Klout—What it is and Why it Matters

Ever since Greg Shove mentioned Klout at the Independent Fashion Bloggers Evolving Influence Conference last month, bloggers in my circle have been in a tizzy about the meaning and impact of this little number, including yours truly. If you missed the conference, be sure to watch the Evolving Influence: Business of Blogging Video.

Remember that quote from Greg?

“…go look at your Klout score right now, and if it’s below 50, get it above 70 as fast as you can.”

Greg Shove (@GregShove)
CEO, Halogen Media Group

Like many of you, I started blogging as a creative outlet for myself, but as the years have passed and my understanding of blogging has increased, I’ve been slowly (but most assuredly) seduced not only by the high I get after I crank out a post I love—but the interaction, the comments, the tweets, and the conversations that happen within and as a result of my blog. Marry that with the fact that I actually make a living as a professional Web content writer/developer, and one can easily see how someone would say “Klout,” and I’d respond, “How high?”

What is Klout?

Klout is a company that “identifies influencers on topics across the social web” by assigning a Klout score which is calculated using dozens of variables culled from your social media profiles and interactions.

“The Klout Score is the measurement of your overall online influence. The scores range from 1 to 100 with higher scores representing a wider and stronger sphere of influence.Klout uses over 35 variables on Facebook and Twitter to measure True Reach, Amplification Probability, and Network Score.

True Reach is the size of your engaged audience and is based on those of your followers and friends who actively listen and react to your messages. Amplification Score is the likelihood that your messages will generate actions (retweets, @ messages, likes and comments) and is on a scale of 1 to 100. Network score indicates how influential your engage audience is and is also on a scale from 1 to 100. The Klout score is highly correlated to clicks, comments and retweets.”

http://klout.com/kscore

My Klout Influence

Why should you care about Klout?

If you’re looking to monetize, brands who partner with bloggers are (finally) beginning to realize that unique views per month and page impressions aren’t the only indicators of influence on the Web. The paradigm of blogger influence has shifted; no longer are we a measure of site traffic alone. All our social media endeavors are now being taken into consideration, kind of like a college application—our grades (analytics/stats), recommendations (comments and shares), and extracurricular activities (Twitter, Facebook) help create a more complete picture of us as well-rounded bloggers.

Do Klout scores really matter?

If you’re a hobby blogger with no interest in monetization or brand building, Klout scores don’t matter a bit. But again, if you are looking to grow your blog and generate revenue, or become a pro blogger for someone else, your Klout score does matter. At least at Halogen Media Group it does, and for Hootsuite to integrate it into Twitter profiles (see below), I’d say it matters a lot.

At Halogen, which according to Manager of Business Development Bobby Isaacson, “collaborate[s] with publishers to create custom ad campaigns,”  Klout scores provide:

“…a measurement of how influential a publisher is (and therefore how engaged an audience is). It gives us an idea of how far a campaign can extend through social media/influence if we align with the right partners (publishers/bloggers).”

The development of Klout scores—and the mindset companies like Halogen have adopted—is fantastic news for bloggers who crank out top-notch content and have an extremely dedicated following, but perhaps lack five-figure monthly stats. Klout is proof that we’re on a new Web analytics frontier, one more concerned with quality and the total picture than just a single measure of popularity, like site traffic.

The Multiplier Effect

Halogen’s approach is not only refreshing, it makes good sense. “It’s our belief that a blogger with a high Klout score and a smaller amount of monthly unique readers that are likely to engage with/share content on a page,”  Isaacson adds, “is potentially more valuable than broadcasting to a larger audience that isn’t tuned in.”

Follow. Engage. Share. Those are key verbs, not only in Klout scoring, but in Halogen’s take on a blogger’s true reach. Bloggers with close-knit audiences that revere the blogger’s authenticity and trust what they say tend to “activate” their followers—which results in what Halogen calls “the multiplier effect.”

Graphic courtesy of Halogen Media Group.


