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Klout: The What, How, and Why

June 9th, 2011 | | Social Media & SEO, Uncategorized

With the advent of social media outlets and their continued evolution and success over the last few years, it’s no secret that social media has become an important part of SEO. Especially considering recent rollouts, like Google’s +1 button and Klout’s +K feature, SEOs who have still been all but ignoring social media should really start exploring different outlets to see if they could be beneficial for their client. The popularity of social media reminds us that people are relational, and really do want the best of both worlds: to be immersed in an online world but still feel connected to other human beings. Bill Sebald, an ecommerce SEO with TrueAction, says it well when discussing how to create value through a social media approach:

“The “give to get” model really seems to bring power to an online store, just as long as that store is more than a thin vending machine.  Direct conversions?  Not always.  But it’s not that easy anymore.  There is still a long term reward, from branding to optimizing your other marketing channels, that helps websites survive this online climate.  It’s old school marketing, really.”

The Swim Coach

Klout jumped into the social media pool in 2007, and was started by Joe Fernandez and Binh Tran in San Francisco. While Joe was recovering from jaw surgery and was sending recovery updates to friends and family via social media outlets, he had somewhat of an epiphany. The possibilities of gaining influence through social media became an “obsession” for Joe, and Klout came into being.

Swimming in a social media pool with big players like Facebook and Twitter, Klout has certainly attempted to differentiate itself. Klout positions itself as “the standard for influence,” and touts the mission to “help every individual understand and leverage their [online/social] influence.” The K team defines influence as “the ability to drive people to action,” and they’re currently just focusing on Facebook and Twitter. “Actions” are considered to be a:

  • Reply
  • Retweet
  • Comment
  • Click

To me, Klout seems kind of like a swim coach in the pool of social media, rooting on users (or swimmers) to be the best in the pool and giving them the tools to do so. How does Klout do this? Through the Klout Score.

The Klout Score

To discover your Klout Score, head to the Klout homepage where you’ll need to register via your Facebook or Twitter account. Once you create your profile, your score will be calculated, and you should also be able to see scores of top influencers. For instance, I can see that Bieber is beating Charlie Sheen, with scores of 100 (the highest possible score) and 83, respectively. Here’s a brief overview of how the score is determined:

Quotation Mark

The Klout Score is the measurement of your overall online influence. The scores range from 1 to      100 with higher scores representing a wider and stronger sphere of influence. Klout uses over 35 variables on  Facebook and Twitter to measure True Reach, Amplification Probability, and Network Score. Quotation Mark

 

Klout defines the three categories of score criteria – True Reach, Amplification Probability, and Network Score – as follows:

*True Reach: the size of your engaged audience (inactive and spam accounts are eliminated)

*Amplification Probability: the likelihood that your content will be acted upon (can you create content that causes others to respond? Can your content spread into networks outside your own?)

*Network Influence: the influence level of your engaged audience (if you’re attracting influential people, then you must have great content!)

Specific factors within these three categories are measured to produce the Klout Score, laid out in the graphic below (click to enlarge):

Klout Score FactorsThe New Guy

On June 1, 2011, Klout introduced the new +K feature (think Facebook ‘like’ or Google’s +1 button). Klout recognized that not all of one’s influence was being captured in their data analysis that produced the Klout Score, so the +K feature is a way for users to give feedback, thereby improving the Klout Score analysis.

After you’ve created a Klout account, if you click on “Profile” in the top navigation bar, you’ll see a drop-down menu on the left with a link called “Topics.” The topics shown for each user are currently generated by Klout’s algorithms. This is where the +K feature comes in. According to Klout, with +K you can now:

  • Give +K on topics for users who have recently influenced you on a particular topic. NOTE: you can only give out 5 +K’s per day and you can only give +K to the same user on a certain topic once every 7 days.
  • More topics are now available and are also more accurate; up to 10 topics now surface per user
  • You can now hide topics from public display.

Why does this matter? Because, the more +K’s you receive, the more influence you carry on a particular topic and, ultimately, the higher your Klout Score will be.

SEO Benefits

So, we know that Social Media is becoming increasingly important in SEO efforts. To me, utilizing Klout to help measure your online/social influence seems like a good idea. I’m not saying the topics produced are always going to be 100% reflective of you and your “expertise,” nor am I saying that the Klout Score is a 100% accurate representation of your online influence, but I think Klout can still help in Social Media efforts.

Let’s say you run a children’s bedding website. You’ve worked with the client to create engaging content within your Facebook & Twitter accounts: mentioning promotions, giving advice on topics related to children’s bedding like creating bedroom themes at an affordable price, running contests and giveaways, responding to friends’ comments on your Facebook page and retweeting followers’ tweets, etc. Well, you may think that you’ve reached a good-size audience, but wouldn’t you like to have a more defined idea as to how influential you are? (Not to mention, there are Klout Perks for high influencers, like early movie screenings and invitations to exclusive cocktail receptions!) Not only does Klout provide you with a score that helps you gauge your level of influence, but you can also access your score analysis under the “Profile” link in the top navigation bar. This shows a breakdown of your influence within the three main score prongs – True Reach, Amplification Probability & Network Influence – so you know where you need to improve.

For businesses, the potential for increasing brand awareness, building relationships with existing and potential clients, gaining trust and authority on topics, and increasing reach and revenue with Social Media I believe is still somewhat unrealized. Having a Facebook and Twitter account for your business is great, but what if you’re only reaching a fraction of the people you could be reaching? Take it to the next level by enlisting Klout to help you gain more influence within your industry.

Additional Resources:

http://www.seoboy.com/?s=social+media&x=0&y=0

http://www.seoboy.com/dos-and-donts-for-handling-a-social-media-backlash/

http://www.searchenginejournal.com/2011-seo-and-social-media-checklist/26172/

http://www.browsermedia.co.uk/2011/06/08/how-to-seo-your-facebook-page/

 

 

Abby is an Account Executive at Hanapin Marketing, a search engine marketing firm focused on generating results through PPC and SEO.

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