Social media is the driving force behind much of the World Wide Web. Individuals use it to connect and share globally, and businesses have realized its immense potential for extending brand reach. A recent Pew Internet report found that two-thirds of adult Internet users are using a social networking site; other studies have noted the growing use of social media for marketing purposes.
So, given the growing importance of social media, it makes sense that companies are now measuring the relative importance, or influence, of the people using the networks.
Klout and PeerIndex, the two major players in measuring social influence, have only been around for a few years but have already made a mark on digital engagement.
Klout measures people’s social media influence by analyzing how the content they create drives online trends and user action. To do this, it considers three specific indicators:
- True Reach measures the number of people a person may be influencing within their own network.
- Amplification measures how much you actually influence these people.
- Network Impact looks at how influential the people in your network are.
Klout tracks activity across numerous social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare and YouTube. After sifting through all of this social data, Klout gives a score on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being an indication of a highly influential person.
PeerIndex measures users’ relative online authority, taking into account their activity on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn, as well as other sites. It looks at three benchmarks: Authority, Audience and Activity.
The first, Authority, is a measure of how much trust others place in your opinion and recommendations. The number of people you affect equates to Audience, and Activity is a gauge of your online engagement.
Like Klout, PeerIndex has a scoring scale of 1 to 100, with the score reflecting, in part, a user’s “social and reputational capital on the web.”
What Does All of This Mean?
At the end of the day, does it really matter what your score is or how influential you’re perceived to be? That depends on who you ask. For many people, an influence score is a form of social currency. Those with the most social currency may get the most perks and rewards.
For instance, big companies may woo someone with a high Klout score in order to help extend their brand reach. A hotel chain might be more than happy to give an “influencer” a free weekend at one of its locations, hoping that individual will influence others to become guests at the chain’s hotels.
For other people, social currency is a powerful new tool for personal branding. With a quick glance at your PeerIndex or Klout score, people may decide you are a trusted, authority figure within your topical community or sphere of influence. This can mean more clients and more business.
It seems unlikely that the concept of measuring social influence is going away. More likely, the algorithms and metrics used to tally scores will become increasingly sophisticated as users and marketers demand more accurate results.
The key will be to use social metrics not as a popularity contest but as a means of inspiring more and better social engagement – to create and share content that can shape opinions and cause action.