Social Media Influence and Scoring – Care or Don’t Care … What You Should Consider

Scoring … starts at a young age and has continued with us throughout life. And now we have scoring on our degree of social-ness or better yet our social reach.

Social media is changing the world and has reinvigorated the importance, to some, of social influence. “Social influence occurs when an individual’s thoughts, feelings or actions are affected by other people. Social influence takes many forms and can be seen in conformity, socialization, peer pressure, obedience, leadership, persuasion, sales, and marketing.” (source – Wikipedia) Should you care? Well, I’ll get to that in a few moments.

As many of you know, there are a number of services, some free, that score individuals and other entities with a social profile, on social influence by various proprietary algorithms.

Here are some:

Klout
PeerIndex
Traackr
WE Twendz Pro
Twenty Feet
CrowdBooster
TweetStats
My Web Career

You can check out a good write up that goes through “5 Tools That Help Measure Your Social Media Influence.”

Now let’s talk about the value of social media influence scoring for a bit. If you have been active in successful marketing endeavors, you know that identifying influencers of your target and schmoozing them is imperative. No brainer – you want influential people to say positive things about your brand. When I ran a mainframe product line, do you know how much effort we put into making analysts happy by not only delivering a great product but also by feeding their ego? Influencing the press has always been key as well.

The growth of social media has opened the doors for a new breed of influencers. And having worked for a number of top brands, I can tell you that identifying individuals with strong social reach and authority is extremely important. Rhetorical question – should a brand put more effort into engagement with some that have great social reach and influence or just your average Jane or Joe?

So I do think these tools that measure social power are important. BUT that is not the end of the story and the bottom line. Each one of the tools listed above (and others) look at specific platforms (sometimes more than one) to determine their numeric social scoring value. Why is this important to note? Well what if your target market does NOT typically participate on the platform(s) they are using for evaluation? Then the score is meaningless. For example, I am not sure if any of the tools above use LinkedIn data to determine their scores.

So as in all marketing efforts, you must know where your target market plays – step one. Then you can evaluate the social media influence scoring tools and feature sets from social media monitoring tools to see if they consider where your market is active.

One more issue I want to bring up … your concern and maybe infatuation with your own social scoring. I think many want their score to be relative high and that might mean certain brands and organizations will show you more love. Heck, I’d be lying to you if I did not admit I check my score from time to time. But for dear sakes, do not be obsessed with this. It will diminish the value of your natural social presence. If you become more motivated to increase your score with tactics and gaming the system, it will be to the detriment of the real purpose of being social. That is to deliver people valuable information, support, and entertainment.

I love this quote from one of the great minds and people in the marketing and social space, Mark Schaefer. In the New York Times article “Got Twitter? You’ve Been Scored” Mark sarcastically, but accurately said, ““I went on vacation for two weeks and my Klout score went down.” Now I know Mark and he would never be hung up on this, but there are certainly others out there who do – you know who you are.

Believe me. I am not so green and naïve. My bald head is seasoned. So words to the wise … social media influence scoring is important and needs to be used properly – not simply taken for face value. And please, please, please – if you are social, play by the ethical rules and don’t game the system. And don’t be possessed by your score. Deliver value in your own personal way. It will be recognized, appreciated, and maybe rewarded in due time.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

17 Comments

Filed under measuring social media, social media, social media influence, social media influence scoring, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve

17 responses to “Social Media Influence and Scoring – Care or Don’t Care … What You Should Consider

  1. I was reading a book by louis frankel It somehow reminded me of the articles
    i have been reading on your website.
    let me quote something i really liked “It would be, to get the things that you want in life, you need to take risks. You need to get outside your comfort zone and be willing to deal with other people’s discomfort, because if you spend your life making other people comfortable, you may feel good, but you’re not going to get what you really want.”
    Best,
    Nousheen

    • Thanks Nousheen. My perspective is that you need to find the right balance making yourself happy and making other people happy. In fact, if you do get the balance right you will find that both efforts really feed the opposite … delivering goodness to people brings happiness in your life and by being happy, others enjoy what you have to offer. Get the balance right!

      Best,
      Steve

  2. Ric Dragon

    I wish the scoring systems really worked, though, from a marketing measurement point of view. Part of our efforts might be: build connections in Facebook, with x percent having Klout scores above 60. It would be a rough way of knowing that we’d be connecting with individuals that are active on the web, which would have significance.

    • Ric – I think you are on to something … use what is out there but tweak it with your own modifications to turn data and results that are REALLY applicable. Thanks for the valuable input!

      Best,
      Steve

  3. Really interesting post – our social score seems to have polarised opinion…i’m cynical of free tools, as they won’t be as robust or accurate as the paid for options (e.g. Meltwater Buzz Engage: http://buzz.meltwater.com/products/engage-module/)

    My blog may well be of interest to you – funnily enough written just a few days ago: http://blog.meltwater.com/musings-on-%E2%80%9Cinfluence%E2%80%9D-what-makes-someone-influential-online

    The debate will continue for some time, but i do encourage you to explore the Engage module.

