February 27th, 2015

What Is Klout? Do Authors Need It?

Klout Left SidebarSome of you have heard of Klout,  a website and app that measures social media activity and ranks social influence. This is not another social media platform, I promise you. This is something you can set up that gives others an indication of the reach and effectiveness of your current social media efforts. And by others, I mean agents, editors, employers, etc.

Klout is not a beast you have to keep feeding, unless you want to. Some people set it up and never visit again. Others browse the Perks and use the “give Klout +K” feature with abandon. This post sums up some key points and how-to that I shared with Laura Drake when I got her set up last year.

p.s. Laura is now rocking Klout! It should be noted, she spends less time on social media than I do, and has a higher Klout score. [Bitch.]

Klout isn’t about how much time you spend on social media, it’s about the engagement that happens with your stuff and how much influence you have. For example, if I post 50 Facebook updates, but no one clicks, comments or shares them, and Laura posts three that get shared to pieces, her “engagement” is higher and her Klout score will go up. It’s about quality, not quantity.

That photo at the top of the post is a snip of the navigation pane from my own Klout screen and there are some items there you need to pay attention to if you decide to get set up on Klout.

Overview

This is your “home” screen. You start here when you open the app, and Klout provides suggestions for content you might like to share. During your set-up, Klout asks you what topic you’d like to be influential in, then gives you suggestions from top influencers. You can share from here, or do nothing with it. I haven’t notice either choice having much effect on my Klout.

Create

This allows you to “pick your topics.” I recommend that you do. If you let Klout choose, it might say you’re influential in some bizarre topic like cookies, based on the Facebook update you put up the last time you had late-night cravings. If a topic has gotten tons of play, Klout will think it’s an influential one for you. So if you want to be known for writing or humor or romance, go to “Create” and search those topics out. Otherwise, you’re going to be stuck with things like cookies and chocolate and cats.

Klout Expanded Profile

 

Schedule

Giving you the opportunity to share content from Klout is their way of “throwing you some social media help.” I don’t often use this – I have my own stuff to share. But if you’re new or not sure what to share, Klout’s trying to make your life easier by giving you the best dates, times and content for sharing.

Measure

This is where you can drive yourself insane if you don’t watch it. Klout gives you your score and shows which platforms had the most influence. I told Laura to pick the three she spent the most time on to start. If that’s WordPress, Facebook and Twitter, fine. If Pinterest and LinkedIn are your happy places, pick those. If you spend more time on social media for a while, or get better engagement, your score will go up. If you’re absent for a while, it will likely go down.

Try not to watch this like you do with Amazon rankings. Above all, don’t worry about it if your Klout score takes a while to perk up. Just know that a score over 50 is just fine.

Barack Obama’s Klout is 99 and he’s only really on Twitter. You’re no Barack Obama on the influence scale, so 50+ is just peachy. If you’re over 60, you’re rocking social media. Stop worrying.

Klout 90 Day

My 90 Day Klout score. I TOLD you it swings.

Also on this page, you can see which networks are contributing the most to your score. My favorite part of this screen is being able to see which topics and updates are gaining you the most ground. In other words, you can see what’s working. Above is the graph, below is what’s driving those numbers.

Klout Networks

 

At the very bottom of your Klout screen are the Perks and your settings, in case you’d like to add some networks, or change your information. Some of the perks are very cool and it’s up to you if you want to take advantage of them. I rarely do because I rarely go into the app. Plus, just like Facebook and Twitter, you must remember: When software or products are free, it’s because you’re the product.

Klout is happy to measure your effectiveness. In return, they’d appreciate it if you used that effectiveness to promote those perky products.

What do I use Klout for?

I use Google Chrome for my browser and I have the Klout add-in installed. I do this for a specific reason: When I’m browsing in Twitter or in a dashboard like Hootsuite, looking for sources for articles and such, I want to see who has the most influence. If I have two sources in front of me and one has a Klout Score of 42 and the other is 65, guess who I’m using for my source?

Klout has been especially helpful when I’m looking for people “on the ground” to interview for breaking news stories, or disasters. I can run a search for a specific hashtag and then comb through based on Klout. I get my sources faster and that makes me happy.

Below is what it looks like in Twitter.

On #NetNeutrality

On #NetNeutrality

Do you see that wide swing in scores? Below is another screen snip, but for Breaking News.

Breaking News Klout

When it comes to freelance writing and interviewing, Klout has been a godsend for me. Some writers praise it to the heavens when they queried for agents. I’ve heard of several agents telling their clients to raise their score, while others say their agents could give a rip about their Klout.

In the end, it’s always about the quality of our work. However, if we’re spending time “building a social media platform,” it sure is nice to have a place where we can look to see whether we’re gaining any influence.

Do you use Klout? Do you have any other questions for me? Ask me down in the comments!

