When it comes to online marketing, most brands want to have as large a reach as possible and connect with as many consumers as they can. However, finding out if they are doing so can be difficult. The online service Klout gives users the ability to both measure their online influence and increase it.
Klout gives brands the chance to see how influential they are online with a Klout Score. Based on a unique algorithm, the scores are a number between 1 and 100 that represents online influence. The more influential a brand is, the higher its Klout Score.
To come up with the score, Klout measures multiple pieces of data from several social networks, as well as real world data from places such as Bing and Wikipedia.
"Then we apply them to our Klout Score algorithm, and then show the resulting number on your profile," Klout writes on its website. "The higher your Klout Score, the tougher it becomes to increase."
The majority of the signals used to calculate the Klout Score are derived from combinations of attributes, such as the ratio of reactions a user generates compared to the amount of content they share.
"For example, generating 100 retweets from 10 tweets will contribute more to your Score than generating 100 retweets from 1,000 tweets," Klout writes on its website. "We also consider factors such as how selective the people who interact with your content are."
Among the actions that can help increase a Klout Score include:
- Likes, comments, wall posts, friends.
- Followers, retweets, mentions, list memberships
- Followers, likes, comments, photographs submitted
- Comments, +1’s, re-shares, on your personal profiles only
- Connections, recommendations, comments, on your personal profiles only
- Tips saved by others, Tips liked by others, Friends, Check-ins, Likes, Mayorships
- Inlinks, ratio of inlinks to outlinks, PageRank
How much Klout Scores mean, however, is up for debate. While some hiring managers say they use the scores to help judge candidates, especially those applying for social media jobs, others in the business world don't put much stock in them.
In a guest column for CNN.com, science fiction writer John Scalzi referred to Klout Scores as "possibly evil." Scalzi questions why Klout has been designated as the arbiter of online influence.
"I could rank your influence online. If you like: I'll add your number of Twitter followers to your number of Facebook friends, subtract the number of MySpace friends, laugh and point if you're still on Friendster, take the square root, round up to the nearest integer and add six," Scalzi writes. "Is this number any less indicative of your actual online popularity than Klout's scores? As far as you know, no."
Others, however, argue that Klout can be beneficial to businesses in identifying key industry influencers.
"Klout is an excellent tool for figuring out who are the luminaries for link building and relationship building," said Jason White, a senior SEO strategist with Dragon Search Marketing, in an interview with CIO.com.
To reward users for their influence, Klout provides them with perks, such as products, discounts and VIP access to special events. Perks are given to users based on a variety of things, including where they live, their influential topics and their Klout Score.
Examples of Klout Perks include free Sony X Headphones, early access to Nike's Fuel Band and multi-day test drives of the electric Chevy Volt.
More than just a score
While Klout was previously known solely for its scores, earlier this year they increased their services to include ways for users to create and share content. The online service has added a new content platform to help users become better content creators. Klout now provides every user with a unique content stream that is specific to their topical interests.
"The 'Create' tab helps you find great articles and posts worth sharing with your audience," Sanjay Desai, Klout's chief product officer, wrote on the company's blog. "Unlike most apps that suggest content for your personal consumption, Klout intelligently recommends content that will strike a chord with your unique set of friends, fans, and followers."
Klout uses tags to highlight fresh content that is starting to trend, as well as items that closely match the interests of each user's audience members and are likely to resonate with them.
Klout’s new content platform also allows users to schedule their posts so they can be delivered when desired. The Klout score will then further help brands and other users measure how much of an impact their content sharing is making.
Klout for Business
In 2013, the online service introduced Klout for Business, which gives companies a set of analytics with pointed insights into how and where influencers are engaging with their brands in social media.
According to Klout, businesses can look at a dashboard that tells them whether they are engaging their influencers on the networks where they are most actively exerting their influence and on which Klout Score ranges they should be increasing their efforts.
"Most importantly, Klout can tell you which topics your audience influences others on, helping you maximize your content efforts to drive consideration for your brand," Matthew Thomson, a former Klout vice president, wrote on the company's blog." Our goal is to help brands and influencers build relationships that transcend the current advertiser-consumer dynamic."