Is Klout a Threat to Democracy?

Klout expert Gina Carr helps businesses and individuals understand Klout.

Are you a Klout fan?

A recent article by Lauren Fisher, the founder of digital marketing agency Simply Zesty, caught my attention.  Since I am a big fan of the social scoring company Klout, I was intrigued by the title:  “Klout & The Threat To Democracy.”

This article was written in response to a recent promotion by American Airlines in which the carrier partnered with Klout to provide a special one day VIP pass to its network of premium lounges all around the world.  This “Klout Perk” was offered to individuals with Klout Scores over 55.

Though well written and insightful, I think that two of Ms. Fisher’s fundamental premises are flawed.  In her article, she suggests that:

1. People with a high Klout score “have a constant access to technology that will enable you to undertake activities that contribute to this score.”

2. “We have a growing gap between those people that get to use technology and the internet frequently – and know how to use it to their advantage – and those that don’t.”

I don’t know how things work in the UK where Ms. Fisher is based, but in the US, access to technologies like Twitter and Facebook – the primary basis for the Klout Score – is FREE! Anyone with access to a smartphone has access to these tools – anytime, anywhere.

If someone doesn’t have a smartphone, we even have a thing called libraries where people can use the internet absolutely free!  Of course, that means they might miss a couple of episodes of American Idol or Days of Our Lives!

According to a recent article in Latinos Post: “The Pew Internet and American Life Project released a study on Wednesday confirming what seemed to be an inevitability in modern American life: more Americans own smartphones than those who don’t. Of those surveyed, about 56 percent overall could be classified as smartphone owners, and when the study was broken down into demographics, Hispanics helped lead the trend with 60 percent smartphone ownership, though accounting for the margin of error puts both statistics on par with each other.”

The last time I was in London, I was surprised at how many teens were glued to their smartphones using Facebook.

Thus, the truth is that even the “underprivileged” can easily have a high Klout Score. In fact, Klout is a great leveling tool which is a great enhancement to Democracy.  In reality, people who have no CLOUT can have a lot of KLOUT.

For the first time in history, FREE tools like blogging, Facebook, and Twitter make it possible for people with NO resources, NO education, and NO special access to reach the world – sharing their talents & message. This can catapult a person into celebrity-hood (ala Justin Bieber) or even get them elected to a high political office.

Much like a bathroom scale is to someone wanting to lose weight, Klout is simply a tool for measuring social media effectiveness. I find it extremely helpful to gauge my social media efforts and those of my clients.

Further, as a marketing consultant, I find it to be an incredibly helpful tool for identifying people who might be interested in my clients’ products and services. Though not a client of mine, the Chevrolet Volt Klout Perk campaign is a great example of how a company can filter through a noise world – using a tool like Klout – to find people who are likely to be great product advocates.

In this campaign, Chevrolet was able to offer a free trial of the new Chevy Volt. Because of Klout, they were able to identify people who were:

1. influential online (that is, they had an audience that listened to them),

2. were environmentally conscious, and

3. were especially interested in cars.

This ability to filter the citizens of the world is an enormous advantage to a company. It also provides a gateway to people who would never have had such opportunities in the past.

When big companies like Sony, Disney, Nike, & Microsoft pay attention to Klout, I pay attention too. In fact, according to Klout’s blog, they have “delivered one million Perks to Klout users from over 400 brands.

Although I have never worked for Klout, I have studied the company, social scoring, and influence marketing extensively. I have co-authored a book on the subject for McGraw-Hill (Klout Matters:  How to Engage Customers, Build Digital Influence, and…Raise Your Klout Score, to be released Fall 2013) and I consult with people who want to improve their ability to engage their customers, enhance their digital image, and…(in the process) raise their Klout Score.

I hope that people will dig into the benefits of this field of social scoring and influence marketing.  Klout is not the only social scoring company.  Other companies pioneering this field include Kred, Appinions, and PeerIndex.

In a noisy world, people need tools to filter out what is important. Tools like Klout and Kred help do that. This is just the beginning of a social scoring movement that will indeed “democratize” the world by creating powerful citizen influencers.

If you like talking about Klout, I invite you to join my private Facebook Group that is dedicated solely to that.  Just click here and ask to join.  It is a great place to ask questions about Klout, share advice, and learn about social scoring.


