The ability to gauge influence via social networking using a tangible scale has shaped up to be a kind of web-based arms race, and at the head of the pack (love it or hate it) is Klout, which claims to measure an individual’s influence across various platforms (ranging from instagram to facebook to foursquare).
I belong to Klout for no good reason other than I signed up for it to case it out. Now, I’m always interested to see what I’m influential about (ice cream, Amish, coffee, and Great Lakes are some of my more colorful descriptors), despite being fairly certain any posts I’ve made about those topics were one-offs. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take advantage of the moo.com business card perk when it comes up, or the Shutterfly photo book.
There’s a plethora of criticisms regarding Klout’s algorithms, privacy issues, exploitation, and other *bad* things. But for all the detractors, there are some true believers, among them a FL professor who graded students on their Klout scores, and stories in other venues about Klout scores being a factor in hires. Best Buy made the news when they included a “reputation capital” requirement in job openings.
As social media begins to creep more and more into the fabric of society, it’s inevitable that some tool will emerge to be the basis for pulling metrics comparing individuals. Klout may not be the main WMD, but it’s surely a precursor.