If you don’t work in internet marketing, chances are good that you may not know what a Klout score is — but there’s an even better chance that you’ll learn very soon. (Like, right now.) A Klout score is an easy way for someone to gauge their personal influence on Twitter or Facebook, or other social media sites. The score is a quick, numerical rating of that influence, based on everything from comments to shares to number of followers.
Businesses and organizations can take advantage of Klout by seeing who the most influential of their followers are and involving themselves in the hottest topics of conversation, but many organizations may feel like looking into Klout may be just another foray into the already overgrown jungle of social media. That’s why we decided to take the topic to managing editor Martin Lieberman and senior content developer Dave Charest, so we could find out whether Klout actually matters or if it’s just a passing fad.
What’s your personal Klout score? What trends have influenced it?
Martin: Right now, my score is 60 (out of 100). It’s high because I'm an active and consistent user of Twitter who shares good information with my more than 1,450 followers, and also because I'm active on Facebook and Foursquare. But more importantly, it's because I engage on those channels — I'm not just talking for the sake of talking. When someone responds or retweets, I usually write back.
Dave: My score is 54. Klout tells me it's increased by +1 in the past 30 days. That's despite the fact that, last time I checked, my score was 55. So, apparently, the score isn’t influenced by math.
Why would a small business or nonprofit look at Klout scores?
Martin: You might think that because I have a high score, I'd say, "Because it means a lot." But I'd actually say it's because Klout is gaining, well, clout in social and marketing circles. It's a quick, short-hand way to measure who your strongest and most vocal advocates are. After all, word of mouth matters. If a person has a high score, then his or her positive or negative tweets and posts about your business or organization will probably be seen by more people.
To that end, savvy marketers can use their customers' high scores to their advantage. One business I frequent, a restaurant called In a Pickle, has actually acknowledged my Klout score and rewarded me for it. I got a free lunch once just for sharing with my followers a picture of what I ate.
Dave: The only real reason to look at a Klout score would be to decide the weight of a person’s comments, especially if you want to form a partnership or something. Even then, I’m not convinced that Klout is a real indicator of anything useful.
What’s the disadvantage for businesses that aren’t measuring Klout?
Martin: I'm with Dave on that. At least for now. Keep in mind, though, that a lower score could hurt your credibility if you're a B2B business or consultant trying to show you're a social media "expert." And picking up on my lunch example, you could be losing out on "free" marketing by not creating social media relationships with your influential customers. So I think it's worth looking at and at least considering.
Does Klout matter for all industries? Why or why not?
Martin: I'd say it matters for some more than others. No one really knows what individual Klout scores mean, and it's tricky: Someone can be influential offline but not online, and vice versa. So it's silly to base any serious business decisions on it. What it comes down to is that everyone deserves the same high level of customer service, because you never know who's going to talk about you and who’s going to hear it, online or off.
Dave: Again, I don’t think it matters for any industry, simply because it’s not a true measure of influence. There are so many unknown factors. To Martin’s point — you could be the CEO of a company and have a low Klout score. Does that mean you aren’t influential in the business or the community?
Is Klout score going to be increasingly more important going forward or will people lose interest in it?
Martin: More and more businesses seem to be catching on to Klout, offering up Perks for those with higher scores. There's even a Perk for Small Business Saturday. I've also heard of bigger businesses using Klout to gauge who it will respond to when it comes to customer service. For the rest of us, I think Klout is a novelty right now. We're all trying to measure social media, and Klout gives us an easy, albeit not always reliable, way to do so.
Dave: I don’t think it will ever be more important, but people will always want to at least see a rough estimate of their scores. They just shouldn’t take it that seriously.
For once, maybe we can learn from Justin Bieber, whose Klout score is 100. What did he – and his fans – do to achieve a perfect score? We may not all be a teen pop singer, but what can others do to apply some of these social media successes to their businesses?
Martin: Oh, Biebs. And he's not the only one; YouTube also has a perfect 100 score. All kidding aside, though, I don't really think you can try to have a higher Klout score. You just have to engage with people over the long-term and your score will take care of itself. It's the same advice we at Constant Contact always give: Find great content that your fans and followers will benefit from, and share. Ask questions that get them involved. Listen and respond when people talk to you on social media. The more "present" you are, the higher your score will go. And don’t forget to check your customers’ scores. When someone tweets "at" you, go to Klout.com and search for his or her Twitter handle.
Dave: Want a score like Justin Bieber? Become a celebrity. I know that’s a little glib, but this is exactly why things like Klout are kind of lame. Bieber’s score shows that it’s not really a true measure of anything. Similarly, Paris Hilton has a Klout score of 79 and is considered a thought leader. So ... Here’s what’s really important: Do good things for your customers and let the scores take care of themselves.
What do you think about Klout? Does it matter to you or your business or organization? Share your thoughts here or on our Facebook Page.