Have you been exploring the murky social media waters long enough that you’ve started to wonder how much power you have to influence people in cyberspace? Ever wanted to quantify how much all those pictures of your meals, pets, and witty memes affect other people? Ever wonder how your influence compares to that Facebook friend from high school you never really liked?
If you’re not one of these people, congratulations. For all the other status anxiety victims out there, there’s Klout.
Klout quantifies “influence” based upon your data from Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, FourSquare, Wikipedia, Instagram, and others in order to assign you a “Klout Score” from 1 to 100. Every Twitter user has a Klout score, but if you link Klout with your other social media accounts, you’ll be lucky enough to have Klout aggregate data about you and assign you a “more accurate” (higher) Klout Score, which you can watch over time to see what a cool and influential social media butterfly you are blooming into.
Klout’s business model is in allowing brands to reach influential users via “Perks” campaigns in which they offer free experiences or products to influential Klout users who match pre-defined criteria, including content topics and geographic locations. The hope is that influential Klout users who receive Perks will generate content about these brands in social media channels. Their customers have included Chevy, Disney, Gilt, Windows Phone, and even our own Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau.
But Klout’s influence algorithm is where it gets interesting. From Wikipedia:
“Klout scores are supplemented with three nominally more specific measures, which Klout calls “true reach,” “amplification” and “network impact.” True reach is based on the size of a user’s engaged audience who actively engage in the user’s messages. Amplification score relates to the likelihood that one’s messages will generate actions, such as retweets, mentions, likes and comments. Network impact reflects the computed influence value of a person’s engaged audience.”
Of course, considering the subjectiveness of the above and the huge amount of data being aggregated from at least eight different social networks, there is a huge amount of room for different weighting here, and it’s gotten Klout into trouble before. Klout was initially criticized for ranking Barack Obama below a number of bloggers, so they changed their algorithm so that President Obama is now ranked #1 with a score of 99. Considering that Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry all have more Twitter followers than Barack Obama (yes, this is the world we live in) and that Klout claims to reflect the “democratization of influence”, is it possible that Klout’s previous method actually reflected influence more accurately?
Naturally, there’s also an app version so that you can check your Klout score on-the-go. It’s recalculated daily, and you can set the app badge to your Klout score in order to easily check it at-a-glance before booting up the app and proudly showing your score to prospective employers or first dates. Hello, influencer!
Finally, there are a lot of evil-sounding social media taglines out there that encourage you to spam your friends, but this is one of my favorites: Use your friends to grow your influence!
No thanks, I’m good 🙂