Get ready. Social scoring will change your life.

Mark Schaefer Executive Director, Schaefer Marketing Solutions

Posted on November 22nd 2010

There is an interesting, and perhaps alarming, trend brewing on the social media scene.  Take a look at a couple items in the news last week:

  • The Palms Hotel in Las Vegas is providing perks to guests based on their Klout score (an assessment of social media influence)**
  • By the end of the year, Twitter said their new analytics will provide influence scores for every user.
  • People are now curating lists of the most influential bloggers by Klout score.
  • Virgin Airlines offered free flights on a new route to people with high influence scores on Twitter.
  • Hoot Suite allows you to sort Twitter results by the influence of the people in the list.

I’m guessing that within a 12 to 18 months, you will be able to use new augmented reality technology to scan a room of people with your smartphone and get a numerical social rating for every person in sight.  I constructed the graphic above as an example, but the technology is already there to make this happen.

OK, first I need to get this out of my system. This CREEPS ME OUT.

Good. I feel much better now. On with the show.

While it may be a sad and disturbing reality that we’re about to create a new social media caste system, the business benefits are obvious and powerful. This system can provide highly-targeted marketing and PR opportunities.

Advertising Age reported that the Virgin promotion generated 4,600 tweets about the new route. This led to more than 7.4 million impressions and coverage in top blogs and news outlets like the L.A. Times and CNN Money.

This week, Klout began pulling in Facebook data to get a fuller picture of an individual’s social media footprint and they also have their sights set on LinkedIn, MySpace, Digg, and even Youtube, for future integration.

And this is just the beginning. Forget about Klout scores, there will be competitive rating systems for everything and it will be available to anybody at a push of a button. Wouldn’t it make sense to assign numbers for single people on the dating scene based on “user ratings”?

It seems inevitable that you and “your number” are going to be compared, analyzed and dissected by everyone you meet.

Think about the implications of this.

1) Social influence is the new black. Your social score may ultimately be more important than your resume when getting a marketing job, especially at an entry-level position. Your information is going to follow you around and be available to every person you date, every potential employer, every waiter at your favorite restaurant.

2) You better take this seriously. You know how some people whine that so-and-so blogger is only big because they got there first? Well guess what — the folks reading this blog today are probably already way ahead of the curve on social media sophistication. When it comes to social scoring, you have a chance to “get there first” too. Once these scores go mainstream — and it’s already happening — everybody is going to want a number … a high number. You have a head start. Do something about it.

3) Personal branding starts with social influence. Don’t take my word for it. The Harvard Business Review said that creating a robust online presence is the first step toward building a C-suite personal brand.

4) Prepare for the gamers.  If you think all those people selling lists of Twitter followers is annoying, wait until people figure out how to game Klout scores.

5) Do you have a Klout coach? Here’s the business opportunity of the year. Become a personal Klout coach. Basically this is “personal branding SEO” right?  Social scoring is going to become so important that people will certainly pay money to pave the way to a high influence score.

I hate the fact that we are on the brink of creating social media caste systems. However, we can’t live in a world we wish for. We have to live in the world that is.  So let’s deal with it. Go figure out how to improve your Klout score. Watch for new scoring systems that are emerging. Participate. Dominate. It’s going to be important.

This is a new perspective on technology and personal branding that is more than a little icky. What do you think about this concept and its implications?

**If you are unfamiliar with Klout scores, here is a definition from the company:

The Klout Score is the measurement of your overall online influence. The scores range from 1 to 100 with higher scores representing a wider and stronger sphere of influence. Klout uses over 35 variables on Facebook and Twitter to measure True Reach, Amplification Probability, and Network Score.

True Reach is the size of your engaged audience and is based on those of your followers and friends who actively listen and react to your messages. Amplification Score is the likelihood that your messages will generate actions (retweets, @messages, likes and comments) and is on a scale of 1 to 100. Network score indicates how influential your engage audience is and is also on a scale from 1 to 100. The Klout score is highly correlated to clicks, comments and retweets.


Mark Schaefer

Executive Director, Schaefer Marketing Solutions

Mark Schaefer is a consultant, author of The Tao of Twitter, and college educator who blogs at
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Posted on November 22nd 2010 at 5:01PM

I'm sorry. The Klout score is a load of hot air. It only really measures twitter influence. The Facebook stuff is hardly meaningful when huge numbers of people have their provacy settings locked down anyway. And anyway - read the detail and you see it's all about twitter. They don't provide any detail on Facebook: So... you're ruling out blogs which are incredibly influential. I'm not saying this isn't significant. I agree with a lot of your points here, but I do think we should put Klout into proper context and stopping hyping it like this


Posted on November 22nd 2010 at 5:18PM


Great post! I wrote a similar post yesterday at

I think this stuff is about to absolutely explode!

Thanks for sharing...




Posted on November 22nd 2010 at 5:18PM


Great post! I wrote a similar post yesterday at

I think this stuff is about to absolutely explode!

Thanks for sharing...




Posted on November 22nd 2010 at 5:49PM

Great post.

Any small business (like me) needs to understand this concept as all consumers (myself included) put a value on ratings. I dread the day that I walk in to meet a new real estate client and they ask scan me for my Klout Score!



