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Understanding Klout Scores

Michael Kwan
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Marketing and communications managers should have a firm understanding of Klout scores if they want to maximize the impact of their social media campaigns by leveraging support from key social media influencers. While it can be beneficial to consider a person's influence in one social network, Klout calculates influence across multiple social media platforms.

What Is Klout?

Klout is a company based out of San Francisco, California. Its main product is a website where what is known as a Klout score is calculated for registered users. This measures the overall social influence that this user has across multiple social networks. For example, someone may be very popular on Twitter, but may not have very much of a presence on YouTube or on Facebook. Klout aggregates this information and calculates a score based on several different factors.

A Klout score can range from as low as 1 and as high as 100. A higher score would correspond with having a higher calculated social influence online for that user. For example, a very prominent figure online is Guy Kawasaki. As of December 2012, he has a Klout score of 87, which is deemed to be very high. While the exact formula for a Klout score has not been revealed, it appears that the scores are not on a linear scale, but are rather on an exponential scale. In other words, improving from a Klout score of 10 to a score of 20 is much easier than improving from a score of 20 to a score of 30. The average Klout score is 40.

In addition to just the Klout score itself, Klout also displays a history of "moments" for the past 90 days. These are typically social media updates that the user has posted where it received a notable level of engagement. This engagement could be in the form of "likes" or comments on Facebook, retweets on Twitter, and so on. A Klout profile will also show the topics where the user is deemed to have the greatest level of influence. Klout users can give one another "+K" points in these topics, like having influence in social media, entrepreneurship, technology, or baking.

What Contributes to a Klout Score?

A Klout score is calculated by measuring and analyzing a user's "online influence" across multiple social networks, particularly looking for "moments" of "engagement" as described above. In addition to "engagement," Klout also accounts for a person's "true reach" in the social media sphere. Having a large number of Twitter followers who engage in active conversations with the user, as well as having retweets and click-throughs on links increases that person's reach. The same can be said about the reach someone has on other social networks like Google+ and Facebook.

Social networks that contribute to a Klout score include the following:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook (including Facebook Pages)
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn
  • Foursquare
  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  • Tumblr
  • Blogger
  • WordPress.com
  • Last.fm
  • Flickr

In addition to these social and professional networks, Klout also considers the search volume on Bing over a period of time. If more people are searching for that user, then that user's Klout score will likely increase as well.

What Are Klout Perks?

While many social media users may join Klout simply to get an idea of how influential they are on social networks compared to their friends, peers and colleagues, that is is not the only reason to register with the site. There is an added benefit called Klout Perks.

Klout Perks are special rewards given to Klout users based on their level of influence and calculated Klout score. Companies may offer free products, experiences, or services to these users depending on their particular area of influence. People who are influential when it comes to cars, for example, may be given the opportunity to test drive a new car for an entire weekend as a Klout Perk. Clothing companies may reach out with bonus offers and free gift cards to users who are influential in fashion.

While there is no obligation on the part of the user to do anything if he or she chooses to accept a Klout Perk, one of the reasons why companies would offer these exclusive products or services for free is they hope the user will then utilize their social media influence to tell their friends and followers about the product or service.

A Way to Measure Your Social Media Influence

From a business standpoint, it makes the most sense to approach online users who are the most influential in your niche. Klout scores are a simple, at-a-glance way to determine this level of influence, as well as understand the areas of influence that the user may have. As a social media user, Klout Perks are a great incentive for using Klout, as well as the opportunity for bragging rights when it comes to having a higher score than your peers. Klout scores are not perfect, but they are one of the best ways to aggregate a person's influence and level of engagement across multiple networks.

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Understanding Klout Scores