Jan 13, 2013

What Is Klout and Should You Bother About It?

The world of social media has evolved immensely in the last few years. There are now social networks, social bookmarking sites and tons of other iterations, all built on similar platforms.


One interesting development is the rise of social metric measuring services – there are perhaps hundreds out there, some devoted to measuring your reach on Twitter, others for measuring your impact on Facebook. Klout is one such service – it’s designed to measure your impact across all social media, as well as much more. But, is it worth your time? Should you bother about Klout?

What Is Klout?

At its heart, Klout is about measuring influence. Specifically, it promises to measure your influence across all your social media accounts and help you determine just how much reach you’re exerting. It shows leaders in various niches, helps you communicate with those whom you find the most influential, and even offers rewards for those deemed the most influential in a given niche. These rewards come in the form of “Perks”, and can be almost anything. Those influential in the world of fiction writing might receive free books from a sponsored author. Those who have influence in the world of fashion might receive discounts from major fashion resellers. Klout measures your overall reach and influence in points, and assigns you a reputation based on those points.

What Klout Is Not

In order to truly understand Klout, you need to realize what it is not. Namely, it’s not really a social network, despite the company attempting to maneuver opinion towards that designation. Klout wants you to think it’s a social network, but it really isn’t. It does have some of the trappings of social media – you can give others Klout points, for instance – but at its heart, it’s a measurement tool and nothing more. It’s not about creating relationships, conversing with connections or building a reputation (not really). The reputation shown on the network is what you’ve built in other areas, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or G+. It has nothing to do with Klout itself.

The Benefits of Using Klout

While there are many detractors out there who find Klout distasteful at best, the network does offer some benefits. These go beyond Perks, as well. For instance, the network can help you connect with other industry leaders, which can provide you with the means to broaden your reach considerably. Not only this, but it can help you recognize which of your own followers, friends or connections are the most influential, allowing you to court those individuals capable of providing you with the most “bang for your buck”. Of course, it’s not all about connecting with others (in fact, it’s less about connecting with other people than it is about other things).


What Klout really excels at is providing you with insight about your social media marketing activities. By showing you your most engaged moments on other networks, you can learn quite a bit, including who regularly interacts with you, topics/shares that get the most traction on various networks, and what time of day your followers are most active.

Is Klout Worth Your Time?

Is using Klout really worth it? The answer to this question really depends on who you are. For individuals, Klout might not be the best option as the metrics provided are pretty abstract. For business owners, Klout can be a valuable tool, particularly if you’re not quite sure what kind of traction you’re getting out of your social media marketing. For marketers, Klout is a very good tool, as it allows you to measure your efforts and provides a visible benchmark for success.

Does your Klout score matter outside the network? Yes and no – some consumers research companies on Klout to determine their quality and reputation before doing business with them. Some companies will check an applicant’s Klout score before hiring them. However, these are still the exception, rather than the rule. In general, your Klout reputation will matter most to you and to other users of the network. It will also matter a great deal in determining the effectiveness of your online efforts (again, a value that’s really more to do with you than anyone else).

Tips for Using Klout

Ok, so you’ve decided that Klout is worth your time and you really like the information that can be gleaned from the site. Now, you need to know how to use it. First, understand that Klout does bear one particular resemblance to social media sites – “giving to get” is of paramount importance. What do you give? You give +K (Klout points). By giving others Klout, you help improve their score, but you also encourage them to do the same for you. The more Klout you have, the higher your reputation on the network will become. Beyond helping others build their reputation by giving +K, there are other things that you can do.

One important thing to do (particularly if you want to boost your reputation as high as possible) is to ensure that you have connected all of your social media accounts. Klout gives you the ability to connect from pretty much any service out there, and the more active you are on the web, the higher your score will go. 

Conversely, the less active you are, the lower your score will drop – that’s one of the hard and fast rules about using the network. If you don’t interact and generate conversation with your followers, friends and connections, you can count on your score being low.

You also need to make sure you’re doing more than just posting away – you need to generate real, lasting interaction. The more interaction you can generate (comments, retweets, likes, shares, etc.), the higher your score will go, because the network measures this as influence.

Klout can be a helpful tool for many people out there, particularly for business owners and online marketers. Used correctly, it can provide a great deal of insight and valuable information to help you measure your results.