What is Klout? Can It Help You Manage Your Social Media Presence?

If you’re very active on a wide range of social media networks, you’ve probably heard of the website Klout. Launched in 2009, this application boasts the ability to track how influential you are on sites like Facebook and Twitter and calculates that influence into a simple numerical score. But how successful is it at figuring out just how influential you are? Is it worth signing up for? Today we’ll take you through the basics of what Klout does and whether or not it can do anything for you as a self-publisher.

When you sign into Klout, you’re taken to a dashboard that shows you how your score has changed over the past 90 days:

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This is my Klout dashboard. As you can see, it calculates a score for you each day and charts whether or not that score has grown or diminished over a period of time. The scores range from 1 to 100 — the more influential you are, the closer you get to 100. It also shows you the most recent activity that impacts your score — though it’s not completely up to date!

Klout also shows you where your influence reaches on each social media network — though it’s currently only calibrated to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linkedin, and Instagram. Of course, it responds most favorably to Twitter, and measures influence there by using your following count, follower count, retweets, list memberships, how many spam accounts are following you, and the Klout scores of those who are interacting with you.

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When you click on “Network breakdown,” this is what you see. Apparently I’m most influential on Twitter by a long shot, but there are also a good number of people interacting with my Facebook posts as well.

As with LinkedIn, Klout also gives you opportunity to boast what skills you have and what you’re most influential in. Usually it will try to guess where your influence lies based on what you’ve talked about in your tweets and Facebook posts, and occasionally it will get things wrong. However, you can always choose to highlight different skills so that your Klout topics better reflect what you’re actually interested in.

To check out your own topics, go to the “Manage Your Topics” button at the bottom of the Home Page. Here’s what mine looks like:

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They’re not wrong about my interest in Doctor Who, by the way. It’s a great show!

Your score isn’t just good for bragging rights, of course — you can also snag great coupons and exclusive deals through Klout’s partnerships with other companies. For example, as one of the “perks” of using a Klout account, I’ve been offered everything from free magazine subscriptions to organic cocktails shipped to my door. It’s also possible to get a Klout score for your business or brand as well, if you have a specially branded Facebook page or Twitter account.

But how important is it that you know your Klout score? Honestly, it’s hard to tell right now — but it’s probably not all that important. Currently it’s difficult to figure out how exactly how they calculate their scores – a few years back I even knew a person who worked in social media for a living and who had a Klout score of zero. There was also controversy a few years back that President Barack Obama had a lower Klout score than some professional bloggers, which clearly isn’t indicative of the level of influence Obama has at all. So obviously there are still some kinks that need to be worked out!

However, Klout is useful in that it gives you an idea of which social media network you use gets you the most attention, so you can decide whether or not it’s worth focusing exclusively on one network. If you put a lot of energy into curating your Google+ page, for example, and find that you don’t have a whole lot of followers or people interacting with your content there, then it might be best to move in and devote your time to something else. Similarly, if you like tweeting pictures to your followers and realize that you have an instagram account you never use that a good chunk of people follow, you might want to start tweeting those pictures through the instagram account so that more people see them.

All in all, Klout is a great way to sync all your networks up together and track them from one consolidated site – and it’s just fun to see how someone asking you a question on Twitter can influence and change your entire web presence. And the perks are pretty great, too! Best of all, it’s free to use, so it couldn’t hurt to give it a test run and see what new things you can learn about the social media networks you use.

Try it out for yourself here and let us know what you think. It’s very easy to sign up for an account — all you have to do is connect with Facebook or sign in using your Twitter account. No need for a new password or log-in.