Measuring Your Social Media Profile – from Windows on the Web 8/2012

(Originally published as a “Windows on the Web column in NABE News in August 2012)

A frequent topic here on WoW has been how to use social media to raise your profile, to get publicity for either your company or for yourself. How do you know if it is working? One way to measure your online clout is to use Klout.

Klout is a website that attempts to measure your influence through social media. They do this via a Klout score, which is  “a number between one and 100, is a representation of your overall social media influence. The science behind the Score examines more than 400 variables on multiple social networks beyond your number of followers and friends. It looks at who is engaging with your content and who they are sharing it with.” According to Klout’s website, they  “have a killer team of scientists and engineers working everyday to ensure continued accuracy and make the Score clear and actionable.” (If you want to join Klout, you can follow this link)

Using it is fairly simple – you can go to the site and log in via one of your existing Facebook or Twitter accounts to establish an identity. Then you tell Klout about the rest of your accounts, including Google+, LinkedIn, foursquare, Wikipedia (if you have a page) and other accounts. Klout then has a secret algorithm that looks how many friends and followers you have, how often your posts are liked or tweets retweeted, comments by others, recommendations on LinkedIn, and other things. You can also go into Klout and award someone else a +K to show that this person influences you.

Of course, Klout doesn’t measure your actual real-world clout. If you are one of the most important voices in a multi-billion dollar corporation, but don’t obsessively post every detail about your life to social media, then you are going to have a low Klout score. Klout says they are trying to combat that by using a person’s Wikipedia entry as “a democratic signal of influence. We calculate the importance of each Wikipedia page, and integrate these signals with the rest of a user’s signals to compute their Klout Score.” They admit that by adding this measure, they have finally gotten Barak Obama’s Klout score higher than Justin Bieber’s. Of course, even using Wikipedia doesn’t necessarily measure the real world. A fast check shows that Kenneth Arrow’s Wikipedia page is only slightly longer than Walter Koenig’s page. (He played Ensign Chekov on the original Star Trek.)

They also maintain lists of the top influencers in a number of different categories. According to Klout, these are the top influencers in Economics over the past 90 days:

  • WSJecon – Wall Street Journal Real Time Economics
  • Brad DeLong – blog
  • Calculatedrisk – blog
  • Freakonomics – the book, the blog, the movie…
  • NYteconomix –the NY Times blog Economix
  • Economistsforum – at the Financial Times
  • WSJeconomy – another Wall Street Journal feed
  • Mark Thoma – blog
  • Tylercowen – blog
  • David Wessel – the WSJ economics editor

It either includes institutionally-important sources or well-known economics bloggers. Looking at the list, it’s safe to say they don’t use citations in major economic journals as an indicator.