Why You Need to Raise Your Clout With Klout

If you haven’t been paying attention to your Klout score lately, maybe you should.

"Klout measures social influence"Your low score as a social influencer may kick you out of contention for a job or a consulting gig.

What is Social Influence?

If you rely on what friends or experts online say about a product or service before making a purchase, that’s social influence. They influenced your decision to buy.

In a recent article, FastCompany reported on the power of social influence: “81% of U.S. respondents (in surveys) said posts from their friends directly impacted their decision on purchasing something, and 80% or respondents said they’d tried new things based on suggestions of friends.”

According to Klout, I’m an influencer in Blogging, Writing and Entrepreneurship. Those are my niches so should I be worried about my score if I don’t care about influencing, say, forest rangers?

Yes, if I ever want to get a job in a company or agency sometime in the future.

Wired reported that a candidate for a top marketing position was disqualified for a having a low Klout score. It may not matter if you’re a physicist but it will matter if you work in the marketing/communications/social media space.

How Klout Works

The Klout Score uses data from social networks in order to measure:

  • True Reach: How many people you influence
  • Amplification: How much you influence them
  • Network Impact: The influence of your network

There is a lot of controversy about Klout and the mysterious algorithms it uses to rank your social influence, as I reported in a post last year, when my score was 44. A recent article in EContent gives it reasons why it thinks Klout is a lousy idea.

On the other hand, Mark W. Schaefer, a marketing consultant who writes frequently about Klout, is an advocate. Even he, though, dislikes the whole idea of being rewarded for your influence with badges that you display on your website like the AdAge Power 150.

His book Return on Influence about the power of social scoring and influence marketing received rave reviews when it was published earlier this year.

Social Media Scoring is Becoming Sticky

You may not like it. But social media scoring is here to stay. Klout and newer competitors are tracking you. A respectable Klout score is becoming influential to companies who are hiring candidates and consultants and promoting products.

That’s why I decided it was time to take my Klout score seriously.

Klout labels me as a “Socializer.”

You are the hub of social scenes and people count on you to find out what’s happening. You are quick to connect people and readily share your social savvy. Your followers appreciate your network and generosity.

Hey, then why isn’t my score higher, Klout?

Why My Score Sank (I Think)

I’ve dropped to 37. I didn’t think that was very good until I read on the Klout website that “The average Klout Score is not 50; instead, it is around 20.”

I’ll never know for sure because, like Google, the Klout algorithms are a mystery. But I can take an educated guess. Before you can get an accurate score, you have to allow Klout to link to your social media accounts. Currently, Klout tracks your influence on Facebook, Twitter, and, most recently, LinkedIn and Google+.

I discovered that I had linked Klout to my Facebook personal page and not my business page where I post almost all my content that people can Like. So I’ve just changed that and it will hopefully raise my score.

Blogging and LinkedIn are my primary social media activities.

To my surprise, though, I recently discovered that the Klout link to LinkedIn wasn’t working when I received this error message.

"Klout LinkedIn Error Message"
LinkedIn said the Klout app was connected. Klout said it wasn’t, so I wrote to Klout tech support and Michelle gave me helpful advice on what to do. I followed her instructions and was reconnected.

LinkedIn Influence

Groups are at the heart of the LinkedIn experience where you connect with other members, follow them, comment on their discussions, and Like their posts. I was disheartened by this message from tech support at Klout:

Please note that LinkedIn stats will only populate from public posts within the last 90 days when you receive likes and comments from other users on your personal profile. We do not currently Score LinkedIn group posts but are looking into that for the future. It appears that you are properly connected.

So, if LinkedIn Groups are where I’m building and interacting with my social media community, isn’t my Klout score misleading?

Klout does seem to think I have influence because it rewards influence with Klout Perks. These are freebies from companies that hope you’ll tweet and share your experience with your followers.

I just redeemed a Perk for a free Shutterfly hard cover photo album. Just in time for my brother’s big birthday celebration next weekend.

But while a Klout Perk is nice to get, it isn’t enough recognition for my social influence.

As you’d expect, people are already trying to game the Klout system to raise their scores. Not for me. I’ll keep doing what I’m doing because hopefully I’m adding value to my readers and clients.

What do you think of Klout? Do you believe it matters to your business?

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Comments

  1. One of my problems with Klout is that when I am working like crazy on various projects, my Klout score falls. When work subsides and I have a little more time to be social, I can work to make it rise again. I don’t like that when I am productive, I get a falling score. Last week it says I am knowledgeable about Sales. Where did that come from? Oh, I had the word “Sales” in a popular blog post I wrote. But I’m not really so knowledgeable about sales.

    I think Klout really has its limitations. If I were an employer, I would suggest a better place to look would be LinkedIn activity. Klout is a little too keyword driven.

    • Leora — I agree that employers should examine all the criteria when they are screening candidates. I would hope the Klout score wouldn’t be the deciding factor in a hiring decision, but who knows down the road?

