To some, Klout seems shrouded in mystery. Much like the Internet’s resident omnipresent overseer Google, Klout uses a proprietary algorithm to determine if you’ve got “klout,” a high social score that ranks just how powerful you are across the social web. Initially the idea behind Klout was even larger – to help improve its audience’s effectiveness using all the social media networks that matter. Since its inception, Klout has morphed and pivoted to highlight influential followers and themes, and now has evolved into a content creation and sharing platform.
Of course, like any ranking systems the Internet has ever devised – see Hot or Not or even Facebook – , users have become focused on how to raise their Klout score. The temptation to check in a few times a week to see if your number has risen because of a conversation you had on Twitter or Instagram is an irresistible temptation to most Klout users. If this was high school, Klout would be like polling the popular kids to see if you have reached the ranks of cool. But what does a Klout score even mean, and is it an effective measure of your reach?
Stories like the prospective marketing agency employee who was up for a high-level job until his paltry 34 Klout score banished him to obscurity abound. Or perhaps you heard the one about the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas where the hotel staff secretly called up their guests’ Klout scores upon check-in, and those with higher scores were unknowingly given upgrades. Recently, CRM behemoth Salesforce.com started offering companies the ability to monitor their customers’ Klout scores. Conceivably, this would allow companies to target and interact more with customers and clients with higher scores. By building up these relationships, companies hope to attract more influential customers and their eager followers.
There’s even a local guy I know who has such Klout influence that he’s been given cars to test drive for a week and free meals at local restaurants. Those rewards are called Perks by Klout, incentives from companies for being such a connected thought leader and (hopefully) broadcasting their product out to your network.
How Klout Works
Klout works by taking and scoring all your social accounts from Twitter and Facebook to Google+ and Foursquare to a host of others. It then grades you and your engagement with others to give you a 1 to 100 Klout score.
In any industry it pays to be the trusted source, and Klout does an admirable job of trying to discover who really “gets it” and who is just buying Likes. Though Klout has competitors like PeerIndex and Kred, no one has as accurately and successfully captured the gamification of social reach in such a nifty and cohesive package. Even Klout’s mobile app features a slick interface that begs you to check whether your score has gone up while on the go.
New Create Function
With their new “Create” function, Klout has entered into the news feed game – ala Flipboard, Feedly or Facebook – by accessing the 15 billion data points that it has passing through. It lists the themes you could be influential in and wants you to curate and share content to others in your Klout network and beyond. Ostensibly, this will all help raise your Klout score, as well.
It’s All About Engagement
Just broadcasting out your Facebook or LinkedIn updates or re-Tweeting all those handy Mashable articles is not going to help increase your score. Klout determines your score by how well you engage with others – hopefully top tier influencers themselves – on those networks. No, it’s not about how many followers you have; it’s the likes, thumbs up, +1s, little hearts for your hashtag and comments that really matter. Klout attempts to capture that elusive ROI fairy and track your progress.
How Can You Succeed On Klout?
To be successful, it pays to play by Klout’s rules. First: Make sure you have accurately connected the right networks, and that they all contain the same personal information. Be careful how you present yourself. Building influence is about trust, so you want to present yourself as trustworthy and as someone who both listens and gives good advice, counsel or relevant information.
Second: Make sure you contribute content. Everybody possesses expertise on some topic, so find your niche and start publishing original content. This can be on your blog, on a friend’s blogs, an aggregator or a YouTube channel. Every industry has portals that would love to feature your content – your job is to find them and contribute.
Next up is to engage. This is networking 101, but done on a virtual scale. Make sure you actually use those social networks and check in with them on a regular basis to scan the feeds in LinkedIn and Twitter, and engage with those users who you find interesting. Comment, Like, discuss and create a conversation. Ask questions. Take the time to research who has influence in your niche and introduce yourself. Create that relationship and then carefully reference those people in the content you create and share with others in your network.
When those influencers and thought leaders start re-Tweeting you and referencing you in their social posts, well then you know you’ve struck Klout gold. You’ll know that you’ve gained people’s trust, that they value you and what you have to say. Then world domination awaits, or getting new customers, or at least being able to tweet out that your Klout score has risen to the rest of the cool kids.