By Josh Cline
Your company might have clout in your industry – but does it have Klout?
Klout, as you may have heard, is a website that automatically attaches a rating from 1 to 100 to everyone – and every business – who has at least a public Twitter account. Those whose numbers are higher have more “clout” on social-media networks.
And why is your score important?
As Seth Stevenson writes in Wired:
Last spring Sam Fiorella was recruited for a VP position at a large Toronto marketing agency. With 15 years of experience consulting for major brands like AOL, Ford, and Kraft, Fiorella felt confident in his qualifications. But midway through the interview, he was caught off guard when his interviewer asked him for his Klout score. Fiorella hesitated awkwardly before confessing that he had no idea what a Klout score was.
The interviewer pulled up the web page for Klout.com—a service that purports to measure users’ online influence on a scale from 1 to 100—and angled the monitor so that Fiorella could see the humbling result for himself: His score was 34. “He cut the interview short pretty soon after that,” Fiorella says. Later he learned that he’d been eliminated as a candidate specifically because his Klout score was too low. “They hired a guy whose score was 67.”
Partly intrigued, partly scared, Fiorella spent the next six months working feverishly to boost his Klout score, eventually hitting 72. As his score rose, so did the number of job offers and speaking invitations he received. “Fifteen years of accomplishments weren’t as important as that score,” he says.
Klout is also influential outside of the hiring sector. As Andrea Proulx notes at March Communications, the Klout score of a company as a whole or of its top executives specifically can affect their marketing and public-relations operations. If a Klout score is “low,” for example, journalists might not think you are an authority and worth interviewing. Depending on your specific sector, customers and clients might not give you their business.
Megan Butain summarizes the increasing desire to hire people with good Klout scores:
Certainly, if you are a recruiter, the Klout score has joined the ranks of a Google search, a LinkedIn profile review, and a thorough research of a candidate online as another tool in your arsenal to find top talent.
Just change a few words, and you will see the relevance to companies themselves:
… the Klout score has joined the ranks of a Google search, a LinkedIn page review, and a thorough research of a company online as another tool in your arsenal to hire the top companies.
As a result of Klout’s increasing influence, companies and executives are looking to increase their scores. However, the question “How Do I Increase My Klout?” is the wrong one to ask. First, you need to understand what exactly Klout measures. As Mark Schaefer, the author of “Return On Influence: The Revolutionary Power of Klout, Social Scoring, and Influence Marketing,” tells Chris Crum of WebProNews:
“A Klout score simply shows whether you are somebody who can move content over social media channels that creates reactions,” he adds. “And if you think of how many jobs depend on that ability these days, this can be a very useful number to consider.”
In other words: People and companies with high Klout scores tend to post online content that garners high numbers of “likes,” retweets, “+1s,” “shares,” and other items on social-media networks. So, the question to ask is, “How can we create and execute a social-media strategy that maximizes engagement?” Once this occurs, your Klout score will increase naturally over time.
Klout itself states that the website currently incorporates more than four hundred factors into its algorithm from networks and websites including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Wikipedia (and it is important to note that some of these channels allow only personal profiles and not company ones):
The majority of the signals used to calculate the Klout Score are derived from combinations of attributes, such as the ratio of reactions you generate compared to the amount of content you share. For example, generating 100 retweets from 10 tweets will contribute more to your Score than generating 100 retweets from 1,000 tweets.
As a result, your social-media strategy will need to incorporate the best-practices for each specific network and social media in general. Here are a few tips:
- Quality, not quantity. Because Facebook, for example, is primarily a visual outlet, posting third-party articles three times a day on your company’s page will not lead to a lot of user interactivity. Instead, creating an original, beautiful and authoritative graphic once a week will prove to have a much higher engagement rate on that network. Create something that will truly stand out amid the millions of posts, tweets, and other pieces of content that flood the Internet each day:
- Interacting with influencers. A reply or retweet from Barack Obama increases your Klout more than one from your grandmother (unless she happens to be famous). Compile a list of the top influencers in your industry, and interact mainly with them on Twitter. As you develop a relationship over time, their mentions and retweets will help.
- Increasing your brand offline. Use traditional public relations to build a name for yourself in major publications and websites so that you can use the citations to submit a page to Wikipedia and have a greater chance of approval. The more that you are mentioned in the media, the more that people will also search for and follow you on social media.
- Use paid advertising to grow your followings. Use the paid advertising offered by many social networks to grow your followings – but make sure the ads are targeted to relevant people in your sector. Having large followings will grow your Klout directly and will lead to higher levels of overall engagement.
In addition to using Klout to showcase their reputability, companies can also use the network directly to improve both their customer-service and marketing operations.
Businesses can offer “perks” to influencers in their sectors with high Klout scores. Alex Knapp notes at Forbes that companies can use Klout to prioritize customer service based on those people who have the ability to commend – or criticize – a business online. One example from the Wired article:
At the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas last summer, clerks surreptitiously looked up guests’ Klout scores as they checked in. Some high scorers received instant room upgrades, sometimes without even being told why. According to Greg Cannon, the Palms’ former director of ecommerce, the initiative stirred up tremendous online buzz. He says that before its Klout experiment, the Palms had only the 17th-largest social-networking following among Las Vegas-based hotel-casinos. Afterward, it jumped up to third on Facebook and has one of the highest Klout scores among its peers.
Klout is starting to infiltrate more and more of our everyday transactions. In February, the enterprise-software giant Salesforce.com introduced a service that lets companies monitor the Klout scores of customers who tweet compliments and complaints; those with the highest scores will presumably get swifter, friendlier attention from customer service reps. In March, luxury shopping site Gilt Groupe began offering discounts proportional to a customer’s Klout score.
The importance of Klout is growing with each passing month. As Greg Finn recently reported at Search Engine Land, answers from Klout authorities are now appearing in certain Bing search results:
Since Google itself is incorporating more and more social signals in its results, it will likely only be a matter of time before Klout influences the search-engine giant’s algorithm (if it does not already). The purpose of search-engine marketing (SEM) in general is using a collection of best practices to “get found in search engines.” Today, having a high Klout score is yet another necessary way to achieve that goal – and to help your marketing in general.