December 23, 2011

Social media ranking: how much “Klout” do you have?

Posted in Facebook, Social Media in the Workplace, Social Media Ranking tagged , , , , , , , at 10:09 am by Tom Jacobson

I’m a 29.  I’m not entirely sure what that means, except that on a scale of 1 to 100, Klout says it’s my social media ranking.  I guess I should try to improve that.

We love to rank things.  From David Letterman’s “Top Ten” lists to  Olympic medals and the latest political polls, there is no end to the hierarchies we create. So, I suppose it should come as no surprise that we now have social media rankings.

According to a  WCCO television report, Sites Help You Manage Your Social Networking Imprint (12/22/11), sites such as Klout and Reppify now track how we use sites like Facebook and Twitter, and they then rank us based on our “influence and social network personality.”

From an employment perspective, social media rankings present an interesting dilemma.  On one hand employers need to rank people in order to make decisions ranging from hiring to firing.  According to Carlson School of Management professor Ravi Bapna, who was quoted in WCCO report, your social media ranking “… sort of gives you a measure in how present you are in other people’s minds.” Thus, knowing an employee’s or applicant’s social media ranking may help an employer better understand that person’s potential sphere of influence.  Bapna sees this as useful for employers.

On the other hand, employers who choose to use social media rankings as an HR tool need to be cautious.  As Bapna notes, a person’s social media ranking is “not based on what this person is telling you in an interview, [but is] based [on] how this person is actually behaving in the real world.”  Making decisions based on someone’s “real world” behavior certainly seems like a good idea, but “real world” behavior might have nothing to do with how well the person does his or her job, and in some cases, a person’s “real world” behaviors are protected by law.  Thus, making decisions about an employee or applicant based on social media posts relating to his/her “real world” behaviors can be risky.

To the extent social media rankings paint an objective picture of a person’s social media clout, they may be useful in some workplaces.  An objective ranking, if gathered as a part of an established policy and procedure, is certainly better information than the Facebook post showing Johnny wearing a lampshade.

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The comments posted in this blog are for general informational purposes only. They are not to be considered as legal advice, and they do not establish an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice regarding your specific situation, please consult your attorney.

Copyright 2011 Swenson Lervick Syverson Trosvig Jacobson Schultz, PA


1 Comment »

  1. Hi Tom,

    Thanks for a great post, and completely agree on the importance of “painting an objective picture” of candidates in the hiring process. (Thanks as well for thinking to include Reppify!)

    The great thing about leveraging social media in this manner is its power; when combined with the traditional resume or CV, social media can offer a more accurate view of the candidate, based both on his/her background and experience, as well as current activity exposed through sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Klout, and others.

    As you rightly point out, employers can face challenges taking this approach, especially if the search process is manual in nature. Not only does it take a massive amount of time to search social media sites for enough data on each candidate, but employers must also distill relevant information from the data, and finally determine how to use this information to effectively assess the candidate against their hiring criteria. Also, and to your point, there are risks associated with obtaining certain types of data on individuals which are protected by law.

    We feel that the value of tools like ours, Klout and others to employers is that gathering data from social media becomes automated, easy, and contextual to the hiring process. Additionally, much of the risk/time/hassle of collecting the right information on candidates is removed and can lead to a better quality of hire.

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