To clarify, Justin Bieber and Oprah Winfrey have the same Klout score.
What’s a Klout score? Let’s step back to the bigger picture of influencer scores. Influence scoring is a rating system used to measure the degree and quantity of reactions that a user generates via their social media platform. These scores incorporate several key factors and algorithms. Among these rating systems is a company called Klout. Klout is ranked as one of the best and most comprehensive rating systems. Klout kept their process and algorithms quiet for many years. However, after much skepticism from its users, Klout has released a detailed public paper on how they calculate influence scores.
Almost every single social media user has a Klout score. For high profile and verified users, Klout scores are automatically calculated. For other users, social media profiles have to be linked via their website. Scores range from 0-100. Oprah Winfrey and Justin Bieber both score 91. In 2012, Justin Bieber was the ONLY person with a perfect Klout score of 100 (it looks like the “Belieber” days are behind us). It’s important to note that Klout scores can be determined for not only people but for companies, athletic teams, etc. too. These scores are sometimes used by hiring managers to find qualified employees. They can also be used for companies looking for an influential user to promote their brand (a strong marketing tool).
So what factors determine a Klout score?
User Scalability – Looks at the complete network graph by aggregating users in the form of “batch processing”
Network Scalability – Incorporates multiple social media platforms and weights each network differently based on its relevance and importance
Temporal Factors – Influence can be categorized as long-lasting or dynamic and changing. The Klout system is sensitive to the time decay of interactions. Dynamic interactions are measured in a 90-day period while long-lasting influence is captured outside this timeframe
Offline Factors – Social media presence is only a partial representation of one’s overall influence so Klout incorporates world influence via sources such as Wikipedia and news articles
Reach and Strength of Influence – Determine the importance of a user’s reach with respect to the number of reactions. There are two possible scenarios: a user can generate a 100 reactions from 100 people or a 100 reactions from 10 people. Each of these scenarios would be rated differently as one shows a greater reach of influence while the other shows a strong influence on a small set of people.
Klout scores are computed for more than 700 million users from 9 different networks. These networks include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare, Youtube, Lithium Communities (parent company of Klout), and Wikipedia. Reactions on these networks are determined by 5 key questions: who, when, where, what, how.
“Who: The characteristics of the audience who reacted to the original post from the user.
When: The difference between the current time and the time at which the reaction occurred.
Where: The social network on which the reaction was performed.
What: The unit of original content or action on which the reaction was performed.
How: The type of reaction.“
A Klout report looks similar to the image below of the Detroit Red Wings. The image and bio are extracted from twitter and below the name includes links to the Detroit Red Wings’ Twitter and Wikipedia. Below are keywords indicating the accounts’ expertise. An account is considered an expert when they rank within the .1% of people talking about that topic.
There are alternatives to Klout such as Kred and PeerIndex. Kred’s algorithm and measures are a bit different and allows for more user interaction. Kred users can add real world achievements and can provide client’s a list of Twitter users who are leaders in a specific topic or industry. PeerIndex is similar and allows you to compare yourself to others in your community. However, PeerIndex only incorporates Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Quora.
Klout was founded in 2008 but many think it’s losing its relevance. Although Klout scores are a great way to get snapshot of a user’s overall influence, there are definitely some drawbacks. It’s missing key platforms such as Snapchat and Pinterest. For some influencers such as Kylie Jenner and Ariana Grande, Snapchat is one of their main platforms. There have also been issues of hiring managers taking Klout scores too seriously and making crucial decisions based on this one number without truly understanding its meaning. Some believe that you can manipulate your Klout scores by buying followers and traffic on your network. Although some of these policies have changed, there were incidents of privacy violation and people being assigned Klout scores though they didn’t opt-in on the website. Klout score can be a valuable metric but it is important to understand how they are determined and its potential drawbacks.