By Penny Munroe on 2 August 2012 @ 3:00 PM.
The social media site Klout is gaining much attention from big businesses and niche bloggers alike and is becoming increasingly relevant to the online world. Based in San Francisco, Klout uses a complicated algorithm similar to Google’s page rankings to determine what online users have the most ‘social influence’, and then accordingly allocates users with a Klout scores. In other words, Klout measures what blogger, twitter user or online journalist has the capacity to sway the behaviour of other online users. In the offline world, influence is startlingly obvious. For example, the British public dutifully follow the style of Kate Middleton. If she wears wedge shoes on Monday, stores will stock near replicas on Tuesday. Thus it is not unreasonable to think that this kind of influence is relevant in the online world.
Academics have also realised the online relevance of Klout. Social media expert Mark Schaeffer published academic book, “Return to Influence: The Revolutionary Power of Klout, Social Scoring, and Influence Marketing”. Although Klout is not a complete game changer, it is affecting online marketing strategies, customer service operations and the flow of communication. For example, during the infamous ‘pink slime’ controversy, a previously unknown blogger was the preferred news source pushing the story, above traditional news broadcasters like ABC News.
Klout rankings or scores are compiled according to a user’s activity on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The number of followers, re-Tweets, comments and frequency of updates are all used to gauge how much Klout influence you have in the online world. In short, the higher your Klout score, the more social influence you have. In turn, the higher your social influence, the more likely it is that people will follow your opinion of a certain product, service or piece of information. Klout ratings are thus a highly valuable marketing and customer services tool.
Companies are using Klout in many different areas. Some tech savvy companies consider Klout scores before hiring and even refer to Klout rankings when dealing with customer service issues. Some customers are even providing users with high Klout scores with attractive discounts and incentives. Also, because many consumers are turning to online peers for consumer purchase information, companies will actively ensure that individuals with high Klout scores are satisfied as their opinion are trusted. However, companies must also realise that Klout is not fool proof, and like many other online entities, can be manipulated. However, companies do need to start thinking about how social relevancy in general can increase the visibility and power of their brands.
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