Shared publicly  - 
Klout, Influence, and the Future of Business

Klout helps companies better understand the influence of employees and customers, and this opens the firm more fully to the outside world. Despite its many problems, Klout not only symbolizes the growing importance of influence in marketing, but the increasingly permeable nature of the firm.

Excerpts from this new article:

"Customers increasingly expect to be able to reach right into the firm and quickly and easily get what they need. Sometimes that means using a website that’s tied to the company’s internal databases; sometimes that means communicating with exactly the right employee who can get them what they need. Sometimes it means both technology and people.

When employees understand how to use social media to engage customers personally and at scale, they become such valuable assets to an organization. And this is one of the main reasons why Klout is becoming so relevant to marketing recruiters."

"Today, ‘external stakeholders’ play an increasingly critical role creating economic value. I call this phenomenon “third-order engagement.”

Third-order engagement takes many forms. When you spend time posting information on Facebook, it makes the service more valuable to me. That’s third-order engagement. We engage one another on Facebook, and through those very acts of engagement, we build the service. The same thing happens when I share my “wish list” with friends on Amazon, and when I organize friends to gather at a local restaurant.

Third-order engagement isn’t just about customers engaging one another by using a company’s products or services though – it’s also about customers marketing to other customers on behalf of the business.

We all know that the public sentiments of customers are now greatly amplified by social networks. Happy, engaged customers with social media influence can now propagate powerful waves of objective, credible endorsement that can dwarf the impact of traditional marketing messages. Of course, these same customers can also badly hurt a brand’s reputation when they aren’t happy.

Knowing your customers’ capacity to influence social networks is obviously extremely valuable, and this is where Klout’s value as an economic signal expands beyond identifying influential marketers within the firm to now focus on ”third-order marketers” outside the firm."

So what does this say about the future of marketing? For one thing, it says that it’s going to get harder to market lack-luster products. More than that though, it says that it’s no longer good enough to simply satisfy customers.....

More: ➜
Jeff Jockisch's profile photoBill Slawski's profile photoGideon Rosenblatt's profile photoGary S. Hart's profile photo
Let´s try it +Gideon Rosenblatt and do an experiment. We gather a group of ten people with a relatively high Klout and we promote some product over another one :)
Maybe a charity at the expense of another one?
I have said so before but Klout will be the Nielsen of personal brands no matter how hard people laugh about it. The example case is always: a system which has Justin Bieber ranked above Obama is flawed and my answer is always the same: what would the effect be if Justin Bieber came out of his closet on world opinion with regards to homos as opposed to Obama´s new found endorsement of same sex marriage in the US.
What would have the biggest social impact world-wide?
I'll highlight what I think are three very key concepts here:

Klout not only symbolizes the growing importance of influence in marketing, but the increasingly permeable nature of the firm.

We all know that the public sentiments of customers are now greatly amplified by social networks. Happy, engaged customers with social media influence can now propagate powerful waves of objective, credible endorsement that can dwarf the impact of traditional marketing messages. Of course, these same customers can also badly hurt a brand’s reputation when they aren’t happy.


Today, ‘external stakeholders’ play an increasingly critical role creating economic value. I call this phenomenon “third-order engagement.”

If executives could get these three things, they would go a long ways to have a better comprehension of their organizations social media strategy.
+Max Huijgen I think if Justin Bieber came out of the closet, the net effect would be that the bigots who follow him would turn on him faster than Pat Robertson denouncing Tinky Winky for purple purse ownership. That said, your point is not completely with out merit. When reality TV has better audiences than Arrested Development, you know the vast majority isn't paying attention to what's going on in the world, and thus the Bieb's Klout score is a genuine number with meaning for marketers.
+Gregory Esau I think the problem is more of the lack of a way to quantify the ROI that executives should expect. Probably partially due to traditional business schooling.