Announcement: My last techie post was about Microsoft’s Sway and using it to create quick book trailers. I don’t believe I gave away the Sway I promised, so I’m giving away TWO to make up for the delay. The two lucky winners are Candice Colt and Bibi Belford. I’ll send you ladies a reminder through your blog comment email. If not, be sure to put your email down in the comments for me.

Happy Friday, y’all!

~ Jenny
@JennyHansenCA

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About Jenny Hansen

By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes news articles, humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 18+ years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.

When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at JennyHansenCA or at Writers In The Storm.

54 comments to What Is Klout? Do Authors Need It?

  • Hey, what’s wrong with cats? How do you think I got a higher score than you? 😉

    You know a LOT more about Klout than I – I need to check out the ‘measure’ screen – I always just went by my overall score – which is a bit frustrating, since I recently dropped from 70 to 67 (dammit). It would at least be good to know what’s working.

    I actually took advantage of a perk – they were giving away Office 365! Got it free, and they haven’t started spam-selling me yet, so I’m a happy user. I’d suggest looking into a perk, if you’re offered one.

    I like Klout, and am glad you hooked me up, Jenny. But I’d reiterate your point – don’t get all twitchy about your score – you get no Boy scout badges for a higher one.

    Klout on!

    • There’s nothing wrong with cats, but I don’t want to be influential about them. And yes, I know it’s all the cool videos and cute cat pics that bumped your score right up. 🙂

  • I’m usually around 59 – 61, but I started about 15 months ago at 30. Am I “rocking” Klout? Who knows, really. Most of the people I talk to about it have never heard of it.

    • Sally, yes you are rocking Klout! That’s a fine score. Now, if you want to see what you’re doing that’s getting engagement, go click through those tabs on the measure screen. Then do more of it. 🙂

  • Klout looks useful! Thanks so much for the comprehensive description. I’d never find out about these things if it wasn’t for my better informed writer friends!

  • I did not know anything about Klout- thank you for sharing! I will be definitely checking this out -after I get my word count in for today 😉

  • Thanks for sharing your insights on Klout! You’ve prompted me to go back in and add the other networks. I’m at 58. When I first tried sharing content using their share button, it posted a share to my FB profile about Klout and not the story I wanted to share. So now to share the news articles, I copy the link and paste it into my FB profile, which is linked to Twitter. Am I missing something about how to share from within Klout? Or am I doing it the “right” way by manually copying the link?

    • 58 is a fine score, Betty! You need to share from inside their Schedule screen. I have blocked it from my Facebook feed because people don’t take well to cross-posting there, but I do periodically share Klout updates to Twitter. What I like about the schedule screen is that it tells me the great times for each day, so I use those times when I share other stuff.

      There’s nothing wrong with manually posting. For Facebook purposes, as I mentioned above, it’s actually better.

  • Cindy Cotter

    When I discovered Klout a few months ago, I had a score of ten. As an experiment I began adding Twitter followers — I’d been ignoring my Twitter account — and within a month had dragged my score up to 53, without any real interaction to speak of. This makes me think that to some extent the system can be gamed. On the other hand, I’ve found it very useful as a prod to think more strategically about my involvement in social media. I’m still mulling this over, but in the long run I think Klout will have been a big help to me.

    • Cindy, there’s no question that you can raise your Klout score, just by increasing your reach. That being said, I get much more Klout from Facebook than from Twitter, simply because of the nature of the interactions. Facebook is about chatting and Twitter is about information.

  • Thank you for this information. I just signed up.

  • Finally, I understand Klout. Thanks so much, Jenny!
    Karen

  • Hmnnn, I rarely visit Klout but currently am at 65. Yep, gotta be the cats. *eg*

    • Definitely the pets AND the bling, Amy. Plus you stay really consistent on your social media efforts. After you sign up, whether you visit or not makes no difference that I’ve seen.

  • …and the dogs. And the bling, maybe?

  • I only pop into Klout occasionally, but when I do, I have fun giving +Ks. 🙂 I also love the perk system. They sent me a huge box of Burt’s Bees beauty supplies, among other grooviness. They’re so smart to give freebies fo folks who are pretty much guaranteed to blab about them! 😉 Informative and practical post, Jenny!

    • Thanks, August. I usually miss the perks because I don’t use that email much, but they’re always really good. 🙂 I think Laura got the best one with her free Office 365!

  • Now you’ve got me curious. When I first ‘signed up’ for Klout, I used to check the graphs and stuff, but haven’t in ages. To me, it was just “there” and the only time I thought about it was when I’d get a notice that I’d earned a Klout perk (which aren’t bad — I got a book by CJ Box which got me hooked on his writing, a walkman, a jar of chocolate nut spread, and I’ve totally forgotten what new one is supposed to be coming my way. Guess I’ll have to pop over and see if I have any influence at all. And what my new perk actually is.

