As LinkedIn Passes 1 Billion Profile Endorsements, Has Klout Stagnated?

Klout, the company that calculates your individual influence score based on your engagement on various social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, feels stagnant. To make matters worse, last week TechCrunch reported that LinkedIn’s new endorsements feature is kicking serious butt. From the article:

“Today, LinkedIn is announcing that Endorsements has passed the 1 billion milestone — with 58 million members getting recognition on their profiles for different areas of expertise, according to a blog post from Peter Rusev. The marker is a sign that, were LinkedIn so inclined, it could likely give sites likes Klout, which measure influencer status, a run for their money.” – read full article on TechCrunch

I logged into Klout for the first time in months today, and it felt like a veritable ghost town. Not only have my friends stopped talking about it or sharing their scores in the past few months, but according to Alexa the website is showing slowly declining traffic at a stage when it should be growing — losing most of the ground it appears to have gained since early 2011.

On the other hand, their Facebook app monthly and daily active user data suggests they’ve recently had some growth following a long plateau period – so maybe people are just more active with Klout on mobile?

So What’s Going On?

Klout offers users perks, which are special offers and coupons brands want to give to people with certain behaviors or demographic information. The idea is that I will test out these products and then talk to my friends about them. In the past I’ve been offered awesome perks like a free Nike Fuel Band or free 3-day test drive of the Acura ILX, but logging into is a lot less exciting. My perks include a $5 McDonalds card, $15 off Chilis, and a free Norton Mobile Security pack ($30 value) among others.

Back in the early days when that was a thing I connected my Facebook and Twitter accounts to Klout because I was curious about my “score” (a number 1 to 100 which tells you how influential you are relative to others), and when they launched their iPhone app I installed it. Now I get mobile push notifications when my score goes up and down and often tap the alert to check it out – which I guess makes me an “active” for that day or month. I’m pretty sure Klout’s sales team goes to big brands and sells them on accessing these active users with their offers… but is it really working?

Doing the Math

According this January 2012 funding announcement the company was pre-revenue at that time.

The company has more than 4,000 API partners, up from around 100 in early 2010. And it has indexed north of 100 million public profiles. A few million people have actively registered on in order to tie their various social profiles together (and boost their Klout scores). reported by TechCrunch

Sources confirm that the company is now doing paid deals and brought on a COO over the summer of 2012 to focus on ramping revenue and improving operational efficiency.

Brand partnerships with McDonald’s and others probably pay healthy sums (I’m thinking $50-100k month per month or engagement), but if my perks are any indication the offerings to consumers aren’t particularly compelling.

Klout has raised $40M raised to date, including a strategic investment from Microsoft about 6 months ago. The company is 5 years old with around 80 full time employees. With a big beautiful office, daily catered meals and a substantial sales and biz dev team I could easily see them burning $1M+ a month ($10k per employee fully loaded + $200k G&A), which means they could be nearing halfway through the $30M raised in early 2012.

What Do You Think?

Do you regularly use Klout to track your personal influence (daily, weekly, monthly)? Have you worked with them to do a brand placement reaching influencers and seen meaningful ROI? Is the future bright for paid promotions to social media influencers? Let me know why or why not in the comments.

Danielle is an early Klout adopter, her score is 69.


  • Shawn

    I never really bought into the Klout concept.

    When I first signed up, I kept going back every few days to see what had changed, but never felt the need to spam my Twitter feed with +Ks.

    LinkedIn’s endorsement feature is much nicer, with one big exception. I find it hard to trust:

    LinkedIn added this nice dialog to the top of the screen after you login asking you if you’d like to endorse your connections for _____ skill. It usually shows them in a grid of 4 connections, and gives a nice button to click to easily give these endorsements.

    My own personal experience has been that people will click this button, having no clue whether or not their connection actually has any competency in the skill being endorsed.

    So in the end… maybe Klout is better. But can it outlive LinkedIn…?

  • Nick Allen

    From a European perspective I don’t think it’s the indirect competitor LinkedIn. Peerindex have sent me a number of peerperks over the last months. 10 free online videos, Guinness cups, signed photos and 8quarts of milk!

    Their sales team aren’t getting companies to offer compelling perks here or anywhere. The peerindex guys followed up with me too asking for feedback on the products and a cheeky share. Kred are also trying to get into the space and making some inroads. So yeah, without an update or gimmic to bring us back to inflate visits Klout could be facing problems mid year. Maybe a more pronounced update about claiming searches in Bing (I know) could help a little. But Klout needs a version update, not an incremental release! Is that enough though?

  • Chris

    Like Shawn I too used Klout when it first came out so that I could get feedback on how I was interacting with people online. But after a while I realised that Klout doesn’t really measure influence it measures amplitude. If it were a person it would be insufferable, going around the room telling everyone how they compared with one another and then not telling them why or how they could improve.

    While I acknowledge indexing is something we all do offline I think there’s an important reason why we don’t tell those around what we think of them on a scale of 1-10 for various attributes. Even if Reputation systems like Klout could capture all of the context required to make their numbers meaningful the fact is that the only time I rely on references is when I leave my network. A reputation system is only needed between strangers and even then we’re pretty good at forming estimations ourselves based on intuition. (This part of my argument is the weakest).

    Re LinkedIn they suffer a big dirty data problem. The endorsements are past tense, decontextual and users intention is undermined by the persistent requests for confirmation every time a profile is viewed.

    Trust is scarce right now and I believe these products are a response to that. But computers aren’t so good at emotional intelligence, they are good at persisting data accurately over time, automating repetitive often complex tasks etc.

    And then I have to ask: why are my Klout and Kred scores so different? One of them’s lying, they can’t both be right.

  • James Moore

    I signed up for Klout a long time ago and have completely ignored it since then.

    But I also think LI endorsements are a joke. People just hit the bulk OK button a few times when they see that box.

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