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Martin Waxman

Influence Scoring: All Klout(ed) Up and Nowhere to Go

By: Martin Waxman | August 27, 2013 | 
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Influence ScoringBy Martin Waxman

My experiment with influence scoring started a few weeks back with a post on Spin Sucks about the future of public relations.

That post begat a second post on community management as a new model for PR.

And that begat a three-point bump in my Klout score!

Earlier this month, I wrote about my Klout Bump and, because the wonderfully energetic community here was mainly responsible for it, I decided to try an experiment.

I wanted to see if I could push it higher, and also determine what types of interactions would help boost it to my goal number.

That goal? Getting to 70 – a further two point increase. (Big whoop.)

I Have a Secret

Klout scores remind me of high school grades. So a 90 would be equivalent to an A-, 80 a B-, 70 a C-, and so on. Maybe that’s why my earlier analogy referenced high school popularity.

Essentially I was trying to go from being a D to a low C student. And I wanted to do this by enlisting the cheerleading squad, and not via hard work. In any environment, that’s a dubious path.

But it was all for scientific research, right?

Here are the Results

Drumroll please. Or maybe a sad trombone… I did reach 70, fleetingly on one day, then again a few days later, for a little bit longer. It’s now settled back to 69 (at the time of writing) and will likely fall back to its regular pre-post level soon.

That said, I’m sticking by my original offer, and giving out a couple of perks (for more on the perks, see below).

But First: What Did I Learn?

I’d always suspected an intense level of activity within a tight community over a short period of time would artificially increase a Klout score. And that seems to hold true.

But what does that say about influence scoring and actual influence? Not much. In the case of Klout, they seem to measure it over relatively brief time spans – reminiscent of day trading. Score increases aren’t really there for the long-term. Whereas true influence is built up slowly over time.

And while it’s fun to see the little graph increases, did I get any new clients or other opportunities from the bump? Nope. Nada. Nothing. So from a purely business perspective, this tells me it’s likely not a metric I should give much credence to.

Influence Scoring < True Influence

My big takeaway centers more on the concept of influence, and the way we promise it to brands. It feels like we’re positioning it all wrong. Influencers are not people who utter a command and their automatons blindly follow (at least, let’s hope not).

True influence has to do with deep, trusting relationships, as well as persuasive communication encouraging people to consider another point of view.

Influence is far more complex than a simple call to action, which seems to be what we’re offering. So let’s stop that.

I hope the @Klout folks weigh in on this because so far they’ve stayed out of the conversation. I’d be curious to hear how they define influencer.

And I’m equally curious to hear from all of you.

And Now, the Perks!

First off a big THANK YOU to Gini Dietrich, Lindsay Bell-Wheeler, Yvette Pistorio, and the entire Spin Sucks team and community for tagging along, supporting me and the idea, and for all your insights and comments. I really appreciate it!

I have two prizes to offer, and if you want to know the criteria I used to make my selections, well, all I can say is it’s a proprietary algorithm I developed and unfortunately, I’m not prepared to divulge what it measures. (Ed’s Note: This isn’t the Academy Awards, Martin.)

The Winners

Paula Kiger: For jumping on the bandwagon first, and creating a hashtag!

Rebecca Todd: For agreeing to be campaign manager and adding a Canadian flavor(u)r!

You both get a custom ‘I got my Klout Bump from Spin Sucks’ t-shirt (pictured above). We’ll post this on the Arment Dietrich Facebook page too, and organize the shipping details there.

And now this faux-scientist bids you farewell as my Klout roll of the dice comes to an end. I’d love to hear any Klout stories you have. And again, thank you!

About Martin Waxman


Martin Waxman is executive vice president for our Canadian partner firm, Thornley Fallis. He is a social media and communications strategist, founder of three PR agencies, blogger at myPALETTE, Inside PR co-host, social media instructor, and former fiction writer, comedy MC, and Winnipegger.

90 comments
markwschaefer
markwschaefer

Klout is not the standard of influence, as it claims (at least not yet). It simply measures our ability to create content that moves on the Internet. That may seem like a simple thing but it is actually insanely complex and although limited, it can be useful. How many jobs today depend on an ability to move content? Once we understand the limitations and what it can and can't do, it becomes a more realistic and useful indicator. It is misunderstood. It is mis-used. It is a blunt instrument. But that doesn't mean that, in the proper context, that it's not useful.

dbvickery
dbvickery

OK, in my high school, I would never go to the cheerleading squad to get a bump in my grade...physics club, maybe.

I still think a good experiment would be for the day-trading Klout algorithm (I liked that analogy) to start using Livefyre and Disqus comments in their algorithm. However, that still will not prevent a more "daily focus" with only occasional bumps if you say something particularly witty or insightful in a comment thread (like day trading...or cheerleading squads).

