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Am I Important? Finding Balance in Influence Score

By: Guest | September 6, 2011 | 
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Today’s guest post is written by Tammy Kahn Fennell.

Social media has given rise to an entire new level of narcissism. We all want to be heard, and to be respected.

Twenty years ago I bet you never thought that taking a stroll in the countryside or eating at a restaurant would be worthy of broadcasting out to your friends, family, and business contacts, but here we are.

Just last week I couldn’t help but tweet out a picture of a blackberry crumble I had just baked. Given that, it’s no surprise a new industry has emerged, the “influence measurement” industry; another way to make us feel more, or less, important.

Leading the influence measurement pack is Klout, who will mash up your interactions on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Tumblr, and more, and send it through their algorithm to score you.

Yes people, you are now being scored based on the online influence you wield.

PeerIndex is another service which is gaining popularity and one to which you may want to pay some attention. It is similar in concept to Klout, but they take it a step further and focus more on how influential you are within your niche and areas of interest. Essentially, if you’re the Justin Beiber of the real estate world, you’ll have a higher score even if no one has heard of you in any other industry, which is a perfectly reasonable idea.

Scores are always controversial. I mean, do we really need to be measured?

Narcissism aside, I think the answer is yes.

Think back to the rise of websites, and Alexa scores and Google page rank. It’s really easy to look the part on a website.  A professional looking website with a smooth talking marketing rep could make the site sound really big and really successful.

But, before you decide whether it’s worth your time to do a joint promotion with them, one of the first things you probably do is have a peak at their Alexa or Compete score. Someone whose site is ranked 1.8 million is likely to be all talk, but if they’re less than 150,000, you may want to explore them a little more closely.

Influence scores work in the same way. When I’m seeing @ replies come through on Twitter, or people contacting me through Facebook, a quick influence check lets me know if I’m talking to a zero or a hero. It’s not perfect, and I don’t make my decisions solely based on someone’s influence score, but in a fast moving world we need a little help to allow us to make quick decisions.

Gaming the system

These algorithms are not perfect. We have a test account that has a Facebook and a Twitter presence, and does pretty much nothing besides post RSS feeds and the occasional test update. “His” influence score seems to keep rising. And this makes sense to an extent – even though “he” isn’t interacting with anyone. People can stumble upon him and find what he is posting, and even retweet it. But, the fact that “his” influence has increased exponentially speaks to the fact that there aren’t sufficient checks in place to ensure that influence is based on human interaction.

Danny Brown recently wrote about gaming the Klout system and how quickly he was able to establish himself as an expert in sheep thanks to Klout’s own tool K+.  Sure, there are ways to game it right now, but the influence industry is still in its infancy and we’ll continue to see vast improvements.

Are they here to stay?

The success of these influence measurement tools is based on the development community’s desire to integrate with them. Klout is already present in apps such as Hootsuite and MarketMeSuite. Peer Index has a list system that is widely used by organizations to show the influence of their community as a whole. The success of companies such as Compete and Alexa have set a decent precedent showing the usefulness of measurement tools, so I think it’s fair to say they will likely continue to grow in relevance, provided they continue to improve their algorithms.

Key takeaway

Influence doesn’t mean everything, however it is a form of measurement that should not be ignored. It shouldn’t dictate how we feel about ourselves or whom we interact with, but it’s worth keeping an eye on, and to use to cut through a lot of the noise that’s out there. Businesses and marketers all have a need to measure. They need to make sure they’re spending time connecting with the right people and having influence scores as a gauge helps everyone be a little smarter in their approach.

What do you think?

Tammy Kahn Fennell is the  co-founder of the social media marketing dashboard, MarketMeSuite.com. She also runs WeAreSocialPeople.com, the community driven blog, by MarketMeSuite users, for the world.

One last thing: We hope you’ll join us for a very informative webinar on crisis communications this Thursday. We’ll learn from Alicia Kan, who led her marketing team through a crisis that went global thanks to social media and escalated to street protests. She’ll share her experience and some do’s and don’ts. Thursday, September 8 at 11 a.m. CT. This webinar is $50 and you can buy it by clicking here.

