Finding Social Media's Most Influential Influencers

Startups use advanced tools to search for people with clout
Photograph by Jeff Hunter/Getty Images

Marketers have long mined data from social networks for “influencers,” people whose favorable tweets and posts can boost product sales. The most successful tool available has been Klout, which launched in 2008 with investments from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and other venture capital firms, and whose clients include Walt Disney, Procter & Gamble, and Audi. It assigns influencers a score based on more than 400 data points, such as their job title on LinkedIn and number of Facebook friends. Recently, Chevrolet gave about 900 people with a Klout score of more than 50 a free three-day rental of the Chevy Volt, a move that resulted in more than 46,000 tweets and more than 20.7 million blog posts, most of them favorable, about the electric car.

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