I find that the better pitch to executives is 'what would happen if you ignore social media?' ... the answer should be clear: you can't afford to take the risk of customers bitching about you. The answer to 'what if I put some non-engaging social media presence' is equally risky - leaving only one path left, namely to go for 'third order engagement'.
A new performance metric for the maketing departments: "Klout is currently the closest thing businesses have to a standardized signal that a prospective employee “gets” social media and has influence on social networks. In short, a high Klout score is a simple, convenient proxy for social media savvy."
+Max Huijgen re: the experiment, that is a very interesting idea. Picking some charitable org and then a group of people with reasonably high Klout scores. Would have to think some more about how to measure the impact, but I think it'd be very interesting. In fact, in a somewhat related point, I was just talking last night to someone who works at an environmental organization that has a relatively active page here on G+ about how I think the key to breaking through is to build a squad of influential G+er's to act as ambassadors/champions.
The problem +Sophie Wrobel is that it´s not general ´third level engagement´ but that Klout makes it possible to zoom in on groups with high (perceived) impact either negative or positive.
If hotels don´t book people with a klout above x in these hopeless rooms nobody wants, we have created a new problem and a new elite.
it is a serious proposal +Gideon Rosenblatt as I like to theorize, but love to actually fiddle with things. I have some ideas how to realize this with an objective benchmark. Let´s ping +Jeff Jockisch and setup an experiment.
I understand what you're saying, and don't really disagree, +Sophie Wrobel .
The key line in there is "due to traditional business schooling".
Traditional business schooling is the biggest barrier to entry into understanding what very much is a paradigm shift towards a 'new economy'.
This doesn't mean none of the old rules do not apply, but rather that those executives who can synthesize the old and the new will have a very keen competitive advantage.
As for Klout infuence itself as a metric, my rule of thumb is that 10% will figure out how to use it effectively, 80% will use it on a way that at least doesn't go backwards, 10% will make a complete disaster of it.
+Sean Archer it´s in no way an endorsement of Justin Bieber. Having a teenage daughter just makes me hope he comes out of that closet :)
Seriously though it´s indeed not about classical influence and power networks. I studied political science and although it has been some time ago, I´m pretty sure it hasn´t been replaced by studying Klout scores of the leaders of the Western world.
The question is: how much does it matter what the intellectual reality is versus the perceived one.
+Gideon Rosenblatt +Max Huijgen Great article Gideon & great read! I agree that Social Signaling the effective measurement of that Social Signal is the KPI in the #AgeOfEngagement ... Loved your description of Organizational Permeability in this new zeitgeist. Quite frankly I do not feel Klout measures social signaling very effectively: On G+ the Klout is particularly weak as it neither measures HangOut/HOA engagement nor circle conversations Where business is taking place! ... Also I had a direct experience where I when on vacation and saw a significant down turn on Klout Score although one of the social channels was surging ... At this point I do not think it is an accurate metric ... Business is not Likes & Shares (as FB failure to effectively monetize repeatedly reminds us) ... Business is conversations is conversations/deals in small circles ... And this is where Klout fails. So YES let's do some experiments to test the robustness of Klouts measurement capability! You IN?
Based on a comment below, it looks like Klout does break our influence by sectors of some sort. You can ignore the following...(I'd delete, but that might more confusing.)

For marketing purposes, the Klout score, by itself, doesn't appear to communicate the areas where a person has influence. Bieber's high Klout score might not do much for products like Rogain.
+Max Huijgen good point both on the idea of an experiment and the Obama/Bieber comparison. +Jack C Crawford thanks for the heads up. This feeds directly in a discussion I had yesterday on a very insightful post made by +John Kellden (the post is here: - quick summary: it is possible to create virality in a message (and increase its impact by factors of magnitude) by identifying the central data nodes in a community (i.e. the influencers with clout) and using them to get the message to spread. Two things to note here and they are both important: A. This is not new. Traditionally we have done this employing different techniques. Social media is forcing us to quantify it in a much harder way. B. It only works when the communities in question are permeable (in a true social media age they should be) - self-contained communities either resist the message or spread it rapidly inside their boundaries but do not allow it to go any further. +Gideon Rosenblatt one of these days I shall have to buy a RL beer. Your posts consistently rock.
Just checked but my influence on Europe and technology is higher than Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission and in charge of the digital agenda :) so Klout won´t replace real world influence measurements.
Hmmm. My Klout is 75, just checked, so what does that make me?
+Max Huijgen I'd argue there already is a new elite that companies who are on top of social media cater to.
lol +Jaana Nyström mine is 75 too :D, we are Klout twins.. sadly i have no idea what that means either :P
The number is great. The trend is the best better measure....
hmmm, i have 10 k's ... am i supposed to give them to people? people gave them to me . i think.. grrr. ok i will stop being lazy and go read now :D
+Gregory Esau - thanks for the comments and calling out the key points. One thing that is starting to dawn on me slowly is that there is a growing set of strategies that really do favor the good companies, you know, the ones that give back and are good for society. This whole third-order engagement thing is one of those. The "do-be-evil" companies can try to use it, but they will always be at a relative disadvantage compared to the "don't-be-evil" companies. Increasingly, I'm realizing that what I care most about at this point in my life is identifying those strategies, and helping to articulate and give exposure to them. You know?
+Mari Thomas the +K is a topic-based metric Klout is trying to build. You tell them who influences you on what by giving +K. But getting topic-based K doesn't really impact your overall scores.
As the salmon that I have always been, conjugated with the "tech moron" that I am now, I have to tell the truth.: I dont' know about Klout score and I really do not care much. I am here to have fun and interact with the people I feel more inclined to do so with... If I was the higher or the lower on the Klout list I could not care less.I will not become obsessed by the measurment they make on my influence on the web, or if I am on the top list of the searching engines... Who cares...
I do not care to have one million followers because if I did I know I wont be happy till I'll have two, then three...
The number of followers I have keeps me into a level of interaction that I can deal with.I did not join +Google+ to become rich. I just like the place and the tool provided by the +Bradley Horowitz 's BUNCH. 
+pio dal cin I totally respect your position! And in my personal SM Channels follow that same philosophy! ... But as an advocate for +Cascadian Center & +Charter For Compassion Partner we need to understand and effectively measure how our communities influence is spreading and through what channels to understand if our engagement/communication strategies/campaigns are effective. Klout is not a helpful metric in capturing Limited Circles/HangOuts/HOA or personal back channel conversations where most of the decision making takes place ... It tells you what is happening on a superficial level but never gets to the WHY
+Jeris JC Miller I think what +pio dal cin, who is the very definition of the word "authentic," is expressing is that there are different definitions of the word "engagement." Yes, I am going to flog this dead horse again. I, along with many other people, do understand why in some circles these scores are important. The problem is that they get translated into a hard and fast belief system that gets applied across the board. If someone wants a million followers and does not want to get to know many of the people in their Circles they may very well post in such a way as to incourage +1s and high-fives and likes and all the rest of it, but it is not going to be able to measure what it really means below the surface. Thank God those Justin Bieber followers are not old enough to vote. Thank God that they are also fickle...that kind of audience usually is. But...even if they are old enough to vote, they won't...because they don't care enough. Nothing that is true today will be true six months from now. Because the definition of what is meaningful is always changing.
Great post and conversation +Gideon Rosenblatt and thanks for cluing me in +Jack C Crawford. Marketing is undergoing a huge transformation. Most companies do not know which end is up. Dell and HP are failing while Lenovo is capturing market share. Apple has been doing the same. What is the difference between success and failure today? I believe it is customer experience.

