This week influence measurement tool Klout announced full integration with the professional social network LinkedIn. Already measuring influence on Twitter and Facebook, the San Francisco based company claims to measure a person’s ability to drive action.
Klout is an opt-in service that rates, well, your social media clout on a scale from zero to 100.
Some comments on Twitter ranged from the excited “It’s here!” to “LinkedIn now integrates with a high school popularity contest?” The fact is that I’ve been seeing jobs are requiring Klout measurements above certain levels, so I’m glad Klout Marketing Manager Megan Berry was nice to answer my questions. Naturally, I wanted to see their data formula (you can’t blame a guy for trying) – but she did help clear some things up.
Could Klout differentiate a really popular high school student in social media from an up-and-coming professional? “What we do is look not only at volume of actions but at the influence level of those sending them,” according to Berry. “Getting RTed [retweeted, or resent] by an industry thought leader is worth much more than getting retweeted by someone who just joined Twitter.”
The most important element in social media is relevant content. It is what resonates with your followers – original thoughts, sharing what you know with your flavor and consistency. These elements are also important to the service.
“We judge content by the way people react to it — if they want to share it with their own networks that is a signal that it is influential content. That being said, we do not value content over, for example, particle physics as being inherently better than content about model trains — we let the social signals tell the story for us.”
I share my content differently. For example, there won’t be much humor in my LinkedIn feed, but there may be some in my Twitter feed. My Facebook feed is fairly private, but that’s where I share all my sarcasm and LOLcats. Because this is more private, I had to ask Megan if that privacy would hurt my Klout score.
“Connecting a new network will not hurt your score but you may see very little difference for adding that network. We understand not everyone is active on every network and do not penalize people for that fact.”
This cleared up some misconceptions about Klout. As a marketing data analyst, I have a natural distrust of numbers when I cannot audit the formula. I realize that even if their formula had trademark protection (which it may), it may not offer them much protection. So where does that leave people like me who are responsible for analyzing data to help direct business decisions? Am I looking at “unicorn breath” numbers (that have pretty rainbows) or the best tool in my toolkit? More importantly, what do YOU think?