What Is Klout (and Why Should You Care)?

Social media measurers Klout announced that they reached the milestone of 100 million people with “Klout Scores” that indicate the individual’s influence from data across 10 networks, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Foursquare. That’s a significant chunk of online users who have bought into the value of making influence measurable through tracking when an individual recommends, shares, and creates content.Â

“One hundred million people with Klout Scores means that there are 100 million voices effectively leveraging the social web to share their opinions, hopes and dreams and shaping the decisions of the billions of people now listening to them,” wrote Klout blogger Joe Fernandez.Â

So what exactly is Klout, and why does it matter for today’s social media landscape?Â

What is Klout?

Klout is a San Francisco-based company that measures influence by tracking the interactions in the friendships and professional relationships that have moved online. The metrics of true reach (how many people you influence), amplification (how much you influence them), and network score (how influential they are) are combined to reach a “Klout Score” on a scale of one to 100, with 100 being the most influential. According to Klout, the Klout Score is based on your ability to drive action online: “Every time you create content or engage you influence others.” Â

Klout also tracks what topics are being discussed and who influencers are in a number of categories – “everything from barbecue to tech gadgets to gardening,” according to their website. By collecting, analyzing, and measuring influence, Klout provides a way to find those who lead their fields – whether professional or hobbyists – across a variety of platforms, similar to what WeFollow has done for Twitter. Â

Why does Klout matter?

One of the most integral parts of participating in social media is influencing – whether it be establishing and strengthening friendships through Facebook, finding likeminded thinkers on Twitter and sharing information with them, gaining an audience on YouTube, or connecting with professional colleagues and engaging as a subject matter expert on LinkedIn. Klout has come up with a way to take that abstract, lofty goal of influence and define it in a measurable way. These metrics open the door to studying who is making a difference along with why and how.Â

“If you look back at the last 100 years of mass communication, you can begin to truly appreciate the implications of this diffusion of influence – from corporations and the media elite to the masses,” Joe Fernandez wrote on Klout’s blog. “Just this year we have seen this power play out in revolutions around the world fueled by individuals leveraging their influence on the social web to change history. Increasing numbers of people are finding their voices online and, as a result, we are now adding millions of influencers to our index every few days.”Â

Klout’s value has been picked up by more than 3,000 applications and partners that use Klout data, including major brands like Disney and Audi. Certain brands run “Klout Perks” as a way to incentivize online influencers by providing exclusive access to products and experiences; after all, these influencers are likely to talk about these perks to their audiences, driving traffic to the brand. Â

Curious about your Klout Score? You can find out at http://klout.com. 


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