Will Google Start Giving People Social Media Influencer Scores?

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Social Media Influencer Scores

Social Media Influencer Scores

A patent granted to Google this week tells us about social media influencer scores developed at Google that sound very much like the scores at Klout. In the references section of the patent, Klout is referred to a couple of times as well, with a link to the Wikipedia Page about Klout, and the Klout FAQ page. We aren’t given a name for these influencer scores in Google’s patent, but it does talk about topic-based influencer scores and advertisers.

Many patents are published that might give the inventors behind those patents a right to the technology described in them, but often the decision to move ahead with the processes described in those patents might be based upon business-based matters, such as whether or not there might be value is pursuing the patent. When I read this patent, I was reminded of an earlier patent from Google from a couple of years ago that described an advertising model that used social media influencers and their interests called Adheat. That patent was AdHeat Advertisement Model for Social Network. A whitepaper that gives us a little more indepth information about that process was AdHeat: An Influence-based Diffusion Model for Propagating Hints to Match Ads. One of the authors/inventors, Edward Chang left Google after the paper came out to join HTC as their Vice President of Research and Innovation.

This new patent was originally filed on May 29, 2012. Edward Chang left Google for HTC in July, 2012. I don’t know if those events are related, but the idea of using social media influencers in advertising is an interesting one. The patent doesn’t pinpoint specific social media platforms that would be used the way that Klout does. Interestingly, Klout does use Google+ as one of the social media networks that they use to generate Klout Scores.

I like seeing what Google patents say about things on the Web. Their introduction to social media and to social media influencer scores was interesting:

Social media is pervasive in today’s society. Friends keep in contact throughout the day on social networks. Fans can follow their favorite celebrities and interact on blogs, micro-blogs, and the like. Such media are referred to as “social media,” which can be considered media primarily, but not exclusively, for social interaction, and which can use highly accessible and scalable communication techniques. Brands and products mentioned on such sites can reflect customers’ interests and feedback.

Some technologies have been developed to analyze social media. For example, some systems allow users to discover their “influence scores” on various social media. An influence score is a metric to measure a user’s impact in social media.

The patent tells us about the role of the process it defines:

…one aspect of the subject matter described in this specification can be embodied in methods that include the actions of identifying a user in a community; determining an influence score to be associated with the user in the community for a particular topic including determining a reach of one or more communications that relate to the particular topic that have been distributed from the user in the community; evaluating the reach as compared to one or more other users in the community for the particular topic; and storing the influence score in association with the user.

How Social Media Influencer Scores are Calculated

This new patent tells us about

  1. Identifying a user in a community;
  2. Determining an influence score to be associated with the user in the community for a particular topic,
  3. Determining a reach of communications that relate to the particular topic distributed from the user to other users in the community, and
  4. Evaluating that reach and comparing it to the reach of communications from other users in the community for the particular topic; and
  5. storing the influence score in association with the user.
  6. The patent also tells us that the following are advantages to be gained from the use of the process described in the patent:

    (1) The subject matter can be used to attribute viral growth to certain individuals or selected group.
    (2) Such attribution can be used for targeted advertising to the selected group or even to the individuals or other individuals that are influenced by the individual or group.

    The patent is:

    Determining influence in a social community
    Inventors: Emily K. Moxley, Vinod Anupam, Hobart Sze, Dani Suleman, Khanh B. Nguyen
    Assignee: Google Inc.
    US Patent 9,632,972
    Granted: April 25, 2017
    Filed: May 29, 2012

    Abstract

    Methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer programs encoded on a computer storage medium, for determining influence in a social community. In one aspect, a method includes identifying a user in a community; determining an influence score to be associated with the user in the community for a particular topic, including: determining a reach of one or more communications that relate to the particular topic that have been distributed from the user to other users in the community, and evaluating the reach as compared to the reach of one or more communications distributed from other users in the community for the particular topic; and storing the influence score in association with the user.

    More About Social Media Influencer Scores

    The patent is worth reading in full, and it contains some interesting insights including some hints regarding whether Google might engage in this type of social media advertising (see the screenshot from the patent that starts this post, showing influencers and topic scores for them, which is described in a little more detail in the patent.

    I also liked this quote from the patent, and wanted to make sure that I shared it, because it raises a good point:

    Every community has individuals who influence that community. From a prominent economist’s advice on economics to a celebrity buying the latest designer bag, thousands of people pay attention to what influential individuals are doing within their field. However, less attention is paid when an influential individual opines on a topic outside their field. For example, the thousands of individuals that pay attention to the economists on economics would be unlikely to pay attention to the economist’s latest jacket purchase.

    These social media influencer scores do seem very similar to what Klout is doing. Would Google venture into such territory?

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50 thoughts on “Will Google Start Giving People Social Media Influencer Scores?”

  1. Hey Bill. This is gold!
    I know that the engineers at Google have been saying for years that social media signals don’t have a direct impact on rankings. But we as SEOs know the influence social media activity contributes whether directly or indirectly.

