For me the debate over Influence Measurement simply comes down to Social Capital and what’s the importance of your online presence, or Personal Brand?” Does this presence bring value to your work and/or personal life? There’s no doubt for my “geek” family and I that time invested online has value.
However, as many have said already, the measurement of that worth has been elusive at best. I’ve vehemently ranted IRL (In Real Life) that ranking sites, like Klout demean Social Community Citizenship. I’m not out here to be popular, I may very well offend, sharing my objective opinion is not in the hope that I’ll receive a “freebie” or be given backstage access to your club. However, like it or not, human beings will rank one another and the potential benefits of our connections. This is especially true since we have expectations of these relationships, whether online or IRL.
Social capital is a sociological concept, which refers to connections within and between social networks. The concept of social capital highlights the value of social relations and the role of cooperation and confidence to get collective or economic results. The term social capital is frequently used by different social sciences. It is a wide term, and that is why it can be defined accentuating different aspects depending on the perspective. In general terms, it could be said that social capital is the fruit of social relations, and consists of the expectative benefits derived from the preferential treatment and cooperation between individuals and groups.
Source: Wikipedia 2011
BUT! When it comes to marketing and connecting with audiences, I tend to return to the original 95 Theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto. As a purist, Thesis 73 comes to mind.
“You’re invited, but it’s our world. Take your shoes off at the door. If you want to barter with us, get down off that camel!”
Wouldn’t it be safe to say that the measurement of “influence” is an attempt to persuade Social Community Citizens to “hitch a ride” on that camel? You can tell I worry about this, and at the same time I’ve acquiesced. I can’t deny the power of the rankings for no other reason than I’m a Digital Brand Strategist entrusted with building Social Presence for clients.
A genuine authentic brand voice requires Brand Evangelists, those that bring their tribes with them. Successful Social Presence Strategies must rely on the community in order to measure any activity effectively. And of course the question then becomes, how do you quickly identify these very powerful voices, the Influencers.
I prefer to connect with these communities the “old-fashioned way”, participate, cultivate and reciprocate. It concerns me intensely that we may well be handing over our power to cold algorithms. I’ve always said tools are important, but we HAVE to bring the humanity into the analysis. The charts and graphs bear the stench of traditional old school “marketing speak.”
Okay…enough of the rant…below I’ve shared a quick comparison of how I rank on these sites. Keeping in mind I’m a Digital Pioneer from way back in the Gopher protocol days. With my history and strong online participation, one would think my “Web Cred” would be equally ranked. But not so much, in fact I’m either a Rock Star or irrelevant to point of non-existence. It’s all based on how each site slices and dices your data. But I found it a fascinating exercise.
Okay, this one’s is my favorite since “My Career Score” is 807 out of a possible 850!
This site focuses purely on your Personal Brand from an employment perspective. So since I’ve spent the last five years primarily focused on Employer Branding this score does not surprise me. I’m fairly pleased that my professional career web cred has such a high score. But again, I’m not sure that recruiters will be easily persuaded to spend dollars to access the aggregation of my data. Where “My Web Career” gets the interesting recruitment/online reputation data, I’m not sure. But briefly:
What Does Your Online Presence Tell Potential Employers About You?:
- 70% have rejected candidates based on reputational data found online
- 75% have hiring policies that require the review of online reputational data.
- 84% believe the use of online reputational data will increase in the next 5 years.
I’m not “popular” enough to be “invited” to this party. No offense it’s in BETA and they’re definitely looking for uber influencers. I did “Tweet” my request for invite and hope that I’ll be able to set up my profile for further analysis. Here’s a quick screen shot of my Kred from simple search on their site. I can’t have an opinion here till I get more time to play so for now…let’s just say I’m not Kred worthy ;).
This is a site that clearly focuses on Social Capital, it’s in their tag line. “Understand Your Social Capital”. You can search for others on the web to determine their social capital as well as gauge your own.
Peer Index explains that you have an “Authority Score”. They measure your overall Activity, Audience, and Authority. My total ranking as you can see is a whopping 13 out of a possible 100.
Breaking Down the Components:
Authority is the measure of trust; calculating how much others rely on your recommendations and opinion in general and on particular topics.
We calculate the authority in our eight benchmark topics for every profile. These are used to generate the overall Authority Score as well as produce the PeerIndex Footprint diagram.
The Authority Score is a relative positioning against everyone else in each benchmark topic. The rank is a normalised measure against all the other authorities in the topic area.
Your Audience Score is a normalized indication of your reach taking into account the relative size of your audience to the size of the audiences of others. In calculating your Audience Score, we do not simply use the number of people who follow you, but instead generate from the number of people who are impacted by your actions and are receptive to what you are saying.
If you are a person who has an “audience” consisting of a large number of spam accounts, bots, or inactive accounts, your Audience Score will reflect this.
Your Activity Score is the measure of how much you do that is related to the topic communities you are part of. By being too active, your topic community members tend to get fatigued and may stop engaging with you; by taking a long hiatus on a particular topic, community members may not engage with a long absent member. Your Activity Score takes into account this behaviour.
Like the other scores, Activity Score is calculated relative to your communities. If you are part of a community that has a large amount of activity, your level of activity and engagement will need to be higher to achieve the same relative score as in a topic that has less activity.
Last but not least the heavily debated Klout. Here my score is 27 out of 100. And just so you know…I’m great at dinner parties because Klout has decided I’m a conversationalist. I sadly have a long long way to go to be considered an “influencer”. What really get’s me about this site is it’s reminiscent of the “karma” we had to earn when we were playing with PLURK back in 2008/2009. Our individual karma was ranked based on how much we “plurked” and replurked, etc. With each increase in rank we were gifted the ability to use dancing emoticons. Don’t get me wrong…it was an epic day when I got my dancing banana.
I’m not belittling the power here of encouraging influencers to raise their scores. Genuinely if you’re considered a mover and shaker say in the “classic car” world, there may well be some AWESOME opps coming your way to receive tickets to shows, sample products, speak, and so on. We social marketing professionals will be looking for easy ways to find you and enlist you in our strategies. But! Online Influencers are a unique tribe…they protect the village with diligent watchful eyes. They won’t be reduced to a demographic. I highly recommend that you read Pam Moore’s analysis. She goes into stellar detail in “Why I Deleted My Klout Profile” focusing on privacy concerns, algorithm inconsistencies and more. Her review and assessment is outstanding.
NOTE: It’s important to mention that each of these sites REQUIRE we grant them access to our Social Networks. We have to open the back gate of our walled communities so they can virtually rummage through our online cupboards to produce a validating score. Now, It doesn’t matter if you’ve decided to opt-out by ignoring them. All of these sites will generate a profile for you based on your existing online presence. The amount of information they pull back to verify how important you are is based on your individual community security settings, is your profile public? I’m not saying one way or another these sites are good or bad…they just are. Do some research and assessment of your own online presence and decide for yourself what value these services/sites bring. From a Digital Brand Strategy perspective, I caution clients to remain agnostic and approach their influencers through, participation, cultivation, reciprocity and most of all – with respect.