As a frequent lecturer on social media, I spend a lot of time thinking about connections in the virtual world. I've built a modest, growing network on Twitter and Facebook, and I was an early adopter of Google+ and try out new tools whenever they're launched. Because of my involvement in the space, a company called Peoplebrowsr invited me to be on a panel to discuss the launch of a product called Kred, a social scoring system that measures a person's online influence and level of engagement (or outreach).
Before I continue, I'd like to mention I was an early user of Klout. I check my Klout score at least once a week and I usually hover around a score of 63 but I oddly jumped to a 73 in the last day. We also tested Klout when I was the VP of marketing at Virgin America, so I'm intrigued and interested in the growing number of tools and platforms in the space.
With so much activity across so many products, the crucial question becomes: "Where am I really getting and giving the most value?" The next wave for social networks will be to help users distinguish rich relationships from the banal.
My experience with online networking is that at its core it's still very similar to the classic "on the ground" networking experience with a clear relationship between The Give and The Get. The people who receive the most value from me are generous about retweeting or responding to my posts. Those who are only about building followers have a harder time building a relationship with me.
With this in mind, to better understand what distinguishes Kred from others in the space, I spoke with PeopleBrowsr CEO Jodee Rich.
Porter Gale: There are a lot of social-media-analytics tools being released; what makes Kred unique?
Jodee Rich: Kred returns the focus on social networks from celebrities to tight-knit groups of people you really know and trust about your interests, just like in real life. For example, I would expect Nikki Minaj to naturally have high influence with people interested in music, but maybe not so much among mommy bloggers. I hang out with kite surfers when I am not working and have some Kred amongst this group, but not at all when I head home and join my wife's cookathon!
Trust and generosity should be the start for any scoring system because those are the qualities that create strong relationships online -- just as they do in the offline world. 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.
Online activities, of course, are only a piece of what makes a reputation so we built in an offline component as well. Kred lets users integrate their "real-life" awards and recognition -- anything from frequent-flier status to academic honors to club memberships -- into their score.
All of this is done in an atmosphere of complete transparency. People can access activity statements that show every action that increased their Kred. They can also view their Friends' Activity Statements so they can understand the sources of their Kred as well. Very soon we'll have privacy settings so people can select how much they want to share or participate in Kred.
We made it a priority that Kred be really easy to understand, too. "Kredentials" gives a clear summary of everyone's communities, connections, frequently used words and the other data we extract from billions of tweets over the last 1,000 days to calculate Kred.
Ms. Gale: Was Kred developed for the individual social-media user, or is it really a tool for businesses?
Mr. Rich: Anyone can get something from Kred. Our primary mission for Kred is to help everyone enrich the communities they belong to and create a better online experience. That's a good goal for anyone, whether they are a company or an individual.
Ms. Gale: Will Kred data be open source and available to the public? And, will there be a fee to use it?
Mr. Rich: The Kred website is totally free. Users of our social-analytics platform, Playground, will find Kred fully integrated into their dashboards and analytics. The data is also available to developers as a stand-alone API or as part of our Playground API. We have an enterprise plan for people who want to take a deeper dive into our API.
Ms. Gale: Some people have criticized the selling of influencer-score data and others find it brilliant. Do you have a point of view about whether Kred data should be used for corporate-marketing efforts?
Mr. Rich:In the 1800s, Gregor Mendel started quantifying genetic information with his pea experiments he began a period in biology that eventually lead to the discovery of DNA.
For the first time in human history we are learning how to quantify social data. Our goal at PeopleBrowsr is to provide this Big Data to Little Brother. We think it will kick start all sorts of valuable interactions. Corporate marketers accessing our Kredentials API will have a sharp instrument for targeting their marketing efforts.
Ms. Gale: What's the best way to increase your Kred score?
Kred was developed to encourage the same behaviors that enrich real-life relationships. To build trust and respect, people need to be responsive to their communities. In practical terms this means posting relevant links, helping other people spread their messages and engaging with members of the community who have high influence.
We also want to actively help people build their Kred. Visitors to Kred will be able to see recommendations for fresh content so they can introduce it to their network.
Ms. Gale: Did you have any early adopters test Kred?
Mr. Rich: Kred is rolling out publicly on September 29 by invitation. Anyone can tweet us at @peoplebrowsr to get their Kred, and we will provide them access over the following week.