How influential are you?

Influence is a powerful currency in society, but it’s always been difficult to quantify and measure in a meaningful way. However, sites like Klout and PeerIndex are doing their very best to provide us with scores that demonstrate how influential we are online through our personal social networks.

My Klout Score increased to 50 for the first time today; the mid-way point in a measure from 1-100 (apparently the average score is 20). But what does this actually mean? Well, to me it suggests that the work I do is having the desired effect, encouraging others to:

Klout Profile

Ok, but what other purpose does Klout serve? Klout’s business model is to offer a free service to users and obtain payment/sponsorship from businesses that wish to offer Klout ‘Perks’ to people with a certain level of influence. So, I may well start to be sent more promotions from now on but unfortunately at the moment they all seem to be aimed at US-based consumers.

Of more interest to me is the way that I (and others have already started doing) can use my Klout Score to demonstrate to my employer, potential clients and business partners that I have a higher than average ‘social influence’ which they can benefit from in return.

One downside to this is the fact that very few businesses understand what the Klout Score actually is. Another is that Klout is still in Beta phase which means that changes and improvements to their algorithm can sometimes result in a temporary reduction of some people’s score. However, Klout is a cool tool and I can only see it’s importance grow in the coming year as more people start to use it and recognise it as a way to validate someone’s influence, particularly those who work in digital marketing / social media (like myself).

One caveat. There are many people whose Klout Score is very low, but you know in real life they are hugely influential, just not online in social networks. A personal example of this would be my uncle, a local councillor who is extremely well-connected and influential, making good things happen for his community each and every day – yet he isn’t on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other type of social network. He made a very valid point to me over Christmas when he said that our family gathering was the greatest type of ‘social network’ known to man. Very true and worth remembering when you start using tools like Klout. Nothing ever beats meaningful, face-to-face, human interaction.

3 thoughts on “How influential are you?

  1. Rex Williams Reply

    Nice work, Paul. That is an interesting discussion.

    I think it’s a great idea, in concept, to try and put a measurement on something so significant and powerful as influence, because if you want to make anything better, then you have to know when you are getting better, and therefore, have some kind of measurement.

    But the problem is that as soon as you have a measurement, then it’s too easy to focus on the measurement itself rather than on the core activity that is supposed to cause the measurement to increase.

    It sounds like you could increase your Klout score by doing certain things, like asking for likes, etc. But if we really want to increase our influence, then maybe we ought to do more things like your uncle.

    You could say that his Klout score is low because he doesn’t spend time in the digital space, but I still think you could use his methods in the digital space to increase your Klout. Think about someone like Seth Godin, I’ve never once seen him ask me for a ‘like’, but there are sure a lot of people who like him.

  2. Paul Lancaster Reply

    Hey, thanks for reading & commenting Rex! Y’know you’re absolutely right. There’s a downside to putting a measurement on things and it’s hard not to get obsessed with stats and scores. The people behind Klout (and all the other big social media sites) are smart guys and know what they’re doing when it comes to psychology, giving users regular little rewards to keep them coming back. I must admit that it’s become a little addictive checking my Klout score to see if it’s going up, and I did feel a little deflated/cheated when it dropped suddenly after their recent changes. But, I understand what they’re doing and how it all works and am still interested in how it can be used in a professional capacity. Luckily I still get the chance to help people offline in the real world which is by far my favourite part of work 🙂

  3. [...] There are still many people who don’t see the point of Klout and why your score should matter, but...

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