The multiplier effect is like the snowball effect; it’s the proliferation of messaging, content, or opinions that spread from a blogger to their followers, and on to the followers’ networks—which down the line, could be several thousand people. Klout scores are the result of many factors, but a key part of scoring is how often your content is shared, and by whom…that’s why Halogen looks to Klout as an indicator of influence and reach. I imagine that as other companies refine their social media profiles and interactions, Klout scores will become key indicators in assessing a company’s own reach, and evaluating candidates for future social media positions.

Klout and Twitter—more followers is more important than tweets, right?

Most bloggers have discovered the value social media tool Twitter has in terms of blog promotion and relationship-building. We know from our own analytics that sending out a tweet when we publish a post increases the likelihood that someone will click over to our blogs. We retweet the things we like, and we engage in fun conversations with our blog friends. But at the end of the day, they’re just tweets, right? Isn’t it more important to have a plethora of followers?

In a word, no. Well, sure—the number of followers you have is important, but as noted above, the number of followers you have isn’t exclusively indicative of your online influence. You know that saying, you are who hang around? When it comes to Klout, it’s true. The more influential your followers are and the more engaged they are with you, the better your score.

Check out my Twitter profile in Hootsuite (which includes Klout scores in profiles) compared to my blogging buddy, Bella of  The Citizen Rosebud, who graciously agreed to let me pimp her numbers for this post. At the time of writing, I had 1,300 more followers, but Bella (social media maven that she is) has sent out almost twice as many tweets, and has a Klout score three points higher than mine. Unlike Bella, I’m a reluctant and late adopter of the Facebook fan page, and currently only Facebook profiles (not fan pages) factor into scoring.

Bella and I are only three points apart, but an analysis of our networks (and the influence level of our engaged audiences) shows that part of your Klout score is not just what you know, but who you know. As illustrated in the graphics below, Bella is “constantly engaged by very influential people,” while I generate “a high level of engagement from other influencers.” Clearly, when Bella talks—er, tweets—influential people listen and share.

Grit & Glamour Klout Network Analysis

Remember what I wrote about Facebook above? I’ve only recently begun interacting on my Grit & Glamour Facebook fan page, and had not added it to my Klout account at the time of writing. Bella has been actively using her Citizen Rosebud Facebook fan page and has linked it to her Klout account, so there are more measures in her Klout network analysis below. Numbers in the green section are for Twitter, and blue is for Facebook.

The Citizen Rosebud Klout Network Analysis

Do more tweets equal a higher Klout score?

Again, followers and tweets are important, but who pays attention to your tweets and posts and what they do with them is what matters. If people don’t do diddly with your tweets, they’re essentially falling on deaf ears, so to speak. You can tweet until your little fingers fall off, but it doesn’t matter if what you tweet isn’t compelling enough to engage followers in conversation or prompt them to respond, retweet, or share.

And another thing: Klout scores are calculated daily. Even as I worked on writing this post (and consequently was not as active on Twitter or Facebook), my Klout score fluctuated between 56 and 58. Realize that your Klout score is a living, breathing thing that changes depending on what you are doing—or not doing—within your social media applications.

How can I raise my Klout score?

So your interest was piqued enough to find out what your Klout score is…and now you’re disappointed. What can you do to raise your score? Improving your score takes time and relationship building, but here are some tips to help you get on track.

  • Make sure social media profiles are linked to your Klout account. That includes Facebook and Linked In, which is currently in beta for inclusion in Klout scoring.
  • Use Twitter and Facebook mindfully. Frequent status updates and tweets about your horrible day, your cramps, or your every thought are more likely to get you unfollowed than retweeted. Ditto for expletive-filled realizations and rants. If you tweet all day long and hardly anyone responds, you’re probably not only overdoing it, but people aren’t even “listening” anymore, which is opposite of the point of it all.
  • Study your @ mentions and retweets. Which tweets engage others? What types of remarks or posts do people notice and talk about? Crank more of those out!
  • Create authentic content, and content that is helpful to others. If you want to increase the likelihood that your posts will be shared/liked/tweeted, post original content that begs to be shared. In fashion blogging, that might be a DIY post, tips on fashion week attendance, tips for tackling a fashion or blog-related challenge, etc.
  • Share the spotlight. We all love to see @ mentions with our names in them, and nothing gets our attention faster. When a fellow or blogger or follower posts or tweets about something resonated with you, SHARE IT! Tell your network why you liked it, and shine the spotlight on others. Most will remember and will acknowledge and/or return the favor.

