Imagine a world in which we are assigned a number that indicates how influential we are. This number would help determine whether you receive a job, a hotel-room upgrade or free samples at the supermarket. If your influence score is low, you don't get the promotion, the suite or the complimentary cookies. This is not science fiction. It's happening to millions of social network users.
If you have a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account, you are already being judged - or will be soon. Companies with names like Klout, PeerIndex and Twitter Grader are in the process of scoring millions, eventually billions, of people on their level of influence - or in the lingo, rating "influencers." Yet the companies are not simply looking at the number of followers or friends you've amassed. Rather, they are beginning to measure influence in more nuanced ways, and posting their judgements - in the form of a score - online.
Influence scores typically range from 1 to 100. On Klout, the dominant player in this space, the average score is in the high teens. A score in the 40s suggests a strong, but niche, following. A 100, on the other hand, means you're Justin Bieber. On PeerIndex, the median score is 19. A perfect 100, the company says, is "god-like."
How does one become an influencer?
After analysing 22 million tweets last year, researchers at Hewlett-Packard found that it's not enough to attract Twitter followers - you must inspire those followers to take action. That could mean persuading them to try Bikram yoga, donate to the Sierra Club or share a recipe for apple pie. In other words, influence is about engagement and motivation, not just racking up legions of followers.