the separate into celebrities and those who got lots of +K. What’s sad is that none of it really means much when the purpose of Klout is to sell high profile networkers to big brands. I think it’s great that you know you will know when it’s time for you to turn it off. Plenty of time to decide when it’s lost it’s usefulness for you.

  48. Jessica @FoundtheMarbles says

    I deleted my Klout account a month or so ago and it is so freeing. I am so much more than a Klout score.

  49. says

    I’m with you Liz. I did this about a month ago and haven’t looked back with regret even once. Your post is far more detailed and eloquent than I was but our decisions are really quite similar. I had high hopes as well and am somewhat sad that they seem to have sold out to the business model.

    • says

      Hi Jim!
      It doesn’t surprise me that our decisions were similar because our values also are. It may be that the business model was always the driver and that they just were never forthcoming about that fact, thinking that the game would differentiate them. If that’s the case, they needed to make the game visibly consistent and responsive to the players — the way Empire Avenue is. :)

  50. says

    I haven’t opted out of Klout yet, but I want to know how I ended up with “Real Estate” as one of my topics. Real estate?

    Your post was very well-written and did a better job of explaining the problems with Klout than any other I’ve read so far.

  51. Miguel Rodriguez says

    Hi Liz,

    Excellent article about this matter. I once said, Klout is getting Kloudy. Your deep and responsible analysis clearly outlines the reality behind the Klout system. The psychological effect of the Klout score has been more evident since the algorithmical change. Klout has become an addiction for any social media users. Twitter has been flooded by individualistic efforts to add followers at any cost without caring on who or what interests are in common. Interaction is almost impossible unless you get some mentions and RTs. Automated tweets and the Get More Followers syndrome has been, in part, a result of the Klout addiction. Liz, I stand by those values you mention in Principle #3. I like to see the positive side of yhings and Klout’s change has become more of a blessing than a curse, for it allowed everyone to break away of the bondage of a scored number. Social media was meant to make friendships who share the same interests and goals. That’s true business to me.

  52. says

    Liz, I haven’t read all 114 comments above me, so please forgive if I end up saying some of the same things as above me. I follow you on twitter, and actually through a RT, found my way to this blog post.

    First off, I notice some of the same problems that you notice with Klout – My facebook is not scoring at all. Many pages won’t load at all. I’ve never been offered any wildly special perk – I did find Spotify through Klout, and that I count as a good find.

    My own score has gone up and down a lot lately. I’m totally puzzled by that. I’ve got these funny badges saying that I’m an influencer and a top +K recipient (definitely for the topic of Starbucks), yet my score is falling rapidly. I’ve been tweeting the same as ever for a while, and writing blog posts about Starbucks, and tweeting them, and I usually get just a handful of RTs. It doesn’t make sense.

    But putting that aside … it’s just a number, when I would look at the topic pages for a topic, I was often puzzled. They track millions of people and give you just ten top influencers for any given topic. I don’t know how you can possibly narrow it down to just ten people!

    And then the list of ten doesn’t look reliable. Nobody at Klout really looks at the list of ten and says, “Does this make sense in the context of this topic?” (Or at least it seems like no one does.)

    For the topic of Starbucks, Darcy Willson-Rymer (@Kingofcardz) has been in the top ten since the beginning of those topic pages. But he’s stopped tweeting about Starbucks. He used to be the Managing Director of Starbucks UK, and then left Starbucks for a card company. He’s tweeting about the UK, and cards now, and has been for a while. It just doesn’t make sense.

    And Jim Hanna has been in the top ten for “Starbucks” for a long long time – (@Jim_Starbucks) – Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s an awesome partner at Starbucks, but he hasn’t made a tweet of any kind since September, and his Klout score is like 24. It just makes no sense to me that he is right now one of the top ten most influential with respect to Starbucks. He’s not signed up for Klout.

    Then there is Stephen Gillett who should be on the top ten list for Starbucks influencers (@stephengillett) – That makes no sense at all… His Klout score is 51, and his real life influence is huge. He is a Starbucks executive that reports directly to Howard. He was named in Fortune magazine one of the top executives under age 40. And he does tweet about Starbucks often.

    Of course, I’d like to have a better Klout score myself … I guess I can say that. I have a nice little blog about Starbucks. :)

    But above all, the scores related to each specific topic should make sense. Doesn’t anyone look at those top ten lists and say, “Does this person really fit in here?”