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Comments

  1. says

    Thank you for breaking down how your tweets can effect your Klout score and how content matters. Because I had felt totally lost about that.
    -xo

  2. says

    Thanks for the article. To be honest, I’ve been watching my Klout score, but haven’t really been sure what it means and what to do to get it to where it needs to be. It was kind of seeming like just another stat to obsess over. I’m glad to know that brands are paying attention to Klout, apparently I need to too!
    Becca’s latest post: Just One of Those DaysMy Profile

  3. says

    I’ve known about Klout, pretty much since it started, but I didn’t truly pay attention to it until December when I realized the twitter account I created in mid-october had a higher Klout score than the one I’ve had since 2007. It baffled me, and sort of made me proud. I realized I was now doing something right and I wanted to continue on that path. Now, I’m stuck in what I like to call the 49.– rut. I’m only a couple tenths (if that) from breaking a Klout score of 50, but I can’t quite get there. It’s very frustrating! I will plaster these tips on my corckboard though.
    Chelsea Rae’s latest post: Blogging for Daters- A lifetime of bloggingMy Profile

  4. says

    okay i have 2 things to say.

    1. i love this post and all the others that you do on these kinds of topics. i really feel like i learn a lot from you in terms of ways i could improve my blog and just general methods i can use to maximize my reach.
    2. have you ever considered breaking your posts up into parts? i always want to read what you say but i get so daunted by the length sometimes. i STILL have your copyright post bookmarked so i can go back and finish reading it.

    Cate<3

    • says

      Cate~

      Thanks for your suggestion about breaking posts up. I don’t do that because I want readers to be able to print/tweet/share the full post. Breaking it into parts is also more work for me, and I don’t really have the time. You’re actually the first to ever have requested this…usually I hear the opposite, that readers are able to get through my longer, educational posts because of the way I format them.

      But thanks for asking and for your comment!

  5. says

    Another great read! I definitely remember that quote; I jotted it down as I sipped coffee and streamed the conference. I immediately needed to know my Klout score, but I wasn’t really sure what it meant or what to do about it. I feel much more informed now. Thanks, V!
    Santina’s latest post: ImposterMy Profile

  6. says

    Excellent post V as always – your great at simplifying things. One thing i’d add though is that if your a uk blogger a peer index score is important too as that’s used more than klout by UK brands (the independent newspaper did a post recently on who the key influencers are in diff areas using their peer index scores and it included fashion).
    fuyume’s latest post: Puma- Reebok and Gap are at it again – Sweatshop Use!My Profile

  7. says

    Another phenomenal post, V! Thanks for all your insight into topics like this. You truly are such a great help to of all us bloggers!
    Right after Greg mentioned that at IFB I scribbled it down in my notebook under “To Do” after returning home. It was one of the first thing, and I’ve already seen my score go up (isn’t that so exciting to see? haha)

    tweeting about this NOW!

    XXXO
    M
    Marissa’s latest post: Fall Photo Shoot- Behind the Scenes – NYFW Part 3My Profile

  8. says

    My goodness! Thank you (again) for always keeping your little G-monsters in the know. It seems like I remember Klout being mentioned (haven’t had the time to rewatch the video, yet). I’m sure I wouldn’t have known where to start without this and I’ll certainly be coming back to it as I explore. You don’t miss a detail, do you? Muah!

  9. says

    As a blogger who is constantly trying to learn more about this industry everyday, this is very helpful! Honestly I am scared to look at my Klout score, so I am going to take a few tips from this post and then maybe a month from now I will look at it and hopefully it’s even at 50, because I know I am not there yet!

