Do you know if YOU pack an online punch? You should. Because it’s likely that plenty of other people know exactly where you stand.
Online being what it is, anyone can pull up a measure of how you’re doing. You need to know that they are doing so, but also why.
Increasingly Boards and CEOs are looking to add people with digital nouse to their mix. Big brands use them to find influencers in target markets and ask them to broadcast services within online communities. They are also a way for small businesses to track the benefit of social investment.
As our digital footprint grows, they are likely to become even more important.
The value of benchmarks
On and offline, people love benchmarks. Whether it’s a balance sheet, performance review, or bonus cheque, we like to understand how we’re performing, what got us there, and how to improve. Like the classic offline benchmark the performance review, online benchmarks are imperfect but useful.
For example, although performance measurement systems have become more sophisticated over time, they are still impacted by memory, bias, prejudice, personal opinion, relationships, politics, and even just the mood of a person who’s doing an assessment on the day.
Similarly, online benchmarks provide certain indicators of influence but may be gamed by automation or skew focus to growing influence rather than contributing a powerful body of work.
However they are useful to:
- Quantify where you are now.
- Help you understand what actions increase influence so you spend your time online most effectively.
- Provide insights on how you sit relative to other influencers, a key input to social influence strategy.
Which tool is which?
There are thousands of analytics tools. They can tell you everything from how a keyword that you used in a tweet resonated with communities to your how your blog ranks worldwide.
While it’s important that web, marketing, and communications experts know about them, for solo professionals using online to build thought leadership and authority, or small businesses wanting to understand how their efforts are paying off, the choice is overwhelming.
However, you can get some great insights from two key indicators:
- Klout – which ranks you between 1 and 100 for how much influence you have on social media
- Kred –measures the likelihood that someone trusts and will act on your posts as well as how much you reach out to others.
Why do they count?
As I’ve said influence measures inform perceptions of who you are by providing ‘social proof’ that what you what you say online means something.
We still rely on word of mouth recommendations and evidence of prior success on projects, but increasingly recruiters are listing a Klout score as essential on some job applications.
Forbes author Jeanne Meister says employers are using Klout to distinguish candidates and also taking the size and quality of their LinkedIn and Twitter communities into account. She says a Klout score will soon be measurable currency.
There’s an additional reason influence measures are important right now.
Many people are appending ‘social media expert’ to their résumés as a skill without being on the platforms or knowing how to use them. Influence measures are a quick and easy way to do due diligence.
Klout – pros and cons
Many brands and advertisers use Klout to find influencers as a way into their communities; they’ve also become an important indicator for recruiters. It’s important though to know what Klout scores represent.
We’re used to thinking of excellence as 90% and above (or whatever your subjective idea of excellence is). But some influential publications have Klout scores under 60 because of the way they are set up. That puts ‘must have Klout 35 and above’ in a whole new context.
One of the downsides of Klout is that it can be gamed by tech savvy people who know how to set up automation, although Klout says that it is continually evolving its algorithm to prevent it.
However, just like in the real world, the proof is in the pudding. A high Klout score might put you on someone’s radar, but if they follow the trail to a website that is poorly written or sloppy work that shows little thought leadership, it won’t convert.
Klout only accesses public data so hidden social media networks are not counted towards your score. That means if you want a higher Klout score, you have to be prepared to open up your networks. Many professionals view Facebook as a virtual lounge room, where only close friends are allowed in and so keep their settings on private. Public engagement on Facebook will definitely drive your Klout score up.
This is where it becomes important to know what you want to achieve from social. Do you want a private space? Or do you want to pull out all the stops to increase your Klout? In the past you might have asked if you were prepared to work every night for a promotion or if personal time mattered more. Only you can answer.
Kred – pros and cons
Kred measures energy in as well as energy out – I like that. It looks at who you influence and who influences you, if your material is trusted and shared, but also what you share.
A lot of people use social media to talk about themselves. As in real life, it’s boring. This ethos of rewarding generosity aligns with my values.
You get a score for Influence out of 1000 and another for Outreach out of 12. These are your Kredentials.
Kred assesses what communities a person is influential in. When looking at Kred you need to look at the relevant community. A top 1% Kred comedian is not going to nail the finance role you have in mind.
On my way out I will also mention Peer Index as I have heard a lot of good things about it. It is supposed to show who true opinion leaders are in a particular area by providing a relative measure of a person’s online authority.
What’s good is that it doesn’t reward you for being popular or having gamed the system. It takes into account that you cannot have authority without also having a large and receptive audience, so it measures audience score as well as your authority on a category-by-category level.
Measures take social influence from abstract to concrete – useful in any business. Try these on for size.
- Peer Index
- Hubspot’s Marketing Grader assesses your website and social media reach, engagement, and optimisation for web and mobile.
- Crowdbooster provides analytics for Twitter and Facebook and how to boost Twitter impact by maximising who you tweet to and when.
- TwentyFeet allows you to see how your key performance indicators develop over time.
- Google+ Ripples helps you assess your influence on Google+.
- Empire Avenue rewards users with virtual currency for activity online and ranks influencers inside and outside the community.
About the Author
The Social Executive® Dionne Lew is a professional author, speaker and social media consultant. She is the author of The Social Executive – how to master social media and why it’s good for business (Wiley) and writes for Forbes, Smart Company, Salesforce and Firebrand. She’s rated in the top 1% for global community influence by Kred. Contact Dionne for speaking or consulting services here: http://www.dionnekasianlew.com/