Klout, one of the best-known measures online influence, has made the most significant updates to its platform in its four-year history, and more changes are coming. Klout has incorporated twelve times more data points, quadrupled the social signals it considers and is focusing a more on “real-world influence.” The result? You might not be quite as big of deal as you thought you were on Monday.

Klout Scoring Controversial

The system collects information about users from social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and uses the information to calculate a score from one to a hundred that indicates social influence. A higher score means your kind of big deal -- at least online on Klout. In addition to the calculating scores, Klout sells the data to companies that offer perks to users based on scores, geography or other factors. Typically, higher scores mean better swag. For example, earlier this year airline Cathay Pacific allowed people with Klout scores over 40 use its first-class airport lounge.

Klout has long been a magnet for criticism for how it calculates scores and its lack of transparency. Detractors have maligned the company for using the word score for measuring something as massive and subjective as social media. Some even called the company socially evil and compared it with various venereal diseases. In October 2011, Klout updated its scoring algorithm to less than a positive response. Some users’ scores dropped dozens of points and the #OccupyKlout began appearing, but controversy doesn’t seem to be a major hurdle to Klout. 

More Data to Measure Klout Influence

According to Joe Fernandez on Klout’s corporate blog, the company’s long-term goal is to “understand and analyze all the world’s influence, both online and offline.” It’s unclear if that’s really possible using online data, but Klout is certainly trying. The company has rolled out major changes to all of its users. Klout increased the number of data points it analyzes daily from one billion to twelve billion, and increased the number of social media signals from less than 100 to over 400.

Klout has also added Wikipedia as a source and is taking into account items like users’ professional title on LinkedIn in attempt to measure influence outside of the Internet. Klout updated their scoring page with complete details of what it now considers in the algorithm.

The result is most users’ scores changed. Pop star Justin Bieber dropped from a perfect 100 to 92 and US president Barack Obama raised from 94 to 99. My own score went up a few points. The world continues to spin and some users continue to complain. Like search engines and other systems that attempt to measure nebulous concepts like “best” and “most important,” Klout will continually change and some users will attempt to scam the system to their advantage.

What’s Next - Klout Moments

Klout will be introducing additional changes in upcoming weeks. A new concept called “Moments” will show users what content is most influential to their score. According to Klout the goal of the feature is to help users spot patterns and “shape influence.” According to Fernandez, before Moments users just see a score and a bunch of graphs. Moments will give Klout a more personal view of what they say and why it’s important (or not).