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Klout: Measuring Influence Over Social Networking Media

Posted just yesterday on, Klout, a startup company that measures social influence on Twitter, Facebook,LinkedIn, YouTube, and Foursquare, is now integrating Google+ into their lineup of supported websites.

A little background information about Klout according to TechCruch:

… Klout evaluates users’ behavior with complex ranking algorithms and semantic analysis of content to measure the influence of individuals on social networks. On Twitter, Klout’s influence score is based on a user’s ability to drive action through Tweets, Retweets and more. On Facebook, Klout will examine how conversations and content generate interest and engagement, via likes, comments, and more, from the network’s 750 million-plus users.

So theoretically, Klout will measure a user’s “power” over other individuals based on that user’s activity in coordination with the responses it generates. As such, we can analyze the real “power players” of the social networks we create, and how they got to such influential positions.

As mentioned in Easley and Kleinberg’s book, Networks, Crowds, and Markets, all networks have edges (connections) with a variety of strengths, and nodes (people/users) also may have more power in networks based on their situation among other nodes. So far, many of our observations with edges have assumed mutual connections, and no direction. However, Google+ (as well as Facebook’s new “Subscribe” feature) allows for directional edges. Someone can add a user into his circle without being added in return.

This all connects to Klout because so far, the websites that Klout has been working with all assume mutual, non-directional edges. When the question of non-consensual connections comes into play, does this qualify an edge as a directional connection, a weak connection, or a negative connection? I do not have all the answers, but this algorithm will definitely have many more complexities in play than sheer quantity of interactions. Where do we draw the line between spam and quality interactions? What makes a user or even company actually have some level of “clout” over other companies? Klout will definitely be something to keep an eye on to help piece together who and what does make effective use of online social networks.

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