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Klout For Dummies
By Andrea Updyke
John Wiley & SonsCopyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
All rights reserved.
Discovering Your Klout
In This Chapter
* Learning how you influence others online
* Studying your social networks with Klout
* Increasing connections with your online community
* Observing trends by using Klout
Klout is an online service that measures your social influence. The creators behind the website believe that every individual has some influence in the online world and their goal is to help you maximize that influence.
But measuring your influence isn't the only thing you can do with Klout. By observing trends in your online usage with the Klout tools, you can see what your community connects with and how others respond to your status updates, and you can identify areas where your conversations can improve and spark more engagement from your followers.
Calculating Your Influence in Social Networks
Klout uses more than 400 variables to measure your Klout Score. Many of them come from networks you probably use every day, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, foursquare, LinkedIn, Klout, and most recently Wikipedia. The following sections give you the basics on how Klout measures your online social influence.
According to Klout, the definition of influence is "the ability to drive action." When you build your online community and use it to advance your personal and business goals, you naturally become more influential and thus inspire more people to action based on your topics of influence, information you share, and connections you make online. The more actions you inspire, the greater your influence.
What seems like a very simple service is actually quite complex. Using an algorithm that pulls data from hundreds of variables, Klout assigns scores between 1 and 100 (as shown in Figure 1-1, my Klout Score is 64) to every online influencer based on engagement within his or her social networks (such as Facebook or Twitter).
Klout has revised its algorithm several times, each time claiming more detail and therefore, more accuracy for your score. As with many online measurement tools, their work is never done. Klout continues to correct, revise, and improve its service with each new update they make to their algorithm.
Identifying actions and engagement that contribute to your Klout Score
Anytime you connect a social network to Klout (which I tell you how to do in Chapter 7), the service immediately begins measuring your influence by observing the engagement or actions you generate. Actions can include any of the following:
[check] Mentions: Using sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, Klout evaluates the number of mentions you receive (as shown in Figure 1-2) and factors that into your overall score. In social media, a mention is when someone tags you by name within a social network, connecting the update to you. Typically, you can tag someone by putting the @ symbol before his or her name or username. The more people mention your name on these networks, the higher level of engagement you have than someone with fewer mentions.
[check] Likes: Typically, Likes (on Facebook) or +1s (on Google+) tell Klout that people see your updates and are reacting to them in a positive way. When a social media friend sees your post and clicks Like or +1, friends in her community who may not yet follow you can see this activity and potentially be influenced as well. Remember that your personal privacy settings within each network will determine who sees this activity.
[check] Shares, retweets, and tips: Even more exciting than a Like for an online influencer is a Share (on Facebook and Google+) or a retweet (on Twitter). When you post content and a friend passes that content on to her friends or followers with a Share or retweet (see Figure 1-3), your influence reaches an entirely new community.
Your influence also gets a boost when someone completes one of your tips on foursquare, such as trying out a restaurant you suggested through the app.
[check] Comments or Timeline posts: Comments on any post in your connected networks only improve your Klout Score. Likewise, when a person comes directly to your Facebook or Google+ profile and leaves a comment, Klout views this as positive behavior based on your influence.
[check] Follower and subscriber count: The number of friends, followers, and subscribers to your social media accounts matter, but they don't matter much. Klout does take into consideration your follower and subscriber count on networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. However, Klout's philosophy is that engagement trumps numbers every time.
[check] Links in: With the addition of Wikipedia as a measurement in Klout's algorithm, real-world influence is now a part of the equation. This means that information on your Wikipedia page may factor into your score, including links in from other websites.
[check] +K: You can give and receive +K within Klout itself, as shown in Figure 1-4. The number of +K you receive from others (described in Chapter 7) increases your score by a limited amount within a 90-day period. Klout sets this cap to discourage people from trying to game the system and artificially inflate their scores.
Klout is continually including new social networks in their algorithm. Connecting your networks to Klout is the best way to find your most accurate score of influence. It's a fun way to see how you connect with people online and a great tool for evaluating which topics and types of information generate the most engagement. For more information about how to connect additional networks to your Klout account, see Chapter 7.
