Do You Know How Much Klout You Have?
By Mark O'Neill
Everyone has influence. That's what a new web service called Klout claims, and it wants to measure your online influence by analyzing your social media activity to see who you are influencing and who is influencing you in return.
What, you don't think you are an influencer? Think again, my friend. When you retweet an article on Twitter, you are in effect saying that you like and approve of that article. So in effect you are influencing people to read it. If you say on Facebook that a new pop song is the best thing you've ever heard, then you're influencing your followers if they are currently looking for something new to listen to. Your recommendation may entice them to click on the link and see for themselves if they like the song. If they do, they may buy it. You've just influenced them in their decision to buy.
On the web, you can influence people in so many ways. Snapping a photo of a nice meal and posting it on Google Plus influences your friends who might be looking for a new restaurant to try out. If you buy a nice pair of shoes and brag about it on Twitter, you're becoming an influencer for that brand and perhaps the shop where you bought it from.
Simply put, on the web, influence is valuable currency. The higher your influence, the more people will turn to you for help, advice, recommendations and more. The higher your influence, the more likely it is that companies will turn to you with their latest products for endorsements, because they know you have the followers to potentially turn their products into successful items.
But how do you define who is influential and who isn't? Is there a scientific way to measure something like this? Well, Klout aims to sum up a person's online influence in one number. The higher the number, the more influential you are on other people. It measures this reputation number - your "klout" (obviously based on the word "clout") - by looking at your recent social media activity, the comments you made there, your overall presence on these networks over a period of a day, a week and a month, and it decides what your "klout" is.
You can also help to improve the Klout of people in your social media networks by awarding them a "+K," which, I suppose, is the same as "liking" something on Facebook. If you think that Joe Bloggs who is your Facebook friend is an influencer in say, Apple computers, you can assign him a "+K" in that subject. Then of course people in your network can reciprocate and award you "+K's" in subjects in which they think you are an influencer. Look upon it as the Klout equivalent of eBay feedback or giving one another endorsements or recommendations.
All of these "+K's" accumulate to make your Klout score rise. Klout also seemingly monitors your Twitter tweets and awards you influencer +K's, because when I tweeted a quote about homosexuality, Klout suddenly announced to the world that I was "influential in homosexuality." I'm still not sure how to take that. A compliment?
At the moment, Klout supports Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Foursquare, YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, Blogger, Wordpress, Last.fm and Flickr. The site claims that they are working to bring on board other services such as Quora, Yelp, Posterous, Disqus and Bit.ly in the near future.
My Klout score is 53. The other day it was 54. When it dropped, I spent ages trying to analyze why it had dropped one tiny point. Which brings me neatly to my next point - it's VERY addictive. You WILL catch yourself checking your Klout every day.
When the number rises, you will feel good about yourself and start checking your email inbox for those product endorsements flooding in. When the number goes down, you'll find yourself cursing in a dozen ancient languages and spending an insane amount of time trying to figure out what you did wrong - then spending hours on Twitter and Facebook in an attempt to get your Klout back up again. Which is awful because you shouldn't be wasting your afternoons doing something as futile as this - you should be busy playing Angry Birds instead.
Klout also offers companies the opportunity to market to its users through a program called Klout Perks. For example, Boticca.com, an online marketplace for unique jewelry, bags and accessories from independent designers, launched a campaign via Klout to promote an offer to a targeted group of consumers - see the Boticca Perk here. If you're interested in advertising through a Perk campaign, contact Klout through this page.
The Klout service is currently in beta, so some bugs do exist, and I've seen the site go through a few glitchy moments. But I think it has a lot of potential. It's always helpful to know who the movers and shakers are on the Internet, and Klout provides a quick, easy, no-nonsense way for people and companies to assess where the influential rock and rollers can be located.
So if you rely on the web for your living, and you want to show to the world that you have influence and "Klout," then sign up today. It costs nothing and it gives you one more thing in life to obsess over.
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