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The Digital Skeptic: Klout, Even With Microsoft, Scores Zero in Social Media

Stocks in this article: FBLNKDMSFT

There is Hollis Tibbets, an independent software marketing and technology consultant who wrote a hilarious post about how he created a fake social-media persona with minimal Facebook and Twitter presences yet still earned a Klout score of 37 -- enough to get that Salesforce job posted to LinkedIn. There is a robot called Curiosity Rover -- you know, the space thingie driving around on Mars -- that has a score of 84, just 6 points less than Mitt Romney's 91 and double the 49 assigned to the misspelled "Mitt Romeny," who also claims to be a robot.

A 49, incidentally, that is equal to an another account named Warren Buffett who has to be one of the most influential people on the planet.

But wait, there is another Klout profile, again for Warren Buffett, that shows a score of 77. Of course, there is no way to confirm any of these scores, so who knows what's actually happening here.

Which is, of course, the point.

Even more interesting, even though the company does not comment officially on its calculations, if you listen carefully to its public statements you'll hear execs quietly acknowledge that Klout is very much a work in progress. Take a look at this fascinating video of CEO Joe Fernandez as an interviewer asks him what a 35 score actually means.

"Is there a best practice?" Fernandez said to TechCrunch's Drew Olanoff, referring to things the company could do to better define how a score is derived. "That is probably something we should be working on."

Not enough investor clout
All this leads to a rank investor ranking for Klout. What makes Klout not just another dubious social media parlor trick is, of course, its deal with Microsoft, but to these tired eyes Redmond is yet again dabbling in a dangerous digital distraction just as it begins what is the most critical product launch in a decade -- the rollout to Windows 8.

If Klout could explain how it does its thing, that would be one thing. But considering the company's reticence, the dubious results and what lies ahead for Microsoft, my take from testing Klout is that it simply should not rank with investors.

This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.
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