Klout vs. the Blogosphere: What does it mean to be influential?

16 12 2010

For a long time now, we’ve had a pretty good idea of who was influential (generally based on the strength of their blog) and such influential bloggers also tended to be influential in other online spheres, including social media sites. We’re starting to see a divergence now, however, between influencers in the blogosphere and in the social networks (namely Facebook & Twitter). So… with the increasing power of Facebook and especially Twitter, how do you compare an influential blogger with an influential tweeter? Is that influence equivalent? Transposable? One has hundreds of links pointing to her/his website and receives tens, if not, hundreds of comments to her/his blog, sustaining a focused series of committed conversations and partners. The other has thousands of followers and is often retweeted, wielding a power to draw folks into conversation. Apples and oranges? Or should the label ‘top influencer’ be given only to those powerful across all social media realms?

To date, blogging has been the gold standard for online influence in new media (see Brian Solis’ recent post on the subject). The most influential online personalities create blogs with high readership and audience participation, are highly shared and have a significant amount of inbound links pointing towards them. Bloggers create meaningful content that produces action. Social networks are a way for that content to be distributed, but are not the conversation mechanism. That’s all changing. Twitter personalities are becoming influential and possess the power to draw people into conversation, but their blogs don’t always rank. We also see some of the most influential bloggers lacking Twitter influence at times. So, back to the questions at hand – who is influential and how do we know?

Klout has recently come onto the influence-measuring scene and offers interesting metrics for gauging online influence. Klout claims to be “the measurement of your overall online influence” and bills itself as the ‘Standard for Online and Internet Influence,” but when you read through its metrics, it does not look at the strength and ranking of your website/blog nor your influence within the blogosphere. So are the folks Klout identifies really the top online influencers? Let’s compare metrics. How do Klout influencers compare with blogging influencers?

One industry we watch for influence is the travel industry. We recently came across this list that ranks the ‘Top Online Travel Influencers’ using Klout’s metrics. It made us wonder how it compared to a list ranking blogger influence based on inbound links within the travel blogging community. Initially we were going to re-rank the list according the blog influence and compare, but we discovered it was missing a number of key influencers (Gadling, for example). Instead, we pulled a a list of the top 50 travel bloggers (removing print travel publications) out of more than 800 travel blogs and re-ranked them by social media influence using Klout. Below we compare the original list we found, the top 50 travel bloggers and the top 50 travel bloggers ranked by Twitter influence. As you’ll see, they’re very different lists.

Top Travel Bloggers Top Travel Bloggers by Klout Score* Top Influencers from Influencers in Travel**
1 Gadling Everything Everywhere EarthXplorer
2 Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site Everything Everywhere
3 Trip Base Family Traveler – Soul Travelers 3 Tremendo Viaje
4 Uptake The Planet D Legal Nomads
5 Travel Blog Exchange Europe A La Carte Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site
6 Wanderlust & Lipstick Travel Dudes Intelligent Travel Blog
7 Everything Everywhere Brave New Traveler Land Lopers
8 Delicious Baby Uncornered Market Wild Junket
9 Elliott GranToursimo! The Planet D
10 World Hum Gadling Midlife Road Trip
11 Travel Blog Sites Ottsworld Travel Experiences Inn the Kitchen
12 Nerd’s Eye View Vagabonish Trains on the Brain
13 Jaunted Travel Blog Exchange Andy Hayes
14 The Planet D foXnoMad Wild About Travel
15 Vacation Gals Hotel Chatter Brendan’s Adventures
16 The Cranky Flier Jaunted yTravelBlog
17 Brave New Traveler My Itchy Travel Feet Fine Homes Las Vegas
18 Vagabonding My Melange Where is Jenny
19 foXnoMad 501 Places Mobile Lawyer
20 Ottsworld Travel Experiences Nerd’s Eye View Celebrated Experiences
21 Travel Wonders of the World Hole in the Donut Travel Dudes
22 Wander Mom Elliott The Carey Adventures
23 Indie Travel Podcast The Cranky Flier The Quirky Traveler
24 Heather on Her Travels Vacation Gals Europe A La Carte
25 Wandering Educators Wandering Educators Bacon is Magic
26 Travellers Point Inside the Travel Lab ZipSetGo
27 Uncornered Market Boarding Area Miss Adventures
28 Family Traveler – Soul Travelers 3 Mother of All Trips Velvet Escape
29 Travel Blogs Indie Travel Podcast Malaysia Asia
30 Ciao Bambino Travel Savvy Mom Chris Guillebeau
31 Top Travel Content – Europe Wanderlust & Lipstick Uncornered Market
32 Mother of All Trips Delicious Baby The Traveling Philosopher
33 Hotel Chatter A Traveler’s Library Two Backpackers
34 Upgrade: Travel Better Trip Base GranToursimo!
35 Inside the Travel Lab Ciao Bambino Flying Photog
36 My Itchy Travel Feet Solo Friendly Ottsworld Travel Experiences
37 Perceptive Uptake Traveling Mom
38 Sharing Travel Experiences Wander Mom Adventure Girl
39 Europe A La Carte World Hum Sheila’s Guide
40 Hole in the Donut What a Trip The Longest Way Home
41 Travel Savvy Mom Top Travel Content – Europe Eurapart
42 GranToursimo! Travel Wonders of the World Hotel PR Guy
43 Boarding Area Heather on Her Travels Vacation Gals
44 My Melange Upgrade: Travel Better Tiffany Travels
45 Vagabonish Travel Blogs Travel Blog Exchange
46 What a Trip Travellers Point Beth Blair
47 Travel Dudes Travel Blog Sites Luxury Travel Mom
48 Solo Friendly Vagabonding Travel Writer
49 501 Places Perceptive foXnoMad
50 A Traveler’s Library Sharing Travel Experiences Brooke vs. the World

Clearly the degree of online influence varies vastly depending on the metric used to rank it (social networks vs blog power). For example, EarthXplorer is extremely ‘influential’ when it comes to Klout but does not even rank as a top blog. Oppositely, Uptake is quite influential when it comes to blogging but less active or influential on Klout. Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site is pretty much influential across both realms and well respected among the most influential bloggers as is Gadling. What does this all mean?

Well, for now, influence is in the eye of the beholder, or measurer perhaps, and you need to take note of the metrics used to measure influence before you accept any list of the top 50 anything. The most influential bloggers are not necessarily the most influential in the social media realm and vice versa, particularly as narrow into specific topics as expertise varies. A list of “the top online influencers” based on Klout may leave out influential bloggers, who, as mentioned, have long been considered the most influential members of online communities. Gaining respect as a blogger is a lot harder than gaining Twitter influence (we all know that many very powerful people on Twitter are uber chatty with big numbers but don’t have real influence) and considerable influence on the blogs does not come quickly or easily. With the ever-increasing power of the social networks AND the ongoing importance of bloggers, a good strategy is to look across networks, especially if a brand navigates inside niche markets.

Ultimately, influence comes from one’s ability to draw people into a conversation AND hold them there. Influence means one’s blogs or tweets or Facebook posts are shared and re-shared throughout the online world. Influence creates action towards a person or a brand and has the power to create effect. So how influential are you?

What are your thoughts on measuring online influence in light of the growing power of the social networks?

Katie

With thanks to webtreatsVrmpX, johnrawlinson, and quinn.anya for the images.

*From Klout scores on December 15, 2010

** From Influencers in Travel’s December 16th, 2010 list

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