Klout scores are something social media professionals either love, or love to hate. If you haven’t heard of it, Klout claims to measure your influence across social networks by monitoring metrics such as the size of your network, amount of content, engagement, and other measurements on social media sites.
Most people don’t put much weight in their Klout scores, believing that how active you are on social media is not a measure of how influential you are in real life. Klout recognizes this and is continually trying to legitimize the score.
Klout is always making changes in order to make the Klout score more accurate, by adding networks to connect your profile to, taking more social signals into account for the score, and most importantly, finding ways to ensure that all of these factors are true measures of influence.
Until a recent adjustment over the summer, Justin Bieber had a higher Klout score than President Obama, and even though there are millions of 13-year-old girls who would do whatever Bieber told them to, he is not more influential than the President of the United States.
Recently, one of Klout’s biggest goals has been to make its score a measure of actual influence, instead of just on social media. For example, with the updates over the summer, Klout added Wikipedia as a signal. Their reasoning was that if there is a Wikipedia page on you, you’re probably important. In addition to the existence of your Wikipedia page, it also looks at the number of inbound links to that page, the ratio of inbound to outbound links, and page importance as measured by a PageRank algorithm.
Yesterday, Microsoft and Bing announced a partnership that may prove to be very influential itself, to the world of social search, that is. Klout scores and other data will be brought into Bing search results as part of their social search features. In the “People Who Know” section of Bing’s social sidebar, Bing will display the Klout score and influential topics of the people listed, when available.
On the Klout side of the partnership, search data from Bing will be displayed on people’s Klout profiles. In the “Klout Moments” section, which highlights the users’ “most influential” moments, Klout will note if the search volume for the user has been increasing, signifying that more people are interested in learning more about them.
Search data will also be brought into the user information area of the profile, where Klout displays the user’s picture, a short bio (from Twitter), and links to some of their social profiles. Below the social links, Klout now links to a user’s Wikipedia page (if they have one), and any notable information from search. For example, on Justin Bieber’s profile, Klout notes that he’s a top search result. For Ryan Seacrest, it say’s he’s a ‘Top 1,000′ influencer on Bing, whatever that means.
Of course, this partnership has its shortcomings. For example, it only takes into account search data from people using Bing. Sure, Bing’s market share has been growing, but it still holds less than 16% of the market. Obviously, if Klout wants accurate search data, they need to woo Google. Its market share is the highest, at 66.4%.
Another shortcoming, I imagine, is that Klout likely doesn’t look at the context of the searches. Just like a lot of activity on social media doesn’t mean influence, a lot of search queries doesn’t necessarily mean importance. For example, let’s say the search volume for ”Joe Schmoe” increased significantly over the past 90 days. This would be noted as a measure of influence on Klout. However, what if people were searching “Who is Joe Schmoe?” If they don’t know who he is, he’s probably not influencing them. Alas, another problem with the convergence of search and social.
I mostly see this new partnership as important because of the potential it holds, once the problems are worked out. Have you found any other issues with Klout using search data to measure influence, or Bing using Klout data in the search results?