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How to Engage Customers, Boost Your Digital Influenceâ?"and Raise Your Klout Score for Success
By GINA CARR, TERRY BROCK
McGraw-Hill EducationCopyright © 2014 Achievement Systems, Inc.
All rights reserved.
What Is a Klout Score?
Klout digs deep into social media to understand how people influence each other, so that everyone can discover and be recognized for how they influence the world.
Klout is a system that has been devised, and continues to undergo regular refinement, to analyze and measure the degree of a person's influence.
In sum, if your work relates to influencing others to take action, then you should pay attention to Klout. Is it for everyone? Not quite. However, if you work as a professional speaker, coach, consultant, facilitator, author, entertainer, blogger, podcaster, or in any other profession where you influence others, you need to pay attention to Klout. These thought leaders are people who have always exerted a certain amount of influence over others. In the past one's degree of influence was always open to subjectivity. It still is today, even with the use of Klout.
However, the difference today is that Klout has been developed so that we can more accurately measure what was only subjective before. By using sophisticated computer algorithms, the people at Klout have been able to ascertain more of what one's true influence is by looking at what happens with others over several different platforms and applications.
As an example, many people can say that Joe Speaker is very influential. But the important question is, "How does one know the true extent of influence that Joe Speaker really exerts?" There are some who would say Joe is exceptionally influential, whereas others would say Joe Speaker is not influential. In the past, without Klout, it was a matter of opinion. People relied more on their "gut feeling."
Today it still is opinion because influence is very subjective even with the most sophisticated algorithms. Joe Speaker could be highly influential for one group of people and have zero influence over others.
Klout is a system by which you can more reliably gauge the accuracy of influence, at least by certain measured criteria. We can still debate how influential Joe Speaker is among ourselves. However, when you can show that Joe has moved certain people to action on Facebook, on Twitter, and on other platforms, this indicates that Joe Speaker has a degree of influence that needs to be addressed.
Of course, if you are Joe Speaker and you feel that you have a lot of influence, you naturally want and expect your Klout Score to be high. Having been in the professional speaking community for over 30 years, we have yet to find a speaker whose ego doesn't make the speaker feel that he or she deserves a higher score! Probably that is just the nature of strong-ego professional speakers!
But let's move the focus away from the individual speaker or influencer. If you are marketing a brand and are looking to connect with someone who is highly influential in a given community, you want to make sure that there is a more objective way of measuring that person's influence. Just listening to two or three people say, "Joe Speaker is highly influential" is not enough. If you're going to pay for an endorsement from Joe, you want to know that he can significantly influence people in a given market.
This is why Klout has emerged so prominently. There is a market that needs to know who is more influential than others. With social media so prominent in our world today, many people want to find out more objectively who exerts the most influence over others in a given field.
Of course, any measuring system is going to draw fire from those who are not rated as highly as they think they should be. It is also going to draw fire from those who like to be at the center of attention by complaining and being the snarky outsider-attacker against any system that is very popular. Journalists are particularly prone to do this. Terry has been a journalist for over 40 years writing for various publications—newspapers, magazines, and many blogs. Journalists by nature often try to find the "alternate point of view" in a given situation. You might say that journalists just want to raise their own Klout Scores, and a good way to do that is to gain attention by attacking the Klout system.
All that is just to say that it's important to "follow the money" (as the then-anonymous "Deep Throat" told us during the Watergate era). When you hear strong criticism of endorsement of a particular idea, it is always wise to "follow the money" to find out what is really happening. Is someone complaining about a new system or product because he or she wasn't selected to participate? Is it "sour grapes" because that person was turned down to serve in a particular position?
Klout is a system that attempts to help people understand who is most influential in a given area. It has emerged and is successful because people desire this kind of objective rating.
Think of it like the FICO scores that were developed in the banking community to better determine who is creditworthy and who is not. FICO scores were developed by Fair Isaac Corporation to be a more objective way of determining loan-worthy applicants.
A useful benefit of a FICO score can be that if yours is lower than you wanted it to be, you know specific tasks you can undertake to raise that score. By undertaking the tasks that are required to raise your FICO score, you are doing what is important to be more creditworthy and be more financially sound.
