Having influence in the digital world is one of the main goals of social media. As off-line, people are influenced by folks they trust, those that they like or those they believe to be have specific expertise. Social media, however, provides a forum for referrals on a scale not possible off-line. Viral videos, retweets, etc, can create buzz, over night sensations, drive sales or destroy reputations.
Many individuals and companies, either by celebrity, word of mouth or break out marketing are perceived to exert influence on-line. Businesses invest in social media to increase brand recognition and drive sales. One way they do this is to encourage those whom they perceive to be influential to promote their brands, products and services. The challenge has been to quantify who, are in fact, influential and to determine what the true value of this influence actually is.
While there are a number of entries in this space, Klout has emerged as the measurement leader. Klout takes data from public social networks or other network connected to Klout, and provides users overall quantitative scores from 1 to 100 based on their level on-line influence.
But is Klout actually converting digital influence into an actual business value measurement? Klout appears to equate transactions and number of followers with actual influence. A more recent entry in this space, Kred, measures a person’s online influence and level of engagement or outreach and provides two different scores. Influence is defined as the ability to inspire action by others such as retweets, replies, etc, while outreach focuses on people initiating conversations or interacting with others. Kred also integrates off-line awards and recognition. PeerIndex, another metric, measures social media influence at an individual level, but looks at a person’s level of authority on a specific subject area.
Klout initially gained prominence because it was a convenient short-hand to identify those who could best promote one’s business. Klout continues to evolve their tools and recently revised their scoring method to somewhat mixed receptions. Clearly, over time there will be new entrants and existing players will refine tools and algorithms. Until these measures come closer to assessing things such as trust or strength of relationships, they will fall short of the mark.
Although these metrics still do not adequately capture all aspects of influence, one should care about their scores. Those with higher influence scores are simply more likely to have their tweets, posts etc viewed by more people. Three actions steps one should consider are:
- Determine what your Klout, Kred or PeerIndex scores are. These metrics are free and it could be valuable to understand how influential you are perceived to be. If you are dissatisfied with these scores, you can then develop a plan to improve them.
- Find out how influential your competitors are perceived to be. Scores are generally not private, so this information should not be that difficult to obtain. If they are rated much better than you are and you are concerned, simply assess what they are doing that you are not and plan accordingly.
- Understand which of your best customers have high scores and figure out how to engage with these individuals to your best advantage. Having influential folks write good things about your business can be very beneficial!
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Please contact me here or on-line on Twitter @digitalcultured or Facebook at Digital Culture Consulting.