Klout is a service that intends to measure your online influence on a scale from 1 to 100. To do so, Klout dives into your social media data, especially from Twitter, but also from Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Foursquare. It analyses update frequency, number of followers, likes, retweets, etcetera, and attempts to indicate how influential you are with a Klout score. Basically, the idea is that the greater your Klout score, the more you are being “heard” on social media.
Such a measure of influence (or importance on the Internet, perhaps) has its value. In this age of information, anyone can produce content (data) and publish it on the Internet. But the content can just as easily be submerged by the gazillions other content being published. Writers, and especially young and new ones (because they are relatively unknowns in the field), should keep this in mind and strive to push their content to their audience. The Klout score, to a certain extent, shows how effectively you are doing this.
And this is probably why more and more employers are now looking at Klout scores before recruiting. In the writing world, where there is a constant battle to push one’s content to readers, Klout may, at the very least, give employers an indication as to who will attract the most readers.
Now, you may say that since you are not on Klout, you do not have a Klout score and are thus safe from inquisitive potential employers. Wrong! Because if you have a public Twitter account, your Twitter data is available to Klout (and everyone else). And Klout generates a Klout score for you which is visible to any Klout user. While you may never even have heard of Klout, your, shall we say more tech-savvy and nosy friends may well know what your Klout score is. As may potential employers.
By signing up to Klout, your Klout score will no longer be a secret to you. More importantly perhaps, you can also then try to boost it. Once you are signed up, you can connect your Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Foursquare accounts to Klout which can bump your score if Klout deems you as influential on those social networks. But you can also actively work on boosting your Klout score. In a feature article in Wired, Chris Makarsky, Klout’s product director, gives four suggestions as to how you may attempt to do so:
While your Klout score does offer an indication of how much you are being “heard” online, do take it with a pinch of salt. After all, as that Wired article happily points out, Justin Bieber has a perfect score of 100 while President Obama’s score is 91. Furthermore, people with high Klout scores may well be more influential because they are feeding followers with, for lack of a better word, “popular” content: front page articles of the New York Times, op-ed pieces in The Guardian, latest tech gossips from The Verge… you get the idea. On the other hand, some people with lower Klout scores may possibly be pushing more “unique” content that the mainstream media has missed, cast aside or censored, perhaps. In other words, a low Klout score may well mean that you are more interesting to many followers.
All in all then, there are upsides and downsides to focusing on Klout scores. If you’re unsure what to make of your score, consider the below quote from Lou Woodley of nature.com (taken from this Storify) and move on from there:
“Don’t forget to ask yourself why you are using social media and what these scores actually mean to you or your organisation. Are the tools giving you helpful feedback on how well you’re engaging with others? How much time are you spending on them? Who else may be interested in your score? Is it something you should be concerned about as an individual when applying for jobs?”
Storify of Lou Woodley and Adrian J. Ebsary’s session about the attention economy and influence metrics, including Klout scores, at ScienceOnline 2012: http://blogs.nature.com/ofschemesandmemes/2012/01/26/attentioneconomy-influence-metrics-session-scio12
Image credit: Steve Halls (from flickr).