    I’ve been waiting a while to find some ‘hard facts’ to backup the importance of social media in an SEO campaign. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. It’ll be interesting to see if this patent gets executed at Google and what impact it will have on the state of SERPs in the future.
    Another great find (and post) yet again Mr Slawski 🙂

  2. Hi David,

    Thank you. It’s interesting seeing how Google might allow social media signals to influence search results. When Google was running authorship, and allowing it to influence personalized search results by showing socially connnected author’s Googl+ posts in search results for people, we had a sense of how social media coul impact search rankings. It was possible to get a hint of how much Google might believe a person to be an authority on a particular topic at that point too – will we see a slightly different incantation of that with these influencer scores based upon specific topics? Will those scores only be used for advertisements and not organic search results? We can’t tell from the patent, but once it’s implemented, if ever, we might get some hints. Keep an eye out for clues. 🙂

  3. Hi Bill,

    Thanks a lot for the information! You always keeping a finger on the pulse 🙂 Excluding high-quality content, do you think that it might be possible in the future that Google would move the focus from backlinks towards Social Media activity and Brand visibility?

    Thanks Bill!

  4. Interesting article Bill.
    As David stated it would be interesting to see will Google and how, use this to influence SERPs.
    In my opinion it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see some direct influence, there are just too much factors at play.

  5. Thanks a lot for this finding.
    At least Google seems to want to include social signals in their algorithm.
    But how many years we have to wait until it goes live ?
    So we need to start working on our communities to prepare the futur of SEO. 🙂

  6. Hi Rylee

    I don’t know how useful it will be for people, but if they want to become an influencer on social media, it might provide some impetus for people to do so.

  7. Hi Matthieu,

    There is no telling when Google might put something like this into place. I have seen Google put some patents into place the day that they were granted at the USPTO, and other patents where what was developed in them had been released to the public, and run for a few years, and closed down (like the Google Directory, which took over 12 years from filing to the data it was granted.) There is value in being an influencer on social media even if Google doesn’t implement this patent, so setting something up as soon as possible wouldn’t be a bad idea. 🙂

  8. Hi SEO Newcastle,

    If you can use social media to boost the popularity of pages that you can about on the Web and earn links to them, then it could be time that is well spent. Again, no telling if Google will bring us these social media influencer scores; but if they don’t and you are able to become a social media influencer, there is likely some value in that, anyway.

  9. Hi Greg,

    In some ways it is possible that Google has replace links with social media, such as in discoverability of trends and topics on the Web, and crawling of new content. Links are a mature ranking metric, and they might stick around for a while, so it is a little difficult to predict when they could no longer be used in that manner.

  10. Great article Bill, much appreciated. Had no idea they got this type of patent.

    Influencers already play a huge role for businesses on many social platforms so it only makes sense that Google wants to integrate this as a signal. And by acquiring this patent, it just shows that they place a lot of weight on social.

  11. This website is very informative to read. I am a huge follower of the things you talk about. I also love reading the comments, but it seems like a great deal of readers need to stay on topic to try and add something to the original topic.

  12. Thanks a lot Bill.

    I always had this question. Will google include social signals for SEO factors. I hear some gurus say “yes” and some other gurus says “No”. Now At least we’re clear that Google seems to want to include social signals in their algorithm. But not sure when will they implement. Any news on that Bill?

  13. I am using All social media from last 9 years but i can’t find this type of information so i think this is not live but as per your information it’s live in couple of years and it’s good for my Ecommerce Development Services so i love your information.

  14. Hi David,

    Google could start doing this on Monday; we don’t know – they could bring it out in a couple of years – I can’t tell you when, but we have an idea now that they have looked at it and researched doing it and have secured legal protections that would exclude other people from copying them in doing it.

  15. Thanks for the always useful information. This is great information to help garage type SEO people like me.

  16. Very useful and informative article you have been provided to us on google.Thanks for sharing such a article and sharing your knowledge with your users.

  17. Great topic

    Whether you are into the idea that Google has developed, or is already using, AuthorRank it’s interesting that this patent came out.

    I can see where this type of “influencer” score could be applied to AuthorRank, and thus eventually, rankings of articles posted by that author.

    Also, this type of information could also feed RankBrain. By giving the AI a tool to identify influencers in a market they system could (potentially) make it easier for RankBrain to understand the nuances that are happening in that particular market and adjust search results based on the popularity of the topic.

  18. Hi Clint

    I found it interesting that Google just introduced “Topics” to Google+, which seems to fit in well with social media influencers, especially since topic information will point out people related to topics. The Google Blog post about topics is at:

    Discover more of the things you’re into with Topics on Google+
    https://blog.google/products/google-plus/googleplus-topics/

    There they tell us:

    To help you sort through the many Collections and Communities where people share, we’ve created a new feature called Topics. With Topics, you’ll see a high-quality stream of Collections, Communities and people related to things we think you’ll be interested in.

    I’m not sure that identifying social media influencers in different topics will help rankbrain, but it looks like something that will need to be done to show off topics in this new feature on Google+.

  19. Hey Bill Slawski,

    Great stuffs indeed!

    Just kinda surprised to hear last night from your tweet.

