How much Klout do you have? Back in 2012, when people first started to discuss Klout scores, they were largely seen as a way of getting freebies, or as a bit of fun. But times have changed.

Klout measures influence, pure and simple. – This used to mean social media influence, which meant that for a while, Justin Bieber was ranked as more influential than President Obama. Since then, the company has improved its algorithm, and now includes, as well as social media, ‘real world’ influence such as Page Rank from Wikipedia. It can now genuinely be said to measure influence in the world.

Influence is “the ability to drive action” – Klout considers that you have influence if you do something and others respond. This response might be sharing, retweeting or responding to you. This means that your Klout score is not affected by the number of followers or friends that you have, but only by what they do in response to you. Having fewer followers who respond actively is better than hundreds who never engage at all.

Klout score generally maps real world influence quite well – This may be galling for those who prefer not to engage with social media, but it turns out that Klout score actually maps well against real-world influence. For instance, if you look at Forbes’ Most Powerful Women list, all the top women on it have very high Klout scores.

Klout is cumulative and takes time to build up – Your Klout score is not an average score across your networks, but a cumulative score. In other words, the more networks you connect, the higher your Klout score. It is, however, measured as an average over the last 90 days, which means that it takes a while for your influence to build. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a high Klout score.

Klout looks at more than 12 billion ‘signals’ per day – It draws on data from more than eight networks, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, and sites like Wikipedia. But it is a bit more subtle than you might think. For example, it doesn’t just consider the ratio of activity to responses, but also compares it to the total amount of content. This means that 10 retweets from 100 tweets is more influential than 100 retweets from 1000 tweets.

Klout score considers the activity of those who respond to you – All responses are not created equal. A response from someone who does a lot of ‘liking’ and retweeting is rated less highly than one from someone does not respond very much on social media. And a response from someone who is very influential is rated much more highly, because they can spread your message faster. The quality of your interactions therefore matters almost as much as the quantity.

Klout is constantly being updated to include new social media sites and activity – For example, Klout recently announced that scores would now take account of YouTube activity. In a world where young vloggers are earning enormous sums of money from their YouTube accounts, this seems a late but vital addition.

It is extremely hard to ‘game’ a Klout score – Google is constantly looking at search optimisation tactics, and updating its algorithm to ensure that, as far as possible, it ranks sites higher for producing genuinely useful content. In the same way, Klout is keeping an eye on any possible ‘gaming’ activity, and updating its algorithm to ensure that it is measuring genuine influence. Spambot-generated activity is unlikely to win you friends and influence people, and it  certainly won’t improve your Klout score.

Different networks provide different amounts of data – Your Twitter feed is public, so Klout can draw all the necessary data from it. Your LinkedIn profile, on the other hand, is not, so only certain elements are drawn. At the moment, LinkedIn blog posts do not appear to be included, only status updates. Relying only on LinkedIn could seriously limit your Klout.

The higher your Klout score, the harder it is to increase it further – This makes sense. Once you reach a certain level of influence, it is hard to expand your reach that much further. For example, each time you add a new network, your Klout score will increase. But once you have added them all, there is nowhere else to go.

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