Do You have Klout?Writen by: Hank Wethington
Posted on 09 January 2013
Are you socially influential? Maybe. How do you know? Or maybe more importantly, how do I know you’re socially influential? It’s this important question that Klout tries to answer.
Klout began with a very simple idea: Everyone has influence—the ability to drive action. Klout built on this idea to show anyone how he or she can influence the world and its future.
Klout was founded in 2008 to empower everyone to unlock their influence. We come to work every day inspired to help people understand the power of their voices and democratize influence.
Does Klout succeed? I think, yes. Does Klout do it well? That’s another question entirely. In typical me fashion, I wanted to answer this question.
My review of Klout started when I saw a job posting for a Social Media Manager position that required a Klout score of 55+ to apply. Confused about Klout and it’s importance, I had a brief conversation with the amazing Nicole Varvitsiotes of Rosetta Marketing about whether a Klout score was a useful way to know if someone was qualified for a Social Media position. While there is much debate about Klout, I decided to see if I could go from nothing to 55+ in 30 days to prove the point that a company making your Klout score a requirement for a job is ridiculous.
To be fair, I think it’s important that I be upfront about my social media experience. I’m no novice, but nor am I employed in any fashion as a social media expert. I’m just a guy that follows social media and it’s trends, probably just like you. On Facebook I have about 400 friends. When I started, I wasn’t using Twitter or Instagram. I have a personal blog (this one) that averaged about 3-4 visitors per day, and while I had a Google+ account, I never used it. Of course, I’m on LinkedIn, but I’ve primarily used it as a live resume, certainly nothing for communication or connections. Basically, I used Facebook like everyone else, to stay connected to friends and family and really nothing more. I’m just your average Hank.
When I first signed into Klout and linked my Facebook account, I was given a score of 10. That’s where everyone starts. I connected my LinkedIn profile, and then signed up for Twitter and Instagram. I was off and running. The only hiccup I encountered was when I wanted to link a Facebook Group Page that I help run to Klout. I didn’t realize that Klout was no longer looking at my personal page, and was only using the group page. After a few days, I deleted the linked page and re-linked to my personal account. Everything started to click and I was starting to change my interactions to elicit responses. Game ON!
You may be asking yourself at this point, “what is influence?” Influence, as Klout measures it, is the ability to drive action. In Social Media, driving action equates to engagement, interaction and discussion. Getting “likes” and comments on Facebook and Instagram, along with “retweets” and favorites shows people are paying attention, they’re engaging. This means, potentially, I have influence. To elicit these moments of influence, I changed some things about the way I interacted on the various social media fronts. Most notably, I changed my posts from statements to questions. Instead of saying things like “I love crunchy peanut-butter.” I posted, “Creamy or Crunchy?” I asked people to help create an 80’s song playlist; everyone loved 80’s music. I blogged more. I wrote about drinking 30 different beers in 30 days for Oktoberfest. I wrote about my training runs and rides. I was taking pictures of any time I could and cross posting everything. Integrating my social networks created a cohesive brand of “Hank” with a consistent message. This in turn generated more followers on Twitter, Google+ and Instagram. The beast was getting bigger.
In the first 2 days I hit 27, probably just due to the size of my networks on LinkedIn and Facebook. For the next week, things stayed steady while interactions were calculated and brought into the system. 10 Days after signing up on Klout, my score reached a respectable 45. I was only 10 days in and I was getting most of the way there! I began pushing ideas and interacting more, instead of just consuming with Twitter and LinkedIn. Then things really got exciting as my Oktoberfest beer posts began to garner feedback and interaction from the breweries I was drinking and posting pictures about. Klout loves engagement with “influencers” with higher scores, and my score climbed to 50+ at day 15.
You might think I was almost there, but Klout scores are logarithmic; as you move up the scale, it gets progressively harder to increase your score. What I’ve seen is us mere mortals can get into the 60’s, but beyond that lies the realm of celebrities and well-known personalities. It gets pretty tough to reach higher. Also, maintaining a score is work as well. Some well-timed interactions can increase your score, but just as important, quiet times will reduce your score just as quickly.
With my goal insight, I picked up the pace a bit and worked to get even the most silent of my network in to respond. I focused on interactions with those of higher influence and was rewarded on day 25 when I reached 55!
Now what? Was all of this effort to gage whether Klout measures ones ability to influence worth it? Yes. What I learned along the way was, while I was “gaming” the system some, I was also using my knowledge of social media and interactions. All of my experience with people and networks was put to the test. Isn’t this the true measure of influence? My ability to illicit feedback, responses, interactions, all show that I am trusted by my friends and social networks. If I say that I love Rogue Brewery Beers (and I do), the people who I know and love will try Rogue Brewery Beers. Maybe not all of them, but some will. It’s this ability to influence and engage people based on the established trust I’ve built up, to do things, try brands, get involved, that Klout attempts to measure.
In the end, what started off as a goal to prove Klout isn’t effective in measuring whether someone is good for a Social Media job, convinced me that if someone knows how to change their score, then perhaps they do know something about social media and the influence they or other brands have on the networks they connect with everyday. However, as far as jobs go, it’s important that the Klout score be used only as single point in the hiring process. Don’t blame me if you hire someone with a high Klout score and they don’t work out.
For balance, here’s why you shouldn’t care about what I just wrote.
For further information about Klout, check out this interview of Klout founder and CEO, Joe Fernandez by Brian Solis of Altimeter Group.