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Some thoughts on online influence and Klout

Does my Klout score have any Kred?

Some thoughts on online influence

via ibegyourparton.co.uk by James Parton

A ton has been written recently about the current craze around influence scoring. Klout in particular has been under the spotlight for attempting to summarise a person’s social influence down to a single number.

Should we care about our scores?

Well personally I’m torn, so here is my brain dump.

Yes, my influence score will be on my CV…

As a marketing manager I’m constantly being asked to quantify the work I do. A lot of my personal time, and that of my team, is spent online engaging existing and prospective customers, and networking with various “influencers” that can help raise awareness of what we are trying to achieve.

It can be difficult to measure the effectiveness of this activity, so you could argue any metric is better than no metric, especially if you can directly compare your performance to that of your competitors.

In addition, social media is so noisy it is hard to cut through with marketing messages. Not every company can afford to build their own bespoke influencer lists. Therefore to have at least a clue on who is allegedly influential on a particular topic is a much better place to start from, rather than just shooting in the dark.

From a personal perspective, you should never under estimate the value of personal brand. In the ultra competitive jobs market I expect candidates to bring anything that helps distinguish them from the pack.

I’m also convinced brands will increasingly target people with higher than average scores for targeted promotions. In the future this could unlock special offers (Klout and Peer Index are experimenting with perks) or even drive direct revenue for individuals.

For example:

If User A can demonstrate they are considerably more influential than User B on a particular topic, industry or to a certain community that a brand wants to reach, then why shouldn’t User A be able to capitalise on that?  The Advertiser would achieve a better return focusing their marketing efforts on User A vs. User B, so isn’t that a win win situation?

In the future individuals should have personal rate cards, with influential individuals having a higher placement rates, and also getting a slice of the Ad revenues being served up to them.

Finally, I see so many messages across my social networks each and everyday, so maybe I do need an additional “influence filter” to help me either consciously or sub consciously remove some of the noise, and focus in on thought leaders if I’m pressed for time?

No, an algorithm can never measure my worth…

A lot of the controversy behind these services is the opaque methodology used to calculate the scores. There is also the constant criticism that the scores can be gamed. Indeed I have compared the activity of people I know intimately, and I must admit I remained baffled by the scores. People with seemingly small networks outscore people with considerable audiences. I’m a believer in quality over quantity, but that can’t explain some of the anomalies I have seen.

Of course these scores are also unable to measure the influence people have away from social media. Believe it or not a lot of people kick ass outside of Twitter ;-) Kred is one of the first to attempt to bring this activity into its profiling by inviting users to upload “offline” evidence of “Kred” like qualifications, memberships, awards and other achievements.

I have installed the Klout Chrome extension which displays people’s Klout scores next to their tweets, plus the eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed I have recently added my Kred badge to this blog (to the left).

Should I care what a persons Klout score is when reading their tweets, isn’t everyone’s opinion equal? Everyone has to start somewhere right?

Does the Kred badge add credibility to me and my blog, or is it a meaningless distraction?

Gamification

The most innovative and fun of all these services is Empire Avenue. EA combines influence scoring with a stock market style game mechanic where you can buy and sell shares in “influencers” – if their social media influence rises, so does their share price, and you make virtual money off of your investment in them. I’ve been playing EA for nearly a year, and I love it.

Anyway, as I continue to experiment you can find me on a selection of these services:

Klout

PeerIndex

Kred

Empire Avenue

To take a deeper look into the topic, check out this paper from Altimeter:

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