Maybe it all started with Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point. Or maybe it came before that. But for the last ten years measuring an individual’s influence on society has gained attention. There is a desire to objectively quantify the impact of individuals words or actions.
This is a big deal for business. Take for example the employer hiring new employees. If the employer can identify a potential hire who has 10x as much social influence as the other job applicants, they will obviously know which person to employ. Measuring influence can also play into compensation and salaries. A high “influence score” can be a big asset on a resume.
So how do you measure an individual’s influence? That is the question that Klout and Kred are attempting to answer.
Klout started to gain attention about two years ago. I first came across them as an embedded score in HootSuiet’s contact view. Basically, they score anyone who is on Twitter with a score on a scale from 1-100. A person connects their social accounts to the app and they scan your social interaction. Their algorithm generates a score that is updated on a daily basis. Here is how they describe what they are measuring:
“Klout was founded in 2008 to help you measure and leverage your influence. We believe influence is the ability to drive action. For example, Oprah’s opinion on literature has inspired millions to read titles from her book club. But you don’t have to be Oprah to have influence. You influence your friend when she listens to a song you recommend on Facebook. You influence your coworker when he checks out an article you posted on LinkedIn and shares it with someone else. Social actions like these are a reflection of influence.”
There have been many critics of Klout. It seems like they get as much grief as they get praise. But over the last three months they have gained a lot of momentum. Their CEO has appeared in numerous articles and they seem to be around for the long haul. Here is one interview.
The second influence measurement tool is Kred. Kred is the new kid on the block and has the “coming soon” sign on a number of its features. There are a number of similarities between Kred and Klout, but it would appear that Kred is attempting to build off of Klout’s mistakes.
They have created a score that is based on 1-1000 scale and work only with Twitter at the time of this writing. Their greatest strength is that they make the scoring process transparent. So users are able to watch their score go up and down as they interact on the web.
At this point, both of these platforms are early on in development. They are pioneering a new tool and there are a lot of questions and challenges too be determined.
Application For the Christian Leader
I’m reminded of Jesus statement in Matthew 5:13-16 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
The call to be an influence in the world is not a question. Jesus told the disciples to be salt and light. We are called to influence the world around us.
It is important to point out that the change that occurs in others does not originate in us. Truly, God is influencing the world. We are invited into the process of change he is authoring in individual’s lives. As we speak and do the things he is leading us in, we should be impacting others. Paul expressed this beautifully when he wrote to the Corinthians about his influence on their lives; “clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.” (2 Cor. 3:3)
To Klout and Kred’s shame, they are evaluating ones influence in quantity. The actual quality of change is not scored. They are measuring breadth of influence but not doing a lot with depth. (How could they?) The edification that takes place as another person reads the scripture I post to my Facebook wall cannot be measured with a mere “like”. There is a hidden work that is taking place in peoples hearts and that will remain unseen no matter how much technology progresses.
At the same time, Klout and Kred are evaluating my influence based on my ability to move others to action. What a great concept! I don’t want to just make people feel good, but I want people to speak and do based on what I share. “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1)
So for now, Klout and Kred serve as a rough measurement tool that encourages me to stay active in developing my influence in other peoples lives. It is a reminder to participate in the community of friends and followers that God has given me. And it is an external motivator pushing me to do what I know is right.
Are you using either of these two applications? How do you think they compliment or hinder a Christian’s activity on the internet?