Klout scores have started to find their way into job postings by otherwise reputable companies attempting to find individuals to help run their online communities. This sounds, on the surface, like the company is making an effort to find someone who is willing to back up their credentials with some actual evidence of effort and ability, but the implications of trusting a service like Klout to help you pick your candidates doesn’t sit well with me at all.

I have a lot of respect for the people behind Klout. It has encouraged people (and brands) to step up their online efforts and promote pull over push, but the score itself holds little value to me.

In fact, I could probably get a higher score if I spent less time doing what I’m supposed to do and more time talking to people on Facebook and Twitter about Klout, playing FarmVille, and sending out every single photo I take throughout the day.

Klout, like any social algorithm, doesn’t understand context as well as we might think it does. It doesn’t know if the individual earning the high score is getting it because they’re being creative or particularly influential. What it knows is that your tweets get retweeted and you reply to people on a regular basis. There is a lot more to social media management than that.

Klout is More of a Game Than a Serious Business Measurement

Klout is kind of a game. You compete with your friends and family to see who can get the highest score. I’m constantly comparing my Klout score with associates to see what makes that number go up or down. It’s a lot like Empire Avenue in that regard. Like Klout, Empire Avenue rewards you (and your investors) based on your activity and engagement levels across various social networks. Your share price generally reflects a combination of your social engagement and ability to invest wisely.

Rejecting someone’s application based on their Klout score would be like turning down a football coach because their fantasy football team didn’t place well. You don’t see the candidate’s previous client’s social accounts on that score, nor do you see whether or not they’ve actually linked all of their social accounts.

You get a boost in Klout for using Flickr, Instagram, and Blogger. Let’s get real here, folks: not every community manager is going to have an excellent YouTube account or Instagram feed.

Are Companies Really Doing This?

Yes. Companies are actually starting to add Klout to their list of requirements and/or recommended prerequisites.

I’m going to call out one particular job posting that was later tweeted about by Klout’s CEO. Salesforce.com is looking for a new community manager. Under the list of desired skills is a Klout score of at least 35.

I’m pointing out Salesforce because, to its credit, the more important requirements for the position were spot on with what I would recommend for any company seeking someone to manage its social assets. Written and verbal communication skills, a proven track record of success, and years of experience are all listed under the top requirements.

I can understand why Salesforce would ask for a Klout score as a desired skill. Klout has gained a reputation for being the most well-known social measurement service out there. In a world of business where success can be measured, this new world of social media is a tough nut to crack. Analysts love numbers and there really aren’t any solid numbers to go by in this market. Follower counts are almost meaningless, and the same might be said for retweet numbers and comments. Your real influence comes down to how many people you can convert into fans of a brand.

Klout is certainly worth keeping in mind. Anyone who hopes to build a career around social engagement and community management should absolutely keep a close eye on Klout. It’s becoming the big deciding factor for many employers out there who have no other solid resource of measurement to turn to. My big fear is that someone’s actual ability could be overlooked in favor of a score that may or may not reflect that individual’s actual achievements.

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