How much klout do you have?


The world of social media has always had its problems with translating into numbers a person from the outside or say an advertiser  could easily comprehend. People have forever been confused on what is more important? Traffic or engagement? Uiqs or interaction via comments and linkbacks? What is the actual standard for success in this medium?

A small California based start up with 40 employees established in Sept 2009 however says they have the answer to all of this. They are called  Klout and essentially claim to be the standard bearers for how much influence a person has in the world of social media by aggregating their facebook, twitter, linked in and other footprints to come up with a score of influence.  Yes there are tons of social media analytics services out there but klout has gone on fire in the western world at least, because it is not just based on how many followers you have but has an algorithm which determines your score based on the “engagement” you have with them. Which 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.

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 than just to focus on degree and personality. Some examples are even available where people were hired based on their klout score rather than others who had no presence online.

There are off course many critics to this klout fever as well who vilify it by pointing out that this methodology is creating different social strata or classes in the online world and 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 which is leading to even more materialism in the online world.

Here in Pakistan companies which wish to interact with social media are getting more and more with each passing week. For them at least, a service like Klout is heaven sent as it can act as a basis of merit to deduce who influences which category in onlinePakistan. All they have to do is decide on a focus term type it in and people who are influential in it will come up in a neat little list. Off course a detailed study of analytic’s is anytime more fair but then how many companies in this country have any clue as to what these analytics mean? Or for that matter hire a single individual who can take care of their social media for them other than people who manage their twitter and Facebook accounts.

There is off course the general perception still present in our country that social media is not of enough value. However 20 million social media users with 6 million on facebook more than three million on twitter and 1.7 million registered bloggers on blogspot says otherwise. Any company which 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 n a fools paradise.

Still as important as services like klout may be they are but windows into the real power of social media, and those who are holding the influence to perhaps guide our collective conscience. What these people do with this power is something which only time will tell.