    Thanks V!
    tymbre’s latest post: Accessory Street Trend Report- Spring 2011My Profile

  10. says

    nice breakdown…

    since i am admittedly a fickle sometimes blogger but a major tweeter, klout is the only “measure” that i automatically share with brands, co’s etc when i communicate with them.

    ia link to my klout page is in my email footer.
    Goody’s latest post: ahalifeMy Profile

  11. says

    Ooooooooh child, I don’t EVEN want to look at my Klout score because I know it’s like a -5, haha.

    But seriously, I appreciate that you always break the breaking news down for your fellow bloggers!! You are like a bottomless well of info laced with sass + above average fashion skills. (Actually your tag line describes you best.)

    xo,
    raven

  12. says

    It’s like you read my mind. I checked my Klout score right after IFB and then got overwhelmed and totally confused and closed my browser window never to return again. I’m still completely overwhelmed, but at least I understand it now. Thanks, V! Always so helpful. :) Next I need a tutorial on HootSuite. I feel like I’ve been living under a rock with that one.
    Marissa’s latest post: DIANE CollectionMy Profile

  13. says

    This is a great post – really informative. When I watched the video I heard talk of this, but like so many others,didn’t really understand what it meant so thanks for explaining! Must go check mine out now!! xx
    GawgusThings’s latest post: Let it Shine!My Profile

  14. says

    Vahni you are Amazing at breaking all this down. You are a Maven in the best sense of the word. GREAT hopefully award winning post. Also, thanks for all the showing me off up there. Stoked to have a bit of Klout. Guess all that tweeting paid off.

    I appreciate every single post you write, but hands down your better blogger series is the best! It helps us all to better understand what it takes to be better bloggers, and a guideline to follow in a sometimes what seems like a confusing ball of twine and murky handshakes. Your posts help us all work on our own blogs, and your blog (and blogging) shows by example what a good blog looks likes. Thank you! -Bella Q
    Enter to Win My Shabby Apple Dress Give-Away- the Citizen Rosebud
    Bella Q’s latest post: Baby- I was born to POLKAMy Profile

    • says

      Bella, again, you honor me with not only your kind words, but your support. Thanks for sharing, for being my lead cheeleader, and for being YOU!

  15. says

    Vhani, you are so brilliant, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Most of what I have learned in this blogging world I has been through you. Always passing on your discoveries and helping others to move on. You are a true example of what a good person and an excellent blogger should be about.
    I am so deeply honoured to be amongst your friend.
    A big, big hug and million kisses my dear V.
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
    SACRAMENTO’s latest post: contrastsMy Profile

  16. says

    I really NEEDED this post! I was going through a mental checklist of things I had learned from the conference and i realized I knew nothing at all about Klout. This was a very helpful and insightful post. It also makes us relatively newbies feel better. I know i have a long way to go with my site but looking at these new metrics, reader participation trumps daily numbers and that takes creativity to find new ways to constantly keep readers engaged… Thanks!
    FashioBrew’s latest post: My DC Fashion Week Coverage- Commentary- Photos &amp Video Footage UpdatedMy Profile

  17. Jill says

    Wow, what an informative post. I’m not sure I even knew about Klout. Thanks for clear-as-a-bell writing about what could be an overwhelming topic. I always learn so much from you, which is why you are one of my blogging mentors!

  18. says

    Ever since Greg Shove talked about the growing importance of Klout, I’ve been highly intrigued about it. I also didn’t know anything about it! This is so incredibly helpful to me. I need to get my Klout up. It looks like I’ll be joining you on facebook soon enough! Thanks Vahni.
    brookemeagan’s latest post: Apple Oatmeal MuffinsMy Profile

  19. says

    I remember looking my Klout score up before and then kinda forgot about it because I didn’t know how much pull it had, until reading this post! I’m on there as we speak!! Thanks for the great tips on bumping that score up (cuz I need mine up for real!)
    MJ’s latest post: Outfit 30 of 30- I’m Done!!!My Profile

  20. says

    V, checking out your posts is never disappointing. Engaging and educational, your content always leaves me energized! One day, my brain might explode, but for now just keep it comin’!

    f <3 v!!

  21. says

    What an informative post! I never heard of Klout until now and just signed up! Do you know if there’s a way to connect Klout to your Facebook page rather than your profile page?

