Mike Isaac

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With New Kred and Klout Revamps, It’s Makeover Season for Social Influence

It’s probably pretty easy for start-ups like Kred and Klout to make their case to big brands.

At their core, the Kred and Klout products gauge a person’s sway in the social realm, measuring how much that one voice matters across the cacophony of tweets and shares in the social media sphere. So, if businesses can use these services to, say, unearth the most important tweeters out there, targeting a social media marketing campaign could be a whole lot easier (in theory, at least).

But that isn’t the problem for Klout and Kred. The problem is convincing you, me and every other regular Joe out there that our social influence — the measure of how much what we say genuinely affects others — is something worth caring about. Both have tried offering incentive-based rewards programs, but outside of bragging rights, it has been difficult to prove either product’s actual social utility.

There’s no quick fix to this. Both, however, are trying, by taking a different, more visual tack: Giving themselves makeovers.

Natch, Klout launched an overhauled version of its consumer-facing site last week, boosting the number of influence signals — up to 300, including culling Wikipedia entries as a new stream of data — and introducing a new, less data-centric and more visually appealing site design. It’s what CEO Joe Fernandez calls the most significant update to Klout in the start-up’s history — and yes, it does indeed look much better.

In that vein, Kred — Klout’s largest comparable competitor — launched an update on Tuesday that echoes the push toward mass appeal with its new Kred Story product. Like Klout’s redesign, Kred Story is all about visual appeal. The content of what Kred users are sharing on Facebook and Twitter is pushed to the forefront, laid out in an attractive grid of photos and text. Think RebelMouse meets Pinterest, but with more text.

Previously, Kred and Klout pitched themselves heavily in the realm of quantitation — that is, appealing to the data geeks that they believed resided in all of us. But both companies are made up of data guys, engineers who geek out on statistics, measurement and sifting through the myriad signals that sites like Twitter, Facebook and others provide. My guess is that those same engineers realized that not everyone is as hardcore about data as they are.

Hence the repositioning of the sites. Yes, it’s still about the data — users can click on content in Kred’s Story view to drill down on who has retweeted your thoughts, how often and which categories you’re seeing the most influence in. But, more importantly, it’s our data presented as a narrative, a collection of our thoughts and expressions put out into the social Web. In essence, we are more than just the sum of our tweets and shares, more than an arbitrary score assigned by a social influence start-up.

Will a spruced-up look be enough to convince consumers, or will the scoring system impart feelings of judgement?

That’s an open question. I’ll have to tweet it out to my followers and see what they think.

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