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78 Comments on "Am I Important? Finding Balance in Influence Score"

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KenMueller
4 years 7 months ago

I think we need to be very careful here. I look at all of these scores, but they end up being a VERY small determining factor for me, among a lot of other factors. Alexa and Compete have their own major issues which often lead me to believe they are a bunch of crap. I find it especially interesting when things like Klout and PeerIndex disagree. I’ve found that when one goes up, the other often goes down. In my mind, there is no better judge of “influence” than a good ol’ human checking things out.

Hajra
4 years 7 months ago
Hey, There are many things we can consider here. Narcissism or just plain business? Ok, sorry to disagree to a certain extent, but yes the numbers craze is a little weird especially where we end up “comparing” each other. I mean, with over 200 million blogs, and topics as different as chalk and cheese, it’s like comparing Lady Gaga and Madonna, they both are good, but each has their own charm. So, the comparing thins is a little crazy; I mean, no one walks on the road and goes up to a complete stranger and says … hey, I score… Read more »
Ari Herzog
4 years 7 months ago

Klout is a joke.

Peerindex is a joke.

Empire Avenue (which I’m currently playing with) is also a joke.

Influence matters but gaming influence fails every time.

andrew.burton.1897
andrew.burton.1897
4 years 7 months ago

As this was the first time I have heard of a ranking system for social media, I found this post very interesting. I think that these measurement tools will start to be viewed during a hiring process. Especially in a public relations field, a tool that depicts the amount of relevance and following one’s social media posts hold will be crucial.

eric_andersen
eric_andersen
4 years 7 months ago

@tonia_ries well sure, *you’re* important, Tonia!

eric_andersen
eric_andersen
4 years 7 months ago

@tonia_ries well sure, *you’re* important, Tonia!

DerekPangallo
DerekPangallo
4 years 7 months ago

Scores like Klout are only useful when narrowly comparing apples to apples. Or GOP presidential candidates to each other: http://goo.gl/9KH88

DerekPangallo
DerekPangallo
4 years 7 months ago

Scores like Klout are only useful when narrowly comparing apples to apples. Or GOP presidential candidates to each other: http://goo.gl/9KH88

kamichat
kamichat
4 years 7 months ago

@lettergirl The comments on that influence post are even better. More important, are you going out for scare squad @seaworldtexas? :-)

tonia_ries
tonia_ries
4 years 7 months ago

@eric_andersen wasn’t there a Sesame Street song about that? :-)

lettergirl
lettergirl
4 years 7 months ago

@kamichat Maybe just to blog it. That would be fun! cc:@SeaWorldTexas

eric_andersen
eric_andersen
4 years 7 months ago

@tonia_ries even if you’re going for a roller skate! http://j.mp/ouCUe1

kamichat
kamichat
4 years 7 months ago

@lettergirl Hmmmmm.

tonia_ries
tonia_ries
4 years 7 months ago

I just gave @eric_andersen a +K for roller skates!

eric_andersen
eric_andersen
4 years 7 months ago

@tonia_ries oh, snap! :-)

OnlineBusinesVA
OnlineBusinesVA
4 years 7 months ago

Its good investing in Social media. Social Media platform is ideal for different uses and should therefore have a customized strategy. Due to the rapid rise in popularity and relevancy many online marketing companies now offer Social Media Marketing and strategy development services which are paramount to the success of Social Media as a viable marketing channel.

http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/

Lisa Gerber
4 years 7 months ago

I’m sort of on the middle of the fence on this one. I agree with @KenMueller that we have to be very careful and that they can’t dictate our actions. However, it is still in its infancy, and I hope to see these algorithms improve.

Having said that, there is no getting away from the human need to categorize, put in buckets, and rank things. We have to rank everything – the gamification of how important we are online! go!

Lisa Gerber
4 years 7 months ago

@Hajra I agree with what you say BUT – there are coffee competitions – who can pull the best espresso, who roasts the best beans, and who has the best coffee house in such and such city. there are AdAge rankings for PR and marketing blogs (cough cough) So Klout needs to figure that out. Peerindex is figuring it out….

But speaking of chocolate and calories…. Klout says I’m influential for cookies. :)

TammyKFennell
TammyKFennell
4 years 7 months ago

@Lisa Gerber Hi Lisa! Thanks for publishing this. I enjoyed writing it. I agree with “gamification” – that’s a great point. It’s why foursquare is so widely used – people love ‘achievements.’