  2. I agree with you. I am never quite sure what and where the number comes form. My bad for not being more in the know with that. What I did notice was while on my trip to France my score fell, even though I was somewhat active on my trip. Since my return, it has risen and past my highest point. Is that because of my new posts, commenting or general social activity? Your guess is as good as mine. Oh and I am now knowledgeable about Paris… Hummm. Just my thoughts for the moment… 🙂

    • Susan — No one knows how they determine the numbers. But it seems like they do a rolling update — meaning they score the previous 90 days. So if you’re inactive, boom, there goes your score.

  3. I’ve hovered around a 48 for a few months now. Klout is mysterious and it would be nice to know more about how it works. That’s strange that the info about states that LinkedIn group posts don’t figure into Klout since not long after I participated in a discussing that revolved around libraries, lo and behold Klout added Libraries to my list of topics that I’m knowledgable about. Just the other day, it told me I am knowledgable about evolution. As far as I can tell that’s because I occasionally hit the like button on a FB page that posts corny factoids. Not really a measure of knowledge. I’ve also deleted topics. After posting on visits to Fort Sumter and Fort Pulaski, I apparently ranked as a Civil War guru. One post on Yellowstone and it gave me Wyoming as a topic.

    I don’t know. Klout does offer helpful stats and I am aiming for that illusive score of 50, but the system is far from perfect. I give Klout to people one a week, but I wonder if there is a recommended number of times one should be doing do? I imagine daily is better, but ugh, what a pain.

    • Yes, Jeri, Klout is mysterious in how it scores you. But your score of 48 is more than respectable, something to aspire to. Funny about your rank as a Civil War guru. They still have a lot of work to do to perfect their system.

  4. Hi Jeannette,

    I have to say I don’t agree with Klout and the main reason is it measures activity. As Leora mentioned when she is busy with work the score goes down. The other reason I disagree with it is you can’t measure qualitative things like influence based on activity. It also doesn’t have any way of measuring influence on customers who may not be on any social media platform.

    • Susan — you make a great point about your customers. Do they care? You may be doing a great job for them, and that’s all that counts, not your Klout score. However, we have to accept that some companies are looking at your social influence if you’re interviewing for a job, especially if it’s in social media.

      • Don’t you think Jeannette that if companies look to a flawed system to see if you are influential then they do not know what social influence is all about especially as the system can be gamed.

        I may be wrong but I can’t see a successful or smart company falling for it.

        • Susan — I agree, but it’s happening, unfortunately. Social media is still so new that I wonder if HR people who do the screening understand the ingredients for social media influence. You know Klout has started company brand pages, which I didn’t discuss in my post. And they’ve just gotten an infusion of venture capital money, so Klout seems to be gaining acceptance. But they have a long way to go in perfecting a system that will be universally recognized as a legitimate measure of social influence.

          • That is a good point about HR Jeannette as I hadn’t considered that aspect. I thought the main thing Klout wanted in terms of revenue is to get people using it so they can attract advertisers to give perks etc.

          • Susan — Good point. Eventually these online businesses have to monetize their services. Klout is apparently doing very well with Perks. But even Facebook, that behemoth, is struggling to convince the financial markets and investors that they can make money and deliver eyeballs to advertisers.

  5. Honestly, I’ve been getting quite frustrated on trying to understand my Klout. I just checked it today, and even though my stats (eg. followers, RTs, mentions, likes, shares, etc) have been going up, my Klout score has just been going down, not that drastically, but the numbers are still going downhill. It would really be helpful if Klout themselves would be a bit more transparent about how they calculate our social influence instead of us grasping for straws on it.

    • Adeline — ouch! That’s not fair. According to Klout, if people are mentioning you, commenting on your posts, sharing and retweetin, your score should reflect it. It’s a mystery.

  6. Hi Jeannette: I’ve given up trying to figure out Klout. I’m pretty lucky. My score is generally around 52, but I don’t think that means much to anyone.

    And I think it’s pretty dumb that they don’t include the influence gained form LI groups as I participate in many and find the BHB group (where many of the commenters here come from) to be a very supportive and meaningful group.

    Social media is so darn overwhelming, but unfortunately quite necessary in today’s world.

    • Doreen — I envy your score. But I also think it is dumb that they don’t include LinkedIn Groups. That’s where I am most active. Hopefully, Klout will include Groups soon.

    • Bindhurani — You may not be missing anything! Klout is a service that ranks your influence on social media by tracking your activity on Twitter, facebook, and LinkedIn. As has been pointed out, the system has a lot of flaws and critics.

  7. Agree with Susan and others that Klout is a flawed system. Frankly, Klout has no clout.

    My 17 year old nephew has a higher score than most of us by using Facebook and exchanging silly messages and party photos with hundreds of friends. Also some blogger, according to Klout, has as much influence as Obama.

    Stopped paying attention to Klout some time ago since their method of measuring influence is flawed, to put it mildly.

    Having said that I’m sure Klout is a nice little earner for the people who own it:-)

    • Catarina — love your point that a blogger may have more influence, or clout, than the President of the United States. Does seem a little silly.