In an era of selfies, self publishing and self everything you’d bet there would be a service that rates your influence online by giving you a score out of 100. Klout’s frighteningly simple idea came to founder Joe Fernandez while he had his face wired shut (really) after an operation. While recuperating he could only communicate via Facebook and Twitter and pondered what made some people more influential than others, and whether he could measure that very influence. The Klout score was born.
It quickly became the in-thing – I remember an MC quietly boasting about his Klout score of 75 during a tech conference in San Francisco in mid 2011. Then, almost as quickly as it came into fashion, it just sort of went away. As with any new thing, it had its detractors (and famous ‘ghost’ accounts that could become extremely influential just by second guessing the klout algorithm), with commentators even calling the Klout company evil.
But Klout was just a tool to measure yourself against. Like all tools (including Google Analytics) they should never be taken too literally, but can spot useful trends here and there. Certainly if I get a bit lazy with my social media posting, my klout score soon begins to wane. The more vibrant, interesting and engaged I am online, the more my klout score turns up. Currently it’s around 58 and has been above 50 now for over a year (the benchmark for being ‘influential’ apparently). I don’t consider myself influential, but I do take social media seriously (and not so seriously on occasion). It’s a habit I have got into these past 5 or 6 years, and I’ve learned that like all things, there is no instant fix, it’s the slow deliberate actions multiplied by many thousand that wins the race.
If I look on Klout I can find those of my twitter lists that are most influential (import a twitter list to Klout to rank them by influence – incredible!), and for businesses it’s critical to find the opinion-leaders as they are the ones you need to reach. Get them evangelising about your products and the battle is half won.
And so back to Klout. Two year ago they raised $30m from marque Silicon Valley money (Kleiner Perkins among them) and have been slowly chipping away at their business model. ‘Perks’ (which allow brands to interact with higher klout scores) and ‘Klout for Business’ followed and have brought in reasonable coin.
But it’s their latest iteration that has me back in Klout, and much more regularly. Every business really needs to understand a problem it can solve for its customers (something so many businesses tend to forget), and the one Klout has turned its mind to is ‘what am I going to post today?’. Content that the user may find interesting, may want to share and so boost their own Klout score. The circularity of this idea is clever.
It is also very useful. I’ve been playing with this now for a few weeks and I absolutely love it.
Having chosen a few categories I’d like to be posting about, Klout offers up tasteful morsels of online content for me to share with my own networks. It allows me to organise which ones to share, and I can schedule these in advance (so I can sort out a day’s worth of twitter posts ahead of time) and even tells me the best time to post (when my followers are most likely to be watching).
Remembering that curating content is at least as important as creating it, here is a solution for today’s problem ~ where is all the best content, and how can I get myself in the middle of it? Go try it yourself – of course it’s free. The mobile app and PC versions are truly awesome in design and ease of use. You’ll not only discover far more interesting content as a result, you’ll be doing your own networks a service by sharing the best stuff with them. Isn’t that what social networks are all about?