TammyKFennell
TammyKFennell
4 years 7 months ago

@Lisa Gerber Hi Lisa! Thanks for publishing this. I enjoyed writing it. I agree with “gamification” – that’s a great point. It’s why foursquare is so widely used – people love ‘achievements.’

TammyKFennell
TammyKFennell
4 years 7 months ago

@DerekPangallo ha that’s really interesting. But they left Ron Paul off the list. He’s a 75 on Klout and 48 on PI :)

TammyKFennell
TammyKFennell
4 years 7 months ago

@Lisa Gerber And Klout says I’m influential about…. drum roll… Lightning, Colorado and Netflix. http://phto.me/5d464 I traced this back to one article I wrote about how lightning hit an Amazon server. But I don’t recall ever mentioning colorado nor netflix… so as I said, they still need to work on their algorithms but I do appreciate that they are trying to crack it.

TammyKFennell
TammyKFennell
4 years 7 months ago

@KenMueller Klout and Peer Index are different companies so I am not suprised they don’t agree. They have different algorithms and criteria. I’m not saying they’re perfect – far from – but tell me you don’t sneak a look at someone’s alexa score every now and then? 😉

TammyKFennell
TammyKFennell
4 years 7 months ago

@KenMueller Klout and Peer Index are different companies so I am not suprised they don’t agree. They have different algorithms and criteria. I’m not saying they’re perfect – far from – but tell me you don’t sneak a look at someone’s alexa score every now and then? 😉

martinalovric
martinalovric
4 years 7 months ago

@brasonja hvala za RT :) I, kako prolazi danasnji dan?

brasonja
brasonja
4 years 7 months ago

@martinalovric I drugi put … ide pomalo, uz uključen musltitasking 😛 … nadam se da je sve 5 “preko puta” :)

martinalovric
martinalovric
4 years 7 months ago

@brasonja cini mi se da je situacija na obje strane prilicno slicna :)

KenMueller
4 years 7 months ago

@TammyKFennell I keep tabs on my own and some others, but the Alexa score only reports those who are using the toolbar. So it is probably the worst of the bunch, as it skews heavily toward websites that actively push the toolbar.

TammyKFennell
TammyKFennell
4 years 7 months ago

@KenMueller Oh yes, agreed, but i guess it doesn’t stop me from still looking at it. I don’t weigh my decisions on any score, but the sum total of all metrics I can find usually gives me a good idea of whether someone is as big as they say they are 😉

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 7 months ago

The example I always use when I talk about the influence sites is this: Jay Leno has a Klout score of 68. I have a higher score. If Jay Leno and I were to walk into the grocery store, even if it were in my own neighborhood, he wouldn’t get through the store without being stopped 16 zillion times. I would get through without being stopped at all. So, sure, I use online technology more than Jay. But he’s far more influential than I am…in real life. It’s a completely unfair comparison.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 7 months ago

The example I always use when I talk about the influence sites is this: Jay Leno has a Klout score of 68. I have a higher score. If Jay Leno and I were to walk into the grocery store, even if it were in my own neighborhood, he wouldn’t get through the store without being stopped 16 zillion times. I would get through without being stopped at all. So, sure, I use online technology more than Jay. But he’s far more influential than I am…in real life. It’s a completely unfair comparison.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 7 months ago

The example I always use when I talk about the influence sites is this: Jay Leno has a Klout score of 68. I have a higher score. If Jay Leno and I were to walk into the grocery store, even if it were in my own neighborhood, he wouldn’t get through the store without being stopped 16 zillion times. I would get through without being stopped at all. So, sure, I use online technology more than Jay. But he’s far more influential than I am…in real life. It’s a completely unfair comparison.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 7 months ago

@andrew.burton.1897 They ARE being viewed during a hiring process. It’s both disturbing and fascinating.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 7 months ago

@andrew.burton.1897 They ARE being viewed during a hiring process. It’s both disturbing and fascinating.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 7 months ago

@andrew.burton.1897 They ARE being viewed during a hiring process. It’s both disturbing and fascinating.

