Over the past year measuring your social “score” has created a lot of buzz and controversy. Sites like PeerIndex, KRED, and Klout and a number of others have come up with ways to measure your online influence . Understanding if my online content is interesting, helpful, shared, driving people to action, is valuable information. If you’ve Tweeted, posted on Facebook, used LinkedIn and blog, as more than just a way to keep in touch with friends, understanding your reach and the engagement level of those in your network is of key importance.
About six weeks ago, after hearing a lot about Klout I signed up. I was certainly interested in finding out how I measured up as a social influencer, was my content, my online presence credible and valuable to those who follow me, read my blog and are part of my network? Here is how it works; you connect your social sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress, Blogger, etc… to Klout and your influence is measured with an algorithm that uses the following three factors:
1. Your true reach – the number of people you influence. this means your connections and your connections’ connections and networks.
2. Your amplification – how much you influence people, how likely are the people in your audience will respond to your content and what you do online, i.e. do they re-tweet, like.
3. Network impact - the influence of your audience, do you interact with highly influencial people in your network, i.e. thought leaders, experts?
Based on your number of followers, network size and activity, Klout determines an individual score for the three factors and then an aggregated score for all three. The range of scores is between 1 to 100. Klout states that the an average score is 20. When I initially started using Klout my score was 15 based on my activity on Facebook alone. After monitoring my score for a few days, it dropped to 11! Was I losing influence? Indeed I was.
Understanding and maintaining your score takes work and conscious effort to keep track of the content you’ve been posting and it’s impact, have I been re-tweeted, are people commenting on my blog – with this score, it was clear that they weren’t doing so enough for me to be considered influencial. So, I added Twitter, LinkedIn and a number of other social sites that Klout can connect with and within thirty days, my score increased to 35 – I was above average now, and feeling good!
As with all social media sites, Klout has not been without controversy. What garnered the most attention was Klout’s tweaking it’s scoring algorithm in October 2011, resulting in a dramatic drop to scores. This caused much noise in celebrity and social media VIP circles. Fascinating how a score caused a flurry of blogs complaining about Klout’s algorithm and a number of questions posted to Quora on the matter – which by the way were answered by Joe Fernandez, CEO of Klout.
The whole concept of self vis-a-vis a score is a very personal thing, like one’s GPA or what you scored on the SAT, or your golf score for that matter. Your identity and personal value are tied around the score and so when it changes, as it has for many celebrities and folks who felt they were influential in their domain, it’s like a math teacher revising your test score and telling you, you failed when you previously passed, not an easy pill to swallow.
The next area of concern is that of Klout’s business model and gamification. Social metrics are everything these days. As of May 2011, two-thousand companies had purchased Klout data. From this data, companies can find influencers with high scores to approach and get them to promote and spread the message about their brand broadly, rapidly and freely to their vast networks. The Klout Perks program is exactly this. In an AdWeek article, the perks program is described as an opportunity -
that pairs high-scoring Twitter users with brands they’re likely to care about. Starbucks, Audi, Virgin America, Danone, CoverGirl, and Dove have offered free products or experience to tweeters identified by Klout for their interest in the topic, their geography, and of course their influence. They’re not required to tweet about it, but odds are, they will.
The time for deep social metrics is ripe. While for now, it seems like a novelty and the gaming aspect of getting recognition and a perk for a high score has some appeal, Joe Fernandez says he wants to turn Klout into a tool that is “helping people get jobs, helping them get better customer service” and “leverage their influence”.
Since its launch, there have been a lot of interesting stories, true or not, of how people are using their Klout scores. Rumours about Klout scores showing up on resumes, on people’s profiles and companies using them as a screening tools. While these are probably for the most part not true, you can see where a social score could go.
While becoming a high level influencer, like getting the high score on my favourite video game is certainly something that in the back of my mind I quietly aspire to, for now watching, improving and measuring from the sidelines how my simple content, comments and ideas influence others is enough to keep me busy for a while.
Will you find out how much Klout you have?