Have you ever sat and wondered what your influence is on social networks? Perhaps not, but there are a growing number of tools available that claim to be able to do exactly this.
Klout was one of the first and enjoyed an initial honeymoon of publicity with several businesses jumping on the bandwagon of treating customers with a high Klout score in a preferential way. For example, several airlines allowed those with a Klout score over 60 to access their business class lounge regardless of the ticket they were travelling with.
Why would they do this?
Tools like Klout measure ‘influence’ based on how active you are online, how many people follow what you say, how many people redistribute what you say, and how many people talk to you. In theory a person with a high Klout score is influential and has access to a large number of people – and their opinions – so an airline will want to treat these customers well because a favourable mention then becomes an advert that will be broadcast to a large number of people.
But since those initial heady days of popularity, tools like Klout have stalled and even been ridiculed. It is very easy to game the system by simple methods such as setting up software that will tweet automatically on your behalf – the more active you are, the higher your Klout score. Whether you are saying anything worth listening to is of no real importance.
Klout announced this week that they are adjusting their algorithm, but it seems to me that tools like this have an enormous job trying to reestablish credibility. If a university student pumping out hundreds of online messages per day is more influential than the president of the USA then there is clearly a problem in the way online credibility itself is measured.
Photo by Kevin Sablan licensed under Creative Commons