Have you ever used Klout? I’d never heard of it until I attended a social media workshop, and was put through the humiliation of setting up an account and announcing my score to everyone. I got 10 and thought that was utterly brilliant … until I realised it was out of 100! Well, be fair, I’d only just dipped my toe into the deep waters of social media. I’d set up some accounts but hadn’t started using them yet. I promptly ignored Klout and all it stood for. But now, a year later, I’ve recovered from the shock and I’m having another look.
The purpose of Klout is to measure your overall online influence. Companies like this have sprung up because so many people purchase followers, making it hard to know how much influence a person actually has. You can have thousands of followers, but it’s how engaged they are that matters.
Klout uses a complex formula to determine your real social media reach. You can link it to your networks such as facebook, twitter, linkedin, instagram etc and authorise it to use them. It will keep track of your posts and see who you follow.
I checked my Klout score again and it’s now a respectable 42. (About the same as Stephen Fry’s Cat, but we won’t go into that …) If you click on the ‘measure’ tab, a nifty little graph with your 90 day score history appears. You can also look at your recent activity. Each post, tweet etc is assigned an impact score.
You can tell Klout what you want to be known for – I picked writing. It then gives you suggestions on who you can follow, along with their Klout rating. The program also enables you to identify online content that your audience is interested in, and then share it through your networks.
You can check out other people’s Klout score, via the search function. It’s yet another form of social voyeurism! I’ve heard of people being turned down for jobs because their Klout score was lower than that of other applicants. It makes me shudder … I guess it depends on the type of job they applied for, but still!
Should writers bother?
Unfortunately, Klout scores give us writers something else to obsess about. Those little graphs are mesmerising and often depressing. They also provide yet another procrastination tool, allowing us to pretend we’re hard at work when we’d be much better off writing.
I think Klout’s handy, insofar as it gives us an insight into what’s working social media-wise and what isn’t. I also like the way it can identify good content to share. But, like most things, it needs to be kept in perspective and not become a time-sucking typhoon.
I just hope it’s not being used as a measure of a writers’ talent, or even their ability to engage with readers. When I get lost in a good book, I don’t give a toss about the author’s Klout score!
I wonder whether publishers check out a potential author’s Klout score, and take it into account when deciding to offer a contract. I know they expect us to have a social media presence, but do they go this far? Does anyone know? If so, please share in the comments box!