The phenomenon known as social media spawns myriad inspirations and compulsions across a wide spectrum, from the good and positive to the bad and obnoxious. A new study connects Facebook with narcissistic tendencies. Another one calls “BS” to the idea that anyone can really have meaningful friendships of more than 150 people. That theory’s called Dunbar’s Number. In this world of social media craziness, I’ve spent a fair amount of time recently thinking about one particular service: Klout.

Those who tweet on Twitter or post to Facebook, connect on LinkedIn, send Instagrams, report on Foursquare, etc. and do so daily, know that the value of social media is elementary. We all gain from sharing. The act of connecting and communicating with other human beings seems to be a primal need. The idea, for some, that we can communicate with so many people so quickly, so often and so easily only heightens the satisfaction of feeding that need.

Others find virtually no value in social media. They’re the ones who friend you on Facebook but never really engage. If you’re sharing with friends and followers you tend to gain more of both. It’s not that hard to go beyond 150. It just takes time, and for some, not much time at all.

Narcissism is one thing, but the other side of the coin is the understanding that Facebook and Twitter have already proven to be powerful weapons to organize and empower people who seek to stand up for freedom and democracy. Its role in the historic events around the world these last couple of years cannot be ignored.

The bottom line though, for those of us who engage in social media daily or multiple times a week, is that as easy and convenient as it is to do, it is an investment in time. Yes, you can tweet in no time flat, but you also have to factor the time you spent thinking of what you want to tweet or if your wonderful thought is worth tweeting.

Klout gives you a score based on your social media influence. How many real people are in your network as opposed to bots? Of those, how many respond and share your posts and content? Of those, how many are also influential?

There are ways to try to boost your score. Here at Beehive, our Content Specialist Joe told us how he always responds to our CEO Bill’s tweets because he knows Bill will then respond to his response, thereby increasing the number of mentions Joe receives and helping his Klout score. But who really cares about a good Klout score? The answer is probably more and more people now, because that score is starting to pay you back.

Until recently, a good Klout score didn’t really mean anything tangible. It was just something to brag about. Now Klout offers “perks.” With my score I can get discounts on offers from online software and ticket merchants. Presumably, the higher the score, the better the perks.

Klout has created an algorithm that spotlights the very people advertisers want to reach. These are the people that can spread the word online: the influencers. In the eyes of advertisers, folks with high Klout scores are worth their weight in gold. They reach valuable audiences online, everyday.

The social media strategy consultant RAAK recently created a campaign that rewarded people discounts for the fashion brand, Miista if they Tweeted about the brand. However, the discounts weren’t the same for everybody. It turns out the bigger the user’s Klout score, the bigger the Miista discount.

Having other marketers use their scoring system ups the ante considerably for Klout. (That last example was done outside of Klout, though it used their data.) It remains to be seen how influential Klout scores will become. There are plenty of nay-sayers who question their algorithm. There’s also the issue of backfire. It’s a sour experience to realize that one of your friends is only posting for commercial reasons and people may avoid the associated brand in that case. Your Klout score is now more than just a number, and as more companies invest in the value of social influence, those who wield such power will reap the benefits of marketers looking to capitalize on those who know how to communicate on today’s most prevalent networks.