With that title, I have already alienated half of my social contacts and just got the full attention of the other half. I promise to tell you how to increase your score, but first lets define Social influence.
Backstory on Social Influence Metrics
Social Media Influence may be tracked by a series of metrics which determine the likelihood of triggering action from another user. Someone who has been identified with high influence will typically have increased amplification and engagement of their social messages.
There are a number of different tools to measure social influence including Peer Index, Kred and Klout. The metric with the highest adoption is Klout.
What is Klout?
From Klout’s Wikipedia page:
Klout is a website and mobile app that uses social media analytics to rank its users according to online social influence via the “Klout Score”, which is a numerical value between 1 and 100. In determining the user score, Klout measures the size of a user’s social media network and correlates the content created to measure how other users interact with that content.
Why Klout saved us
In the early days, at social media gatherings and tweetups you would hear, “Oh that’s John, he has 1 million twitter followers!” Don’t get me wrong, having a million followers is a huge deal as long as additional qualifiers are met.
Of those million accounts…
- How many are real? It is easy to buy fake followers. Of your real users…
- How many are active? How many have logged into Twitter recently? Obviously your content will never be seen if no one is logged in to see it. Of your active users…
- How many engage with your content? Assuming that all 1M of your followers are real, have they interacted with you?
This is where the validation shifts from size of audience to quality of content, spurring engagement. Now the questions shift to:
- Do you generate content that interests your followers?
- Do you post content using best practices to ensure your followers see it?
- Do you create content at all or do you have a bullhorn that you just never turn on?
So if we are all on the same page that audience size is far less important than audience engagement (baby steps, we will get to conversion soon) then the question becomes how do we communicate this? If we show up to the same tweetup and want to say “Oh that is John, he has really high engagement”… how do we quantify this?
The obvious answer to that question is Klout. Klout has given us a way to place a number on engagement and reach.
How Klout created monsters
By placing a number next to our social profiles and calling it an “Influence” score, this naturally ruffled a lot of egos. The natural objections that surfaced immediately ranging from, “It’s not perfect because it does not factor in offline influence,” to “It’s not perfect because Bieber has more Klout than Obama.” Had we been able to see it for what it was, a social engagement and reach metric (rather than branding and influence metric) I think it would have been received far better.
On the other side of the coin, people who were looking to validate themselves gamed the Klout algorithm, not by using it as a measurement tool for what content performs best, but instead rampant giving of +K’s and sculpting re-shares. I am not throwing this group under the bus as I love to game algorithms, but in doing this you can loose sight of the most important part…. the content.
Rebranding of Klout
During the acquisition to Lithium Technologies, Klout rebranded itself to be less about the score and more about authority building. Now the most prominent feature Klout is the ability to share from a list of curated content. While this will position you as a resource for good information, you still must look to generate your own content if you wish to be an authority in your space.
My Clout with Klout
I have been a huge supporter of Klout since the early days. Here is a timeline of my clout with Klout:
- My first Klout API key was registered in early 2010.
- I built one of the first mashups, an influence leaderboard, kLokal.
- My PHP wrapper is found in Klout’s Code Library.
- Founding member of the Klout squad.
By now some may be saying… ok, but I thought you were going to tell me how to increase my Klout score?
For this experiment I took three accounts: one personal account and two client accounts. The client account baselines were both below a Klout score of 20 and my personal baseline was a 42. In 3 days I increased Klout scores by 20 points for both client accounts. More impressively, in 15 days I increased a 42 Klout score to a 63 on my personal account. (Yes, after first sabotaging my once higher Klout score of 78 for the sake of this experiment.)
Step into the 40’s
If you want to increase your score from 20 to 40 it can be done in 3 days. Your main focus to achieve this is based on follower size and basic engagement.
How I did it:
- Establish a Foundation. Ensure all available social networks are connected. This means create a Google+ & Instagram if you do not yet have one.
- Optimize your Profiles. A well written social bio will encourage more follows and help people find you.
- Grow your Followers. One way to do this is by using the follow-back approach. Follow relevant users who have been recently active at a time you see them online. If you are not sure who to follow, examine who follows profiles similar to yours. I also recommend searching a hashtag and follow users who posted in the last 5 minutes; this will increase the chance they see that you followed them and there is a 20-30% chance they will follow you back (if not, rinse and repeat :)).
