Some aspects of social media are like nesting Russian dolls, or a Turducken: there's always another layer, another iteration that promises to be better for some reason. After one company hits on a novel idea, competitors spring up out of nowhere with slightly different versions of the idea, presenting their minor adjustments as major, indeed revolutionary changes to the old (and now totally obsolete) model. As successive players tweak the concept, each time it's portrayed as something radically new: Facebook had Cliques, then Google+ had Circles, then Facebook had Groups.
I'm thinking about all this because of the rapidly-evolving (well, expanding) world of personal social media measurement -- the startups which attempt to measure your individual (or corporate) ability to influence others through social media. Pioneered by Klout, this idea is based very much on the idea of online "influencers," whom it seems designed to flatter: if you are a social media big shot, with lots of friends and followers hanging on your every word, your opinion matters more than the "little people" of social media, and can earn bountiful rewards for throwing your social media weight around.
As far as I can tell, this idea is relatively new: Klout was founded in 2008, although I didn't even know about it until less than a year ago. But apparently Klout's approach to measuring our online connections needs to be refined, which brings us to Kred, a new start-up from Peoplebrowsr: Kred improves on the idea of measuring social media influence by focusing more on interactions within and between smaller social groups, rather than measuring everyone -- from celebrities on down to the unwashed masses -- on a single absolute scale. Peoplebrowsr CEO Jodee Rich explains to Ad Age: "Kred gives a dual score for influence and outreach rather than a single overall network score. Influence, scored on a 1,000-point scale, measures the ability to inspire action or influence others in the form of retweets, replies or new follows. Outreach increases every time a person initiates conversations, interacts with others or spreads their content."
I am really excited by this idea -- so excited that I began brainstorming new, even more precise forms of influence measurement. Let me tell you about SWA, a whole new take on what really matters in social media: impact, as reflected in use of punctuation and all-caps. For example, if you post a picture of your recent waterskiing injury and 20 friends respond "OMG!!!!!" and half of them share the picture with their friends, who are all like, "GROSS!!!!!!" -- that increases your SWA score more than if it's just your girlfriend posting "I don't think anyone wants to see that."
Then there's Karisma, which measures your ability to convince people of things that are manifestly false, and/or persuade them to do things that are not in their own best interest. For example, say you convince ten grown men to join a Justin Bieber fan site: your Karismascore just jumped 50 points -- but you'll get even more points if you get them to go to a concert, and your score will go through the roof if they join you in recounting how much fun it was online.
Finally I have another idea on the back burner, which I'm shopping around to venture capitalists: Rep, based on your ability to inspire fear and act with impunity online. For example, if you talk trash about someone on Twitter but they're too afraid to respond because of the implicit threat to their physical safety, your Rep score will go up 25 points. Needless to say you'll get more points each time you actually assault someone, provided you can document the incident (with photos, hospital records, etc.)
P.S. Venture capitalists: call me!