Customer service has become secondary to top and bottom line revenue for most organizations. Products and services have been commoditized, reducing competition to price or experience. Even within the the circle of companies competing on price, the team who presents the best perception of customer experience is winning out. That information is found in social communities, not in ads and marketing collateral.

Some of this perception is created through gaming the system. Klout is gamable and is gamed. How do you game the system? As a group pumping everyone in the group up by sharing each other's posts, like +1's, etc. Klout is currently weak as a true measurement of social networking value. Yet many organizations are relying on it because it is the best tool available. I do believe it will improve over time, or, someone else like Google Analytics will devise a more accurate solution.

People are smart and are recognizing this abuse. Word of mouth, verbally or online, is the new marketing as pointed out in this article. Google and Facebook are leveraging communities to sell products.

Facebook uses a disingenuous method of connecting your friends to products and services that they may not actually endorse. Google Search is headed in a positive direction with their links to G+ friends who have searched for the same things. If I see Any of you listed after I do a search, I can message you and ask you what you've learned.

The model we might think about creating, which can be monetized is Ralph Nader & Consumer Reports Meets Real Social Networkers.

Thanks for letting think out loud and ramble a little.
+Giselle Minoli You and I are aligned in our core thinking ... I totally agree that Perception translates into a hard and fast mindset which I personally abhor. What we are focused on is WHY people engage and where that engagement spreads ... Klout does not measure this conversation although you and I have now made a connection based on a Shared Viewpoint ... We both agree its a surface KPI only with no real guts or depth ... Lovely to connect! ... Warmly, Jeris
+Gary S Hart Excellent!
What is the difference between success and failure today? I believe it is customer experience.
I so agree with you. I'm happy to announce that a Finnish company +Gapps Oy has just hired my company and me as their Social Media Community Manager: I'll take over all their channels and see to it that there's interaction.
Excellent comment +Gary S Hart except for the gaming of Klout. The problem with all these topics is that they repeat themselves so I often ask the same question:
Can anyone show that the G+ Klout (not the twitter based or the FB based) is gameable?
I have done several experiments just to test these claims and all have proven to be negative.
Congrats +Jaana Nyström _ I don´t want to spoil the thread but people who plus this comment share the congratulations.
Thank you +Jaana Nyström and congratulations. The secret sauce of marketing is that it truthfully represents the customer experience. Verizon Wireless ran one of my all time favorite ad campaigns with "Can you hear me now?"

The ad was a guy walking around the city, offices, etc on a cell phone asking "Can you hear me now?" What made this so powerful? Verizon was actually digitally testing their network with roaming vans, virtually checking for weak signal areas and beefing them up.

If a company is going to sell price with minimal or crappy service, they should say so. "We don't give service, we sell at low prices." I believe that people who are price buyers would be happier in the post sale than buyers from companies who promise good service, but do not deliver.
+Max Huijgen hmmmm, fb is literally gamable.. my klout score tanked when i stoped using fb but then i noticed it is back up.. and that is because i play a ton of Mafia wars on fb and the people who use scripts often comment on game posts using my name automatically :D, so it is something to be considered. wth G+ the only thing i can say is, Is it relevant? meme posters get a lot of +1'a and comments. but does that mean that they can sell your brand?
Congratulations +Jaana Nyström! That is fabulous and it underscores +Gary S Hart's point that companies are "onto" the falseness of perceived connection and are looking to make their consumer experience real, which would have the likes of me and +Jeris JC Miller and +Colin Walker doing a jig in the streets a la Charlie Chaplin (or a la Spock, whichever you prefer)...
+pio dal cin, +Giselle Minoli and +Jeris JC Miller - this is a tough one. Personally, I know what you are talking about. I really do. I like to joke with +CJ Liu that I'm going to "Google+ School", a school custom-built to teach me about the contours of my ego.

