The clout of Klout
What is Klout?
The Klout score is a number between 1 – 100 that represents your social influence online. The more influential you are, the higher the Klout score. It is free to register (usually with Twitter) with the idea that you then link your other online profiles such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube. Klout then rates your online interactions on each of those sites.
Influence is the ability to drive action. When you share something on social media or in real life and people respond, that’s influence. The more influential you are, the higher your Klout Score.
As with most social networks, Klout keep their algorithms (the way they work out your score) secret, although they do let some things be known. For example they will rate your LinkedIn profile once a month, but your Twitter feed is most likely updated every 24 hours. It is not simply about the number of followers you have though, which would be very easy to game, but rather how influential those followers are.
For example, if Richard Branson retweets one of your tweets it will be rated far higher than if one of your friends retweets.
Posting a thousand times and getting zero responses is not as influential as posting once and getting a thousand responses. It isn’t about how much someone talks, but about how many people listen and respond.
Klout are also attempting to rate good quality content – possibly in an attempt to stop a lot of marketing spam. So, once again, it is about slowly and steadily building your online content and connections.
It’s great to have lots of connections, but what really matters is how people engage with the content you create. We believe it’s better to have a small and engaged audience than a large network that doesn’t respond to your content.
The higher your Klout Score, the harder it is to increase it.
Why is this useful?
Not only does it give you benchmark for how you are doing, because it is so widely used it also gives you an idea of how you compare to your competitors. Here, a Klout score of 55 puts me in the top 20% of social media users.
And for one of my clients, a niche clinical pain research site, BodyInMind, its Klout score is 61 compared to well known organisations such as The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), currently at 46 and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) at 51.
Klout has also launched Klout for Business, allowing companies to market to top influencers to generate earned media (thereby also generating an income for Klout). This translates to free perks being offered to users on a regular basis.
So will using social media get me on the first page of a google search?
Do social signals (tweets, likes and follows) influence where I appear on SERP (search engine results page). Will it get me on the first page of a google search? As the Blind Five Year Old states – The answer to this question is yes, but not in the traditional sense.
‘Social is NOT part of Google’s search algorithm. What matters is what happens as a result of
that activity’ 
Did you get that? Social is not part of Google’s search algorithm.
‘At SMX West 2014 Amit Singhal stated that Google+ doesn’t have an impact on the relevance of non-personalized search results.
That’s the head of Google’s search effort telling you that they’re not even using their own social signals to improve search. So they sure as heck aren’t using Twitter or Facebook, sources in which they have less visibility and trust.’
So why bother? Well here’s why.
We recently worked with the Australian Pain Society on their digital strategy. By the time their National Conference came around we were ready to promote it fully. We facebooked, tweeted (at one time #APS2014 was trending on Twitter), did multiple keynote interviews on YouTube and of course blogged. Here are the stats, and this is why it matters:
Klout score before:
Klout score after we had blogged, facebooked, tweeted, done multiple YouTube interviews was 53%. But the Biggie is this:
The Website Traffic was Up by 20% compared to the previous year. And that is what we are actually after.
Increased traffic to your website means more eyes on your business and your calls to actions with the potential to thereby increase your revenue.
The take-home message
The reason you engage in social media, the reason that you want a good Klout score, is this: Social is a valuable part of search engine optimization – or ranking your site highly. It is the results of social media engagement that impact on search engine results. Good social media activity leads people to your website via clicking on a link or comment, that THAT is what search engines take notice of.
So your Klout score – which measures your social media impact – is important. A higher score means that people with more influence are referencing you, and if you are smart your digital strategy will be driving folks to home base – your website.
Is it here to stay?
Klout was recently bought by Lithium Technologies (for the princely sum of $200million) . Lithium is a provider of social customer experience solutions so I would suggest Klout will be further developed and become standard measure.
 Social Signals and SEO – Blind Five Year Old Blog. Accessed 8 May 2014
 Fortune Magazine – Klout acquired for $200 million by Lithium Technologies. Accessed 4 June 2014