Social scoring sites Klout and Kred have a lot of people talking recently. What are they? What’s the point? And what’s the difference between the two?  The point behind social scoring websites is to show a user’s influence score based on various metrics (which are not always spelled out clearly) so that brands can easily find influencers in their desired categories.  Brands and marketing agencies are increasingly looking to sites like Klout and Kred to help them determine the type of outreach projects to use and which influencers to hire or who would make the best brand evangelists.  Let’s take a look at how each site works and any differences between the two.

Klout

Perhaps the first to gauge and rate social influence online, Klout is the most well-known social scoring program.  Launched in beta fall 2009, Klout measures a user’s influence across the various social network channels.  Many have been vocal about concerns about transparency and secrecy in the methods. Klout users have been trying since its launch to discover the nature of Klout’s scoring system and how they can best increase it over time.  Recently Klout added the Understanding Klout resource to their website in hopes of helping users understand their scores & the process used to reach them.

Klout scores range from 1-100 with the average user scoring around a 20, according to Klout’s website.  Klout also measures what they consider “True Reach,” “Amplification” and “Network Impact,” which allows them to measure your influence more accurately.

True Reach is the number of your followers that actually react or take action when you share a message.  Amplification represents how often what you post get shared – the higher your score in this category the more likely your message is to be spread across your social networks.  Network gauges your network’s influence, or rather when your network shares or responds to your messages, the your score raises.

Klout also weighs in on the topics they believe the user is influential in and allows other users to give out +K in these topics.  +K works as a way for people to directly recommend you as an influencer in specific topics; Klout recently opened up the opportunity to ‘add a topic’ so that users can now claim topics they want to be considered influential in.

Interested in increasing your Klout score?  Based on a 90 day rolling window, Klout takes retweets and mentions from Twitter; Facebook comments, likes, and wall-posts; LinkedIn comments and likes; Google reshares, +1s, and comments into consideration when tabulating a user’s influence and is working on adding new social networks regularly.

Kred

Kred, the latest social scoring website, was launched in beta in early December by the PeopleBrowser social analytics company and, like its predecessor Klout, assigns scores to Twitter users based on their influence and outreach while also identifying the communities that each user influences.

According to Kred’s user guide, Kred Influence (that’s the number noted in the green part of your Kred badge) is defined by the number of ‘actions’ you compel from your network – taken into accountactions like retweeting, sharing, replies and new follows. Kred Outreach, on the other hand, measures your social generosity through actions like engagement and community message sharing.

Breaking it down for you, Kred shows that your influence number (ranging from 1-1000) can be increased through retweets, new follows and @ replies; while your outreach level (level ranges vary) can be increased by you following new people, @ replying and retweeting and following new lists.

Want to increase your Kred score? Under the Get More Kred tab, you can add offline experience and influence by uploading proof of any memberships or degrees you hold, involvement in charities, participation in sports, and more.  It is as simple as filling out the form provided and uploading a JPEG, PNG, or PDF copy of your certificate, a scoring committee will determine the points value after reviewing your proof and your points request.

The Differences

Wondering how these companies use your scores and information? The two companies use the account information you provide to them differently. Klout has promised never to identify influencers to advertisers and instead sells the opportunity for brands to give very specific groups of influencers “Klout Perks,” the company’s brand of reward marketing based on user’s scores.  Kred, on the other hand, works with brands to provide specific lists or groupings of Twitter users that are influential in a certain area.

Another difference between the two is that while Klout takes into account many of your social network accounts, Kred currently mainly bases your online score on your Twitter interactions (they do take Facebook and Google + into account, but Twitter holds more weight).

The main difference between Klout and Kred is how open the companies are about how they arrive at users’ individual scores.  With Kred, the scoring guide and website clearly shows users how your score (and everyone else’s) is tabulated. With Klout, however, virtually nothing is known about their scoring algorithms.

Opinions on Klout and Kred

After asking marketing professionals for their thoughts on Klout, Kred, and their overall usefulness I received plenty of interesting responses:

David Binkowski, partner at Large Media who also blogs at Every Other Thursday, had this to say about Klout and Kred:

“While I feel the underlying premise of both services are flawed because they can easily be gamed, they, along with strict criteria and ongoing measurement, can provide a good starting point to any influencer campaign. That said, they’re definitely not an end-all, be all solution and don’t account for offline interactions where most word of mouth occurs.”

Jeffe Kennedy says:

“I don’t have much personal experience, but the writers on Twitter are forever trying to manipulate their Klout scores to link their names to their ‘themes.’ They seem to be quite successful at it, too, which tells me it’s not exactly an objective measure. [I]f it’s intended to be.”

On Klout, Nichole Smith is clear:

“It was ridiculous. I started to rely more on that number than I did on actually just talking/connecting to people. I felt I always had to give someone +K or ask for it in order to get a better score. The whole thing became nerve wracking and yes, the post has specific reasons as to why I ditched.. lack of privacy (my teenage son has Klout? Pressure to post, tweet, etc in order to keep the score up when I’d rather just unplug. Started to turn in to a giant swag-for-all. Some of the topics I was influential in didn’t make sense… and I’ve never been a fan of measuring true reach by numbers only).”

Marnely Rodriguez-Murray tells me:

“I believe Klout is useful in the social media world if that’s what your job is. It’s just another score and I see that normally people that complain about it have a low score (it’s human nature, we don’t want to be ‘scored’). On the superficial level, you have Klout, you get great little perks like gift cards and cookbooks, plus tickets to events in your area. Klout does the job of connecting you to a brand and you write about it whether you want to or not. In the end, it’s just another thing that if you have time for, do it. And if you don’t, ignore it.”

Also on the subject of Klout, Robin Elton of Simple. Green. Organic. Happy. says:

“It’s a measurement, a metric, that is accurate for WHAT IT MEASURES. It can give a fair idea of engagement ratios fairly specific to Twitter & FB. But like BMI and health, it’s only part of a greater picture and needs to be looked at in conjunction with other factors.”

Lily Kirov, online media consultant for the Syracuse Post Standard, has this to say about Kred:

“I have to say Kred offers info that helps me understand better what I do right/wrong. Klout is surrounded in too much mystery”

What are your thoughts on Klout/Kred and the whole social scoring phenomenon?