Benefiting from Klout
Overall, Klout's goal is to help you recognize and harness the power of your own influence whether you affect 10 people or 10,000. Here I identify the specific tools and techniques in Klout that you can use to accomplish that — and as a bonus, earn free merchandise along the way.
You can find several ways to benefit from using the free service, including the following:
[check] Enjoying Klout Perks: Perks are awarded to influencers based on Klout Score, location, and topics of influence as discussed in Chapter 8. Perks are a great way to try new products and services for free or at a discount.
[check] Measuring engagement: By viewing your Klout Moments, you can see at a glance the posts that garnered the most attention in your social media networks. You can also see which networks are stronger for you in terms of responses to your posts.
[check] Observing trends in your community: If you are looking to target a specific niche, you'll want to use Klout to observe certain trends. See which posts get the most engagement, what topics you are considered to be influential in, and what other influencers in your niche are talking about.
[check] Highlighting your specialties with topics: As you use social media to discuss your interests and goals, Klout recognizes these as your topics of influence. This measurement allows you to connect with other like-minded individuals as well as matches you with brands that may be of interest to you.
Observing trends in your niche by using the Search feature
You might want to target a specific group of people from time to time based on a certain topic of influence. Doing so helps you grow your community and potentially make new connections. Klout can help you observe key influencers and display their latest topics of discussion when you use Klout's Search tool.
For instance, if you want to reach people using the Klout topic of moms, enter the word moms into the search bar at the top of any page on Klout as pictured in Figure 1-5.
After Klout finds the search term, you have the following options in the page that opens. You may view information based on influencers or top moments.
[check] Influencers: At the top of the screen is a list of influencers (as shown in Figure 1-6) who have the word moms in their username or as one of their topics of influence. From here you may click an Influencer's name to view her profile or click the link that says See All Influencers to reveal even more choices.
[check] Top Moments: Below the listed Influencers, you can view a list of top moments related to the topic you typed into the search bar. Ten moments are shown by default (shown in Figure 1-7), but you can select Show More at the bottom of the page to increase the number of results.
Following trends is a fun way to grow your community and join the conversation with like-minded individuals. The Search feature within Klout continues to get more sophisticated with each update.
Connecting with your audience
After you have identified some of the key trends in your community, you can use that information to connect with your audience in a deeper way. Even if you are a blogger operating as a brand and using social media, you connect with your followers on an individual, organic level.
You can use Klout to identify key interests and learn more about which topics drive the most actions from your followers. Knowing what your community loves talking about increases your ability to create quality conversations and keep them going.
For instance, I can look at my Klout Dashboard (discussed in more detail in Chapter 3) at a glance and see in the highlights from the past 90 days that most of my connections were made via Facebook and Twitter. Klout even takes it one step further by rating each moment from one to five dots (with five being the strongest) to signify the strength of my post's engagement, as shown in Figure 1-8.
To increase engagement within your social networks, check in with your Klout Dashboard on a regular basis. Doing so is a great way to get a snapshot of the actions you inspire within your community. You can then learn from this information and use it to improve the quality of your social media posts.
Deciding if Klout is right for you
Social media experts are divided when it comes to Klout, so it's a good idea to take a few minutes to decide if you even want to participate in the social scoring site.
One school of thought is that Klout still has a long way to go in perfecting the algorithm so it provides a true measure of online influence. Complaints include impossibly high Scores for some people and improbably low Scores for obvious experts in their field. Some people are not comfortable with the idea of a Score in the first place and have decided to opt out completely.
It's true that some marketers and public relations firms are taking Klout Scores into consideration, but the jury is still out on how much weight they put on an influencer's Score. In my experience, an influencer's Klout Score is just one of many different measurement tools — a very small piece of the puzzle.
Still, many people enjoy seeing what happens to their Score and which online activities make a difference. Klout Perks are also a draw, and as long as companies are willing to offer them, the influencers will continue to claim them. Your participation is entirely voluntary.
Excerpted from Klout For Dummies by Andrea Updyke. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Excerpted by permission of John Wiley & Sons.
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