TammyKFennell
TammyKFennell
4 years 7 months ago

@ginidietrich Gini you’re right. In that situation it wouldn’t be a fair comparison. In fact, overall influence is not always a great comparison. But, you compared to other top bloggers, that is a metric worth keeping an eye on.

KenMueller
4 years 7 months ago
@ginidietrich and here is the other side of that equation. I can’t stand Jay Leno, and, well, I kinda like you a little. If Leno were to promote a product, I might go out of my way NOT to purchase it, whereas YOU could probably sell me stuff I don’t even want or need. Klout and other indexes fail to measure what TYPE of sentiment it is. There are a lot of people who love Leno and a lot of us who dislike him. You see this a lot with certain professional athletes. And beyond balancing the positive and negative… Read more »
Hajra
4 years 7 months ago

@Lisa Gerber Hmm… a lot more hungrier than analytical! :)

TweetShannonNow
TweetShannonNow
4 years 7 months ago

I love this blog, such great points. I’ve been pretty obsessed with Klout lately, and noticing that my score drops when I had great traffic days and vice versa. (Therefore this post was pretty encouraging haha!) Thanks for sharing! I think I’ll check out PeerIndex as well!

-Shannon Lutz

http://www.BizChangerZ.com

3HatsComm
4 years 7 months ago

@KenMueller Thank you and WORD. That sentiment, the type of motivation it gives, comes not necessarily from influence but from the relationship you have with @ginidietrich and what value you place on her recommendations.

3HatsComm
4 years 7 months ago

Thinking of signing into PeerIndex, just to see. Somebody stop me. (Think that might be my RT too).

I get the idea of measuring these things, the need; it’s just the algorithms are flawed, the systems can be gamed. I still have the opinion that these measure online activity, a few connections but it’s far from influence – even if limited to the online arena. And many big names ain’t playing along, too busy getting work done to worry about vanity numbers. Would I want more follower, RTs, higher numbers? Sure, but I’d rather more clients. FWIW.

3HatsComm
4 years 7 months ago

@TammyKFennell@Lisa Gerber Think Klout once said I was influential about cars; closest I’ve come is bitching about Atlanta traffic. When last I checked, it was improved in showing my influencers; there was a time when I barely recognized 3 of the 5 people they listed, so they are working on it. FWIW.

ArthurAnswers
ArthurAnswers
4 years 7 months ago
I think it’s a bad idea if you cloud the results of influence rating by purely looking at popularity. This is the way that Klout works; there is no distinction between the followers who are a part of your community or “tribe”. Instead, we should rely on the community we are targeting and whether they find the target to be influential or not. As an extreme example, we wouldn’t rely on someone like Jay Leno to broadcast messages about our cookware brand (as cool as it would be). But if we can find someone like Alton Brown or Gordon Ramsey,… Read more »
TammyKFennell
TammyKFennell
4 years 7 months ago

@ArthurAnswers “Another note: Influence measured through twitter can easily be gamed through getting bots to follow you and retweet you.” — this is a lot less common these days. Twitter laid the proverbial “smack down” on automation apps last year.

I agree, we do need to be smart about it, but I also believe part of that is not dismissing it entirely :)

ArthurAnswers
ArthurAnswers
4 years 7 months ago

@TammyKFennell You’re right, and I’m not one to discredit anything entirely (sorry if it sounded that way). But as you said, we definitely need to be smart about it, and heck, if there’s a way to get around the shortcomings with minimal effort, why not go that route?

It’s what I’ve been working on for the past two years. And I’d love to share it with everyone! =]

TammyKFennell
TammyKFennell
4 years 7 months ago

@ArthurAnswers Cool, what is it?

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[…] giving two wits about your Klout score, though I’ve been tempted to peak at what influence PeerIndex says I don’t have, just to […]

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[…] Am I Important? Finding Balance in Influence Score (Spin Sucks) Social media has given rise to an entire new level of narcissism. We all want to be […]

prajnamu
prajnamu
4 years 7 months ago

Tuh! QT @TweetSmarter: Social media has led to an entire new level of narcissism: http://t.co/ld5OTzX

GeoffAlexander1
GeoffAlexander1
4 years 7 months ago

@TweetSmarter Interseting read!! Thanks so much!

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