    I also found it really interesting like you Dude. If Google do that then it’ll be more valuable for the influencers.

    But I notice, how they measure the rank? Is there Google use robots for that?

    Even I’ve doubt, how they identify users in a community to determine an influence score to be associated with the user in the community for a particular topic.

    Do you’ve specific idea Bill? If yes, please explain how?

    Anyway, great topic. I’ve found it really interesting and learning for Whiteboard Friday. 🙂

    Keep it up!

  20. So that begs the question, is this the end for small mom and pop sites? if you do not have a good enough social score? Down goes your site.

  21. Thanks for presenting lot of useful information.
    It is very useful for social media influencer. I will try to follow the information you given above.

  22. Hi Shakoat

    Thank you. Usually robots are used to crawl a site or social site and capture information from it. That information would then get analyzed to determine social media influencer scores. The patent talks about how those scores would be influenced, it would look at things such as “reach” to see how many people were influenced by someone’s social activity. Part of the analysis may be determining the topic of social activity – it you look at Klout, they identify topics fo social shares and mentions, which would be similar to what Google would do. Have fun. 🙂

  23. Hi Fred,

    The social media influencer score described in this patent would influence some kind of targeted advertisement that doesn’t appear to have been set up yet. It wouldn’t affect organic rankings of web pages, so Mom and Pop site wouldn’t negatively be influenced by it. And it is possible that the owners of small mom and pop sites might end up being good at social media; so they may benefit themselves by being socially active.

  24. Hi Paulraj,

    You’re welcome. We can’t be sure that Google will set up this klout-like score or the targeted advertisement that would go with it. Keep your eyes open – there are benefits to being a social media influencer even if Google doesn’t set this up, so it may be worth working on that anyway.

  25. Thank you for sharing this great information. This helpful for many people and good explanation in detail that helps people. It’s wonderful information.

  26. Hello, very beautiful article very relevant, even accompanying some of your post and I quite like what you found here on this site recommend the site.

  27. It will be interesting to see how Google plans to role this out. Curious to know if this influencer score will be based on a single social media account or a person’s presence across all the social media platforms.

    Seeing the kind of influence social media commands nowadays, I think it is right time to introduce this thing.

  28. It sounds interesting but it also has some cons in it. As we all know many social media accounts are just growing with unrelated posts and copied content. Still, I would like to see how Google discriminate those FAKE social media accounts from a genuine one. And how Google going to maintain content quality shared on any social media as an attempt to attract their followers.

  29. Hi Terry,

    It maybe shouldn’t be a surprise if Google did purchase Klout. They have purchased companies that seemed to have an expertise in areas that they appear to have an interest in – sort of like a acquahire, where they acquire a company to hire the people working for it.

  30. Hi Alok,

    I suspect that Google would likely not count fake social media accounts. Chances are they have some experience detecting fake accounts from their experience running Google+.They seem to be taking some steps towards maintaining quality content, such as the topics feature that they added to Google+:

    Discover more of the things you’re into with Topics on Google+
    https://blog.google/products/google-plus/googleplus-topics/

  31. Makes sense Google would go that route. Social media is powerful and it is here to stay. What I learn here in between the lines is that Google is looking to position itself so it has a play at every sector of the internet. This could mean good for us.

  32. Hi Pete,

    It does seem like Google wants to be deeply involved in as many aspects of the Web as the company can be. Finding a way to bring advertising to social media influencers seems to make sense from that perspective. It does open up opportunities for Google.

  33. Thank you for the post Bill.

    It is fascinating the evolution of SEO. I wonder how much of an impact social media influence will play. Got to go build the social media profiles up more than ever I guess.

    Thanks for the info.

  34. Hi,

    Very Interesting post I must say, and we all have our own logic based on the Google updates that have happened so far. But this one is definitely one for the future as I won’t be surprised if Google starts implementing this anytime soon. Keep coming up with more such articles.

    Regards,
    Sandeep

  35. Hi Bill,

    This is something new to me. G+ is doing some internal improvements lately and I though Google has forgotten G+.

    This feature is kind of Facebook friend suggestion and Facebook streaming videos suggestion.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Alok

  36. Hi Dominic,

    I don’t know exactly what you mean by Google giving more priority to sites that have a good social media presence. I don’t believe a social media presence makes any difference when it comes to ranking in search results. But, having social media profiles appearing for a site in search results, and in a knowledge panel for a site can create a positive impression on a searcher, which may lead to them becoming a customer.

  37. thanks for sharing such a nice and important article you explain it very nice and easy .for the first time i read full artile

  38. This site is uncommonly helpful to scrutinize. I am a monstrous enthusiast of the things you examine. I in like manner worship scrutinizing the comments, yet it seems like a ton of perusers need to stay on subject to endeavor and include a remark one of a kind topic.
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  39. Hi Bill,
    you always make a great impact by your article. Same for this article. I like to get the knowledge about how one can grow using social media and I always prefer your article to read, but hardly comment on them.
    This time I’m leaving a comment because this article hold a great news.
    Thanks.

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