Let’s put it out there right now: I am personally not a fan of Klout, which ranks people based on their Internet interactions and engagement on services like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. I have nothing against the company whatsoever, and this is a vertical that someone was going to get into sooner or later.
However, I still feel like the whole concept is bunk.
I came across a tweet by Klout CEO Joe Ferndandez the other day and it really bothered me:
This is something that I’ve feared for a long time, that companies would seriously consider a candidate’s Klout score before hiring them. I understand doing background checks to make sure that someone isn’t a convicted murderer and checking on a GPA to get an idea of how someone did in school. Fine, I get that. However, since nobody really knows how Klout scores are calculated, these numbers mean absolutely nothing to me.
Why should they mean something to a company like Salesforce? I have no idea. The job that Salesforce was hiring for was “Community Manager.” Some have argued that looking at someone’s Klout score is perfectly reasonable since that person should have a firm grasp on how Internet services and social networking works. However, in my experience, the smartest marketing, customer service, and community folks don’t really use these services to build a “personal brand.” They just do good work.
You see, what we know about Klout is that they consider your online activity, like tweeting, in a way that is only somewhat scientific. The system was gamed in the past and will probably be gamed in the future. Based on who follows you on Twitter, who tweets at you, what you tweet about and who retweets you, your Klout score goes up. That means that you spend a lot of time tweeting from your own personal account, which doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a focused, hard-working team player.
Let’s take a look at the Salesforce job description, and just so you know, these positions have been filled. So, sorry. First, the video at the top of the job description:
Ok, so this guy is a pro. He wants to hire the best. I get it. Here’s the snippet of the job description that mentions Klout (notes are mine):
– Knowledge and use of social media/social networks considered an asset (Of course, good thinking!)
– Ability to work independently and as a part of a team (Definitely. Smart ask.)
– Experience with Radian6, video, photography considered an asset (This is pretty smart to ask for.)
– Klout Score of 35 or higher (I’m sorry, WHAT?)
Make no mistake about it, whether you hook up your social presence to Klout or not, the company is collecting a ridiculous amount of information about you. Valuable information, in fact. This is information that is “sold” to companies to give you “perks” and rewards. Klout calls it targeting, but I call it creepy.
When it comes to hiring someone, I find it absurd to even mention something like Klout in a job description. In fact, if someone has worked in this industry for a while, they shouldn’t even consider working for a company that has a job description like this. At least, that’s what I would advise. It’s a lazy metric to look at, it’s unscientific, and it gives Klout more power than they deserve.
Again, great people work there, but this is just getting into very dangerous territory if you ask me. If someone doesn’t know what goes into the algorithm that makes their Klout score, it will always feel too low to them. They will always feel like less of a “professional” since other people have higher scores. That’s bullshit, because people can do awesome things when you least expect it.
Will Salesforce hire Community Managers with a Klout score less than 35? I don’t know. Can someone even have a Klout score lower than 35? I have no idea. Is this legal? I don’t know. Should it be? I don’t think so.
Just so you know, my Klout score is like 80 and I don’t know what it means. The hiring manager at Salesforce in that video above? 64. Does that make me smarter than him? More talented? Should I replace him? Should he be replaced by someone with a higher Klout score? NO! Of course not. Because it’s a worthless number.
That number won’t be worthless if companies jump on this bandwagon, though. I am warning hiring managers, don’t do this to yourselves. Don’t be naive. Don’t put so much trust into one metric from one company. Do your due diligence and find the BEST people who will be a great addition to your team.
Numbers are numbers, people are people. People make companies win.
P.S. Using tools on the Internet isn’t rocket science, but being a real asset to a company is.
UPDATE: Klout CEO Joe Fernandez came to TechCrunch HQ to talk about this topic.
[Facepalm Photo Credit: Flickr photographer MYRTTI]