If you work in marketing, PR or social media, you may have heard buzz around the water cooler about a new-ish site called Klout. Maybe you signed in, saw what looked like an arbitrary number next to your name and thought, “What does this mean?” If so, you’re not alone. For the past couple of years, I’ve sat in meetings and listened to clients, brand partners and influencers alike question what this tool says about a person. Today, I’m here to tell you what I’ve discovered.
Klout’s mission – per its website – is, “to empower every person by unlocking their influence.” They use a proprietary algorithm created by award-winning scientists and engineers to determine a person’s social influence, on a scale from one to 100. Initially, this influence score was largely based on your presence on Twitter and would fluctuate according to your number of followers and how often they retweeted your content, responded to questions or clicked through to links. Today, Klout incorporates a variety of social channels into its score, including activity on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, foursquare, etc. Additionally, members of the Klout community can award other users with a +K, which increases Klout Scores by an amount that’s capped every 90 days.
Barack Obama has a Klout Score of 99 and Justin Bieber – the prince of pop – isn’t far behind him with a 92. Their scores sit in the 90s because they’re both extremely active online (or at least their Community Managers are). To put these numbers into perspective, the Klout Scores of the average online user fall in the 40 – 60 range. It’s not like a grade school spelling test, so don’t feel slighted if your score is less than 50.
Beyond the physical number, Klout also looks at the categories a person is influential about. This is based on the topics that they discuss online regularly. According to Klout, I’m influential about 16 topics, including Social Media, Facebook and Beauty. Before Klout revamped its scoring metrics, it deemed me knowledgeable about cars and Chris Rock (I don’t understand it, either). Needless to say, the new Klout is more accurate at measuring social influence than ever before.
As a marketer, Klout is a helpful tool to get a sense for how active an influencer is online. It’s safe to say that visiting Klout to find influencers within a given genre couldn’t hurt, but it’s definitely not the only tool I would recommend using. Currently, Klout doesn’t take into account offline influence, like how often an influencer appears on television, if they make in-person appearances, or if they’ve written a book. I look forward to them adding that criteria to their metrics and also waiting for Klout to measure one’s influence on Pinterest (my personal favorite social media platform). This would definitely alter some of the numbers and data points we’re seeing currently.
Have you signed up for Klout yet? If not, I recommend that you do. If you turn out to be influential, you’ll be open to Klout Perks (more on that in a future post). Share your thoughts about the site in the comments!
Disclosure: I am a Klout user and recently claimed a Klout Perk from essie nail polish. The opinions expressed in this post are my own.