Klout or How (not) to measure Influence


For the last few years, much of the buzz around customer loyalty has been about Net Promoter Score (NPS) – in short, a single-score indicator for how effective an advocate of your brand customers are likely to be.
Companies have been encouraged to use regular NPS score assessment as a proxy for determining how well their overall customer experience is performing. The theory goes that customers who give firms high NPS ratings are influential in a positive way, by recommending the company to others (as well as remaining loyal themselves). Conversely, low-scoring NPS customers bad-mouth your brand, and so create negative influence.

Now comes Klout.
Klout is a social-media scoring site, with the ambition of supporting businesses seeking influential consumers. The idea is that Klout tracks who has strong followings on Twitter and Facebook, and creates a score out of 100, where a high score = high influence (for more details on how the Klout score is calculated, see http://klout.com/kscore
Companies then use the Klout score to offer special deals and goodies to ‘influential’ people, in the hope that these powerful social bloggers will then include their firm in future tweets and blogs.
Examples of Klout in action are Virgin America offering free flights, Starbucks bestowing free samples and the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas throwing in extra perks – all to those who score high with Klout.

However, for me at least, Klout has a few inherent problems. Unlike NPS, which tracks customer view on a particular brand experience, Klout judges influence across the board. One might be prolific and widely respected for tweets on who offers great coffee, but does that influence necessarily carry over when they comment on their favourite soap powder ?
And Klout sets great importance upon how many people re-tweet your wise words….but only if they follow protocol and reference you. If they simply repeat your thought without doing so, their Klout score might grow, but yours won’t. Besides, I’ve read many re-tweets aimed at ridicule, rather than respect – how is this judged by Klout ?

Ultimately, Klout is an interesting idea, and may well improve.
But right now, I’d sooner put my faith in NPS as a way of assessing and acting upon influencers.

Which would you choose ?