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Influence Monitor Klout Retools Its Reputation Scores
Influence Monitor Klout Retools Its Reputation Scores

By Barry Levine
August 14, 2012 2:41PM

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Bumping up its Klout Score social-media influence measurements from 100 to 400 variables should help Klout better reflect real social influence. For instance, with the new Klout metrics, President Obama, presumably one of the most famous people in the world, now has a near-perfect Klout Score of 99, compared to only 94 previously.

The San Francisco-based company that claims it can measure your social-media influence has announced a number of enhancements and new diagnostics to improve the accuracy of its Klout Scores.

The Klout Score, which is a number between one and 100, goes beyond tallying the number of followers and friends someone has. It looks at who is engaging with each individual's content and with whom they are sharing it.

Previously, Klout utilized 100 metrics that could be used to determine one's social media "clout." Now, there are more than 400 variables included in the algorithm, such as whether the person in question has a Wikipedia profile, what their title and company affiliation is on LinkedIn, who re-tweets their Twitter tweets, and who has tagged them in photos on Facebook.

'As Much as Money'

Klout CEO and co-founder Joe Fernandez says his company's goal is for social-media influence to be "worth as much as money," and to become "the new currency." That's a rather lofty goal, of course. In the meantime, he said, his site provides tools so that one can "be a greater content creator."

Klout's influence analysis has also been stepped up, in terms of its scope. The software analyzes 12 billion pieces of data every day, compared to about a billion previously, and its database holds about 100 million profiles.

The new metrics seem to better reflect some realities. For instance, President Obama, presumably one of the most influential people in the world, now has a near-perfect Klout Score of 99, compared to only 94 previously. On the other hand, the new metrics resulted in Justin Bieber falling from 99 to 94.

The Business Case for Measuring Clout

Brand managers and businesses are using Klout to find influencers in a given field, such as Chevrolet has done for people who are known for their knowledge of cars. Chevy then offers special benefits to those individuals, such as borrowing a Volt for several days for a personal test drive. The next step, Chevy hopes, is that those influencers will talk online to their friends and followers about the experience.

But Klout and similar services may soon be worth more than just bragging rights and some afternoons showing off a loaned Volt. An upcoming financial services company, called Movenbank, is already testing its CREDscore in a private alpha launch. CREDscore utilizes an old-fashioned credit score, but it also incorporates social media influence from sources such as Klout.

An extensive financial personality quiz at Movenbank assigns a financial "type" to the individual, such as salesperson, accountant, artist, and so on. There are also questions about financial information that a regular bank might request, such as annual income. Individuals can also connect a social media account, such as on Facebook or Google+, and can link to their Klout score.

The New York-based Movenbank said that using alternative forms of personal assessment, such as a Klout score, can be useful in determining if someone who, say, lost their job is still a good risk, as seen by the level of online influence.

If online reputation is an asset and can be measured, as Klout and other services contend, then incorporating online reputation into financial assessments could be a valid move. On the other hand, with some effort, one could fake some sort of online reputation, and the question is whether Klout and its ilk can figure out the difference.

Banks are not the only Klout-aware institutions. Some help-wanted ads, such as those for social media specialists, have begun specifying a minimum Klout score in their listings, as well.

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