Marketers have been trying to figure out how to harness and leverage the power of influencers for years. Now the power of influence has reached social media marketing. And the company, Klout has made a bold statement, claiming that they can calculate online influence. We are going to explore why Klout both is and isn’t the creating the standard of influence.
What is a Klout Score?
According to them, “It’s the measured influence based on your ability to drive action. Every time you create content or engage your influence others.” It uses the data from your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare and (most recently), YouTube accounts.
According to Megan Berry, Marketing Manager for Klout, “Our goal is to measure everywhere people are creating content and influencing each other online. For most Facebook is more personal and LinkedIn more professional, but we see influence happening in both platforms.”
How is it Measured?
True Reach- “The number of people you influence. We filter out spam and bots and focus on the people who are acting on your content. When you post a message, these people tend to respond or share it.”
Amplification- “is how much you influence people. When you post a message, how many people respond to it or spread it further? If people often act upon your content you have a high Amplification score.”
Network- “indicates the influence of the people in your True Reach. How often do top Influencers share and respond to your content? When they do so, they are increasing your Network score.”
Why it is Important?
Measure, measure, measure! There is great deal of pressure in the marketing world to measure social media. People are spending a lot of time validating social media to clients and probably people within their own company. Klout is a popular (and free) way to measure social influence. Sometimes, even people who don’t in believe in its merits end up recognizing it.
I believe that Klout can be a good part of a larger influence measure or score. For example, I wrote a blog post on “How Evaluate Blogs for Blogger Outreach Programs”, where I point out that companies need to identify some baselines so you can rank the blogs and see which ones are the best fit for your outreach program. Those baselines are to find bloggers who are passionate about the subjects they write about; blog metrics like PageRank, monthly site traffic and Technorati authority; evaluating bloggers subjectively to see if they fit with your brand; and other numbers bases on social media presence, like a Klout score. I think it’s ok to use Klout scores when they’re part of the puzzle or part of an overall strategy.
Why it is Not Important?
It’s not perfect. Klout provides what topics you are influential about along with a number score. I have never met a person who had “correct” or “right” influential topics. My currently influential topics are oatmeal, marketing, forums, social media, and drinks. I will take marketing and social media. Good job, Klout for getting that right! As for forums, I tweeted once about forums and now I’m influential about it? Ok? Whatever, I take it. Oatmeal is one I don’t understand. I’m actually on a low crab diet, so I have not eaten oatmeal in about six months. The only thing I can attribute to that, is sometimes I tweet about the comic website, “The Oatmeal.” The last one kind of makes me mad. Drinks? I assume it means alcoholic drinks, so I will assume the others will believe that too. I’m not much of a drinker (and if you are, each to their own) but I try to keep my Twitter and other social media sites as professional as possible because I use my Twitter account as a networking tool. It’s not the end of the world because you can hide topics, but still it’s the principle of the thing.
About 2 weeks ago, Mark Schaefer wrote on his blog about how some companies are using a job candidate’s Klout score in hiring decisions. This stirred quite a debate with over 140 comments on the blog post. If you have some time read through them, since many people made some very interesting points. Here is a part of an important comment made by Nicole Cairns:
“As for Klout’s validity, I’d like to point these two users out: @hipstermermaid has a Klout score of 77. He/She runs a parody account, is anonymous, and tweets about beer and liking music that’s more obscure than your music. @acarvin has a Klout score of 78. Andy is changing the way news is produced and social media is integrated within an organization. The fact that these two rank even on the same chart as one another, much less within one point of each other, is a serious problem.”
So, take Klout as a gain of salt. If a person has a high Klout score, make sure to look at the full picture and don’t take the score at face value. And I will give Klout props for trying to create the best possible way to score influence. Over time, I believe it will get better. But it’s not there yet. In the meantime, people should focus on creating great content and connecting with people.
And remember to follow eWayDirect on Twitter, because we need a better Klout score. Wink, wink.