Despite my best intentions, I invariably find myself falling into behaviors that remind me that I have a long way to go before graduation. It might be obsessing over numbers or what someone said about something I said, or whatever. And then, I find myself somehow coming back to simpler truths, remembering to be of service and focusing on real connections with people . So, then I correct course. Only... to stumble again the following week and do it all over. That's my Google+ School, and it's my personal experience.

Then, I put on my business hat and I see that this platform is generating lots of data that services like Klout are aggregating in ways that inform businesses about their employees, customers and other stakeholders and I realize that there is much at stake in terms of how these tools of influence measurement will actually be used. Setting aside all the serious issues surrounding their accuracy for the moment, which as +Jeris JC Miller points out, are actually quite large), I keep coming back to the belief that there will be absolutely despicable uses similar to what +Max Huijgen and +Sophie Wrobel are getting at above. And then, I also have to remind myself that there may also be some ways in which these tools might actually be put to good uses for society, and that was the point of the article. These tools are here, as imperfect and as inevitable as they are, and so the question I'm pushing now is - how can we bend them to more enlightened uses?
I'm very honest, +Gary S Hart and I just work as I see best and my clients know it. This whole SoMe managering business is very new to Finland. Instead of the intern updating the FB, companies are starting to outsource. A good thing. :-)
+Colin Walker I tried this of course and nope that doesn´t work. Generating 1500 +1´s and 600 shares on a single post actually made my Klout go down. I have repeated that experiment a few times.
I was looking for real proof here as people seem to think Klout measures much simpler than they actually do.
My Klout goes up when I generate meaningful discussions and down when I generate shares and plusses to the extreme.
hmmm, i say good night a lot +Colin Walker :/ but it is just so that people know i am attempting to go to bed.. (it doesnt stop people from talking to me and then laughing at the fact that i am still not asleep an hour later :D) but i never considered that gaming the system.. I also routinely say good night to people in my stream when they post.. is it gaming if the interaction is sincere? or is that a huge flaw in klouts method of measuring influence?
+Mari Thomas see my comment on +Colin Walker I have yet to see proof that the G+ component of Klout can be manipulated. I´m not talking about the FB or Twitter based parts as I have no experience there, but know from others that these easy to manipulate in the past.
+Max Huijgen, perhaps you overdid your experiment and tripped a red flag.

Thanks +Colin Walker. Semantic evaluation of content has been the challenge for search and review for a number of years. Unless Google figures it out, someone else will come along with an artificially intelligent solution that will change the face of content marketing and associated metrics.

