Do you know what your Klout score is? Klout.com measures your social media presence and assigns you a number, but that number may not be as important as you’ve heard. Is Klout an important way to measure success, or just another trend in the never-ending carousel of social media fads?
If you’ve been spending time perusing social media lately (if you’re here in the first place, it’s a pretty safe bet that you have), you’ve probably seen the concept of Klout floating around. No, not clout with a c, but Klout with a capital K – the social analytics tool that measures a user’s influence across all their networks.
Confused? (Or should we say… Konfused?) Not to worry, we’ll help you dig a bit deeper to see if this tool is beneficial to you and your online business.
What is Klout?
Klout is a tool that scrapes data from users’ social networks and creates scored profiles based on the information it finds. Every individual that Klout examines is assigned a score from 1-100. Klout says that it “examines more than 400 variables on multiple social networks beyond your number of followers and friends” in order to assign an exact score. Your score can go up or down depending on how much social media engagement you’re experiencing, and who you’re garnering it from. The closer to 100, the more online Klout you have. If other users think you’re influential in a topic – say, ecommerce or marketing – they can award you +K (think of it as Klout’s version of a LinkedIn endorsement).
Technically, every social media user has a Klout score, even if they’re not signed up for a profile on Klout.com. If you sign up, though, you can manually connect or disconnect all your various social profiles to ensure your online activity is measured in one place. Individuals and businesses can both have Klout – for example, I have one Klout score as Emily Teachout, an individual who works for Volusion, but Volusion has a separate Klout score for itself, as well.
Wondering what types of people or businesses have an ultra-high Klout score? Check out their Pulse page, which ranks and compares the top online influencers with the most Klout.
Why should my Klout score matter? What does it say about me or my site?
Well, here’s where it gets tricky. The jury is still out on how finely curated Klout scores really are in the first place. For example, Kim Kardashian and Mashable both have a very high score of 89. But who’ s the bigger social media influencer? Although Kim Kardashian may acquire a ton of followers and retweets, one would have to wonder how rich her engagement level actually is. (Our guess: not very rich at all, since she’s a celebrity who mostly Tweets about her personal life.) Compare this type of user to to Mashable, which is an online information powerhouse that fostering conversation about business, social media, technology and more – it hardly seems fair to say that both online entities have the same amount of Klout.
Klout is also a little iffy when it comes to naming topics a user influences. For example, on Volusion’s Klout profile, some of our influential topics are right on the money (Ecommerce, Social Media, Marketing), while some others, such as Personal Finance and Investments, miss the mark.
On my personal Klout profile, the site claims I’m an influencer in Beauty, Dubstep and Cars. Guess how much I’ve blogged about any of those topics? If you guessed never, you’d be correct. This improper assignment as an influencer could be because Klout’s algorthims picked up a random mention from an errant tweet at one point, but one tweet does not an influencer make.
The biggest flaw in Klout scoring, however, is its mistake in valuing virality and reach over engagement. Most online personalities and businesses aren’t receiving thousands of retweets and likes, but this doesn’t mean that they’re not successful and influential. Say you tweet about an exciting new product and influence 20 new people to check out your site and make a purchase. Will your Klout score reflect that? Probably not. Just because those other users didn’t share, favorite, or otherwise socially engage with your announcement, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worthwhile, especially if it led to a sale. Your bottom line is worth a lot, even though it might not be worth a lot to your Klout score.
Should I use Klout to measure online success?
In a word: no. You can have a low Klout score and a very successful online business. You can use all the Twitter and Facebook best practices and still not collect enough followers, fan, shares and likes to raise your Klout score to a praise-worthy figure.
Is it a bad idea to use and monitor your Klout score? Of course not! As with most new social media trends and tools, just take it with a grain of salt. We’re already inundated with pressure to look good on social media, whether you’re worried about choosing the perfect profile headshot or concerned that your store’s Facebook page doesn’t have enough likes. Why give yourself one more thing to feel you have to measure up to?
So sure, keep tabs on your Klout score and connect your social media channels to your Klout profile, but bear in mind that no social score can compare to meaningful interaction, whether online or off.
And remember: Klout ain’t nothin’ but a number.
-Emily Teachout, Volusion