- Share compelling content. Find topics you want to be an authority in and curate content (meaning share content of really good articles and posts that others create). While it is not your original content, this can help you build your brand as a valuable resource for uncovering knowledge.
- Get others to share your content. The better the content you find and curate, the more likely others will re-share it, especially if you are among the first to share it out.
- Ask questions, answer questions. Be engaging by being an active participant in conversations on social channels.
But wait Rob, aren’t these just social media best practices? Yeah, what did you think I was going to tell you to do? More sophisticated algorithms will respond to authentic techniques. Focus on being a better marketer and you will get a better Klout score.
Step into the 60’s
You may say “Ok, I am at a score of 40 now, but I can’t seem to get any higher. You promised to take me up to a 60 in a few weeks. How do I do that?”.
First note that an increase in Klout score from a 40 to 60 is substantially harder than from 20 to 40, as each point higher takes more effort than the point before. To achieve this you really need to focus on generating your own content to build authority and maximizing your reach across multiple networks.
In 2 weeks I went from a 42 to a 63 Klout score. Technically, as you can see above, I increased my score by 53 points in 3 weeks you can learn more about that in the Confessions of a Digital Thrillist.
Here is how I did it:
- Create compelling content. Curating content is great, but you will not go higher without authoring your own content. I started generating a series of longer blog posts (like this one) which I posted one every 3 days. I also turned the blog post into a slidedeck for the visual types and posted on Slideshare. I would recommend also creating it as a video (I will eventually do this… maybe… I really should, it would go a long way if I did!)
- Share your content. For each blog post I created, I posted the link to my personal Twitter account, retweeted it from relevant business accounts. Posted the link to Facebook, reshared it to relevant business accounts. Posted the link to LinkedIn & Google+.
- Be Social: I started a discussion on Facebook by asking a question and then kept the conversation going by @mentioning more users in subsequent comments.
- Go offline. I attended a few offline events and participated in a live-tweet and tweetups. By being a part of the conversation, my social handles were discovered and I increased my reach and engagement. Be sure you are using the event hashtag or no one will see your content.
- Upgrade your social class. If you are the owner of your company and your title is ‘Problem Solver’ you will get less of a bump than if it is ‘Chief Executive Officer.’ Similarly, if you are connected on LinkedIn to a number of ‘C-level’ types, this will give you a bump.
- Brand your name. If you have a Wikipedia page that is updated regularly and has a number of sites linking to it you will see a significant increase. Another factor is people searching for your name; Bing is a Klout technology partner, so if your name is searched for frequently this will count towards your Klout score.
- Harness Advocates. The silver bullet, however, was by signing up on Surrounds.Me social advocacy tool and targeting influencers to re-share my content. The higher the Klout score of the advocates, the greater the impact, but I recommend staying focused on your true advocates as you will get a higher aggregate bonus over time from them.
My Secret Weapons
While all of the above is good, you may want some help automating your efforts.
My absolute secret weapon is an application I have been developing over the last year. You can learn more about Surrounds.Me on its website, but in short, it is a social action engine which unites your advocates in one dashboard. Here they can complete a series of tasks.
With this tool you can curate your own content and recommended social tasks in one easy to access dashboard.
There is a sophisticated rewards system attached to the tool whereby users who complete the social actions which drive up your Klout score can be rewarded for their time. If my advocates rack up 250 points I will provide a a personal consultation and answer any questions they have. If they are in Hawaii, that can include a lunch on me as well. At the end of each week I will send out a thank you post to my top advocates which will in-turn increase their Klout score.Learn More
Scheduled Content Marketing
Staying consistent with your social posts can be difficult; I use L8TR which is similar to a Buffer or HootSuite, but it’s my own tool developed by the amazing SaaS Ventures team. L8TR allows you to easily schedule your social content to be released in a consistent manner.
Remember that consistency is also a factor in staying top of mind for your audience.Learn More
While there are ways to game Klout, you are best served by focusing on social media best practices and building authentic connections with your social sphere. If you want some help automating your efforts I recommend Surrounds.Me and L8TR.co.