Everyone has influence on both a personal and professional level. The idea of knowing how much influence we have is intriguing. With Klout, perhaps we can get a better idea.
Klout is one of the results of founder Joe Fernandez’s jaw surgery. Apparently, when your jaw is wired shut, you have a lot of time to think. Not being able to speak gave him a new appreciation of how many people he could reach quickly with social media. He wondered if he could quantify how many people he was reaching…and Klout was born. Klout helps measure, overall, how many people your social media message is reaching and how influential it is.
How does it work?
The score rates your presence on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and LinkedIn. Klout will soon add Youtube and Google+. The scores range from 0-100 (apparently a score of 100 is possible; local blogging celeb Missy B, founder of the MN Blogger conference, keeps a nice score in the 70s). Based on your score, Klout will give you a clever title: dabbler, conversationalist, pundit, specialist. To calculate your score, Klout measures your true reach, network influence, and amplification factor:
True reach: This is a measure of your actual engaged audience, weeding out any spam accounts that follow you on Twitter etc. It also takes into account how many people you follow and how many accounts have added you.
Amplification factor: This is a measure of interaction with your content. Are people retweeting you? Did your status or tweet elicit conversation: are you influencing them to act on your content? Are you just talking to yourself? It even looks at people’s responses to gauge what you areas you influence in.
Network influence: This metric is based on how much influence the people you are connected to have, how much Klout.
Ok, how does it all come together? Well, I didn’t go into communications because I like math, but, here goes: it’s an algorithm. Does that make sense? Because it enters the three factors listed above into an algorithm that calculates your score. People like to simplify Klout scores by thinking of them as social media credit scores.
Signing up for a Klout account is as simple as asking for one and allowing access to your existing social media accounts. That part is easy to understand. From there, they do all the tricky math. If you decide to shut down your account, severing connections with Facebook, LinkedIn, and Foursquare is simple. However, once you connect your public Twitter profile with Klout, there is no undoing it.
What are the perks?
Klout offers members incentives. Having a Klout score of over 20, for example, qualified users to be the first to sign up for a Spotify account in the US. Account holders might also see perks like previewing new television shows and movies, being first to try new products and getting free products (like a year supply of Secret deodorant) and eating free Subway sandwiches. The perks are often in an area that you have influence in, but others, like Spotify, are open to anyone with a certain score.
What is holding it back?
People may react to your content in many ways without commenting online, so you cannot judge your full effectiveness with Klout; it is just part of the story.
There is a lot of chatter about the accuracy of categories of influence. Klout suggests that I am influential on social media. I’d like to think that is true, but from what I’ve seen, it might just as well say I’m influential on the Age of Enlightenment since I’ve mentioned it on Twitter and engaged a follower in conversation on the topic. You are allowed to delete categories that don’t actually pertain to you, which is good.
Klout does not give feedback on individual social media platforms. It is an overall score that takes into account all calculable platforms.
It will not tell you about trends over time. Klout doesn’t offer actionable feedback. It will suggest that you engage more if your score drops, but can’t give specific feedback on what your audience have reacted to positively in the past.
Klout is currently back in beta, and a lot of positive changes will no doubt emerge from that testing that address some of these issues.
Can your business benefit?
If you own a business, your Klout score can be a useful tool for judging how effectively you are engaging your audiences. Essentially, the better your content, the more people interact with it and pass it on, the higher your Klout score. A quick glance at your score will let you know if people are paying attention.
You want to use it as a way to keep tabs on your potential reach. If you are looking for a way to measure your return on investment in social media, Klout can give a snapshot of overall effectiveness and the level of engagement you are eliciting from your online audience.
Do you need a personal account?
Considering how I personally use social media, I don’t think Klout can provide me any useful feedback. I know if I am reaching my friends and followers, because they respond or they don’t, beyond that, I don’t need a measurement. And, while I like how Google reads my emails and then markets me products I actually want, Klout is a bit far for me. I was afraid they’d ask for access to my dinner party conversation, which they probably should because it would improve their accuracy. My score keeps inching up, slowly, and I’m not sure why. What do they know that I don’t, besides math? I think I prefer that mystery in my personal social media life.
If you are curious about your Klout, sign up for an account. It’s easy. It’s fun. It can provide useful information. It will get better with time and access to more social media platforms. It will be interesting to watch it grow and improve with time, which I fully suspect it will.