Professor Grades Marketing Students Based on Their Klout Scores

Klout Scores

Sparking controversy among education technology experts, Todd Bacile, a professor who teaches Electronic Marketing at Florida State University, has announced that he will be using Klout scores to help determine student grades (

What Is Klout?

Klout is a website that measures an individual’s social media influence. Klout scores range from 1 to 100 and measure user influence on a variety of social media platforms, including Twitter, Google+, Foursquare, and LinkedIn. Bacile decided to take Klout scores into account when grading students, because he wanted to prepare them for the real-world workplace.

According to a US News article, three marketing managers have told Bacile that they consider Klout scores an important hiring metric. One marketing agency’s hiring manager states that the minimum Klout score a college student can have to be considered for an internship at the agency is 35. Most of Bacile’s digital marketing students have Klout scores ranging from 15 to 25.

Starting this fall, Bacile decided to create a class project in which the final grade is solely determined by one’s Klout score. The project teaches students about Klout and shows them how to engage others via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. The assignment is truly hands-on in nature, requiring students to apply social media strategies and concepts in order to raise their Klout scores, and may also help students land jobs and internships in digital marketing.

Quality Over Quantity

The idea behind raising your Klout score isn’t just to accumulate a large following. Students who have succeeded in improving their Klout scores in Bacile’s program participate in a variety of activities, from asking thought leaders relevant questions to creating content that attracts viewers and comments. Bacile’s project has proven to be enjoyable for students, who compete with their peers in a friendly way to effectively engage others. These skills are exactly what firms hiring social media marketing interns and entry-level digital marketers are looking for.

Is Klout a Useful or Useless Metric?

While Bacile sees his project as a fun and interesting way to teach students social media marketing skills, critics scoff at the idea of grading students based on their Klout scores, because it’s difficult to judge success or failure based on a single data point. Furthermore, Klout’s algorithm is a trade secret, so no one outside of the company can determine exactly how Klout scores are calculated.

Klout is still a new, emerging platform, so who’s to say that it’s entirely accurate? Bacile and the marketing agencies that utilize Klout scores should also take a variety of other metrics into account. A Klout score may be a helpful social media indication, but it is in part, a vanity metric that should not be a baseline gauge for a potential employee’s worth.