You’ve been engaging audiences via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ and doing quite well thank you, when along comes Klout. Of course, you can’t help but wonder: what is Klout? Is it something you need for your nonprofit?It appears that the jury’s still out. Klout is a social media networking tool that measures your influence in social media spheres. Each user is granted a score from 1-100 based on data Klout finds on the user’s social networks. Klout says it, “examines more than 400 variables on multiple social networks beyond your number of followers and friends,” as it determines your score. The close your score is to 100, the more influence you wield online.
Automatically Generated Score
You don’t have to sign up for Klout to be assigned a score – as influential NYC club owner Mark Birnbaum is. If you have a Twitter account, a score is automatically generated for you. Other users can help you earn points toward your score by awarding you a +K in specific topics (for instance, music or genealogy) on which you are deemed by them to be an expert. This is similar to the LinkedIn endorsement system.
Klout offers perks for those with higher scores by way of company partnerships. For example, American Airlines recently partnered with Klout to offer free one-day passes to its VIP lounge rooms to anyone with a Klout score of over 55 (40 is considered an average Klout score). That might be nice for an individual, but probably not of much value to the nonprofit. On the other hand, Klout offers individuals and nonprofits a tidy way to gain perspective on which posts have impact and which fail to make the grade. Klout shows you how many people engaged with a particular post and also shows your influence over time charted as a graph.
A nonprofit can look to see the scores of its social media team members to see whether they are effectively engaging the public. And if a nonprofit has a Facebook page or a Twitter account, the nonprofit can gauge its effectiveness by monitoring the Klout score for the page or account. The car donation charity, Kars For Kids, for instance, has a Klout score of 46, certainly above average, which shows that the charity has a significant online presence and is effectively engaging others.
So what’s the downside to Klout? Some find the entire idea of Klout to be slightly icky, with some, such as British science fiction writer Charles Stross claiming that Klout may even violate the 1998 UK Data Protection Act. Stross has described Klout as, “the Internet equivalent of herpes.”
The bottom line? Like every other social media network, Klout is a tool. It’s free, and it can help you measure online engagement. As time goes on, Klout will likely improve its accuracy or conversely, bite the dust for all eternity. For now, there’s no reason not to make use of this tool, since it does have value and it’s free.