    I’m sorry for the long long reply. You happen to write about a topic that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

    Thanks, Melody

  53. says

    As comment #120, I just want to say that I agree with your thoughts wholeheartedly. I opted out of Klout last week and am really enjoying seeing the — as my Klout score.
    Lessons learned:
    1. Never give control over your reputation to someone else
    2. Never give control over your reputation to someone who doesn’t share their methodology
    3. Everyone should have a Dad like you did.


  54. says

    I prefer to think of it as a game. I posted one tweet about Wikipedia’s fundraising ads, it gets RT’d a couple of times, and next thing you know, Klout things I’m influential about “Serial Killer” and “Wales”.

    Well, I didn’t want to make them wrong, so…


    I can hardly wait to see what kind of perks they want to send me for that!

  55. says

    This is probably the best Why I Opted Out post I’ve read. So thoughtful and spot on. I, too, opted out and revoked access (though my name, bio and *updated* avi are still visible AND people are still awarding me +Ks), and for so many of the same reasons as you stated.

    Great post!

  56. says

    Awesome post, Liz. My Klout Score suddenly went down from 53 to 44. I first thought this didn’t make sense. Well, I haven’t deleted my profile but I’m no longer as active as before… Now I know that if I leave Klout, it will be for the reasons in this post, not because my score has gone down :-)

  57. says

    Liz – Great overview. Too many people acted like their lives depended on getting a high score.
    I would never put my Klout score on marketing material or my resume. It does not make sense to hire a company or individual based on engagement scores based on an algorithm that is hidden in a “black box.”

    I had thought that Klout was a good idea, however I did not entirely believe the concept. I used it only directionally and only as a general guideline. I found too many people who were top SoMe engagers with low scores.

    I was able to game Klout. I tweeted and several funny jokes over a few days. And, as I expected the jokes got re-tweeted and my score went up.

    And, the perks… There is very little value vs. the time spent on Klout.

    Therefore, while I have not opted out of Klout, I only look at my score about once a week. I want to stay in so I can see what Klout is up to.

    Klout = I’m Out.

  58. says


    I loved this post not so much because of what you wrote about why you left Klout but because of what you wrote about yourself and your values. The lessons you learned from your father are so important and worth repeating:

    Don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.

    Consider the reliability of the source and what the source’s purpose might be.

    People can see what you do, not why you did it. Stick to your values and your actions will prove them true.

    I joined Klout but spent little time paying attention to it. I found my score varying some, but I’m not technologically savvy and wasn’t sure why. I figured it might simply be due to what influencers happened to connect with me at any given time. I didn’t take it too seriously. I’m glad I didn’t–and I don’t. And with so much to watch on the social networking scene, I can now simply delete my account and go on without occasionally wondering about my score. One less site to check in with…less email in my email box.

    More than that, though, I feel grateful. Grateful to know you and for the reminder you gave me about what really matters.

    Recently, I’ve had cause to remember such valuable lessons–especially the last part of the last one: Stick to your values and your actions will prove them true. It’s so important, especially in this day and age, to walk the walk, to do what we say we are going to do, and to live from our passion and our purpose. That’s when we actually have influence in the world. And when one or two people really get us and what we are doing or saying, the word will spread. We will have influence. That’s all that matters…that we touch even one person deeply. If we can do this, our influence, our clout, will spread organically.

    Again, thank you…for another great conversation. :~)

  59. says

    When an acquaintance first tempted me to Klout by telling me I was an “influencer,” my curiosity compelled me to go over to look at the site. Blogging friends began to give me influence and I felt the obligation to return it. So there I was, caught in another net, by a start-up company trying to create (false) demand for an intangible and immeasurable character/personality profile. It seemed both arbitrary and capricious.

    This article has helped me to decide to “opt out” today. I have enough to do without my identity being summarily quantified by arbitrary means and manipulated to “give back” or “get” perks.

    Like you, I also at one point found myself listed as an influencer in a category totally remote to my identity. Therefore, a falsehood.

    So today, after being listed as “Exceptionally Influential,” I’m going to leave Klout. Maybe I’ll have more time for my long-neglected blog and for all the art I still want to do!

    Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *