Social Media Scoring: How to Find Key Influencers

Social media appsAs evidence-based marketers, we are necessarily preoccupied with scoring leads. But as we develop social CRM strategies, lead scoring must be extended to include a means of measuring social media influence.

As a Worldcom Public Relations Group survey shows, social media is claiming a bigger slice of marketing budgets. In order to maximize social ROI, it’s becoming increasingly important to interact with those social titans in your industry who have the greatest reach. But how does one even qualify social media influence, let alone quantify it?

Identifying Social Klout

Six months ago, this post might have begun by discussing Twitter top-lists or blog engagement. But now, it’s impossible to ignore that pink wooly mammoth in the room: Klout.

For those of you who aren’t already (painfully!) aware, Klout is a website that rates your social media influence on a scale of 1-100. Klout aggregates data from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, YouTube and Tumblr, and then assigns you a score based on the metrics:

True Reach: The number of followers that you have—filtering out spam bots (so don’t get any bright ideas).

Amplification: When you post, the number of people respond and spread your message further.

Network: The influence of people in your true reach. In other words, how much Klout your followers have.

Klout’s scoring metrics present a serviceable model for quantifying social influence. However, it’s hardly a perfect tool.

Problems With Klout’s Scoring Methodology

Klout has positioned itself well. It’s  currently considered the gold standard of social media influence quantification. Though its metrics seem sound, there appear to be some flaws in its scoring methodology.

A byproduct of the amplification metric is that individuals who are not recognized as influential on any subjects can end up with a higher Klout score than CEOs with actual influence, providing that they have an engaged personal network on social media sites like Facebook. It therefore seems that Klout weighs amplification too heavily. Klout tries to compensate for this by placing users on a grid that reflects their engagement style, giving them labels like “socializer” or “thought leader.” But popularity doesn’t equate to influence. No matter how much her posts are amplified, should a prom queen’s Klout score really exceed that of an influential executive in the tech space?

In addition, Klout scores could be weighted by social media sites that are irrelevant to your niche. Klout assigns an overall score without showing you how that score reflects engagements in specific networks. Someone may be an extremely influential musician on, but that might not be of consequence to a B2B marketer.

Most glaringly, a person’s Klout score becomes substantially higher when they link their social data to the Klout network. There may be key social influencers in your niche that are not engaged in Klout at all. And thus, Klout would be unable to score their social influence.

Alternatives to Klout

Klout is hardly the only tool for measuring social influence. Here are some alternatives:

  • Postrank, recently acquired by Google, measures the social influence of a site, post or author. They also are beta testing a service that connects brands with influential online publishers.
  • Twylah automatically organizes a brand’s tweets by topic and shows the topics which brands are most influential about.
  • Set up as a game, Empire Avenue is conceived to be a “social stock market” that lets people invest virtual capital in a variety of social influencers. The result is a tool that actually lets you find brands with social influence across various categories.
  • PeerIndex, rates social authority by the speed which content is shared. Similar to Klout, Peerindex gives users a score and shows topics in which they are influential.

None of these tools are foolproof. For example, in any given niche, there are likely to be people who have huge social influence and unimpressive Klout scores. There isn’t yet a single platform that we feel comfortable describing as a one-stop solution. Be that as it may, as measuring social influence becomes more and more lucrative to businesses, technological solutions that quantify social influence will continue to improve. We’ll keep you posted as innovations come to light.


One Response to “Social Media Scoring: How to Find Key Influencers”

  1. Jonathan October 27, 2011 at 12:32 am #

    Hi Jesse,

    Great post. Thanks for sharing the other alternatives to Klout. That’s very helpful of you.


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