+Jaana Nyström, I was not suggesting you or client were not honest and if my comment presented that in any fashion, please accept my apology. I was merely presenting that honesty is the best policy. Unfortunately, too many companies are unwilling to be that transparent out of fear or just think lying works. There are too many companies who factor in customer attrition from lousy service as part of their business model. Isn't that sad?
+Gideon doesn't have to be one or the other. But if the honesty that +Jaana Nyström is talking about above, and the authenticity that +pio dal cin exemplifies underpins the experience, it can be used for both. The problem, as I see it, is that those of us who care about "experience" and "engagement" and "authenticity" are often laughed at because we, supposedly, "don't get" the numbers game. Rubbish. I get it completely and I am making a choice. In +pio dal cin's hangout this week moderated by +Yifat Cohen they talked at length with +Mike Elgan about various issues, one of which was the interesting possibilities for marketing elite, niche, boutique, high-quality products on G+. I have used this example before and I think it's appropriate here: Sundance was a response to Hollywood blockbusters and independent films now have considerable Clout with distributors. So, too, Cable now has considerable more Clout than Network TV. It isn't all about numbers....
hmm, +Max Huijgen how about an experiment where someone moderately popular posts strictly from whats hot .. I am pretty sure their numbers will go up, but has their influence really gone up? i am wondering how klout would handle that one.
My personal take on +Klout is that it is not useful for me as an individual contributor. If someone connects to me because of a high Klout score, they will only stay if my posts and discussions are valuable to them. I call them the "consumers" of my content. On the other hand, if someone circles me because of a share or because they find a comment interesting ... AND ... they then comment back, share or plus, I try to engage with them individually and see if a bond develops. At first, I struggled with the 5,000 circling limit, but I now see the genius in it. I forces me to continuously curate the content I subscribe to the and management of concentric and overlapping circles of people I engage with. I hover around 3,500 to 4,000, but that includes Google Pages I "subscribe" to.
I've considered deleting extraneous social network accounts, such as +Klout. If some of you are also considering culling your social networks, please describe how here.
Along with +pio dal cin, +Mike Elgan and a cast of many others, I'm "dieting" from all the social nets and focusing on G+
+Gary S Hart no, I'm sorry! Sometimes it's difficult to express the things I feel in English and they come out wrong! :-)
I totally agree on what you said and wanted to stress the fact that I'm basically so honest that I won't come up with any scams or such for getting more people / followers for my clients that could effect their Klout or whatever. Aaarghhh! Sorry! :-)
I'm transparent to the point of... Hmm. Any of my Circlers here?
+Mari Thomas Getting in the 'What's Hot' really has no affect on the Klout. Must be something else.
Here's another perspective on key influencers. Ad agencies hire high profile celebrities for exorbitant sums of money to stump products that they may not like or actually use - and it works. Is that not being practiced on social networks? How do you measure the validity of the endorsements?
+Jaana Nyström Although its a struggle to express & communicate this is WHY I love G+! ... Our G+ constituency is International while my FB feed is primarily localized to America ... Communication here gets us out of our Amerikanized Mentality ... Thank you for being here Jaana!
+Colin Walker Thanks, I'd missed it earlier. A hint: Please add an image so your blog posts are easily pinnable... :-) Wanted to pin the post to Pinterest but there's no image so that makes it a hassle.
Just a hint... Don't make your info-spreaders do all the work!
Images are important!
Thank you both for understanding +Jeris JC Miller and +Gary S Hart : I try my best! :D
You may always doubt my comments and think perhaps I did not get the message / vice versa...
+Jaana Nyström, you punctuate an interesting point about measuring content You may always doubt my comments and think perhaps I did not get the message / vice versa." Here we are having a thoughtful conversation and battling semantics; perhaps the greatest challenge to communications. How can an algorithm or AI program do as good a job analyzing emotions and convert that into a valuable metric?
I have to finish as my 15-year-old-son is waiting in line to play Diablo III on my iMac... :D Thanks guys, it was really interesting!
+Gary S Hart Nope, I ran several experiments on different scales. The outcome is always the same: if I post normal I usually generate discussions. These discussions clearly contribute to my Klout score, while the ´plus´ generators actually lower my score.
+Jaana Nyström the advise to always add an image to a post is a good one unless people are on mobile. The latest Apple app for G+ more or less hides the text so it goes unnoticed if you add an image.
As usual marketing needs to be targeted and G+ posting if done professionally should follow these same rules. I´m posting solely for my own pleasure so I ignore all tips, but if you want to reach a specific audience on iMobile it´s wise to just add a link with a small image IF your msg is based on the text instead of just another image.
+Jaana Nyström I wasnt talking about getting in the whats hot.. i was talking about sharing the whats hot and the cacophony of +'s lol comments and reshares that automatically come with sharing a post which resonates with so many people already. . I post anything that i want to post.. i am kinda like the butterfly in "the last unicorn" :D I know that much of what i post wont resonate with most people but it is my stream and i made up my mind a long time ago that i only wanted the audience that wanted to deal with all of me.. if i limited my posts to only things that resonate with large quantities of people(eliminating say my.. steve wonder video bing of last night :D) .. i suspect that would raise my klout score. It would be interesting to see what a profile full of crowd pleasing posts would do to your score even if the crowd pleasers arent essentially relevant to anything. .
I stand corrected +Colin Walker although the essence stays. All too often I see all these tips circulating and I cringe as they describe the best way to get attraction but don´t take into account who and why you want to attract people and with which message.
If you want to sell me a thought, a message, a product you will need to show me the message in a form fitting the content.
+Mari Thomas I believe +Jaana Nyström and +Gabriel Vasile are examples of people who mostly post deliberately for a large audience and their Klout scores are indeed very high, but corrected for their large audience not. Klout seems to maintain an influence network which is not 1:1 related to the number of followers on G+
People like +Mike Elgan and +Robert Scoble who are no crowd pleasers have even higher Klout´s.
+Gary S Hart re: "How can an algorithm or AI program do as good a job analyzing emotions and convert that into a valuable metric?"

Don't sell the algorithms short without debate. :) I think they might do better than us on most occasions.

The answer is metric code-named 'Contributiveness'. A deep document analysis- like approach that analyzes posts and and related transactions. From +Bill Slawski speaking about a Google patent: Contrinutiveness would be based upon the quality of something that you post or upload to a social network and the authority scores of people who respond to that content.

*How relevant a response or comment might be from the first person to something that the second person posted

*How original a post or comment or piece of content submitted to the network might be compared to other content items

*How much “coverage” or broadening of a topic a piece of content might add to the network, based upon a measure of uncommon terms in the post or comment or reply

*How “rich” the content item might be, (Does it include multimedia or rich media content)

*The timeliness of a content item, such as a quick comment in response to a post, or a fast answer to a question.

