Data Stories: Tyler Singletary of Klout

This Data Story is with Tyler Singletary, Director of Platform at Klout, and we’re talking about Klout Scores, Klout data, international influence and more. Klout is an extremely popular Gnip enrichment and it’s clear that the world is interested in Klout data, so we thought this would a fun interview. You can keep up with Tyler on Twitter at @harmophone and on Klout at Klout.com/harmophone.

Tyler Singletary from Klout

1. Gnip’s CTO Jud Valeski has a Klout Score of 56, our VP of Product Rob Johnson has a Klout Score of 50, and I have a Klout Score of 60. If you’re a business, who do you give an offer to?

It depends on what you’re looking for. While the Klout Score is an expression of a user’s potent network effects, Klout Topics are an expression of where and what the user drives engagement on, and to some degree, where their interests and passionate community lies. If I wanted to reach Engineers and Boulderites, Jud would be a good choice: his audience is very engaged with him on those topics. We’ve been leveraging this understanding and segmentation in our products for years now.

2. What has the introduction of Cinch meant for Klout? Will Cinch data be available through the Klout API?

Cinch is another way to look through the prism of what it means to influence someone, and is built on the idea of social authority being an important piece in the collaborative economy. To that end, again, Cinch is built on Klout Topics as an important way to quickly find subject-matter authority and trust, combined with a user’s personal network.

Cinch is in the early days as a product, but we can easily imagine it as part of the platform in the future. There’s already a wealth of good advice around lifestyle topics, and it would be a fantastic channel for businesses and consumers to integrate with to pose engaging questions and take a pulse on influencers recommending their products.

3. What is the potential for companies using Klout in a CRM?

Klout’s influence graph helps CRM users gain insight into users, enabling them to improve prioritization of issues and outreach, as well as customer satisfaction. By finding their most influential customers, these companies can also streamline outreach and word-of-mouth marketing to increase new business. As the truly “Social CRM” platform evolves, and inbound leads are generated from social feeds, it will become increasingly important to know how and what influence leads and customers have. It’s about finding more relevance and reach.

4. Klout is big in Japan. What are the challenges of defining influence in different countries?

I tend to think of things in terms of “units of influence.” Each network has a different set of actions that can be influential. You have an actor, an actee, an interaction, and a subject (or two or three). In terms of Japan, and other countries using different languages, you still have an actor, actee, and interactions– all of those units that go into the Klout Score. What we need to build is an interpreter for the subjects (effectively, Klout Topics), using the character sets, grammars, and dictionaries mapped to the common and unique meanings. This is not a trivial undertaking.

So the Klout Score is effective and applies easily to activity on the networks we’re already surveying in Japan and South Korea, and other countries. Klout Topics will take an investment of resources, but it’s not an impossible problem. One interesting other way to look at the problem– a short circuit– is to delve deeper into content. A URL is a URL in any language. If you can understand what that destination is about, as a subject of influence, you may be able to come to a solution for the Topic problem before tackling the language issues.

There’s also the diversity of networks, and the availability of data. From my research, platforms like LINE and Gree aren’t yet opening up APIs or partnering with the Gnips of the world. Getting access to the wealth of data in what might be a more dominant platform in foreign countries  needs to be solved.

5. What does the future of Klout data look like?

Klout Topics are a constantly adapting and improving system. I hope to have us release different prisms to view them under, like standard ontologies like the IAB, while still retaining the adaptive and “in the moment” nature that social data requires. I think you’ll see us encouraging developers and companies to build into the platform more and to derive new insights from aggregated data and around individual pieces of content, and you’ll see us make more inroads in our offering there. With Cinch we’re proving that there are broad use cases for influence data, and we’ve been encouraging the platform community to build on that premise.

6. What are common misconceptions people have about Klout?

There’s still this thought that we are only about the Klout Score. Topics have been around for several years now. There’s also this sense that it’s a value judgment, or a rank-order. We’re none of these things– we have scientists and social people working on the tough problems on social media, and really, in a society where money drives so much. People should be recognized and rewarded, even indirectly, for the impact they have in their networks.

7. If you’re a business, what is the first thing you should know about Klout?

Klout is the best platform for driving authentic earned media, and our data is the best lens with which to capture, catalog, and understand all of the earned media being generated around products, entertainment, services and brands.

Thanks to Tyler for the interview! If you’re interested in more data stories, check out our compilation of 25 Data Stories from Gnip!