A host of companies have popped up that monitor a person's effectiveness and influence on sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and FourSquare. Each provides a social media influence score based on a myriad of factors: the number of followers you have, the number of people you follow, and how you interact with each other.
Some -- such as Twitalyzer, PeopleBrowsr and mBlast -- are geared toward business-end users while others -- PeerIndex, Twitter Grader and Klout -- can be used for social purposes as well. The goal of all is to put some ROI behind social media efforts.
"It's very easy to use Twitter randomly, which is what a lot of people do," Twitalyzer founder Eric Peterson told pcmag.com. "But a business should be using Twitter to create some benefit for [itself]."
Klout, the leader in the space, quantifies a social media users' influence over his or her peers on Twitter and other sites in specific fields such as "sports," "politics" and "music." Users are assigned a score on a scale of 1-100, with 100 representing the widest influence based on 35 possible rankings.
According The New York Times, Klout's average score is in the high teens. A score in the 40s "suggests a strong, but niche" influence. The highest are reserved for celebrity tweeters; for example, pop star Justin Bieber scores a perfect 100.
"We're looking at all the content you create and analyzing what you're talking about," Klout founder and CEO Joe Fernandez told Billboard. "The algorithm will read your tweet and pick up mentions about music or baseball or fashion. And then we'll look at when you talk about music; does your network respond?"
Marketers appear eager to gain access to key influencers by offering "perk" packages to Klout users depending on their areas of influence. Nike, for example, offered first access to a Kobe Bryant short film to users influential in "basketball," according to Billboard. The Times noted that The Palms Hotel and Casino in Vegas is using Klout data to give highly-rated guests upgrades or tickets to Cirque du Soleil.
Besides scoring inaccuracies and bias, critics claim such services ignore other online activities like blogging as well as any offline influence. But the biggest scare is just the scores themselves. With some already putting Klout scores on resumes, there is worry that such ratings could define future interactions.
"Now you are being assigned a number in a very public way, whether you want it or not," Mark W. Schaefer, a professor of marketing at Rutgers University, told the Times. "It's going to be publicly accessible to the people you date, the people you work for. It's fast becoming mainstream."
How would you rate the opportunity for brands to use perks to influence influencers on social media scoring sites?