If you have been involved in social media for any length of time at all, you have heard about Klout. Klout is an online 'yard stick' designed to measure the "influence" you have on your social media network. In other words, how big of a splash you make when you toss a rock into the social media mud puddle.
Being the inquisitive type...and having been a bit of a Klout skeptic for quite some time, I set out on a task this last week to see if I could break Klout...or, at least, learn more about it to prove either myself or the system wrong. And, what I learned surprised me in several ways.
In order to do this effectively, I enlisted the help of fellow Twitter addict and all around social media evangalista, Debra Trappen to help me run some testing on several theories. And, much to her credit, she agreed. (I wouldn't have been able to run several of the tests that I did without help...and I was thrilled to have been able to work with her on this project of mine. Her willingness to help was invaluable to me. So, thank you, Debra!)
One of the things that I notice about Klout at first was that it seemed to only be affected by my own activity. The more I talked...the higher my score went. Seemed simple enough...self promotion. Nothing wrong with that, right? Well, I was wrong.
It seems that Klout is actually rewarding users for ENGAGEMENT...the whole premise behind the use of social media. The more you actually engage with your audience (whether that be on Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, etc), the bigger the ripples you make in your mud puddle. The bigger the ripples, the better the responses from your audience, the better the engagement. And, surprisingly, it works just like it is supposed to work. Something I had not expected based on my previous misguided thoughts.
Another thing I learned this weekend is that you can add yourself (and others) to the Lists feature on Klout. (Why would you add yourself?? I don't know. But I had to test it to see if it impacted your score.) And,I found out that it does not affect your score. You can be added to numerous lists in numerous locations by numerous users. All that does is help the individual user keep track of your activity. Only if the react to it will it increase your score. (Again, going back to the ripple theory...)
Also, when you are added to a list, you get a notification that gives you access to the list regardless of the user the created the list. That is a huge bonus to you as a member of the list...and a giant detriment to the potential creator of the list. Here's what I mean:
When you are added to a list, you receive a notification just like you receive when you get a +K from someone. (Oh yeah...+k....I will get to that in a bit...) If you have been added to a list, so long as you KEEP this notification, you will always have access to the list that was created regardless of who created it. If you delete this notification, you will remove your access to the list. Only if you hunt it down will you be able to get back to this list. It's not that hard to locate, but it does take time to find.
Now, knowing this...if you are CREATING lists of people, be VERY CAREFUL as to what you name this list. If you are tagging folks that you think have no idea what the hell they are doing on social media and you create a list called "Social Media Idiots", the people on this list are going to know about it. So, be respectful. Just as with any social media standpoint, pay it forward, not backward.
Since it appeared to be actual engagement that Klout is rewarding, I ran a test on Facebook this weekend. I posted the following on my profile and simply waited all weekend to see what happened.
Aside from the likes, I ended up getting 5 comments on it also. But, the post itself got 50 likes prior to those comments. My theory was that likes alone would elevate my Klout score. And, I was wrong again. My score actually dipped by a point as this was the only thing I posted on that day. Once the comments were added a day later, my score recovered it's one point loss. Again...it is the engagement that is being tracked.
Now...a couple more points that any Klout user should remember about +K:
1. +K does not affect your score at this time. It is only a way of other users recognizing that you are an influence in their mind on a subject or topic they connect with and want to notify you of such. I am not a fan of people ASKING for someone to give them +k. If you have to ask for someone to validate your knowledge, you appear to not have the confidence to warrant belief in that knowledge. Quit attention-whoring (Sorry I'm so blunt, but someone has to call it like they see it...) and start engaging with people and prove your worth on a topic. When others see that you really do know what you are talking about, the +k will come in just like the 'likes' on FB and the RTs on Twitter.
2. When you give someone +K, don't just use the auto-tweet feature and be generic. It's boring and offers no value to the receiver or those in your audience as to WHY you are doing it. Be specific. Change the post to give a REASON as to why you are giving them the respect you feel they deserve. That way, both the riders of your wave of influence AND the person you are giving the props to know that you respect them and the reason for such respect. Again...engage.
Aside from the obvious networks like Twitter and Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and others, Klout has recently added Tumblr, Last.fm, Flickr, Blogger, and instagram to the mix. Again, the idea behind this is engagement. The more you can engage regardless of the platform, the better chance you have of influencing your circle...of making waves in your mud puddle.
My advice...Sign up for Klout and play around with it. It is a valid way to assess your level of engagement online. Don't go all nutso and start putting your Klout score on your resume or anything, but use it as yet another tool to help you become better than you are right now. Surprisingly, it does help. And, coming from a new convert, I'm looking forward to hearing how you do on it.