How much Klout do you have?
Is there a way to measure your influence on social media sites? People have forever been confused about what exactly makes one important online and where they rank. Is it traffic or engagement? What is the actual standard for success online?
In September 2009, a small San Francisco-based start up with 40 employees stated that they had the answer to all of this. Their answer was Klout.
Klout essentially claims to be the standard of gauging how much influence a person has in the world of social media by aggregating their Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and other footprints to come up with a score for influence.
Yes, there are tons of social media analytic services out there, but Klout has taken the western world by surprise and has set the trend on fire.
The analysis is not just based on how many followers you have. Klout has an algorithm which determines your score based on the ‘engagement’ you have with them. This basically means that someone who has 400 followers and is more interactive with them can have a better Klout score than someone else with say, 4000 followers but zero interaction.
Klout has caught on to such a degree in the West that people with higher Klout scores are getting auto upgrades at hotels, airline counters and even free test drives at car dealerships! Increasingly, IT firms are also considering Klout scores in their job interviews apart from the regular education requirements and personality tests. Some examples are even available where people were hired based on their Klout score rather than others who had no presence online.
As with any social media mediums, Klout also has a bunch of critics. They do not understand this sudden Klout fever and vilify it by pointing out that this methodology is creating a different social strata or classes in the virtual world and is encouraging the further debasement of human interaction. These critics also point out that like Facebook encourages narcissism, Klout encourages a feeling of anxiety stemming from the need to have ‘respectable’ scores and lobbying to get these scores for perks; this is just another gateway for more materialism in the world.
Here in Pakistan, the number of companies wishing to interact through social media is increasing with each passing week. For them, a service like Klout is a gift sent from heaven – a gift that makes their lives easier by deducing who influences which category in the Pakistani virtual world. All they have to do is decide on a focus term, type it in and voila! People who are influential in that particular category will come up in a neat little list. Easy as pie.
A detailed study of analytics, however, would most definitely provide a more justified result, but then how many companies in this country give social media the time or importance to conduct detailed analysis? Or for that matter even hire a single individual who can take care of their social media for them?
The general perception that social media is of no consequence still exists in our society. However 20 million social media users with over six million on Facebook, more than three million on Twitter and 1.7 million registered bloggers on Blogspot are statistics that speak for themselves.
Any company that assumes that this segment of the population (who by the way are all mostly educated people with money to spend) are not important or do not hold enough value are living in a fool’s paradise.
As important as services like Klout may be, they are still windows of real power in social media that exist. These, however, are controlled by a certain group of people – those who hold the influence, to perhaps guide our collective conscience.
What these people do with this power is something which only time will tell.
This post originally appeared here.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.