And there are many more data pints that might be calculated...
+Jeff Jockisch, please allow me to politely push back on your statement "I think they might do better than us on most occasions."

If the audience does not value the content or conversation, by taking action or making changes, i.e., make a purchase or switch vendors, and the application determines the content and conversation to be of high value, I have to go with the audience reaction as the meaningful KPI.

This is where big numbers and metrics fail. So what if the content is original and media rich with plenty of relevant comments. Unless you can measure the actual audience reaction, the metrics are worthless. Without a balance between application based measurement and human to human evaluation, analysis has immeasurable gaps.
Agree with the argument that 'impact' is important, +Gary S Hart, but why do think this info would be available to a human but not an algorithm?
+Gary S Hart I think you might be missing +Jeff Jockisch 's point. The "better" to which he refers is that, instead of a numbers game (more people watch the Super Bowl than anything else so it must be the highest good), it's a reputation "game" if you want to call it that. Reputation actually cannot normally be gamed. If it is (think Madoff), it is a really high level con artist. Most people really can be judged by the company they keep, by the interest that the most educated among us have in what they have to say. That can be measured by complex AI algorithms that are looking at depth of field of a person's reputation and not just how many followers (numbers). There are probably a whole lot of influences on such a measurement that might be outside the internet per se (credit score?), but I can see that it might be possible to have such an algorithm actually work "better" than, say, a cursory look at what might be a pile of nonsense on their Linked-In Profile.
I´m actually quite certain that an AI approach would be better than a human ranking system. Like +Meg Tufano says, an AI program wouldn´t have been fooled by Madoff
+Gary S Hart big data is no longer the buzzword. It got replaced by nano data, which is the key behind the success of the IBM Watson beating humans in Jeopardy.
Some thoughts and observations on this discussion:

1. The obsession I'm seeing with Klout scores reminds me of the obsessiveness I've been seeing for almost a decade of Google's Toolbar display of PageRank. The toolbar PageRank is a poor measure of the influence and authority of a web page, is only updated 3-4 times a year, and leaves out a few hundred other signals that a search engine might use to rank a page, both independently of a specific query, and combined with that query to determine how relevant it is. But at least PageRank is a number from Google. Klout isn't

2. This social media discussion about Klout is a lot more articulate and a lot more wordy that most discussions I've seen about toolbar pagerank, though.

3. The credential score that +Jeff Jockisch referred to above is a score indicating some level of expertise and authority based upon both contributions to a social network and meaningful interactions. The ways that the patent describes how those scores might be determined also makes it very clear that a person might have different scores based upon the topics or concepts that they write about or interact with others about. This is pretty realistic. You probably aren't going to trust Donald Trump to give you medical advice based upon what you know about him from the public persona he presents to the world, or take flying lessons from Paris Hilton. So if you aren't presently writing about and interacting with others on topics related to a nonprofit that there's mention of helping above that some want to help, you may want to spend a few months or longer engaged in topics related to its mission first, or your "Klout" really won't count for much at all. Otherwise, it's likely that your +1 won't even be worth that much.

4. You want to do something to show people that you really do have some level of social media clout, do something real. A Klout score just means you like to talk a lot. :)
I think you are right on the topics actually linking to the Knowledge Graph, +Gideon Rosenblatt though it might run past that to also encompass phrases and others grams.
+Gideon Rosenblatt There are a number of "graphs" that Google might use to try to understand relationships, connections, and meanings between things.

For example, there's a concept graph or ontology that came to Google via the Applied Semantics merger as described in the CIRCLA technology [1] they developed, and a number of pending and granted patents [2] that apply this semantic technology to both advertising and Web search.

Part of building the creating of the tokens within this concept graph includes understanding entities:

The next stage of processing, Named Entity Recognition and Regular Pattern Identification, is responsible for identifying a series of tokens that should potentially be treated as a unit, and that can be recognized as corresponding to a specific semantic type. This module recognizes email addresses, URLs, phone numbers, and dates as well as embodying heuristics for identifying “named entities” such as personal names, locations, and company names.

Under that approach, there are many different types of relationships between concepts (and levels of strength involving those relationships) that are mapped by this concept graph.

Under Phrase-Based Indexing [3], Google attempts to identify "good" phrases and the other phrases that tend to co-occur with them in a top number of search results for that phrase. Those phrases are considered to be related semantically under that approach. A specific person, place, or thing may be considered a phrase that there are related phrases for. This is another semantic graph that can play a role in how entities might be connected with concepts.

Under a Knowledge Graph approach [4], Google might first look at knowledge bases such as Wikipedia, Freebases,, IMDB, NetFlix, WordNet, to learn about specific named entities (people, places, and things - including brands and even concepts like "democracy") and aspects or attributes of those entities. Google may then look at its query log files see see how searches that include those entities might be both combined with other terms in queries, and refined in a query session.