  22. says

    I used Klout for some time. It seemed intriguing, and seemed to have a lot of potential, for many of the same reasons you highlight here. But I think that in many respects, it’s a bit overrated. Now over a year has passed since I first started using Klout, and I’ve found that many of its observations don’t seem to correspond well with what I’ve learned from direct experience.

    Some of the most influential people are not really detected as influential, nor has Klout really captured the way my own influence on twitter has changed over time. I find that the weakest point of Klout is identifying influencers vs. people you influence. Its observations in this area seem almost outright random…they don’t seem to make any sense to me.

    I think the best way to use twitter is to not think about it too much. Refrain from self-promotion, and just participate in the conversation naturally. If you listen to others and engage in others in a sincere, thoughtful manner, you will become included as an integral part of whatever groups of people you are interested in connecting with, and you won’t need to jump through many hoops to do so. Klout, I think, almost entices people to do the opposite: to think too hard and invest too much time and energy into attempting to build one’s “influence”, as measured by a number, when in reality, all we should be doing is just listening and sharing naturally, the way we (hopefully) do in conversation with our friends and family.
    Alex Zorach’s latest post: Neighborhood and Community Gathering SpacesMy Profile

  23. says

    Wow, really great post and incredibly helpful. Klout sounds like a compelling tool but just like an application, a blogger can’t be judged I think by their metrics alone when a company is deciding whether or not to collaborate…but it certainly is a great way to weed out the 95% or so of bloggers that are immediately unsuitable to you.

    http://www.featherfactor.com
    featherfactor’s latest post: Underrated jewelryMy Profile

  24. says

    Your articles are always so well written, informative timely! I attended the IFB conference and wrote a note to myself to look into klout scores but was still confused as to what klout measures. This post was extremely helpful in breaking down what exactly klout is and how your klout score is measured.
    Shen Dove’s latest post: Wardrobe rulesMy Profile

    • says

      Hey Madison, thank you! I think the best thing to do is what you’re already doing…interacting sincerely, leaving comments, and being kind!

  25. says

    This post was SO HELPFUL!! I never even knew Klout exisited!! I am SO GLAD I found your blog, girl!! :) I’ve been coming back and looking at some of your older posts because I need to get caught up! Anyway, thank you for this fabulous information!! I joined this morning, and my Klout score wasn’t half bad! Pretty awesome.
    Krystle’s latest post: Sneakin into Spring!My Profile

  26. says

    First I heard of Klout was from the IFB conference round-up so I’m sure my score will be an unhealthy one! But thanks to you and IFB I’ll have tp explore this new (for me) avenue.
    kavery’s latest post: One fine dayMy Profile

  27. says

    I watched this footage at IFB and immediately set up a Klout account, Yes I do like to keep up with The Jones but Klout is actually very useful and gives you a measure of where you stand in blogsphere and what you need to do to get up there. This post is very useful and insightful – thanks so much for sharing.
    Ondo Lady’s latest post: My Blogging ToolsMy Profile

  28. says

    Hey lovely,
    Brilliantly illustrated post about Klout! I had zero idea as to what it is…so thanks for sharing. I’m a bit more familiar with Peer index score (UK) which fuyume mentioned earlier.
    Have a fab weekend!
    x.o.x.o

  29. says

    V you are such a prolific and engaging writer. Your blog was extremely interesting and helpful. I loved the tips you gave on increasing your klout influence. Excellent read!!
    Ambuji’s latest post: Street foodMy Profile

  30. says

    I’m afraid to check my klout….I fear I’m not vey engaging. This is something I think I really do need to look into, thanks for the intro V. As always, you bring up these issues that are so important to so many of us bloggers. Even those of us who are semi-uninformed, like myself. It’s such a help!! Hope you’re having a good weekend!!

    xo, Ashley
    Ashley [Free Honey]‘s latest post: Cross My T’s and Dot My I’sMy Profile

  31. says

    I’ve been threatening to sign up to klout since you started mentioning it in your posts. However I still have not got round to it. Another great post though which has triggered me to get up off my back side and get it sorted. In a similar fashion to your links a la mode post which kicked started me submitting posts to the IFB links a la mode group.
    Arash Mazinani’s latest post: Who Else Wants The Definitive Guide on Spring Summer 2011 Menswear TrendsMy Profile

  32. says

    I am late to reading but this is an excellent and thorough post. I am going to have to read this again because I have to admit I knew nothing about Klout.
    Thanks for breaking this information down so that it’s very understandable.
    JTwisdom’s latest post: Keeping It All In Balance…My Profile

  33. says

    I say this as a digital marketer by trade, and as a fashion blogger.

