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This article was published on September 20, 2011

Klout CEO Joe Fernandez talks with us about the future of social influence scoring

Klout CEO Joe Fernandez talks with us about the future of social influence scoring

It was only five days ago that Google+ launched the first part of its application programming interface. The available API was launched just before Google+ finally opened itself to the public following its 90 day beta testing period, no doubt to get developers started in the right direction and prepped for the more robust API in Google+’s future.

In the five days after Google+’s API launch, Klout actively worked on using the available data to integrate G+’s service onto its own platform. Now, less than a week later, Klout has become the first social scoring analytics tool to build on the public data.

Klout CEO, Joe Fernandez, reached out to me to with a heads up just before Klout launched its Google+ integration, and soon followed the scoop with a tweet of his own, revealing the update to the public.

As always, linking new social networks to your profile on Klout won’t have any adverse effects on your current Klout score, but as usual, the actual measurable statistics are a confusing mystery. Hoping to dig deeper into that, I sat down with Joe Fernandez for a chat.

Joe Fernandez talks shop with The Next Web

Sherilynn Macale (SM): Why the decision to merge Google+ with your current analytics, and how will this affect current scores?

Joe Fernandez (JF): With the release of the G+ API and Google+ going public, we made it a priority to add this network. It was a good test for our team to be able to show off how quickly we are able to add new data sources.

In terms of how it will affect scoring, if you are an active G+ user, you might have seen your Klout score decline recently because of lowered activity on Twitter or FB. Now we will be able to give full credit for that influence regardless of where it is distributed.
SM: What sort of metrics are you taking from Google+ to evaluate scores?

JF: We see amazing engagement on Google+ around +1’s and comments. The depth of the conversation threads are a testament to the power of the platform and something we will be looking at when measuring influence. For us influence is about the ability to drive action. Much like other platforms we will be trying to understand how many people someone influences, how much they influence them and how influential those people are.

SM: So no hint at specifics, then?

JF: I see this as something that is going to evolve really quickly as behaivor on G+ matures and as Google releases more API’s. Right now the most obvious factors are around +1 and comments and how influential the people are that engage with you in that way.

SM: Can we get any hints towards new features Klout might be rolling out in the future?

JF: With all the networks we have added recently, we are really looking at how we can make the score easier to understand. Over the coming weeks we are excited to start rolling out “Score Insights”. We believe it’s important for people to be able to easily understand the behaivors that are giving them the most impact on the social web and think that Score Insights will go a long way to help us accomplish that.

SM: Having written about Klout in the past and being a fan of the tool myself, it’s hard to ignore the comments coming in that some people think Klout is a gamable service and its scoring system is flawed. Will your new features address these issues at all, and if not, how are you planning to approach comments like that?

JF: People often talk about “gaming” the service and sure, there are strategies that can help someone move from a score of 20-25 (for example) without a huge amount of effort. To have a Klout Score above 40 or so, you really have to earn it with consistent quality engagement. I think the new Score Insights will make it easier to understand what it really takes to build a high Klout score and help people appreciate how challenging it is to have that level of influence.

Klout is moving quickly

With all of the publicity Klout has managed to stir up recently, it’s no surprise that the company has briskly snatched up Google+’s API. While the addition of Google+ to Klout is certainly a natural progression towards providing more accurate social data on the service, the current lack of insight is where Klout has admitted it needs to improve.

Now with Score Insights just around the corner, Klout is already working towards improving its reputation with its more skeptical users (cough, Brad) by tugging back the curtain and making itself more transparent for its users. Hopefully, the coming features will help build the trust Klout needs to convince its current and potential users that the service is as rewarding as it is accurate.

We’re curious: Are you using Klout, and if not, why? If you are of the skeptical variety, what does the service need to do to convince you? Weigh in below.

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