The criticism that has been raised about the Klout Score is that it is not quite the same as a FICO score or BMI. Regardless of what you think of about FICO scores or BMI, it is fairly well known what factors go into the calculation of the algorithm so you can address those to improve your own individual score.
We particularly like the metaphor of looking at your Klout Score like your BMI (body mass index). For instance, if you have a BMI score that you don't want, there are many specific steps you can take, which are well known. You know to abstain from certain foods, to consume various alternate foods, to engage in a certain level of exercise, and to do other activities under the supervision of a competent healthcare professional. Calculating your Klout Score is very much like calculating your BMI.
In a video interview we did while writing this book, we spoke with one of the gurus in the world of branding, Bruce Turkel of Turkel Brands. Bruce and his company work with companies like Bacardi, Miami Tourism, HBO, Jackson Memorial Hospital, and many others. Before he even read this book, Bruce was using the same metaphor of the Klout Score being like your BMI. (Great minds think alike.) Bruce said, "Social media is really the first time you've had free, democratized access to distribution. With social media you can get your messages out in front of people you want to reach, and people you haven't thought of reaching yet." You can view the entire educational video with Bruce at http://KloutMatters.com/videos-and-more.
As medical professionals continue to refine and improve the quality of a BMI score and as financial professionals tweak and modify the formulation for a FICO score, we know that those active in the digital influence world are continuing to improve their analyzing and rating methodology. We're in the embryonic stages of this area now. Those close to the industry like Joe Fernandez, CEO of Klout, and Andrew Grill, CEO of Klout's closest competitor, Kred, agree—we're just getting started.
The industry is off to a good start, and a lot of very smart people are bringing some sophisticated tools to bear on this important area of influence. It is an exciting playground to be in at this time in history!
Your Klout Score is going to be a reflection of the marketing and interaction with customers that you do in the right way. We recommend that you do not focus on your Klout Score. Focus instead on doing those activities that are naturally right for connecting with customers and making them "giddy with glee." Engage with customers. If you focus on doing what your customers want and how you can solve their problems, you will inevitably build your business. As you build your business, the natural outcome will be a higher and stronger Klout Score.
Engaging with customers is the key for success in the social media era. It has always been this way in business since rug traders operated in ancient Mesopotamia millennia ago.
However, in the world of social media today, we find it is more important than ever. People want to know real individuals, real people at companies with whom they are doing business. When employers are hiring someone for a thought leader position, they want to have someone who is influential. By engaging with customers and engaging with other key stakeholders, one's influence is naturally raised.
In the same way, it could be said that to raise one's FICO score would require engagement in certain healthy financial activities. For example, paying credit card bills on time and in full can help to raise one's FICO score. Engaging in activities that render you more creditworthy and financially stable makes a lot of sense. These are not open to question, nor is the solution enshrouded in any esoteric mystery.
However, when it comes to determining one's Klout Score, a lot of esoteric mystery enshrouds the process. Many people will try to raise their Klout Score, doing what they feel are the right activities, only to be disappointed because they see their Klout Score has actually gone down. Understandably, this is why many people become very frustrated with their Klout Scores.
Klout is calculating over 12 billion data points in 400 key areas every day to determine an individual's Klout Score. That is far more data points than are considered in either a FICO credit score or a BMI for health. That makes the "how do they calculate the score?" question difficult, if not impossible, to answer. This parallels the development in the computer field known as big data, where massive amounts of information are collected, then analyzed to generate cause-and-effect relationships that were previously unrecognized.
Without mentioning any names, we both know people who became frustrated and "left the system" because their Klout Score wasn't what they wanted it to be. Their Klout Score went down when they tried to "behave" and do what is encouraged in the Klout system. Even if you disagree with their actions, one can understand why certain individuals would want to do the digital equivalent of "taking their bat and ball and going home."
Along these lines, many have expressed a desire to have a more open, visible, and transparent means of understanding how one's Klout Score is rated. To go back to our metaphors of BMI scores or FICO scores, it is fairly well known what one needs to do to improve either of these measurements. However, raising one's Klout Score often remains a rather elusive—and frustrating—experience.
