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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

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 CEO “We Messed Up On This One and Are Deeply Sorry”

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Klout 01

Klout has been dealing with quite a bit of criticism lately when it comes to how they measure your social media influence and who they measure it by.

There is an interesting story in the New York Times about a mom who discovered Klout had created a profile for her 13 year old son. Needless to say she was surprised and shocked. Here’s an excerpt from the story:

The boy had never set up a Klout page for himself; he was only her Facebook “friend,” so she could monitor his interactions there. Klout had automatically created a page for him and assigned him a score. Then Ms. McGary’s 15-year-old daughter Mimi popped up on her Klout page — this time not with a Klout score of her own, just a nudge to Ms. McGary to invite Mimi to join.

Basically, Klout was creating profiles without social media users even knowing about it. Which meant it was creating profiles for minors. Klout has said they do not market to children and they no longer create profiles automatically.

In a blog post entitled “We Value Your Privacy” from yesterday (November 13th), Klout CEO Joe Fernandez, offered up an apology.

We will always be vigilant in working with the platforms (Twitter/Facebook/etc), our legal counsel, and the community to do what’s right here. We messed up on this one and are deeply sorry.

There are so many people who are already questioning Klout, so this came at a really bad time for the company.

At the end of February, Allison did a Brilliant Bloggers post about Klout. It definitely makes for some interesting reading and I would love to see how many of these bloggers have changed their mind about Klout since then.

What are your thoughts on Klout’s misstep with creating profiles without permission?

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

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Klout score change

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?

 

Klout Introduces Topic Pages

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Klout Topic Pages

A few weeks ago I hopped on Klout and claimed their Topic Pages perk. They just announced today they’ve opened their Topic Pages beta to a wider audience, which now gives me access. Here’s a look at my topics. (Lower on the page it also says I’m influential about Elmo, which I think is pretty darn cool.)

Basically, Klout wants to be more than just a number, just a score. They want to provide their users with “more context about a topic”, meaning they’ll present you with a list of top influencers in a topic, regardless of what their Klout score is. It gives users more of an insight into top influencers, as well as those who have received the most +K for the topic.

Klout CEO Joe Fernandez told Mashable, “This is a big step for us in turning Klout into more of a utility around search and discover instead of pure vanity of checking your score. Our goal is just to understand what they are influential about and who they influence.”

They also plan to add “further analytics, trends, and related content over the coming months”.

Fernandez added that this is in the very early stages, but it stands by their belief that everyone who creates content has influence.

As I browsed around the Topic Pages, so far I like what I see. Of course, in order to be influential in a certain topic, you have to join Klout, which I know many have not.

What are your thoughts on the new Topic Pages and Klout in general?

Klout Now Integrates a Total of 10 Social Networks, More Coming

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Klout 01

I’ve been on a little bit of a Klout kick lately, which you may have noticed if you follow me on Twitter. As more brands start taking notice of your Klout score, I want to make sure I am ahead of or at least even with the game.

Klout isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. They’ve recently added Foursquare and YouTube to measure your social influence and now there’s even more, with more to come.

Here’s who they’ve added within the last few days:

  • Blogger
  • Tumblr
  • Last.fm
  • Instagram
  • Flickr

Coming soon are:

  • Quora
  • Yelp
  • Posterous
  • WordPress

It’s obvious by looking at these that Klout sees an importance in one’s taste in music, blog streams and photo sharing.

What are your thoughts on Klout? Do you value its scoring system? Do share.

Klout Now Factors in YouTube for Your Score

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Klout 01

Klout is on a roll! They now factor in YouTube as part of your social influence. This new feature rolled out Monday evening.

For those of you still trying to figure out Klout and if it has any importance, it’s basically a service that measures how influential you are in social media. Do you interact with your followers and friends and if so, how much? And for those of you still trying to figure out if Klout matters, let’s just say it matters to brands.

Once you sync your YouTube account with Klout, it will then analyze your subscriber count, comments, likes and engagement to add to your final Klout score.

Like I said, Klout is on a roll. They most recently added Foursquare check-ins and LinkedIn. What about Google+? The answer is yes, they will add it, as soon as Google released their API.

Klout said in a recent blog post, “We’ve already started work on ways to assess your influence on Google+, but we need Google to provide us with a system to access and identify your data. We’ve heard an API for Google+ is coming soon and we’ll be ready when it launches.”

Have you synced your YouTube account with Klout yet? I’m headed there right now. We’ll see if it makes a difference in my score.

Foursquare Check-ins Help Play a Role in Your Klout Score

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Klout 01

Towards the end of June, it was announced that Klout had come to Facebook, which gave brands a new way to engage with fans. It also results in brands offering rewards to their fans based on their Klout score.

Ever since this bit of news hit the web, the big question has been “How do I raise my Klout score?”. If you use Foursquare, you’re in luck! Your Foursquare check-ins now help play a role in your Klout score.

Klout  just added Foursquare to its scoring system and it’s in good company sitting alongside Facebook, Twitter and Linked In – all of which already help determine your online influence.

It’s super easy to integrate Klout with your Foursquare check-ins. Just head on over to your Klout dashboard and click the orange “Connect Now” button to be one of the first users to be scored with Foursquare.

 

Have you checked your Klout score lately?

