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|MAGINE a world in which we are assigned a number that indicates how influential we are. This number would help determine whether you receive a job, a hotel-room upgrade or free samples at the supermarket. If your influence score is low, you don't get the promotion, the suite or the complimentary cookies.
Companies with names like Klout, PeerIndex and Twitter Grader are in the process of scoring millions, eventually billions, of people on their level of influence -- or in the lingo, rating 'influencers.' Yet the companies are not simply looking at the number of followers or friends you've amassed. Rather, they are beginning to measure influence in more nuanced ways, and posting their judgments -- in the form of a score -- online.
Marketers are signing on. More than 2,500 companies are using Klout's data. Last week, Klout revealed that Audi would begin offering promotions to Facebook users based on their Klout score. Last year, Virgin America used the company to offer highly rated influencers in Toronto free round-trip flights to San Francisco or Los Angeles. In Las Vegas, the Palms Hotel and Casino is using Klout data to give highly rated guests an upgrade or tickets to Cirque du Soleil.
'For the first time, we're all on an even playing field,' said Joe Fernandez, the chief executive and co-founder of Klout. 'For the first time, it's not just how much money you have or what you look like. It's what you say and how you say it.'