    Klout is one of many variables used to help determine an individuals value for a brand. Yes, it’s another shiny number for marketers, and bloggers, to toss around… but a high Klout score isn’t the magic bullet. It’s a variable that will increase / decrease over time due to your online activity.

    Engage your readers and followers and put out great content… those are factors you SHOULD worry about, always. Win in those areas and your Klout will rise.

    Ryan
    http://www.fashables.com/w
    Ryan’s latest post: Burberry Delivers Value and StyleMy Profile

  34. says

    This is fascinating. I hadn’t heard of Klout (what does that say about ME!) and I happened to read this via Beautifully Invisible’s post because we were both linked to it.. I love what you said at the top (‘I started blogging as a creative outlet for myself..’) I always wanted to create some kind of creative virtual salon where people would come and talk to each other and I could leave the room. I hoped that my photos – which were purely streetstyle at the time – would ‘lure’ like minded people there.

    I’ve realised what I entered into instead was a community of beautiful virtual salons. I now spend more time on other people’s then i do creating my own. And while I don’t care, really, about my ‘numbers’ I’m still a little scared of Klout: the straight A student in me doesn’t want to get a bad score.

    Still, I can’t resist. As soon as I hit ‘submit’ I’m going to find out how to sign up! Thank you, hope you’re well xox
    jill (@polkadot23)’s latest post: all the cherry blossomsMy Profile

  35. says

    Thanks to all of you for your thoughts, tweets, shares, and stumbles! I’m glad you found this post to be informative. Thanks again for taking the time to comment and pass this on.

    See you on Twitter!

  36. says

    Thank you so much for this post! I attended the IFB conference and was a bit fuzzy on what exactly Klout was! This page has definitely been bookmarked!
    Have a great day!
    -Ellie
    Ellie’s latest post: food comaMy Profile

  37. says

    Thank you, Vahni! I am very serious about my blogging, and as such am always eager to learn more. Klout is so interesting, as you point out here it is all about the community. Now I am off to learn more about my Klout, adding to the steep learning curve I am in since I started blogging a little over a year ago. I am loving every second of blogging, with all of the trials and tribulations, I love writing and sharing and connecting. You have been and remain very important to me as an inspiration, and I hope as a friend. Go V! Hugs xx
    Anika’s latest post: Sending love and prayers to JapanMy Profile

  38. says

    I’m a little late to this conversation (just popped over here from Ashe’s post) but I’d like to add some perspective from not only a fellow blogger, but also someone who outreaches to bloggers for my day job.

    Klout is one of many companies that analyzes an individual’s “influence.” My agency doesn’t utilize Klout when considering an individual’s influence because we have other tools that we believe do this much better.

    However, Klout is an easily and affordable (read: free) way for a blogger to sort of gauge how they’re doing and know what their range of influence is. If you have a high Klout score, chances are you are influential by other ratings as well. However, I wouldn’t stress about upping your Klout score by a point or two because Klout is sort of known in the business as a “next big thing; not the best thing” type of tool.
    Rachael’s latest post: Links á la Mode- The IFB Weekly RoundupMy Profile

    • says

      Great insight, Rachael. Thanks so much for sharing! I agree…it’s not the best thing, it’s just the hot thing now. Burt as you pointed out, a high Klout score is probably an indicator of influence by other ratings too.

  39. says

    Fantastically informative post, thank you so much! Like you, I only discovered Klout since IFBcon, and have been paying increasingly more attention to it since then, so it’s nice to hear what actually works to bump those scores up.

    Briony xx

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