Klout seems like a fun method to express social engagement. It is still fairly new, so what you may not know is that Klout is an interesting platform that aggregates social profiles in order to measure an individual’s influence across social networks. It’s a great idea—but it needs to be properly implemented before it becomes widely used.
Klout has eagerly vied to become the standard for social influence, but in all the rush the company has failed to realize that Twitter is the only platform that offers the possibility of an effective measurement. Twitter remains the only network that is open to public measurement. Measuring other networks can be tricky. There are many unknown variables due to privacy restrictions, such as Facebook profiles or posts that are limited to friends only.
Klout Scores Don’t Add Up
Many users who have evaluated Klout have noticed inconsistencies with scoring. In fact, highly influential executives have received lower scores than some Internet bloggers and non-professionals despite having an active social media profile. How can this be? Too many Klout Scores don’t add up. We'll see more of why this is below.
Klout Encourages +K Spam
Klout is leveraging user egos as a marketing ploy. Users are encouraged to send +Ks to users through games. It is spam and many social media marketers are finding this ironic. An application designed to discover user influence is encouraging users to spam other users.
Klout is a Parlor Trick
The current inception of Klout is a game and nothing more. It’s a fun novelty to engage in until you learn to measure social influence for real. Klout isn’t evil; it’s just a toy. But the folks over at Klout don't seem to know it yet.
Measuring Social Influence for Real
Klout is on to something, but the site isn’t quite there yet. However, measuring social media marketing influence is important. If Klout isn’t accurate, how can social influence be measured?
1.) Quality & Reach
For Klout to be accurate, social media influence should use quantitative and qualitative metrics to determine true reach. Of course, the number of followers is important, but so is the quality. Why are these people following a certain profile and what types of social interactions are being engaged in?
2.) Authority & Experts
Determining expert status is as simple as determining reach, quality, and topic. Who is an expert in the industry? These factors could be evaluated to create the ultimate engagement algorithm. Determining expert status can be a bit tricky, though. For example, a particular blogger that may write about medical topics may be seen as an expert, even though they don't have an M.D.
How does a particular user engage followers? Any absence from social media could severely affect scores. This would be an extremely important indicator for determining social media influence, but here again we find difficulty in true engagement measurement. Is this time spent on a page, the number of responses per person, adding the account as a "friend" or following on Twitter? This will probably be very industry dependant.
Is a user a social parasite or a truly influential voice? Are users interacting with popular voices or can these users stand on their own? This might be hard to define, but not impossible. Brands will find that certain social moguls are able to drive their specific customers better than others, and this is likely to be the wave of the future. Do you think Leonard Nimoy (formally Spock on Star Wars) could be a powerful social media advocate for the likes of Radio Shack, for example?
5.) Social Media Platforms
There are a wide variety of platforms, and consistency between platforms can vary. Determining influence can be confusing. Which network carries more weight? Which network has factors that should be weighted? There are almost too many variables. Once again, this will likely boil down to specific industry benchmarks.
6.) What Topics are Important?
What subjects are most important, or are all topics equally weighted? Users can recruit followers for specific topics, but these users are not sought after for different subject matter. Choice is relative.
It’s time to begin discussions on social media influence and how it should really be measured. There isn’t an effective means of measurement currently, but eventually there will be.
Klout has a good idea, but it currently is limited by the ability for the site to measure multiple social media platforms. If Twitter was all that mattered, we wouldn't need Klout because all the data is available already. But because so much data is hidden behind security settings, Klout really doesn't have much of a chance at measuring one user against another.
Even if Klout could get beneath the security, the specific industries each have their own level of successful social media. For example, services such as color printing have a much stronger need for social interaction than, say, accounting firms. It's just a reality of the differences between industries. So as we better understand how users interact with companies in social media settings, maybe Klout can help us discover ways of measuring accurately.