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How Klout Helps Me Build My Brand

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The hullabaloo about Klout has been deafening in recent weeks. Some people are staying. Some people are going. Some people are ranting that no one cares if you’re staying or going. The debate over the value of Klout is raging.

I tend to think that people are looking at this tool the wrong way.

Klout’s intended purpose is to measure influence. Through a wacked out, complicated algorithm that changes constantly, you’re judged and a number is spit out to you. Unfortunately, numbers don’t have much meeting unless there’s context – and I personally feel like if we spent more time examining the context, Klout could be really super useful to bloggers (and anyone using social media). I get an incredible amount of value from Klout, even if I don’t think there’s much value in the numbers themselves.

So, without further ado, here’s how I personally use Klout to build my brand:

  • Making my lists and checking them twice.

Klout’s relatively new “lists” feature is amazing for bloggers. Twitter lists can be used to build blog traffic, but Klout lists are a little different. You don’t actually interact much on Klout itself, other than giving one another +K on different topics. But Klout lists can be used to quickly find any social media information you want about someone, which is fantastic if want to contact people about a specific topic. Create a list and use it to find people no matter where or how you want to connect.

You can also use their lists to find new people. For example, I’m on a list called “writers,” so if I wanted to find another freelance writer to help me out with some blog posts, this would be a great place to look. More importantly, however, Klout allows you to see lists others have created where you’ve been added as a member. It’s a really great way to monitor what people think about you. If you’re building a brand, this information is extremely valuable.

  • Topics help you find who you truly influence.

The topics that Klout assigns to you don’t always make sense. For example, I’m apparently influential about luggage. Erm. Okay then.

But what is helpful is to see where people have given you +Ks to indicate that they think you’re influential about a specific topic. I’ve received +Ks in blogging, BlogWorld, zombies, and writing. Let’s say that I want to release a new ebook about freelance writing. The people who gave me +Ks about writing are a fantastic place to start when I’m looking for affiliates.

Again, you’re also monitoring what people think about you. If I had a bunch of +Ks in luggage and none in BlogWorld, I would begin to suspect that my social media message was muddled. Maybe I should rethink the things I tweet so that it is apparent that I would for BlogWorld. In other words, if you haven’t received any +Ks in topics that you want to be influential about, that’s not Klout’s fault. People are perceiving you a specific way. Brand is all about how people perceive you, so take a look at what you’re doing that is confusing your followers and friends.

Want to connect with others in your field? Klout allows you to see who they’ve ranked as top influences about a topic, as well as who has received the most +Ks about a topic, so it’s helpful for making new connections as well.

  • Your style can be revealing.

A lot of people argue that the “style” Klout applies to you is a load of bs, but I think we might need to be a little more honest with ourselves, because in my experience, these styles have been correct. We tend to get defensive when the truth varies from how we perceive ourselves, but on Klout, it isn’t about what you want to be or even what you try to be. It’s about what you are.

That’s not to say that your Klout style is 100% right 100% of the time. But the good thing is that no matter where you fall on the Klout scale, it’s a good thing. There are no bad styles. You can, however, learn and improve to be a more well-rounded social media user. Look at your brand goals in social media and how you are perceived according to Klout. What can you do to better align the two? Ask yourself why Klout has you under a certain heading. Think critically about your social media usage. We all have room to improve.

Klout is certainly not without it’s problems. I’ve contemplated leaving, but I think there are just too many helpful ways to use this tool to convince me to delete my profile. Today’s fad is to “not care” about your number, but just because you’re a member of Klout doesn’t mean that you’re somehow obsessed with your Klout score. There are a lot of other faces to this tool, so don’t be blinded by the numbers.

The Klout Debate: Should You Stay or Should You Go and Does It Matter?

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Klout has never not been controversial, but recently, users got their unmentionables in a twist over algorithm changes that caused just about every score to drop, some more significantly than others. Some people were upset about the changes, but I saw even more people upset that others care about the changes. In the past few months, I’ve seen more people virtually yelling, “Klout doesn’t matter!” than yelling about any other topic. And in this industry, people like to yell, so that’s saying something.

Klout’s also been under fire recently for creating profiles for any user interacting with another Klout user on Facebook – but they didn’t have age verification in place, which means they created profiles for countless minors. Partially as a response to that incident (and partially, I suspect, because users were asking for it), the company also made it easy and clear top opt out of Klout, even if you wanted a profile in the past.

And so began the wave of opting out. There’s no shortage of people willing to talk about why they’re doing it, and why they think you should as well.

