Obama vs Bieber; Who Has More ‘Klout’?

The ol’ tweet box is a funny thing. Is the semi-anonymous blogger for Filthy Richmond really more influential than the top brass at City of Richmond? Does the boutique-marketing agency Copeland Casati Media have more pull than the big boys at the Martin Agency? And does booze-slinging columnist Jack Lauterback have more swagger than the Henrico Police?


The answer to these nail biters is a mixed bag. If you were to tally up the scores at www.klout.com, then the answer is yes to all of the above.

Much hubbub has been made over Klout, which provides analytics that measure a user’s influence across their social network. Recently Klout went as far as to announce that Justin Bieber is more influential than Barack Obama. Before you shout from the rooftop about the fall of Western Civilization, realize that the point of Klout is not to measure who is more influential in the world, but to instead provide pretty darn good indicators of influence across the social web.

To do this, Klout analyzes data collected from sites like Twitter and Facebook to measure the size of a person’s network and most importantly-the kind of content a person creates and how others interact with it.

To come up with the magic “Klout Score,” the San Francisco based company takes a deep dive into Twitter follower count, retweets, how influential the people retweeting you are, list memberships, unique mentions, and more. The whiz kids at Klout then blend this data with information collected from Facebook, such as comments, likes, and number of friends. However, one must bear in mind that this does not include the accounts who use best sites to buy Twitter retweets! They kinda don’t count here?

Klout scores-ranging anywhere from 1 to 100, with higher scores representing a stronger level of influence-are produced using 35 variables to measure true reach, amplification, probability, and network score. This methodology, which can take up to 72-hours to implement, is intended to identify internet influence and to provide a way to track the impact of content (opinions, links, and recommendations).

“I’m always skeptical of any approach in social media that tries to keep score of people’s influence and message in a specific way,” says Chris Busse, Partner and Manager of Technology at Fahrenheit Emerging Media Group.

“However, Klout seems to have a pretty decent evolving formula and I had a bit of an ‘aha’ moment the other week which really made me take a second look at the service.”

Busse says that he subscribes to Jason Calacanis’ “Launch” email list and in a recent issue [L006] the writer wanted to poll subscribers on a topic. To do this, the writer sent questions to the top 250 subscribers based on their Klout score.

The mailing list software they use, MailChimp, integrates with Klout to provide this valuable information in an easily accessible way.

“I saw this as a great application of the Klout scores-instead of saying ‘this guy has a Klout of 63, he must be influential,’ they used it as a filtering mechanism to narrow down a list of thousands of people into 250 who had a higher likelihood of being involved enough in their subjects to provide good answers to the questions they were asking,” Busse says.

Nathan Hughes, a founding board member of Social Media Club Richmond, says that he’s taken Klout, along with other measurement tools like Twitalyzer, for a test drive with varied results. “The best thing I can suggest is using bit.ly or other shortening services. By signing up for an account and using the service for most links you send out, you can see how much traffic you are generating from each link.”

He cautions, however, “The amateur measurement services are only but so useful. They don’t break it down so you can see what subjects you really have ‘reach’ on. Me, I’d rather just tweet and try to be useful. If it doesn’t make me ‘influential’ then that’s okay.”

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