Last week, going through a training seminar on iTrack’s new social media monitoring service, I was humbled. This happens fairly often when trying to stay up on the latest advances in technology and the Web. In this case, I was asked if I knew of Klout, an online service that produces an influencer score for those on the Internet. I had not.
From their website: “The Klout Score is the measurement of your overall online influence. The scores range from 1 to 100 with higher scores representing a wider and stronger sphere of influence. Klout uses over 35 variables on Facebook and Twitter to measure True Reach, Amplification Probability, and Network Score.”
I am at best an infrequent Facebook user; I tweet maybe once a week or when I see something of interest. My blog posts are automatically tweeted. I comment on posts I see that are of interest, on websites and in private forums. That’s about it.
Klout had no idea who I was when I entered my Twitter name @CarynGoldsmith. Once I signed up, I got my (again very humbling) score of 5. Here’s what it looked like:
Seth Godin, a well-known marketing guru who focuses on digital delivery of his books and blogs, but isn’t into Twitter, has a Klout score that looks like this:
Clearly, much more influence due to the reach of his blog, which must be why his score is as high as it is.
Turn this around and look at a very active younger research professional I know and see that he’s much more likely to be driving the conversation online between people:
Reach=size of your engaged audience; Amplification=likelihood your info will be acted upon by others; Network=influence level of you engaged audience.
I don’t have an issue with a score like this being created, but one must suspend logic and believe that the online space is the entire universe. That’s too much for me. Just last year, I quoted the very respected Spike Jones (Brains on Fire) when he said that 90% of word-of-mouth marketing happens offline. That’s right, offline.
The online space is very verbal. And while it can be visual with YouTube videos and the like, a score like this focuses on words which are often tangible – tweets, retweets, mentions, likes, etc. Further, the focus really is on influencers and not trendsetters. Someone’s ability to influence others is terrific, but if I’m looking for those who can help refine a product concept or redesign a service, that may be someone completely different.
Nevertheless, Klout seems to have done a good job with building their score. And we do need a good way to identify influencers online. Yet, if we are recruiting for qualitative research – even if it’s to take place online – we need to take some care here:
- On what topics are they influential?
- Who are they influencing (other leaders, buyers, etc.)? And what is that sphere of influence?
- Finally, how can we augment these influencers with others who are also influencers in other ways and/or offline?
Great tool. Glad I learned about it. Hope to have a chance to integrate it into a project soon!