The line has been drawn in the sand – Klout users and non-users. For transparency sake, I want to note that I am still a Klout user as of writing this post, though I wouldn’t classify myself as an avid user, since I only remember to log in a few times a month. I’m firmly a fence-sitter on this one – but I think I might be in the minority.

Let’s Quit Klout: The Grand Exit

I think the need to quit Klout, at least for many people, can be neatly summed up in a recent post by Liz Strauss entitled, “Klout, My Story & Why Opting Out Was My Only Choice.” In the post, Liz writes,

People who had started using their measure, who had trusted it enough to include it in their client work, woke up one morning to find Klout had changed the algorithm without notice and with abandon.

It was at best a naive decision to move without thought to the people who were building on what Klout offered. Those people who were putting Klout scores in their marketing plans and on their resumes were building Klout’s credibility.

Still I stuck with them, because who hasn’t made a bad decision, especially when starting something new? But I watched with new interest in what they would do.

I became more aware that my data, your data, our stories are their product and they seemed to become less aware of the responsibility that might come with a offering product like that.

The Klout perks I was offered — especially the invitation to audition for the X-Factor — were all about my number not me. The additional unannounced tweaks to the algorithm that made it unpredictable and unstable did more damage to a sense of credibility.

What I think it most valid about Liz’s argument is that if the numbers are constantly shifting and the data is never full correct, those who use these numbers to rate you or form opinions about you are going to be doing so without proper data. I’m the same today as I am tomorrow, but my score might drop significantly as a result of an algorithm change. That’s not a very fair way for a potential employer, client, or advertiser to rate my social media value.

In other words, having a Klout score is an invitation for those getting to know you professionally or personally to be lazy – and it might not be to your advantage.

Klout Doesn’t Matter

On the other side of the debate, you don’t exactly have the opposite opinion. Instead of people championing for Klout (which is a sentiment I don’t see often), you have people exasperatingly arguing that Klout doesn’t matter and that the only thing these numbers are doing is giving people who otherwise don’t really matter an inflated sense of ego. The people on this side of the argument aren’t exactly encouraging you to continue using Klout. Instead, they’re encouraging you to stop ranting about it or making proclamations of your need to quit.

A very good example of someone on this side of the argument is Jason Falls, who recently write, “Please Don’t Quit Klout. Or At Least Don’t Announce It.” In this post, he writes,

And canceling your Klout account means nothing other than you were upset your score went down. The algorithm changes attacked your sense of self-worth and you can’t face another day being a 37 rather than a 42.

Guess what? 99.9 percent of the people you really care about in the world don’t measure you with a number. Neither do most people who have half a brain. So why be a 0.1 per center? Ignore the score.

Jason goes on to make a very good point that if people leave Klout (as they have been doing recently), the platform is even less useful than it is now. Measuring tools like Klout need data to be successful. If you really don’t care about your score, don’t care about it…but don’t ruin things for people who do find use in the score. Or, at the very least, stop belittling them with a “I’m better than you because I don’t care about Klout” attitude (something that I don’t think Liz has, by the way, just so we’re clear).

The Klout Advantage

What I think is interesting about this debate is that everyone seems to be talking about how others are perceiving their Klout scores and few people are actually talking about how they’re looking at their own score. That’s how I’ve always used Klout, and why I’m hesitant to leave. I find it extremely useful in this way – in fact, I’m going to write a post for tomorrow about how I use Klout that you might be interested in reading.

In any case, I find the whole Klout debate one of the most important and interesting topics in our industry right now. Which side are you taking? Are you still using Klout or did you quit?

Klout’s New Scoring Model Shows You Why Your Score Changed

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Klout announced a new scoring model today which they state “represents the biggest step forward in accuracy, transparency and our technology in Klout’s history.” This new scoring model may have changed your Klout score. I noticed mine went down a little, but there wasn’t a huge change.

For those of us who did see our score drop, the good news is these changes in their scoring model allow us to see the why behind the changes. We now get a diagnosis of sorts, which takes a little of the mystery out of this thing we call “a Klout score”.

Each day when you log onto Klout, you can see which subscore and the people in your network who helped cause the score change.

More improvements will made in the near future. Klout continually keeps changing and trying to offer more for its users – from integrating more social networks to their new topic pages.

I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with in the future. I’m also enjoying their perks! I’ve received free (awesome) business cards to credit towards online stores. I truly believe this is just the beginning of some amazing perks. Whether you understand the Klout concept or not, now would be a good time to start paying attention.

Did your Klout score change?

 

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