Digital Influence Re-calibrated part 2

Part 2 of 3.

Clarification Number 2: Klout isn’t about the one score. It provides a breadth of relevant insights that can help marketers properly target “influencers.”

Forget about the score for a second and take the time to explore the more specific data it provides about individuals. Let’s use screen shots from my own Twitter account.

In the image below, you will notice that my “Klout Score” is currently 74. What exactly does that tell you about me? That I use Twitter? That I have a following? That I am less popular or “influential” than Justin Bieber? How so? In relation to what? How does this score translate into reach, impact, action, etc.? The score in and of itself doesn’t tell you a whole lot about my value to a company, campaign or cause. Fortunately, Klout offers more information than its notorious “score”:

True reach: The size of my “engaged audience.” (A little less than 50% of my total audience.)

Amplification: The likelihood that my “content” will be acted upon.

Network: The influence level of my engaged audience.

Already, we’ve learned a little more about the way that my audience interacts with me on Twitter. Let’s look at a little more: The icons below the 4 main score summaries indicate the number of lists a user has been added to, the total number of retweets, unique retweeters, unique messages retweeted (which speaks to the likelihood that content will be shared, how often AND by how many people), volume of likes and unique “likers,” and the number of comments and unique commenters.

Klout score Olivier Blanchard

Compare this page to that of a slightly more influential person outside of the Twitternets (just for fun, Fox News conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck):

Klout score Glenn Beck

Note that Glenn Beck’s Klout score is almost the same as mine. Yet his true reach (as a celebrity) is almost 10 times what mine is. (BIG reach. BIG audience. He’s on the radio and TV, and it seems he publishes a new book every six weeks. The guy is everywhere.) Yet his amplification is almost identical to mine, and his network – on average – is far less “influential” than mine. Now look at the icons. Beck is on 10x the number of lists I am on (again, 10x reach). The retweet number is double mine. He has five times the number of unique retweeters I do and double the number of messages retweeted. For some reason, we have the same number of unique messages retweeted.

Why am I showing you this? Because if all you look at is an individual’s Klout score, you might think that Glenn beck and I are similarly influential on Twitter. Yet that could not be further from the truth.

Let’s dig a little deeper. Here is a little more information about me, according to Klout: Klout has classified me as a “curator,” much like Ford’s Scott Monty. Note that Klout also gives me information on a few people who influence me and are influenced by me AND maps them on the classification grid so I can see what types of “influencers” they are. (The categories are curator, broadcaster, feeder, syndicator, taste-maker, celebrity, thought leader, pundit, socializer, networker, specialist, activist, observer, dabbler, explorer and conversationalist.) Obviously, Klout’s classification engine isn’t where it could be (I don’t think either Scott Monty or I are primarily curators, for example), but it’s a start. A little manual override is fine as long as you understand that celebrities and thought leaders are bound to have different types of impact on their networks in terms of action.

Klout classification

At the bottom of Klout’s main “summary” page for any account is also a short list of common topics discussed by the individual. In my case, these are marketing, social media, branding, media, public relations and business. The list doesn’t seem to cover topics in which I am not particularly influential. It does not, for example, mention Nutella, chihuahuas, triathlon or travel, even though these are common discussion topics for me. This topic summary feature is pretty key when it comes to properly targeting an influencer. Why? Because if someone doesn’t seem to be particularly influential when it comes to video games, chances are that they might not be the most obvious choice for a promotion involving a new Playstation game, for example. Take the time to glance at the topic summary.

Here comes more: In the score analysis section, scroll down and look at some of the information organized for you. Here we have a subsection called “True reach.” This is where the difference between the total number of followers vs. “engaged” followers is explained in greater detail. Note the information highlighted in the orange boxes.

Another similar section takes a closer look at the individual’s network and degree of engagement. Rather than rating the individual, Klout allows you to rate the network itself, which is equally important (as we will cover in later discussions about influence, starting with Clarification Number 3). Again, note the kind of information highlighted in the orange boxes. Pretty helpful. From Klout’s own site:

Network Influence indicates how influential your engaged audience is and is on a scale from 1 to 100. Engagement is measured based on actions such as retweets, @messages, follows, lists, comments, and likes.

Each time a person performs one of these actions it is a testament to the authority and the quality of your content. Capturing the attention of influencers is no easy task, and those who are able to do so are typically creating spectacular content.

Klout Network Olivier Blanchard

Finally, amplification:

Amplification Probability is a measurement from 0 to 100 that indicates the likelihood that your content will be acted upon (i.e retweeted, commented upon, replied to, or liked). The ability to create content that compels others to respond and high-velocity content that spreads into networks beyond your own is a key component of influence. Amplification probability takes into account engagement, the velocity of your content, as well as your activity level and effectiveness.

Note that Klout aptly refers to amplification as “amplification probability.”

Klout score adjustments

Don’t make the common mistake of only reading the Klout Score when analyzing potential “influencers” or targeting them for a promotion or campaign. Use the tool properly. Once you feel that you have isolated a healthy batch of potential influencers, drill down a little deeper. Study their topic summary. Classify their type of influence. Consider the quality of their network and their amplification probability. Look at the sum of their parts before reaching out to them with the wrong message, the wrong tone, and the wrong expectations.

Too many marketers simply use the Klout score to cut corners. Don’t be one of them. Dig as deep as Klout will let you, then dig some more. You’ll be glad you did.

In Part 3 of 3, we will talk about what influence is (a complex social mechanism of push and pull) and isn’t (a Jedi mind trick).