Many people give social media influence websites a lot of Klout, in understanding how our Peers are Indexed. Ok, awful puns aside, determining social media influence scores is often pretty useful when developing social media campaigns, and identifying the key media and public figures the campaign will target.

However, beyond the deliberation around which is most accurate, Klout or PeerIndex, a new report from The Altimeter Group has found that neither really defines how users influence their online networks.

According to Brian Solis who produced the report, the scores these sites bestow on social media users should really be defined as a measure of “social capital” rather than of “true influence”.

Solis highlights many interesting counterarguments to the use of social media influence scoring, concluding that “brands are potentially misallocating precious resources based on the lack of understanding of what influence is and the role influencers play within customer markets.”

So, what does this mean for us PRs? Well, it is important that we are not complacent, and that we do not rely on social media influence scoring, over traditional and professional media understanding.  As is the case with many aspects of 21st Century PR – and I have to be careful here, as my colleagues will agree that I am the first to get excited about a new-fangled digital tool! – there are many digital options that claim to make our lives easier, but in reality don’t. Social media influence scores are a great guideline but are certainly not the be-all and end-all. Media relationships are important; and understanding the media, key stakeholders and the target figures we work with, and developing these relationships to build a holistic media understanding, should trump the use of influence scores completely.

But who knows, social media and web integration is becoming increasingly sophisticated. Google is hot on the case in developing new algorithms that better integrate and analyse social media users across its already prolific news and media search platforms. It is therefore safe to say that, perhaps we are not far off being able to access tools that are accurate enough to truly index individual presence and influence across the media, both on and offline.


Klout provides social media analytics that measures a user’s influence across their social network by collecting data from sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. It measures the size of a person’s network, the content created, and how other people interact with that content.

Social media influence is measured by using data points from Twitter such as: following count, follower count, re-tweets, list memberships, how many spam/dead accounts are following you, how influential the people who re-tweet you are, and unique mentions. This information is blended with Facebook and LinkedIn data such as comments, likes, and the number of friends in your network, to come up with a very consumer-friendly “Klout Score”.

Even better for PR and comms people, and unlike Facebook Insights or Google Analytics, you can determine anyone’s* Klout score and is therefore a fantastic research tool as part of any social media audit and strategy.

*With an online profile.

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