Do you have social media Klout?
If you are active on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you probably have some online influence -- but do you know what it's worth?
If you have a large social media network and post often -- and if people like what you say and pass along your opinions to their networks -- it could win you not just more friends, but free flights, free products and hotel room upgrades, according to a Wired article on the social media measurement company Klout.
The three-year-old San Francisco-based company scores people from 1 to 100 based on their "ability to drive action in social networks."
Using a proprietary algorithm, Klout measures your social media influence not just on the number of contacts, friends and followers you have online, but also your actions and interactions on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Google+ and Klout itself. Interacting with someone who has a high Klout score can bump up yours too.
Klout reports that an average score is about 20, and scores rise exponentially, so the higher your score, the harder it is to raise it. "For quick reference," PC Magazine notes, "Justin Bieber, with 18 million Twitter followers, has a perfect Klout score of 100, ubiquitous tech evangelist Robert Scoble's comes in at a very influential 85, and Ron Conway, for all his mindshare mojo as a Silicon Valley angel investor, scores a mere 48 -- just a point higher than the Aflac duck.")
Klout users who sign up for "Klout Perks" can qualify for giveaways from advertisers that have included a weekend test drive of a new Audi, movie screenings and laptops. (Post continues below.)
Although you have to register for the service and link all of your social media accounts with the site to find out your score, not doing so doesn't mean you don't have a score. You have to opt out to accomplish that. Klout keeps scores for anyone who has a public social media account, according to The New York Times.
As a result, even people who aren't registered with Klout can benefit from being social media influencers. Wired reports that at Las Vegas' Palms Casino Resort, clerks checked on guests' scores as they registered for their rooms, and gave some high Klout scorers instant room upgrades.
In addition, Wired says:
In February, the enterprise-software giant Salesforce.com introduced a service that lets companies monitor the Klout scores of customers who tweet compliments and complaints; those with the highest scores will presumably get swifter, friendlier attention from customer service reps. In March, luxury shopping site Gilt Groupe began offering discounts proportional to a customer's Klout score.
Online popularity contest?
It all sounds a bit like a high school popularity contest -- except that with the Internet, one can be ranked as an influencer without being cute or athletic -- or even leaving the house.
"This is the democratization of influence," says Mark Schaefer, an adjunct marketing professor at Rutgers and author of the book "Return on Influence." "Suddenly regular people can carve out a niche by creating content that moves quickly through an engaged network. For brands, that's buzz. And for the first time in history, we can measure it."
But not everyone is so enthusiastic. Many critics, responding to the Wired story online, said achieving a high Klout score takes a lot of social media interaction, which sometimes comes at the cost of original ideas, real-world connections or actual work. The article quotes a Los Angeles graphic designer with a score of 74 who says he keeps his score up by tweeting as much as 45 times every day.
If Klout has its way, the benefits of being a social media influencer are only going to get better, Wired reports, quoting Matt Thomson, a Klout vice president:
Soon, he predicts, people with formidable Klout will board planes earlier, get free access to VIP airport lounges, stay in better hotel rooms, and receive deep discounts from retail stores and flash-sale outlets. "We say to brands that these are the people they should pay attention to most," Thomson says. "How they want to do it is up to them."
What do you think? Are social media influencers the new cool kids -- and would it be worth it to you to spend more time online?
More on MSN Money:
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Quotes are real-time for NASDAQ, NYSE and AMEX. See delay times for other exchanges.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Thomson Reuters (click for restrictions). Real-time quotes provided by BATS Exchange. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Interactive Data Real-Time Services. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by SIX Financial Information.