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A Klout Score Alone is Not a Sign of Influence

Two panels during the South by Southwest Conference (SXSW) that I attended were focused on the topic of influence. “The Ultimate Influencer Throwdown” and “Influencers are taking over the world.” Both were full of great points and one theme that came up over and over again was relevance.

Now when I say relevance, I am referring to topical relevance. One of the panelist I actually think said it best when she said, “Understanding the realm of influence is just as important as the influence itself.” In other words, it is great that you can get a big celebrity to mention or tweet about your brand but if the brand does not have influence over your end customer what does it matter.

This is especially true because when it comes to online communities, for the most part they are built up around niche topics. So one individual could have an incredible amount of power when it comes to that specific topic but when it comes to something else they are virtually invisible.

To date, this has been of the biggest complaints about the use of a Klout score. A Klout score for those who may not be familiar with the term is a score from 0-100 that supposedly measures your Twitter influence. It looks at a variety of factors but the bottom-line measurement is how likely your content that you put out will be acted on. This could be through a re-tweet or a mention or a copy and paste of a particular link that you posted. The Klout looks at all of these.

Joe Fernandez, The CEO of Klout, who was on the “Influencers are taking over the world,” panel spoke on the subject of topical relevance and promised that Klout would be rolling out a number of new features that makes the Klout score more relevant. “Big Celebrities tweeting about products is nice,” Fernandez said, “but that’s not what gets me excited about our product. What gets me excited is the fact that the top influencer on Twitter for a major brand like BMW could be a 15 year old boy who loves the cars and is always writing on them. That is the true power of Klout.”

For now though what can you do when trying to find influencers? Follow some of these tips.

  • Look at who is already mentioning your brand or industry
  • Find out who they are connected to and have influence over
  • Use the Klout score and other quantitative factors to identify influencers
  • Score this group of influencers based on relevance and topics

So what is the large takeaway is that there is no one-size fits all solution. Each agency or brand needs to develop their own internal ranking system based on what is most important to them. After all, If Charlie Sheen tweets about your brand you may get the mentions and impressions but does that mean it will get you any conversions. I think in this case the answer would be no and that you would be #notwinning.

Keep reading the Flightpath Blog for Part 2 of our photo report, as well as more reactions and insights from our team. For a look back at what we found interesting search #AustinSix on Twitter.