Copyright 2013 Gina Carr International  (be sure to include the word, the year, and your company)

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR PRINTED PUBLICATION, E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? To republish this article, please include the following:

Posted by Gina Carr. Dean of the Social Buzz University and co-author of the forthcoming Klout Matters: How to Engage Customers, Boost Your Digital Influence and Raise Your Klout Score for Success (published by McGraw-Hill, Fall 2013). Gina is a popular social media marketing speaker at events, trade shows, and corporations around the world.  Find out more about how Gina can help you build your online reputation at


Related Articles & Links:

Klout and the Threat to Democracy

Hispanic Smartphone Ownership Higher Than The National Average

1 Million Perks

Chevy Volt – Klout Recap

Klout Matters:  How to Engage Customers, Build Digital Influence, and…Raise Your Klout Score

Klout Perks Takes NYC Influencers to Microsoft’s Windows8 Microtropolis

Gina’s Facebook Group Focused on Klout



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Gina Carr
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Gina Carr

Gina Carr works with business leaders who want to get more great reviews and fewer bad ones. A serial entrepreneur and business growth expert, she has an MBA from the Harvard Business School and an engineering degree from Georgia Tech. Gina is the co-author of the McGraw-Hill book, Klout Matters - How to Engage Customers, Increase Digital Influence, and Raise Your Klout Score for Success. Schedule a free strategy session today to learn easy ways for you to get more great reviews ... and, more great customers!
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Filed Under: Influence MarketingKloutSocial Scoring


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  1. Steve Ruffley says:

    Klout will remain credible as long as it remains true to its own core values. It’s fine to adjust Justin Bleeperface to have lesser ‘Klout’ than the leader of the free world… but where does that stop? Does Nike have more reason to be better rated than Reebok? Ultimately the world and the consumer will dictate this argument. Where there is a battle for market dominance there will be a demand for an edge. I don’t think anyone can deny having a god Klout score is an edge. Will this be a way to tamper with online democracy? No, well unless you live in China. Like you say Gina – it is a tool to measure social interaction and reach based on a set algorithm. The effort you put into ‘playing the Klout game’ is up to you.

    • Gina Carr Gina Carr says:


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    • Gina Carr Gina Carr says:

      The good news is that when you are “playing the Klout game,” you are actually doing things that you SHOULD DO as a good social media citizen – sparking engagement, interacting with friends. Thanks, Steve.

  2. George Iacovacci says:

    I agree with your article Gina, everywhere you go there is more and more free Internet and everyone seems to have a smartphone to access social media sites.

    Companies like Google and Samsung have chromebooks that cost $200-$250 and do almost everything a person would need online. Smartphone prices are dropping and sales expanding even further across the globe. My friends in the UK tell me more people use smartphone there than in the U.S. Free access is growing everywhere.

    Facebook has over a billion users, twitter more than 500 million and Google+ is growing close to 500 million users maybe more by the time I finish writing this And like you wrote, its all free. With the growth of just these social media sites not including the huge growth of other international social media outlets I feel its just the opposite of what she wrote. Free access to Klout, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and the lower prices of devices plus the ease of use as demonstrated by the huge number of users gives the “underprivileged” more freedom and expands democracy. Just my quick thought.

    • Gina Carr Gina Carr says:

      Well said, George. I have a little Chromebook. It is a POWERFUL piece of machinery. Mine was a actually a gift so I really got it for a good price!

      • George Iacovacci says:

        I agree, its a terrific device. I have one and love it as a second computer when on the go, replaced my travel laptop.

  3. Lynne says:

    The use of smartphones is ever growing and with free internet more and more people have access to information. We can also see that even those underpriveleged can have access to internet which means free information.

  4. Karla Campos says:

    That is pretty much how everything works. Not everyone can get a college education, not everyone can own a million dollar home and not everyone will have access to the internet. These things are available to those who have the resources and/or are willing to put in the work to get the resources. Even to get human services people have to fill out applications which requires knowing how to read and write or having the resource of someone who knows how to do this. If you don’t have internet access and you don’t put in the work of walking to library where there is access then you are not going to be influential online. Just my two cents on how democracy works here in the US.

  5. Sharon O'Day says:

    If anything, Gina, the internet has become The Great Equalizer. Not just within a particular country, but across all boundaries. My work takes me to some pretty out-of-the-way places and some even seemed to be faster adopters than we were! So, no, there’s nothing elitist about resources like Klout!

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