With rollout of new version next month, Klout CEO wants to ‘get it right’

The last time Klout changed its social influence algorithms, the Internet erupted with criticism. But with the upcoming rollout of its next version, it seems the company is planning to tread more carefully.

CEO Joe Fernandez told me that starting early July, some groups might start seeing the latest version of Klout, which he said was a “very significant” update. But, noting the backlash to the changes the company made to its algorithms last fall, he emphasized that they’re “being very thoughtful” about how it alerts users to the new changes.

“We want to make sure that we’re rolling this out in way that we’re providing the information needed for people to understand their Klout scores,” he said. “We want to get it right.”

Speaking at the Big Boulder social data conference in Boulder, Colo., earlier today, he hinted that the new version will start to look a person’s “real world influence.”

“If you’re not active in social or [not] very active, but you’re really influential in the offline world, it’s not going to be reflected in Klout. But that is the big thing in our next release, in the algorithm,” he said. “It will be our first step in tackling offline. It’s a meaningful step, but it’s a first step.”

As people create more and more data about themselves, including offline data as captured by mobile devices, the company plans to ingest it in their attempt to “index the world’s influence,” he said.

Another focus of the next release, he said, is giving users the tools and insights to help them understand what their scores mean, which content of theirs is getting the most reaction from their network and how they can improve their scores.

“My hope is that you should see your Klout score every day and know exactly why your Klout score changed and [get] more granularity on them,” he told me.

While the company hasn’t disclosed the number of people who have claimed their Klout profiles, Fernandez said it was in the millions and is growing. The first quarter of this year was the company’s best quarter yet, he said, but Klout added more people in May than they added in the whole first quarter.

As the company strikes Klout Perks deals with big brands like Cathay Pacific, Disney and American Express, he said Klout is getting more mainstream attention. Earlier this week, Klout announced that since July 2010, it’s delivered almost 700,00 Perks through partnerships with more than 300 brands.

Despite its momentum, the company continues to weather criticism over the accuracy of its scores and how it measures influence.

But Fernandez emphasized that they’ve only just begun. The company has spent so much time and effort ingesting and analyzing the data, that they haven’t really built the product, he said.

“I think we’re about 2 minutes into the first quarter, even though we’re four years into the future from when we started,” he said.