Earlier today, I had an exchange with Steve Radick and Christopher Whitaker about the nature and value of Klout scores (embedded below).
I’ve spoken before about what Klout scores mean, how to use them, and when to ignore them, but I wanted both to share my current thinking, and hear your thoughts in a medium that doesn’t constrain us to 140 characters.
What Klout Means
Klout is only one of a few influence-measuring sites. PeerIndex and Kred do much the same thing, albeit with different visuals and ratings systems. But they all try to take into account many of the same variables to answer one basic question: how influential are you in the realm of popular digital social media? On a more basic, pragmatic, level, what they are actually assessing are these metrics:
1. How often do you post to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Linked In?
2. How many of your followers find your content engaging/timely/relevant enough to repost?
3. How well-connected are you within these social media?
3. How many of your followers are themselves well-connected within these social media?
A higher Klout score (or Kred Score or PeerIndex rating) means that (a) you post often (b) you have many followers, who (c) have many followers and (d) they engage with you and the content you post.
How To Use Your Klout Score
My score is currently 46.6. It’s been as high as 52 and as low as 33; recently, though, it’s been hovering between 45 and 48. I try to visit the site once or twice a month, and never more often than once a week. What’s important, I think, is the trend line, rather than the raw number.
For most people, using social media is a means for getting their job done, it’s not the actual job itself (here, online marketing and communications professionals may be excepted). Think of it this way: If you were a carpenter, for example, you wouldn’t be graded on how well you used a hammer, but rather how well you built cabinets. The same is true if you’re in government communications–you’re graded on how well you disseminate information through every channel–digital and otherwise–and social media channels are only a portion of your workload.
What I recommend to people is that they use social media in the way that seems best for them for a few months or a few years and then look at their Klout (or PeerIndex, etc) scores as a baseline so that they can see how their results change in relation to their scores. When you find you more successful in your job, is there a concomitant rise in your Klout score? Conversely, is there a dip in your score? That might mean that social media activity is distracting from, rather than adding to, your success.
Finally, it’s important to remember that many social media are not online and cannot be measured by any online tool. Conferences, collaboration spaces, meet-ups, hackathons, internal working groups–these are all important social media that are not measurable by Klout, but may be far more important to your job performance than Twitter, Facebook, or Linked In.
In short, use your Klout score as an indication of your use of social media, and look for trend lines rather than raw numbers. And don’t forget that the most important social media for you may bot be online.