Boosting Your Online “Klout”

There's a website that can help you get perks, better service, or even a job.


Credit scores can affect major aspects of your life — whether you get that fancy car, new house or bank loan. But there’s a new way consumers are being scored --you can call it your social credit score.

“It's sort of our version of a status symbol, to a certain extent. It's playing into the same mentality that's been out there forever, which is basically, who drives the nicest car? Who has the biggest house? Who goes on the nicest vacations,” OmNomCT blogger Kristien Del Ferraro said.

Companies like San Francisco-based Klout are gathering data to rate the way you use social media like Facebook and Twitter. 

When you sign up, Klout measures the way you influence others through social networking.  Things like how many of your friends buy what you buy, and go where you go. It tallies up everything from your retweets on Twitter to how many Facebook likes you receive, and then assigns you a score between one and 100.

Even if you’re not a Klout user, there’s a number waiting for you if you use social media. 

Here’s how -- you sign up using your Facebook or Twitter ID. 

Our reporter, Sabina, started with a score of 21. She’s since gotten that up to 45. 

NBC Connecticut is doing pretty well at 57, but keep in mind that’s with more than 150,000 Facebook likes. 

It’s not easy to get that perfect score, unless you’re Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber or President Obama. But watch out, because this virtual number can result in some real-life consequences, both good and bad.

“We did see someone with their Klout score on their resume once as part of their social media presence,” said Del Ferraro.

It’s happening more and more. Del Ferraro said she’s seen job applicants to Humongo, the marketing agency where she works, list their Klout scores as credentials.

“It did take me back a little bit and made me think, wow, is that something people are bragging about now? It seemed a little funny,” Del Ferraro said.

It’s also changing the way companies do customer service. We spoke with Klout CEO Joe Fernandez, who said high-scoring users have actually been known to get swifter responses on service issues.

"The brand will pick people with high Klout scores to respond directly to and then those people will spread the message to their followers. And it's actually a shortcut for the brands,” he told us.

“These are the headphones that I got. I looked them up on Amazon and they were worth $70,” Del Ferraro said.

Top scorers like her, with one of the highest Klout scores in Connecticut, also get free perks like those expensive headphones from brands that hope users will spread word of the product to her social network.

Resorts and casinos like Foxwoods are looking into offering incentives to high-scoring Klout customers.

“We're definitely working on giving perks just to our social media followers. Klout is fairly new to us so we're getting into it.

But we also try to reach out to people to give them incentives,” said Dan Desrochers,  Foxwoods’ Social and Mobile Media Manager.

But does all this come down to your basic high school popularity contest? Skeptics say, yes.

"What Klout doesn't measure is how well you listen, how good a friend you are, how well you can make connections," said Quinnipiac University social media expert Alexander Halavais.

Still, users like Del Ferraro said while they know Klout is nothing but a number, there’s a thrill that comes with seeing that digit inch up.

“It feeds that ego piece a little bit, feeds that competitive nature we all have in us,” she said.

And a sense of power — knowing businesses are paying attention.

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