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.”
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.”
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.
- How New Influence Metrics Will Make It Harder for Traditional Web Publishers to Survive
- Klout: Not perfect but getting better fast
- What is the Klout Score? Understanding the Influence Metric
- How to raise your Klout score
- 7 Tips You Can Use to Improve Your Klout Score
- All About Klout! 5 Ways to Raise your Klout Score