So a Knowledge Base might create a unique identifier for a specific named entity to distinguish between different named entities that might share a name, and to cluster together information about a specific entity that might be known by multiple names. It may then use different knowledge bases to identify different aspects or attributes related to those entities, as well as query log information to see what aspects or attributes related to those entities that people tend to search for.

The idea behind Agent Rank [5] is to create an association between a specific entity (as author or editor or publisher or commentator or social sharer/endorser/annotator or combinations of all of those) and a unique identifier (like the string of numbers in the URL within your profile) so that Google can collect information explicitly stated in a profile and implicitly expressed in social contributions and interactions with others, as well as content associated with that Agent via authorship markup, and possibly some future third party comment system as well. This information can help define facts behind aspects and attributes associated with an individual such as school attended, place employed, hobbies, interests, expertise, topics written about, topics commented upon.

Agent Rank provides Google with unique identifiers for specific individuals, and assign multiple reputation scores to them based upon different concepts or topics that they are associated with. An endorsement (or +1) from a specific agent may carry different weights based upon those different reputation scores.

So, someone like Stephen King, the horror writer, who decides to +1 an article about the history of horror films might carry a lot of weight with his endorsement. If he also endorses (+1) a news article about the habits of prairie dogs in Montana, and he's never written about them before on the Web at pages he has associated himself with via authorship markup, never interacted with others on the topic in Google Plus (or other social networks he has pointed to his profile for in his Google Account), his endorsement might not carry any weight at all.

Note that the endorsements don't count towards increasing the "value" of the content being endorsed, but rather the "reputation" of the author of that content. It's a ranking of Agents.

The credential scores that both +Jeff Jockisch and I mention above also describe a way of increasing a reputation score for an "Agent" by determining quality scores for both contributions to social networks, and the meaningfulness of interactions with others in those networks. Those scores might be based in part upon a number of features associated with the content itself, and reputation features associated with the people who are being responded to, who respond, who share, who endorse, and so on.

A social graph looks at individuals and their relationships with others. They might be directly connected with each other as friends or connections or people you've circled. They might not be directly connected, but may have interacted in some way (endorsed, shared content, mentioned, etc.) This graph is a different layer of understanding relationships between entities, and those relationships might be topically based, or affinity based or defined in other ways as well.

Google also looks at other graphs, such as the link graph described in PageRank. The PageRank patents also describe a personalized PageRank which might be used to personalize results by being concerned about the topics that might be related to links and might be seen as something that a person searching might be interested in.

The calculation mentioned in Gideon's comment probably isn't quite as simple as:

Agent Rank + Knowledge Graph + Social Graph = "Influence Graph"

When we search while logged into Google, we may see search results from people who we are connected to via a social graph, but those results need to be relevant to our query, and the decision to show something in particular from a person we are connected to is likely going to be based in part upon their reputation score for a topic or concept related to that query.

When we see a knowledge base result, it's possible that the social graph we are part of might have nothing to do with the content that appears as part of that knowledge base result.

We may see both knowledge base information, and social graph information in a sidebar of a set of search results. There may be some connection between them, but there doesn't have to be.

We may see some "personalized" results within our search results that are influenced by what Google knows about our previous search and browsing history and other signals. Those might use information that Google has learned about us from our social interactions and reputation scores and so on at some point in the future, but probably aren't at this point.

When we are logged out of Google, we could potentially continue to see knowledge base results that have nothing to do with our social interactions with others.

When we are logged out of Google, we can still see author badges associated with content that appears in results. It's possible at some point that those results might use credential scores to rank content at some point, and since you're logged out, your social connections with that author aren't directly a reason why content they authored is something that you are seeing.

The content that we create will still be ranked on the words contained within it, and how well it meets an informational or situational of a searcher. But it may also be ranked differently depending upon whether a searcher is logged into Google or not, and it might be partially ranked in the future based upon oan author's "reputation" regardless of whether a searcher is logged in or not.

1. CIRCA Technology: Applying Meaning to Information Management,

2. Editing a network of interconnected concepts

3. 10 Most Important SEO Patents, Part 5 - Phrase Based Indexing

4. Google and Metaweb: Named Entities and Mashup Search Results?

5. Google’s Agent Rank Patent Application
+Meg Tufano, the conversation I referred to was about content value. Every time Google's algorithm is changed, brilliant reverse engineers write analyzing programs to build content that search deem of higher quality. Gaming follows when participants are actually shills who know how to write comments that are viewed as having relevance. There are SEO companies specializing in this game. The result is higher search rankings; fooling the system.

+Colin Walker, +Gideon Rosenblatt, +Jeff Jockisch, +Max Huijgen, and +Meg Tufano, In essence, we are debating a modern form of "John Henry and the Nine Pound Hammer." Can machines outperform humans in human endeavors?

The financial collapse was blame by many on a fault in the algorithm that quantified derivatives. Wired called it "The Formula That Killed Wall Street." My point is, and I believe this very strongly with a part of my essence that will never be embedded in a computer, that human behavior is unpredictable. Human response cannot be measured with KPIs.