    • What cool perks, Terry! I love hearing about everyone’s free stuff. I’m sure you have plenty of influence, and I’ll be sure to look you up and throw some +K your way the next time I’m in the app. 🙂

  • This is really great, Jenny (and Laura!). I thought Klout was a silly popularity contest when it started a few years ago, and therefore refused to look at it. But I love that it can really be used for specific purposes. You’ve convinced me to give it a go!

    • Thanks, Sierra! I’m sure for some people it feels like a popularity contest. I kinda like seeing which efforts are paying off and from which platform. I’m a “measurable” sort of gal when it comes to optional efforts. 🙂

  • Thanks for the great info on Klout, Jenny. You make it inviting enough for a novice to want it. We keep spreading our wings with new and improved social media.

  • I’m a 64. That’s decent, right?? I don’t understand what’s contributing more though – Twitter or FB. Thanks for the info Jenny!

    • Deb, your Measure screen will tell you what is contributing the most to your Klout score. Look at mine above – it’s right below the graph. That’s a great score and it would be nice to know which platform was making the most difference, wouldn’t it?

  • I found it – 70% facebook and 30% twitter. Thanks!

  • Very informative. Thank you for sharing.

  • Thanks, Jenny! I’d never heard of Klout until reading your post, so I’m going to sign up and see how I’m doing. Thanks for sharing!

    • I hope you get to be pleasantly surprised by what a rockstar you are, Sonny. 🙂 Everyone who has been on social media for a while get’s a zing when they see their Klout score climb those first few weeks. The best part is you find out what’s working and what isn’t.

  • Very cool! I had forgotten I signed up on it. I’m at 49, which I don’t consider too bad, especially since I had only connected Twitter. I’ve now connected my other social media – I tried connecting to Pinterest (which I rock at), but it wasn’t an option. 🙁 Oh well. Curious to see how/if my score changes once those are taken into account. Thanks for the great explanation. It’s something I’m going to pay more attention to in the future!

    • Good for you, Nicole! I thought they got the Pinterest thing worked out, so thanks for giving us the heads up. I’ll be interested to hear about your score once the other networks are connected. So, if you see this comment, come back and give us a report, OK?

  • I’m also frustrated that Klout doesn’t include Pinterest. Maybe someday…

  • Heya, Jenny! I never, ever would have thought about using Klout to find sources with a wider reach – thanks! (Not that I’m interviewing much, but you never know.) Do you have any idea if that Klout-viewing app is available on Firefox?

    • I don’t know whether there’s a Firefox app, Jennifer, but I’ll bet if you google it, you’ll get the scoop. I love getting to see people’s Klout when I’m out there combing the Internet for sources.

  • As usual, you are the Go-To person for the tech-challenged like me. I had signed up for Klout a while back without understanding how it worked or what to do with it, so I deleted it. (Didn’t know about those perks!) I’ve set it up again, and plan to make more of an effort to post across more sites. (Now, will you break down the differences between Instagram, Tumblr & Flickr?)

    • Thanks, Gillian! I hope you enjoy your Klout perks. 🙂

      Flickr – most people use this to store their photos, which can be searched and/or shared.

      Instagram – Life in pictures

      Tumblr – more of a short-form blogging site with the ability to be creative and incorporate mixed forms of media.

      p.s. I miss your face!

  • It’s absolutely wrong to think Klout is all about engagement.
    Engagement is just 1 of the elements Klout takes into consideration. Klout also incorporates your real world influence (e.g. by the importance of your wikipedia page, if there is one), how often you will be searched in Search Engines and how your ranking is compared to the rankings of members within your social network. You can have a top 70 range Klout score while having almost no engagement at all.

    (Today My Klout is 73 – Once it has been below 40, but also up to 77)

  • This article has been haunting me since you posted it. I’ve tried to hide from it and pretend it doesn’t exist . . . just as I do with Klout . . . but I finally forced myself to read it because I knew you would give good information, even though I find the topic scary.

    Klout has always impressed me as the Mean Girl of Social Media. Holmes and I have a modest platform, but we reach thousands of people each week through our posts at Social In that Klout doesn’t take into account. Any suggestions for how we can maximize our presence on a third party platform?

    Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge so freely.

    • If you add your name into the tweets from SocialIn, you will receive some of the benefit from them. Your Twitter and Facebook platform are plenty healthy, so I’ll bet your Klout goes up more quickly than you imagine.

      Great job being brave, Piper!

  • Hey, Jen! Thanks to your blog post, I did a few things in the last few days that has raised my Klout score by 11 pts! Plus, I am getting 10-15 new Twitter followers every day!!

    • YAY!! That steady stream of new followers really makes a difference. Be sure to engage with them and, if they don’t look spammy, follow them back. 🙂

  • Thanks for your knowledge, Jenny! This almost reads as a user manual for Klout. With your tips, I hope to increase my current score of 49!