Reality of Influence

Influence appears to be one of the topics of 2011. As Klout secures an additional $8.5 million in funding means that enhanced metrics are sure to follow. But what does influence really mean?

Klout provides a fairly detailed overview of how they measure influence which is a starting block for this new metric. While measuring influence is still in its infancy, but rapidly developing, what does this mean for you?

When you login to Klout for the first time, connect all of your social networks and click the “measure” button you wait eagerly for the results. Logically, it will lead to three emotional reactions:

-1-     Happiness

-2-     Disappointment

-3-     Who Cares



“Yes, my score puts me as one of the most influential people in the online social webs!”

This might be the reaction of someone seeing a top score return. This is a metric you would expect to see from a Chris Brogan, Brian Solis, Seth Godin or another of the like. This will be someone who has 5-figures of followers and is viewed as a leader in their space.

Others will get to this status as well depending on their personal or business niche. Is it possible to get to this level without thousands of followers? Sure. But it helps to be followed by people with thousands of followers too.



“I really thought I would score better than a 36.”

What if you have 300 followers on Twitter that you are really active connecting? This score may return lower than someone who has thousands of followers and but is re-messaged less than you. You could argue over more influence but you network numbers may not compete.

An interesting question may arise, would a negative or lower-than-expected score impact how you use social media going forward?



“But what does it really mean.”

Brian Solis wrote an interesting piece last year regarding the Influence Project put on by Fast Company. The post basically said influence is not popularity… which ironically was the name of the article.

This group might find the results interesting either way but not put much stock in the numbers, it’s too early to truly tell what this means.

Personally, I find myself in the “Interesting” group. I believe Klout – or similar metrics – are on the right path but not to a particular accepted standard. I am skeptical over influence. Damien Basile wrote an excellent guest post on the subject on not confusing influence and popularity.

What if a friend/follower reads something I post and does not repost, comment or retweet? I may have influenced someone but because it was not shared further it hurts my number? Also, if I do not connect all of my networks it will impact my overall score. There are still too many variables to consider for this to be a truly accurate measuring tool.

Influencing metrics is currently subjective, no matter what science and math you wish to put behind it. In time it will become more accurate and grow into something robust but it still needs time and adjusting.

I do use Klout but as a snapshot in time for me. Using it fairly regularly it could provide trends and analysis to my network and how I connect with my friends/followers. But I do not put more recognition into this tool than that.

Please share your feelings on Klout or other metrics tools, I am very interested in hearing your impressions on the metrics of social influence.



Photo credit to BplusD and Servant of Chaos.


About kufarms
10 years in HR and recruiting both in the corporate and agency worlds. Corporate Recruiter and Socail Media Strategist. Looking to share and discuss topics as well as hopefully provide some thought. Dad of 2 with a loving wife.

5 Responses to Reality of Influence

  1. Interesting post (pun intended). I would categorize myself similarly to you. I only recently came across Klout, and really have no reference for what the score means. You bring up a valid point – it is very difficult to measure the real influence you may have on others. There may be those who are influenced signficantly by what you share, but who do not take immediate action in the electronic sphere.

  2. kufarms says:

    I am impresses with the idea behind Klout and idea of metrics, there are just too many other variables that seem to be the “unknown” factors which are just as important. using it as a measurring stick or reference is probably the best use of it right now.

    Thanks for your comment!

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  4. Keith,

    Good conversation starter. I think that these influence metrics are definitely on the right track. If you take a look at the different signals that Klout is analyzing, it is quite comprehensive especially when you think about the amount of computing power and machine learning necessary to develop a numeric based metric.

    Where I think Klout shines is that they don’t just stop at a simple number, they go further into a few key areas that they deem important. While that opens the system up to being gamed, the real measure will be how does ‘influence’ drive business results.

    This is something that only an individual company/person should really have the ability to measure given the wide variety of purposes that social media is used for.

    As most users of social media have found, it is not exactly easy to generate any type of measurable action (clicks, retweets, phone calls, in person meetings, or presentations). But, there is no doubt that some people have cracked the code. If your strategy relies on social media, then this is a great starting point to combine with your internal metrics.

    Omowale Casselle

  5. kufarms says:

    Great input Omiwale! While I agree that Klout does have solid metrics, I am still struggling with the “unknown” influence. When conversations happen in real life as a result of online content and impact others (at least I think that still happens). Someone found value in a post and shared it with their network but it wasnt online so there is no measurement. That is still social influence. I recognize there are a million variables and nothing will be able to track every “what if” situation. Klout is the best so far but it still has some growing to do. All of this is why I feel it is a good tool to be aware of and use, but don’t view Klout as the end-all-be-all tool, yet.

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