Why will people bid more than $20 for a $20 bill? Can we determine through programming what makes a hit tune, movie or book and end up with the greatest music, flicks, and literature ever?

My view is quantification is not qualitative. I believe AI has a place, a limited place, and will not effectively replace human decision making. Of course these are all opinions; I respect yours and this is mine.

+Gideon Rosenblatt "Agent Rank + Knowledge Graph + Social Graph = "Influence Graph" may be the formula for today, but my theory is something my grandmother taught me, "Cream always rises to the top" and this will defy formulaic assessment.
Thanks, +Jeff Jockisch

I've been spending some significant time trying to understand how Google might connect and use information from many of these different types of graphs, to use them for search results, for advertisements, and in their social efforts.

I don't think that when I first wrote about Agent Rank in 2007 that I could have envisioned Google Plus as it exists now.

Google's use of Wikipedia and Freebase and other sources to create a "Knowledge Base" isn't too surprising either. It's likely that Google was using the Yahoo Directory and DMOZ for years as a place to launch focused Web Crawls to identify links. Using those knowledge bases as a source to start "crawls" of concepts isn't really all that difference.
+Gary S Hart I just posted the article from "The New Yorker" that ended with, "It’s refreshing to see that computer engineers still occasionally need to steal a page from the human mind.

Read more

Unfortunately, I also have been working with people from MIT and Dartmouth who are teaching me things about algorithms that would blow you brain circuits! It's hard for me to believe that such an intense amount of knowledge can be gleaned about a person from something called an algorithm. (The process is much more like Sherlock Holmes than Calculus: if there is no other explanation, then it must be the paradoxical one.)

As the article points out, however, human beings still have something that cannot be gamed. ;')
+Bill Slawski thank you so much for taking the time to write all this up. Jeeze, you have really been digging into this stuff. You are now officially my go-to guy for understanding the details of this new cluster of graphs. Seriously. For those of you on this thread who are interested in influence, please take a good luck at Bill's post above - and if you don't yet have him circled, well, I ask you: what are you waiting for??? :-)
+Meg Tufano the writer of that article seems to miss on most of Google´s work in semantic nets. The assumptions he makes are not correct. The conclusion that human beings still have something is correct, but his argument doesn´t lead to it. Except for the GO game there is no real example.
Using the IBM chess effort shows he is completely out of sync with modern research. IBM winning Jeopardy was more recent and of much greater significance as semantic and topology of knowledge were key to that achievement.
+Gary S Hart I have no doubt algorithms can do great damage to us and also that they can never understand all of the signals relevant to truly understanding a person and their worth.

But the reality is that algorithms are not going away, they will grow in complexity and importance and interdependence, unless we want to jump to a less technical evolutionary path.

One value of this ever expanding set of metrics is that they can cross validate old metrics to avoid gaming and they can offer new opportunities for exposure by measuring new attributes like 'social influence' and 'contributiveness' to an idea.

Could it all go dystopic? Sure. But it could also create a better reality, one that values people and content and things other than bank accounts and credit scores? I think it can.
Great comment, +Gary S Hart. I honestly don't know what to believe on this big question you raise. I do believe that the evolution of technology is accelerating and that in just 20-30 years we are going to find algorithms doing amazing things we never would have dreamed of. Will they pass the Turning test? Will they supplant human intelligence? Will they develop "personality structures" and consciousness? I don't know and I don't know and I don't know. What I do believe, however, is that there is something unique about the human soul - even in its very imperfection, and that we always, always need to hold that sacred. My two cents anyway...
+Gideon Rosenblatt You're welcome. This is the evolution of search and search engines - finding ways to make and surface associations between words, phrases, concepts, entities, and people.

I haven't had a chance to write about them yet, but there are some very recent patent filings from Microsoft and Facebook that present some interesting twists on the use of knowledge bases as well .
+Meg Tufano, this has been the paradoxical tug of war in my life. I love technology and sold it for twenty years. When other parents were reading Grimms Fairy Tales to my friends, my parents read me How & Why Wonder Books and the like, and they weaned me on scifi. Algorithms are fascinating and what they are doing would not surprise me.

+Jeff Jockisch, algorithms are valuable and should not go away. The over-reliance on them is my concern and should be the developers and users concern as well.

Whenever we think we have human behavior quantified, it fools us!

Thank you for leading a great conversation +Gideon Rosenblatt and for the flattery. Your statement sums this up very nicely. "What I do believe, however, is that there is something unique about the human soul - even in its very imperfection, and that we always, always need to hold that sacred."

Will Kurzweil's Singularity occur? It has already begun. Humans cannot help themselves; it's our nature. Where will it all lead to is the important question.

"Let us redefine progress to mean that just because we can do a thing, it does not necessarily mean we must do that thing.” Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country
Add a comment...