Clout with a 'K'

Measures of social media impact assess both number of followers and interaction level.
Nandagopal Rajan        Print Edition: Nov 10, 2013
Clout with a 'K'

Nandagopal Rajan
Nandagopal Rajan
Social media, and all the likes and retweets that come with it, is very good for the ego. But is there any way to measure how much impact your 140 characters of sarcasm, or the Instagram of your last Italian meal, had on your peers? Yes indeed, there are many. None of them is perfect, but all are good indicators of what is and what isn't working for you.

For over a year now, I have been studying Klout, which of late has become the benchmark for measuring web influence. Once you have linked all your social networks to Klout, it calculates your score on a scale of one to 100. Anyone with a decent level of engagement scores over 30. At the top end of the scale are the social media rockstars like Shashi Tharoor with scores of over 85. But anyone with a score of 60 or more is considered an 'influencer'.

Klout scores are not based on just the number of Twitter followers or Facebook likes a person has. It is also indicative of your level of engagement. So, if you reply to every post, retweet stuff you like and 'like' posts on others' pages, you will have a better score than someone with millions of followers but hardly any activity. This is why many bloggers have better scores than, say, the official account of the Prime Minister of India. Just for the record, the @PMOIndia handle has a score of 82, and @narendramodi, the handle of the person who wants to replace him, has a score of 89. That's a good indicator of the engagement levels we talked about earlier.

There are other measures too. Kred, for instance, looks at the same platforms as Klout, but gives scores on a scale of 1,000. So, a person with a Klout score of 80 is likely to have a Kred score in the 800s. What both these services map well are the domains where you are making an impression. They also highlight the moments that made an impact on your scores. They provide as well a list of people who influence you, usually those whose tweets you retweet the most or whose Facebook posts you 'like' more often.

Klout or Kred scores are great tools for those in social media marketing. With a bit of study, you can understand what kind of posts are working for you or your brand. While you can easily spend a few hundred dollars to get thousands of new followers, these indicators will teach you how to grow your fan base organically. You will, in fact, get a lower score if you have an unusual number of fake followers. So don't be surprised if a lot of Indian politicians and Bollywood wannabes fare poorly with the scoring. And don't laugh when I tell you there have been instances in the US where people have added their Klout scores to their resumes.

It is, however, also easy to influence these scores. Klout, for instance, seems to be very sensitive to Instagram activity and a photo with over 100 likes will take your score up by a percentage point. So, if you are not trying to fan your ego and want a genuine idea of what your grip on social media is, it is better to use multiple services. So add PeerIndex and TwentyFeet, along with Klout and Kred, to your score sheet. Together they will paint a good picture of how much your social side is worth.

Recently, SumAll opened its services to individuals and brands. It is more useful for small-time online vendors, as it also lets you track Google AdSense, Amazon, eBay and PayPal, even their sales and receipts. It also collates all your data on a single trend line or table so that you know where you are flagging. Paid services on all these are much better than what you get for free. To be successful on the digital stage you have to go out all guns blazing, and it makes sense for people who earn money online to spend some to get their analytics right.

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