  4. These scores are misleading indicators of true influence, Steve, and here’s why:

    Truly influential figures do not go around desperately agreeing to follow everyone who offers to reciprocally follow them on Twitter, or fan them on Facebook, yet many so-called Twitter and Facebook influencers are being heralded as thus merely because they have a high number of “followers”. Further exploration will reveal, I am confident, that the ratio between their followers and those they follow is very near 1:1. Deeper examination will reveal the names on both lists (followers/following) are near identical. Many twitter “users” will contest that this is a perfectly acceptable convention, except for the fact – crucial to many brands seeking truly impactful influencers – that nobody is reading each other’s tweets! In the above scenarios (and there are MANY), the user’s interest lies not in the content tweeted by those they follow, but in the accumulation of followers, regardless of the interest thereof. This is not true influence or interest; it is mutual masturbation, to put it as accurately though unpleasantly as possible. Scoring mechanisms such as Klout are only interested in the numbers, in the absence of an ability to measure the actual use and impact of posted content (elements which are nigh impossible to track, other than through retweets, which tell only part of the story).

    Truly influential figures immerse themselves in the activities and discoveries of both their peers and self-identified influencers (often quite low profile specialist figures, with incredibly granular insight in to one or two particular issues, with little top-level visibility and thus minimal spread). These influencers will only post their findings and observations occasionally, because they are exemplars of the “quality over quantity” maxim, and thus their “scores”, as adjudicated today, would be low, relative to the manic tweeter who is tweeting every breath he takes, every move he makes, every bagel he bakes. It’s currently very easy to game the system and rack up a healthy social influence score, if one is willing to invest the time in this pursuit.

    I don’t believe that social scoring is a useful mechanism for evaluating the impact and “sticky” reach of a social influencer (There are several apparent “social media experts” with enormous twitter followings, and zero visibility outside the social space. This is not as influential an individual as brands are being led to believe).

    One is not a social media influencer if the only constituency one is “influencing” is a constituency of numbers hungry, attention-seeking, score-obsessed social media addicts, who are not so much deploying social tools in support of their offline and real world activities, but rather using social media as the be-all and end-all of their identity…

    I look forward to the day when someone develops an algorithm that measures the value of a comment, posting, or article, as opposed to the numbers of platform or app users who have agreed to follow or fan the author, in return for the same “consideration”, irrespective of the mutual interest (or lack thereof) in the content generated by each party.

    the only way for a brand to gauge the potential influence of an individual, relative to their intended demographic, is to actually read their postings and articles, and develop an independent, score-free, sense of that person’s value to their brand reach. the shortcut of a score is today, IMHO, a dead-end.

    • Nicholas –

      Sincere appreciate you putting much valuable information here. I agree that there is a ton of room for improvement of the scoring equations, but I would not agree they are completely worthless. It is a STARTing point for capturing influencers. I look forward to advancements in the space.

      Thanks for your contribution and bringing a needed diversity of perspective to the discussion. This will help move the offerings to a more mature state.

      Steve

      • I tried so valiantly to start an argument, and you get all diplomatic on me! Major disappointment. ;D j/k

        You’re unquestionably right about this being the beginning of something that will (one hopes) evolve in to something of increasingly greater worth. My concern is that users today seem to be blindly buying in to metrics that celebrate “achievements” of little to no value. I want to encourage an increase in the individual’s evaluation of platform and application value, as opposed to mass adoption driven by the belief that we miss out unless we are using every single tool, app, or utility our there!

        Keep up the good work that you’re doing!

      • Sorry to get so diplomatic – that was not my intent. I think you brought up some very valid points that should push tools apps in the direction they need to go. Maybe I am just an optimist.

  5. This is a topic I’ve been thinking about a long-time. While Klout and other social influence services prey on our worst fears “I am important”, I too have to admit I check my score from time to time. FYI- Klout has recently added LinkedIn in their score factor: http://mashable.com/2011/06/14/klout-linkedin/

  6. Steve, you hit on many of the things I find worrisome about scoring influence and Nicholas’ comments are on the money. I think all the apps/platforms you listed are trying to develop useful methodologies. Indeed, I think they take it quite seriously. But at the moment this space is primitive and nascent.

    Obviously, marketers are looking for ways to evaluate potential influencers, which is the reason these tools are gaining popularity. However, I cringe every time I hear that another app or platform has incorporated Klout scoring because I think most people wrongly assume that these scores are more accurate and useful than they actually are. All the scoring tools need to be taken with a grain of salt at the moment. Good, old-fashioned elbow grease is still the best way to find and vet people (just like smart PR people have always done with journalists).

    Long term, I think http://hoosaid.com has the right idea by approaching influencers as “pagerank for people” (disclosure, it was developed by a pal of mine). Search engines have done a great job (over time) of helping us find useful information, so using the same model to find useful people seems like the best idea thus far

    @CarriBugbee
    Social profiles: http://www.CarriBugbee.com

    • Carri – thanks for your input. Influence is very important. I think the tools give us some information but then as you say – “Good, old-fashioned elbow grease is still the best way vet people.”

      Thanks and best, Steve

  7. Information overload, too much choice, too little time and we all face these don’t we?
    So no matter what you think! you will end up participating in some way.
    Will you take the time to follow a low score you don’t know?
    Will you take the time to follow and seek to connect with a high score?
    The answer to that is pretty well known.
    Why will we participate?
    Save time, find better connected peeps, learn who is influential and who isn’t?
    Being social has moved past being just social, it’s being business social as well.
    Billy

  8. What a great topic to discuss. All too often people exploring social media tools become obsessed with their influence scoring, and lose specifically what you said, “the value of your natural social presence.” That’s so not the point of being social, but I’m finding more and more folks, particularly in the business world are forcing themselves to participate, rather than being genuinely transparent and providing honest and valuable information to others in and out of their networks.

    I enjoy reading your posts, Steve. Keep them coming!

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