Described as a way to “discover and be recognized for how you influence the world”, a Klout Score is a numeric score - ranging from one to 100 - that aims to measure your social media influence. Until this point, Klout has done a commendable job at tackling what is a truly ambitious social indexing exercise, incorporating a number of social media "signals" as they are referred to, ranging from the number of mentions and likes you receive on Facebook to the number of re-tweets and followers you ratchet up on Twitter. Other data sources and signals from these leading social networks were added during the algorithm's last update. Nevertheless, some social media users were left a bit frustrated by the solution's somewhat ambiguous indexing procedure.
The Status Quo: Part of their frustration comes with the tricky territory Klout has staked out, given the fact that we, as individuals and brands, feel a baseline level of discomfort having a web-based app assign a fairly ambiguous numeric score as to how influential our online actions and activities may be. Moreover, until this week Klout's scoring algorithm was unable to incorporate an individual’s real-world influence in the context of their social media activities – allowing pop-icon Justin Bieber to be deemed more influential than current President Barack Obama.
The Updates: On Tuesday, however, Klout rolled out some major, significant updates to their algorithms to address these crucial concerns. Proclaimed by CEO & Co-Founder Joe Fernandez to be the “most comprehensive and accurate model they’ve ever released”, the Klout platform has quadrupled the number of signals it measures (now over 400) across seven networks (including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare) and has – for the first time – integrates Wikipedia data to assess a person’s offline influence. Without getting too technical, Klout now measures the amount of links coming into a Wikipedia page (inbound links) as well as the page search engine rank importance as a way to better qualify this “real-world” influence (Yes, Barack Obama is now more influential than Justin Bieber). Other new factors Klout is benchmarking include an individual’s LinkedIn presence, the number of Foursquare tips you’ve left that have been done by others, and deeper drilling into users' Like and Share activity on Facebook. The short list below shows how Klout currently measures influence:
Photo credit: Klout website
The Bottom Line: In the context of evaluating your personal or brand’s social media impact, Klout remains and is an even more important metric to consider. With additional updates still in the works – a soon-to-be-rolled out “Moments” section, for example, promises to give the user additional insight into how each piece of content he/she creates impacts their score – hospitality marketers and community managers need to continue taking notice for two important reasons. First, Klout’s continued enhancements will give marketers an even better opportunity to identify highly influential, engaged guests and deliver to them a surprise-and-delight moment that may have significant online impact. Second, and perhaps more importantly, Klout provides marketers with more opportunity to measure their social media effectiveness. Regardless, for now let’s digest the important augmentations made by the application, continue to carefully pay attention to your customer's Klout score, and look forward to what’s next.