The Rise of Klout and What It Means For Local Media Companies

Question of the day: “What is your Klout score?”

Sites ranking your online influence are getting all the buzz these days. The higher your score, the more influential you are. Klout is the early leader followed by the likes of Peerindex, and Twitalyzer.The approach is the same for all. Each site scrapes your Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin accounts for data, apply secret formulas and algorithms, and then deliver your social influence score. In seconds, you will know your social audience reach, who you are influencing and how.

It is pretty cool actually. As the Wall Street Journal pointed out in an article on the topic this week: “It’s an ego thing.” Heck yeah it is. Not that my score is anything to write home about (43 @cenevoldsen), but I currently have bragging rights beating out my boss, President of Freedom Interactive Doug Bennett (34 @hoosier40), and VP of ProductsJordan Gold (33 @jordango). And I make sure to remind them on a daily basis.

Bragging rights aside, how useful are these sites for businesses? Here is how peerindex explains their value proposition:

“Business have long understood the need to identify and reward the authorities and opinion-formers relevant to their industry. Prior to the social web, this list was a known quantity of a few dozen journalists and tastemakers.

In today’s socially-networked world, authority is much more widely spread. Through their social profiles, individuals are demonstrating their expertise and clout — and building reputation and social capital.”

Digital marketers are quickly catching on. 25-year-old Ms. Miller featured in the Wall Street Journal article was invited to a “swanky holiday party” sponsored by, among others, the Venetian and Palazzo hotels in Las Vegas, simply because her Klout was 74. At CES in January, Audi made their high-end sedan available for a top influencer, and Nike has been sending invites out to influencers that “have serious basketball Klout.”

The marketing value makes total sense. If the social influence sites can stay the path, I think they will see tremendous growth in 2011.

Local media companies, like Freedom Communications, should get in on the action as soon as possible too. The question is how?

The easiest step would be to add Klout and Peerindex scores to the social media management services we already offer local advertisers. In addition to managing advertisers’ facebook and Twitter accounts, Klout and Peerindex will enable us to prove the ROI to advertisers by highlighting increases in social capital.

Taking it a step further, we can become the facilitator between advertisers and top influencers. For now, the Nike’s and the Audi’s of the world are engaging influencers, but local media companies have an opportunity to manage the process for resource strapped local advertisers. Klout is already soliciting for  businesses with their Perks program and Peerindex will follow soon.

So, how can social influence scores be utilized on the content side? I see two quick ways publishers can get started (using OC Register as the example):

1) Measure the social influence of @OCReggie

It is an obvious first step to measure the influence of  OC Register’s official Twitter handle. What is the true reach and how are we interacting with audiences? Are we considered experts in our field? How do we compare to our peers? Both Klout and Peerindex give decent snapshots. Below is a comparison from peerindex between @ocreggie, @latimes and @sdut (San Diego Union Tribune).

OCReggie's topic fingerprint is smaller than latimes and weak on MED and BIZ

Ocreggie reaches a broader audience than sdut

Ideally, we should take it a step further and do a deep dive into who our followers truly are. As an example of how that can be done, check out Brian Solis’ analysis of Starbucks’ followers. We can use all of this information for two things: A) by understanding audiences, we can better serve them with relevant content, B) now that we know our level of influence and have insight about followers, we can begin to think about monetizing our social media channels with relevant advertisers.

2) Measure the social influence of reporters’ Twitter handles

It gets tricky down at the reporter level. First question, which Twitter handles “belong” to OC Register? For example, Ian Hamilton (@Hmltn) is a tech writer at OC Register, but the Twitter handle is his own. He just happens to tweet about tech stuff because it is his job and his passion. For other handles it is clear cut. @DealsDiva is handled by Marla Fisher, but it is clearly an OC Register brand. Regardless of ownership, social influence scores will be important tools to measure reporters’ social media activity. A social influence goal for @DealsDiva (Klout score currently at 47) could be to reach 55 within a given period of time.

Social media has grown up and is now  considered a vital part in successful online marketing and publishing. The rise of social influence sites increases the level of sophistication and enables publishers and marketers more meaningful uses of social media.

Let us all agree, it is time to raise that Klout score.


4 thoughts on “The Rise of Klout and What It Means For Local Media Companies

  1. Based on a page built by Klout for an event by Social IRL (, I built a page of our reporters and websites that showed everyone’s score. It got everyone thinking about Twitter, how to raise their influence, etc. If nothing else, it’s increased our own engagement on social networks just by talking about it. I’ve got a more robust version in the works that will be leaderboard style where each profile will have the ability to expand and show influencers and topics.

  2. Maybe I’m way off with what you are talking about but I just read on the NPR website that the Gates Foundation is investing two million dollars into Facebook (and perhaps other social media platforms) to create more specific rooms for college students.

    The story goes that colleges are finding high drop out rates for first year freshman. Though the campus has a strong following on their official Facebook page it is too crowded and does is not cater to those who are actually following the ongoing activities of the school.
    SO, the idea is to create social pages designed for specific followers (like a Freshman only page). This way the college can get a more personal relationship with students and offer programs that allow them to participate more on campus, thus keeping them interested in staying in college.

    To me this all seems like a great marketing as well as an educational tool. Perhaps if businesses could create something that compares to this idea. Something that can lead specific followers into programs, surveys, incentives, sales, ect. it would have a greater impact on a business or individuals Klout.
    Just a thought.

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