May 05, 2012, 7:30 AM — Maybe you've never heard of Klout, the San Francisco-based startup founded in 2009 that purports to measure how influential users are across social networks. But that doesn't mean Klout hasn't heard of you: If you have a Twitter account, you have a Klout score.
According to Wired, marketing consultant Sam Fiorella was recently passed over for a job when, during his interview, he confessed that he had no idea what a Klout score was. He subsequently learned that his Klout score was 34--not too bad--but the guy who got the job had a Klout score of 67.
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Klout assigns people a score of between 1 and 100--with 1 being someone who's never seen social media, and 100 being Justin Bieber. The average person has a score of 20; anything higher means that you're at least moderately influential in your area of expertise. Everyone with an active Twitter account has a Klout score, though they can opt out of the system if they wish.
Your next job interview may not include a question about your Klout score, but I wouldn't recommend ignoring it entirely. According to Matt Thomson, Klout's VP of platform, having a higher Klout score may soon enable you to nab earlier plane boarding times, free access to airport lounges, hotel upgrades, and discounts from retail stores. Gilt Groupe recently offered discounts based on Klout score--from 20 percent for users with scores of 20 or lower, to 100 percent for users with scores of 81 or higher.
What Is Klout?
Klout attempts to measure your online clout--that is, your ability to influence people on the Internet. Using data aggregated from social networks, Klout determines how good you are at persuading other people to act.
"Klout defines influence as the ability to drive action," says Lynn Fox, Klout's head of communications. According to Fox, "we analyze a number of social media engagement variables to measure influence, including Twitter retweets and mentions, Facebook comments and likes, LinkedIn comments and likes, Foursquare tips and to-do's, and Google+ comments and reshares."
Klout's website notes that ae Klout score takes three major factors into account: True Reach (how many people you actually influence), Amplification (how much you influence those people), and Network (how influential your network is).
To increase your Klout score, you need to focus on these three things--increasing the number of people who respond to and share your content, ensuring that your tweets and status updates are easy for people to respond to and share, and strengthening your network by engaging with people who have high Klout scores.
How to Increase Your Klout Score
Though Klout does not share its reputation calculation algorithms with the public, figuring out how to increase your Klout score doesn't require an advanced degree in Bieberology. Here are ten unofficial tips on how to become a social media maven and a VIP at venues responsive to that sort of status.
1. Go Public
Everyone who has a semi-active Twitter account automatically has a Klout score. If your Twitter account is private, though, your score will hover around 10--no matter how actively you post to it. That's because Klout, as a third-party application, can aggregate only public data or private data that you explicitly grant it permission to access.
If you currently keep your Twitter account private, a surefire way to increase your Klout score is to log in to Klout, allow Klout to access your private data, and make your Twitter account public. Having a public account increases the chance people who are not in your network will share and respond to your content, thereby increasing your score.