And at the end of the day - it still didn't impact the old bottom line, so back to a different - or at least more extensive - measure of true influence.

gernijkamp
gernijkamp

@oostdam: Exact een zelfde test heb ik een jaartje geleden uitgevoerd. Zelfde resultaat. Je kunt de score krijgen waar je 'm wilt hebben...

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

With 99.9999% of our lives private from Klout can they really measure anything about us? I think the whole influence thing as it stands is ridiculous. None of the Case Studies on the Klout site prove they worked. Same with the case studies on Social Chorus and Collective Bias. They tend to show earned media (though seems plenty use bloggers they compensate).

We don't listen to people online like we do in real life. And we are hugely influenced by what other people wear, eat, drive etc in real life...things we can't see of our virtual friends.

Nabiha
Nabiha

This was an interesting read. Bet you had fun watching the Klout graph go up! :) Hope you embark on more scientific adventures soon. I'll be listening.

ExtremelyAvg
ExtremelyAvg

That is an awesome test.

I don't care about my Klout score, but it feels similar to my Amazon raking for my books. A short concentrated burst of sales (usually from running an ad) will move the book up the rankings. Once the ad is done (they last one day) the rankings drop.

That isn't so bad, though, because there is also a bump in sales after the ad runs, so those sales slow the decent.

Though Klout might not have value, knowing how it works does. If one was competing for a client and knew it mattered to said client, and the rival was one point better, then a short move might seal the deal.

Latest blog post: Headache...ugh

JoeCardillo
JoeCardillo

Ooh congrats to @RebeccaTodd and @biggreenpen, n'er were there a finer pair then those two 

@martinwaxman  Interesting results, although not unexpected. It sort of puts me in the mood to quote one of @Frank_Strong's recent blog interviewees, who said "Trust...is quieter, but it’s the ultimate conversion – and there’s nothing that scales like it." (full link in case anyone wants to read, it's excellent - http://www.swordandthescript.com/2013/08/ian-lipner-professionalism-pr/



Arment Dietrich, Inc.
Arment Dietrich, Inc.

Oh, Paula and Rebecca - can you private message me your mailing address for stalking purposes...I mean, for your t-shirts? Please and thank you :D ^yp

RebeccaTodd
RebeccaTodd

I'd like to thank my parents for deciding a fourth child was a good idea, Lil G for running this blog, my co-nominee Paula and mostly Martin for allowing me this incredible opportunity. Lastly, to my boyfriend RDJ, I would never have made it here without your love and support. Thank you all.

susancellura
susancellura

Did anyone else see a bump in his/her Klout score?

Yvette Hamlin Pistorio
Yvette Hamlin Pistorio

Congrats :) For some reason I couldn't tag Rebecca the first time though...user error?!

dave_link
dave_link

Your experiment simply reaffirms what I've believed personally all along about Klout - it's a great starting point to measure someone's activity in the digital world, but not a true measure of influence. As many others have pointed out in the comments, developing a true voice of authority by providing valuable information in an engaging fashion is the best way to develop TRUE influence, but having a somewhat leveled starting point is always a great place to start. Thanks for sharing, Martin!

remarkmarketing
remarkmarketing

@martinwaxman Well done Martin! Klout is interesting (cute?) for 1st level snapshot but certainly not a strategic influencer tool, IMHO.

biggreenpen
biggreenpen

@Arment Dietrich, Inc. Done, the stalking can commence!

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

@martinwaxman @markwschaefer great comment Mark. I am very very skeptical about influence online as you know. More because I feel it is being sold wrong by almost everyone. I can't see using strangers to start an influence campaign vs say your 100 best customers.

Your point on moving content is partially valid. I have joked what if I got a million people to retweet/share my article online and no one clicks or reads it. Success or fail? Obviously fail. That is why the case studies from Klout, Social Chorus, Collective Bias to me are fraudlent because content creation and sharing is a means to an end not the end itself. and none have ever shown me the end result (increased sales, loyalty etc)

I just feel with so little of our life online it is so hard to measure anything (your point about how hard and complex). The NY Times wants to move content but need it read. But Ford wants a sale.

That all said....tools like Klout can be valuable to research your fans. But I recently shared with @ginidietrich a client customer who joined twitter just to ask what the ice cream sandwich flavors are. In talking with her seems she brought at least 40 new customers. Klout would never find her. I could never find her.  But she is more influential than almost all the top Twitter fans. Private word of mouth (email, in person, phone, sms text) overwhelms social to me by a magnitude of 100x. Which proves influence exists  but are we looking in the wrong place and in the wrong way for it?

gernijkamp
gernijkamp

@oostdam: Te weinig mensen, in ieder geval :-) Ergste: er wordt serieus waarde aan gehecht. Terwijl het gebakken lucht is.

susancellura
susancellura

@martinwaxman I did. Just a couple of points, but being more active during this research did bump it up for a day or so. 

gernijkamp
gernijkamp

@oostdam: Klopt, voor beide geldt: belangrijk om te weten hoe het werkt. Maar ja, wie wil dat nog weten..? Het is er toch gewoon...

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