Rate your influence on a scale of 1 to 100
(The Klout metre analyses how effective users of social media are at spreading their influence on the web. Photo credit: Klout.com.)
Social media use eventually leads to some consideration of metrics, be it a straight-forward figure such as a follower count, a Facebook "likes" number, or something more involved that can operate across platforms.
Whether the social media use is individual or corporate, such a measurement may be useful in gauging the effectiveness of a particular service and its associated data stream.
Twitter, the service that effectively created social media as a discipline worth studying, has its retweets and favourites as one level of measurement of the value of a particular account.
A more sophisticated measure might be drawn from gauging interactions with other accounts, particularly if those accounts themselves are judged as being important.
Such measurements were at the heart of the algorithm that initially propelled Google to becoming dominant in the field of Internet searching.
The assumption was that sites that were linked to by a large number of other Internet sites must be of value or importance to others. More links equated to greater importance.
Google's strength lay in an ability to quantify this importance through a mathematical relationship.
It is such underlying relationships that form the core of a service such as Klout, a Silicon Valley startup that bills itself as "building influence" by somehow bringing brands and influencers together.
Klout, which first appeared in 2012, has morphed a few times since. Most recently it was acquired by Lithium Technologies in a complex billion-dollar deal involving cash and stock.
If nothing else, the deal cemented to some extent the claim that there is monetary value to social media influence metrics.
At an individual level a case can be made that a Klout score is somewhat narcissistic. However, that can also be said for social media in general.
In my own case, having monitored Klout since its inception, strictly for research purposes you understand J, my score has ranged between 59 and 64. Initially that Klout score was based only on my Twitter use.
By way of comparison, the Vancouver Sun has a score of 88 and Stephen Harper is at 90 on Klout's 1-100 scale. Klout has gradually added other platforms that it claims to be able to measure for influence.
As of this writing, Klout claims to have influence data for some 620 million individuals and for around 200,000 businesses. In my case, Klout is drawing data from my social media presence on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Occasionally the service says there is a contribution to my Klout score from Klout itself, perhaps from posts I've made about the service. At present that contribution shows zero.
I have no presence to speak of on Facebook or on Instagram, so these two provide no contribution to the score. A user of Klout may choose which services will be linked to the score, primarily because an individual may have more than one account with a particular social media service.
There has been much debate over whether Klout can properly gauge the contribution of Google+ to its scoring algorithm.
For many months after Google+ was incorporated, Klout users noted that the contribution from that service was typically in the single digit, even though many noted that they had tens of thousands of followers on Google+ and that they had engagement with those followers far in excess of what they had on Twitter.
From my perspective, Klout definitely seems to have difficulty assessing engagement on Google+. Some of this comes from an inability to assess activity inside Google+ Communities, since posts there are by definition private to the community. Klout can only "see" public content.
However, more than 95 per cent of my posts to Google+ are public, and I have a constant pattern to my post frequency. On some days Klout will report that 40 per cent of my score is coming from Google+ content, while on others it might be as little as 10 per cent. Clearly something is amiss.
As if to underscore the concept of influence, Klout awards so-called perks to users with scores that exceed sponsor-set base values.
I've seen token items at my 60-point level: a box of cat litter (I don't have a cat), a package of various low-salt spices, a magazine subscription offer, and a four-day test drive of a new GM vehicle (it was delivered to and picked up from my home).
Whether Klout will live on as a viable metric of social media influence remains to be seen. Vancouver's HootSuite Media does incorporate Klout scores into its service.
A click on any Twitter user name in HootSuite will display the user's basic profile along with a Klout score if the user subscribes to the service.
Digital cameras web site
Our annually updated site for Vancouver-area digital camera sales is ready for your Christmas shopping research.
Check it out at http://vandigicams.ca. More details in a later column.