The good people at Klout tell us that it is important to create compelling content to raise one's Klout Score. This is extraordinarily important. And without giving away all of our book in the first chapter (you must promise to continue reading here), we have to agree! Creating compelling content in your niche is one of the most important ways that you can raise your Klout Score. It is sustainable. It is business savvy. It is the right thing to do.
Yet we have also found that merely creating compelling content is not enough, in and of itself, to create and maintain a higher Klout Score. Of course, that's why you need to keep reading this book!
It would be good for Klout to be more transparent in exposing what is in its "secret sauce." It would be nice to know that if one does X, Y, and Z, then one would be able to raise one's Klout Score by a certain number of points. We understand it is vastly complicated and requires a strong understanding of quantitative analysis to decipher even the rudimentary basics of how the actual score is calculated.
Unfortunately, if this formula were known and visible to people, it would encourage many to merely game the system. Many would try to get a higher Klout Score without performing the necessary tasks of engaging and connecting with customers properly.
We remember back in the early days of Internet marketing that many people would use certain tricks to try to get a higher Google ranking. People used tricks like putting keywords in the same color as the background of the page. For example, if the text was in black ink against a white background, these "SEO experts" would encourage people to enter keywords liberally throughout their web pages all in the same white as the white background. This would make the text invisible to the human eye, but machines would see it and give a higher SEO ranking to the page. Many people at Internet conferences would giggle and elbow each other, thinking that they had discovered a magic "secret way" to boost their SEO ranking and to game the Google system.
What happened back then, and what usually happens with these types of schemes, is that Google found out what was happening and quickly put an end to it. Think about it—the people at Google are not stupid. If their system is being abused, as they see it, they are going to try to stop such behavior.
Fast-forward to today. The people at Klout are going to behave in a similar way if they feel that their system is being abused. From time to time, you're going to read about "a cool new way to get a higher Klout Score" that is nothing more than gaming the system. Google was always on the lookout for these types of gaming systems, as is Klout today. When those trying to game the system are found, dire consequences could happen to their Klout Score.
Yes, you might be able to boost your Klout Score a few points by using the latest cool gizmo and trick that is in the marketplace. However, such a system is not sustainable and does not help to build business in the long term.
And really, that's what it is all about. It is not about merely getting a higher Klout Score, but rather it is important and imperative to build a solid, sustainable business for the long term. It is our contention throughout this book that the emphasis of true thought leaders today should be on developing a sustainable business model by providing compelling content and engaging with customers in a genuine, caring way.
Randy Gage is a professional speaker, author, and now successful social media user. He stresses that the term is social media. It is not selling media or spam media but social. You have to get to know people as people in a genuine, authentic way where you connect with them as people. You can listen to an interview we did with Randy Gage and learn more about how he has generated millions of dollars in revenue in the video that accompanies this book. It is available at http://KloutMatters.com/videos-and-more.
As we interviewed many successful social media users in preparing for this book, we discovered some very interesting patterns. They consistently emphasized being genuine and focused on helping others. This is basic material that you'll read about in any selling book worth its salt. In the realm of social media it is taken to an even higher level because of the ubiquitous nature of social media.
Bob Burg, professional speaker and coauthor of The Go-Giver and Endless Referrals, shared this with us in a video interview. He said that you need to "shift your focus from yourself to an 'other' focus." You have to think about how you can help other people. This is true in life, and it is even more evident in social media as it can be monitored more clearly.
When Joe Fernandez developed Klout, he saw it as a way to find out who was most influential in a given area. Now it is imperative to find ways to build and prove that a business holds a long-term position of influence.
Long-term influence is what most thought leaders know they need to build. This is essential to remain in business and in a position as a thought leader. A sudden burst of energy that gives a momentary "flash in the pan" doesn't make a person a strong thought leader. True long-term influence requires ongoing and continually renewed effort to help others achieve their goals as you provide answers to their problems.
Excerpted from KLOUT MATTERS by GINA CARR, TERRY BROCK. Copyright © 2014 Achievement Systems, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of McGraw-Hill Education.
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