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I wasn’t a fan of Klout when I first heard about it. Even after I signed up and actively started to delve through what Klout is and does, I was underwhelmed. Actually, I’d go as far as to say I hated Klout and all it stood for. And hate is a very strong word that I use sparingly in my life.
However, months later, I find myself drawn in to using (or at least checking) Klout on a regular basis. There are still elements of the site and the service I dislike, but the methodology has improved enough to keep me interested. It’s time to up the ante and get more people using Klout. Which means a Klout 101 of sorts to explain how to begin using the site. Prepare to get busy (social) networking.
What Is Klout & Why Should I Care?
Klout is an attempt at adding a methodology to social networking and our online interactions with each other. It creates a profile based on your social networking habits. The more social networks you’re present on, the better. The more people you befriend or follow, the better. Klout acts like an online tracker of how well you’re making use of your extended network of family, friends, and contacts.
You should care about Klout because social networking now has implications in the wider world. Potential partners may check out your social networking activity to decide if they want to date you. Employers may check to make sure you are who you say you are and to ensure you don’t have any skeletons lurking in the closet.
Klout is epitomized by one word – Score. Everything you do on the social networks you connect to Klout (and I recommend connecting as many as possible) helps to increase your score.
Those Facebook status updates which are shared or commented on, those tweets which are retweeted or replied to on Twitter, those business connections you forge on LinkedIn. All of them make a difference by affecting the following three contributing factors…
True Reach is a measure of how many people you influence. This includes those you influence directly, and those you influence indirectly as a result of tapping into secondary networks. The more people you interact with, the higher this figure will be.
Amplification is a measure of how much you influence people. If every single one of your updates gets a response of some description then this will be high. If none do, it’ll be low.
Network Impact expands things a little, being a measure of how much your network influences people. If you have an expansive network of influential people then this will be high. If they’re all nobodies, it’ll be low.
You can game Klout, and quite easily too:-
- One way is to troll social networking sites. Send the same tweet personally to hundreds of people. Make bad jokes or crass falsehoods you know will be retweeted. Befriend people you don’t know and don’t want to know on Facebook.
- Set up social networking accounts (if you have both the time and inclination to do so) in order to test the theory. But do so on your main accounts and you’ll come off looking like a spammer. Is it worth it just to boast of having a high Klout score?
- Another, more legitimate though no less pointless, way of gaming Klout is to swap +K with other people you know are obsessed with their score. Whether arranged in advance or not, giving +K to someone in your network will inevitably lead to them returning the favor. And both of you will benefit as a result.
Influence & Be Influenced
So, we know you can game the system to a certain degree, but I cannot extol that way of upping your score. To ultimately get the most out of Klout you’ll have to play the social networking game. Back in the day networking meant meeting and greeting, wining and dining, giving and receiving business cards. Now it’s all about connecting and conversing with people online.
This is what you need to do to raise that Klout score in a legitimate manner. Build a network of like-minded people you’re interested in, and influence and be influenced by these individuals. You’ll find your score increases over time, especially when other people on Klout start doling out +K to you on topics you talk about knowledgeably and often.
Already On Klout?
The one aspect of Klout that continues to astound and annoy me is that almost everybody is on Klout, even if they have never signed up to be a part of the service. The above screenshot shows Christian Cawley, a fellow MakeUseOf writer, on Klout. He has a decent score of 35. Except he isn’t on Klout, or at least not by choice. Hence the ‘Invite to Klout!‘ plea.
The information about Christian has all been taken from Twitter, and the reason he has a legitimate score is that someone gave him a +K for Writing. This will be news to him though, which is an aspect of the service Klout clearly needs to improve upon.
Klout is for now far from perfect or essential. But that could well change over the next few years as we all become more attuned to what it means to network for business and pleasure using the power of the Web. Which is why you should care about Klout and your presence on it now, before that future becomes the present.
What Klout does do is provide visual feedback of how each of us is managing our social networking profiles. The only question left to ask is, do you care? If you’re already on Klout (by choice) then please feel free to share tips, tricks, or your experience of seeing your score increase over time.