Klout Comes to Facebook, Gives Brands New Ways to Engage Fans

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Klout 01

There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding Klout and now there’s even more to talk about. Involver, a social media marketing start up, and Klout announced today they are bringing Klout to Facebook.

What does this mean for brands and consumers exactly? It gives brands a new way to engage their Facebook fans and consumers can earn rewards based on their influence, as measured by Klout. Brands and agencies can customize and tailor their content and interaction with fans based on their Klout score. You can see this in action on Audi’s Facebook page, where you can get your Klout score and download your Audi Le Mans desktop graphic.

“Facebook represents a huge opportunity for brands to connect with their fans and deliver a unique experience,” said Joe Fernandez, founder and CEO, Klout. “The real value for brands comes in being able to personalize and customize that experience based on specific attributes of individuals. Involver helped us make Klout scores actionable for brands and agencies on the most influential social platform out there.”

The content available based on your Klout means special, unreleased content like a new trailer, product or coupon. The Klout app is now available directly from Involver and Klout.

Do you use Klout? How do you think these changes will impact the relationship with cosumers and brands on Facebook?

Do You Have Klout? Now, Your Friends Can Weigh In

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The more I learn about Klout, the more I like it as an influence measuring tool. Here are BlogWorld, Klout is something I’ve talked about in the past, and we even devoted a week of Brilliant Bloggers to Klout. Since then, Klout has made some changes in both their interface and their algorithm, both of which I thin has made the service even better. Plus, I love the new Klout badges you can earn. Today’s introduction of the +K button takes the cake, though, at least in my opinion.

I first read about the +K button on Mashale, and headed over to Klout’s site to check it out for myself. It’s an interesting concept, and they thought out the functionality well. Here’s how it works:

  • Klout generates a list of topics that it thinks you’re influential about. Basically, it’s what you’re tweeting/mentioning on Facebook that gets noticed. They’ve been doing this for a long time, but before now it was nothing more than a weekly-updated list.
  • You now get 5 +Ks to give out each day. They’re basically points or likes.
  • You give a +K when one of the topics on someone’s profile matches how they really do influence you. Essentially, you’re saying, “Yes, Klout, you’re right. Allison really did influence my thoughts about blogging.” (or whatever the person/topic might be)
  • Your +K rating lasts 36 hours.
  • You can give another Klout user as many +Ks as you want, as long as they are for different topics.
  • You can give another Klout user a +K in the same topic once a week.
  • In the future, they’re going to introduce a function where you can submit your own topics.

There are some things I like about this right off the bat. First, I think it will help Klout’s algorithm choose your topics better. My list includes things that I definitely do tweet about, like writing and social media, but other topics on my list right now include hacking and Samsung. Ermm…what? Not sure I’ve tweeted about either of those topcis ever in my life. Luckily, Klout gives you the ability to opt out of any topic they’ve chosen for you that you think is a bad fit, so I was able to hide hacking, for example, from public view. I don’t want people to think I’m a hacker.

One of the downfalls that commenters on other sites have already noticed is that this definitely makes Klout more of a popularity contest. You can campaign to get people to give you their +Ks for the day in specific topics, making your Klout rise artificially.

Or…will it?

Here’s how I see it: Yes, you can “scam” the Klout algorithm that way, but it really isn’t scamming because popularity is what Klout is all about. If you can influence people to give you their +Ks for the day, your Klout score should rise. That’s the point. Klout measure how well you can influence people.

I like that you’re limited to giving people a +K in a certain topic only once a week. I also like how Klout comes up with the topics, since that means the topics you see really should be topics that the person talks about. If you could give a person Klout in whatever topic you wanted, people would definitely try to scam the system to rank high for certain topics.I’m not sure I’ll like it as much when you can submit your own topics.

Something that users have also already noted is that a +K from someone with a higher Klout number should mean more than a +K from someone with a lower number. I’m not sure I agree. I can see the logic, but I also think that if you’ve influenced someone, it shouldn’t matter who that person is. If I influence my mom to buy a purse and Paris Hilton to buy a purse, the overall affect is that they both buy purses. I should get the same amount of credit for that.In fact, even though my mom wouldn’t have as much Klout as Paris Hilton, it would probably be harder to influence her to buy a purse, since she doesn’t buy things for herself often. So, I like it that everyone is “worth” the same.

I definitely think it needs to be easier to see who is ranking for certain topics. I couldn’t find a way to search topics within Klout, just see them from people’s profiles. If I’m interested in a specific topic, like social media, I want to see who is ranking high for those topics because those are people I probably want to follow. Likewise, if I’m that purse company, I want to see who is ranking high for the topic “purses” because those are people I probably want to follow. Without this functionality, the +K ability seems kind of moot. What’s the point?

Overall, I’m excited to see the ways in which Klout is going to continue to improve. This move, to me, makes a lot of sense for their Klout perks program, since companies can now target people who have +Ks in a certain area, not just users who have an overall high Klout score. I don’t know if that’s something they’ll do, but it certainly makes sense to me!

I highly recommend that you check out Klout’s very own post about their +K update to learn more – and the commends on this post are extremely valuable. It looks like Klout employees are also jumping in there to answer questions, so it’s a good place to ask them.

What do you think of Klout in general and their new +K function?

(Hat tip to @jaybaer, who originally tweeted the post on Mashable where I first read about +Ks.)

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