Recently the discussions around tools that measure your influence got hotter and hotter. Even the New York Times found the topic worthy enough to write about it. In the Social Media space I see very mixed responses to the discussion.

Some praise the top tools in the space, Klout and PeerIndex as one of the best things that came along to organize and understand Social Media patterns more easily.

Others believe it is a useless measurement. The argument is that there is absolutely no proof that the parameter used are helpful in anyway. Many also claim that it is far too easy to game the algorithm and make the whole score useless.

Here are 3 Pros and Cons for using an influencer score:

 

3 Situations When A Score Is Useful

Helping You Make Decisions

One case that might be very useful is to use a Klout score as a benchmarking measurement. Imagine you have received a lot of requests, feedback and suggestions from people on Twitter or Facebook, but only a very limited time to speak to them.

Ordering them by Klout score can be a very fast way to get to the top responses from influencers first. Of course, they don’t necessarily always but the highest quality. On average though, I believe you will end up with more valuable responses and conversations.

 

Using It For Benchmarking Of Other Metrics

One fantastic way to use Klout and PeerIndex is to take it as measurement together with other metrics. With Buffer, we recently did an analysis and did exactly that. We measured how the number of clicks, retweets and followers has increased of Buffer users.

 

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Then we used Klout to see whether all these previous metrics are actually relevant. In a way, the first 3 figures would protect us from mistakes if we were to only look at a Klout score and the other way round. This was very powerful.

Gaming all four metrics would have been something that is very hard to do.

 

Becoming A Search Engine For People – A Great End Product

Personally, I get super excited about one vision that both have already touched on. Imagine if Klout or PeerIndex have a good enough data set of people across the web to turn themselves into a search engine for people.

You want to know who the top 10 people in garden design, heavy metal music or architacture are? With just one click you will get some pretty amazing results, saving you time and effort. And making you a lot smarter.

 

3 Situations When It Might Be Harmful

Your Score Becomes Your Goal

The most hotly discussed point here is a very obvious one. People are getting obsessed about their score and try to game it to keep it up. The result is that people focus on a measurement score, instead of actual results.

If Klout becomes a meta system, detached from what you are actually achieving in your field of expertise it can be very troublesome. Doing things for maintaining a high Klout score instead of trying to be the best designer, marketer or artist can be very harmful.

 

The Power Of Klout/PeerIndex Have Over You

Of course, the flipside of Klout becoming more and more relevant is that it becomes very powerful in determining who has influence and who hasn’t. Keeping this transparent will be difficult if competitors are about to enter the market.

Who decides what goes into the algorithm to keep it relevant? Who is able to know what determines it?

 

Get 200% more clicks on Tweets

By Buffering Tweets, they are posted at optimal times giving you 2x more exposure.

This closed system might potentially proof difficult to see through. Yet, I am convinced both Klout and PeerIndex will have a healthy interest in going out of their way in keeping the score as transparent as possible.

Is Having Clout An Absolute Term?

A while ago, there was a great post from my fellow blogger and entrepreneur Dino Dogan on the topic. He made a fantastic point: If someone is an expert in my opinion, but not necessarily one in the head of many others, how can an absolute term make sense?

The idea here is that being influential is a very subjective and relative term. Coming up with one single score might do the concept harm.

 

Your verdict?

Personally, I believe either Klout or PeerIndex will play a big role in the future. What do you think? Do you care about your score? Should anyone do?

 

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Written by Leo Widrich

Co-founder at Buffer.