If you're wondering what it'll take to make it in 2011's Social Web circle, turn to Klout. The online influence measuring company is one of the first to be funded this year by the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers sFund ("social" + "fund"), a US$ 250 million dollar social Web initiative backed by KPCB and other bigwigs such as Facebook, Zynga and Amazon.
"The Standard for Influence"
A US$ 8.5 million dollar injection has been given to the San Francisco startup, which measures influence on networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. Through the analysis of data such as likes, comments and friendship networks, the tool ranks each person or website with a Klout Score:
"…a Klout score is analogous to a credit or FICO score – a number assigned to a person that allows an entity to make a decision much more rapidly and efficiently than they’d otherwise be able to," writes Chris Selland of Enterprise Irregulars.
Too serious? Maybe. That Klout lacks in the transparency department has caused many experts and social gurus to raise their brows. Selland himself admits that the utilization of social scoring is still in its very early stages, but makes a valid point: "If Klout were ‘transparent’ in how it calculates its scores, then it would be vulnerable to the same type of gaming that has taken place with Twitter followers, et al." (Do you know how many articles have been written about why a high Twitter following means zip-zero in terms of influence? Because I lost count ages ago.) "For the same reason that FICO scores and Google’s PageRank are ‘black boxes’, Klout scores must rely on hidden algorithms to be useful."
Social Media! What is it Good For?
People from all walks of business life have been struggling to extract meaning (a.k.a. monetize) from their social media practices for a long time time— especially since Twitter hit the scene with its unheard of level of growth sans business model.
Whether or not Klout sets the standard for relevance remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: social scoring is an inevitable trend, and integrations with various other legs of business, such as CRM systems, imminent.
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