Tapping into the buzz surrounding social networks and the analysis of them, Klout has created a user-friendly way of ranking your online social reach. Plug in your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumbler, Flicker, Google+ or YouTube details and Klout will generate a number between 1 to 100, using over 35 variables (including clicks, likes, comments and retweets) to measure the relative size and influence of your social network.
I currently weigh in at a fairly pitiful 15, pipped at the post by Citizen Power Peterborough at a relatively healthy 33. Klout reckons that Citizen Power has 'built a good size network that is highly engaged', is ‘effectively using social media to influence its networks across a variety of topics’, and is 'more likely to have its message amplified than the average person'.
On a scale from my Mum (who, despite having both a facebook and twitter account, still cannot tell her pokes from her tweets and has an underwhelming klout of 1) to Justin Bieber (who tops the chart with a perfect score of 100, narrowly out-performing the likes of Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama), I'd say that Citizen Power isn’t doing too badly.
So far so good. Many, however, are largely critical of the fact that Klout’s algorithms aren’t the right ones, or are easily tricked (or ‘gamed’) into producing an overinflated Klout score (clearly I haven’t played my cards right here…). There’s also the question of whether one’s Klout score actually corresponds with one’s ability to influence others in the offline (sometimes quaintly referred to as the ‘real’) world. A high Klout score may reflect a great deal of negative feedback rather than positive affirmation. Or, someone who’s highly influential in real life may only observe social media trends online. Others worry that social media metrics like Klout might create a ‘social media caste system’, where those with a broader online presence get more freebies, faster promotions or a better love life.
Despite these criticisms, Klout is being used to identify key social influencers by organisations as diverse as Disney, Nike, Virgin and Audi. Could we use it as part of our work in Peterborough to identify the key ChangeMakers (those well-connected but potentially untapped hubs of social innovation who could be mobilised to spread positive change throughout their networks) across the city? Or are we better off identifying these people the old-fashioned way, through real-life word of mouth?
In the interests of identifying the Justin Bieber of the think tank world, what's your klout score? And, perhaps more importantly, should we care?