Posted on November 27th 2010 at 4:36PM

people love to rate people and i think we will see this creeping into all kinds of businesses.

Chris Dessi
Posted on November 22nd 2010 at 8:06PM

Great post Mark. I felt compelled to write for two reasons  I admire that you admitted your full creep out, and I also LOVE this your statement that "Social Influence is the new black"....genius line.  Keep the good content coming! 

Chris Dessi (@cdessi)

Posted on November 22nd 2010 at 8:51PM

Thanks Chris. I would note that for some reason the website at the bottom of the post is incorrect. My blog is at  There is a great discussion on this subject going on over there. Thanks again for the kind words.

Posted on November 22nd 2010 at 10:16PM

Great post, Mark!

I wholeheartedly agree that we're literally less than a year away from widespread adoption of social influence as a measure of consumer worth. But creepy? Not so sure. How much do you think Michael Jordan paid for sneakers during his Nike days? Think Michael Phelps drops a single dime at Subway? Companies have been giving free product away to people they perceived as influential to their target audiences for decades. Such perks have always been off-limits to the man on the street, meaning that the caste system you describe has existed for a long time.

The only thing that scoring systems like Klout are doing is putting hard numbers against this influence, and bringing the celebrities and non-celebrities not only closer together, but into a sliding scale with shades of gray, instead of a black/white distinction. Whereas before, you could only get endorsements & perks if you met a certain arbitrary threshold of fame/influence, now the perks increase in value as you get more influential. If anything, I say that that's more fair to the general public. After all, if marketers are increasingly letting consumers do the heavy lifting of promoting their products, it's only right that they be compensated accordingly, right? 

What we're seeing is the birth of the influence economy.

Posted on November 27th 2010 at 4:37PM

Interesting take on it but I prefer to not be sliced and dices by algorithms : )  Thanks!

Posted on November 22nd 2010 at 10:29PM

Great article! I second Chris Dessi's comment. I fear the day someone will figure out a way to sell customers a Klout score the way Twitter followers are marketed.

Posted on November 23rd 2010 at 12:36AM

I agree with Jeremy to an extent. When I first tried out Klout I realized that it wasn't really a good indicator of online influence because it only took into account Twitter. Even though it uses Facebook (and Linkedin to come soon) now as well I still wouldn't say that it is reliable indicator of online influence. The fact that it leaves out blogging makes it pretty pointless in my opinion.

However, in the future Klout scores or a similar scoring system will be as ubiquitious as you mentioned. I too am worried (not for myself) that there will be a social media caste system. But in a way, it kind of makes sense, at least for those pursuing careers online. If I'm an aspiring internet marketer, what better way to prove my credentials than by having a high Klout score. I'm interested to see how the rise of social influence scores plays out.

Posted on November 23rd 2010 at 9:35AM

Hi Mark,

Nice post! This are just some of the issues new to me. It's so great that I am being directed on this page. The info is awesome and very fresh.

Im looking forward then on your new updates. Keep it up!



Posted on November 24th 2010 at 10:06PM

Hi Mark

Loved the way you summed this up in this post. I guess it has been coming for a while, once there was enough valuable data about user preferences and an ability to tell the true influencers vs those who spent money and shouted the loudest.

It's this creating fame thing through social media in play. People want to be a celebrity and they can be in the online world and take it offline.

Oh to watch it unfold and be part of it. We will look back as early adopters in the next 3 years and think `ha the good old days, remember when we were unsure of how social influence would pan out...'


Posted on November 24th 2010 at 10:56PM

So are you saying that people can get discounts if other people retweet what they say?

This should be interesting.

Posted on November 25th 2010 at 4:57AM

I enjoyed reading your article. The one thing no one has mentioned though is how often a Klout score comes up wrong. I have huge interactions on Facebook, but because I choose to privatize my account this influence isn't reflected in my score. I have since revealed more of my site, but I'm sure my score would be even higher if I revealed my entire FB site which I have no plans to do now, or in the future. I think it's short-sighted to base someone's influence on one company's arbitrary scoring system and hope other programmers will create competition to level the playing field. I would hope a person's influence is determined by more factors than simply their online presence, especially one that doesn't even take into account someone's blog or reach across all social networks. I know my own influence level and will rest in that fact.:)

Posted on November 27th 2010 at 3:37PM

All The Palms has done is taken the tried and true Casino model of partnering themselvs with the clients that make them the most money: High Rollers, and appied it to Social Networking: High Influencers.


High Rollers get perks like free suites or upgades, free travel, access to luxury lounges etc. because the casino knows that they will be dropping tens of thousands of dollars at the gambling tables. Social influences sinilarly, can spread the word easily about a good brand experience based upon personal experience and the tens of thousands of followers they have on various social networks. Scott Stratten in his book UNMarketing talks about Kraft Canada doing this with him and many other social influencers: sending out free samples of a product in exchange for their feedback and promotion of their experience.

Yes, this is for people ahead of the curve and it will take some time for many to catch up. Just another chasm in the digital divide that separates earlier adopters from the more conservative. Even the wagon trains had their scouts, and those are the ones that found the food and water first.