Klout is My Frenemy. Going from Nobody to Influencer in One Day

I’ll admit that, though I really enjoy Twitter, I am not a prolific Tweeter.  I have a full-time job doing media relations for our HR services clients, and as one prominent HR influencer likes to say, “Twitter is for people who don’t have real jobs.”  

Therefore, my Klout score has hovered in the 20s since I began my Twitter journey.  I don’t have my own blog and make only an occasional guest appearance on this blog (remember that real job thing?), so I had grudgingly accepted that my Klout score would never be brag-worthy.

So I went about my job and Tweeted when I caught my breath, two or three times a day, and called it good.  Earlier this week, I participated in a client webinar and during that webinar I followed the webinar’s hashtag on Twitter.  For an hour, I Tweeted out the panelists’ questions, and some of their funnier or more profound responses.  A couple of attendees retweeted my Tweets.  It was fun and engaging, and I helped our client move the Twitter discussion along.

Now, back to Klout.  I’d had trouble a few weeks earlier with even finding my account, and I just happened to remember the day after the webinar to try again.  Imagine my astonishment when I was greeted with this:

I suddenly influenced 3,000 people!  My network impact has increased 34 points! And don’t even get me started on my amplification — up 97 points!  What does all of this mean?  It means you like me.  You really, really like me!  I’m popular at last. I’m an HR influencer! 

Well, not so fast. 

It doesn’t take a tech genius to figure out that there’s something rotten in Denmark when one hour of Twitter activity can more than double a Klout score in one day.  Maybe I’m not popular after all.  Maybe all of this is meaningless.  Maybe I should don dark clothing and ponder whether to be or not to be.

Again, not so fast. Klout’s algorithm clearly has some issues (don’t all algorithms?) although it can be an initially useful tool when looking into someone’s Internet street cred.  Klout score of 10?  This is not the person you want heading up your social media program.  Klout score of 35? Probably knows what she’s talking about. Klout score of 70?  Book that guy immediately.

However, as this example clearly points out, Klout, or any software claiming to measure influence, is nowhere near the be-all and end-all measure of social media influence.  For instance, a person who knows how to set up an auto-retweet feature may Tweet a lot, but that doesn’t mean they are making news or coming up with original thoughts or changing people’s minds.

To really find the online influencers, you’ll have to do the harder work of studying your Twitter account, both followers and those you follow, to see what they are actually saying and how often their Tweets are retweeted.  What’s their TFF?  Are they blogging?  On what topics? How often are their blog posts shared? Do certain topics get shared more than others? How large is their LinkedIn network? How about their Facebook Likes? Do their LinkedIn shares and Facebook updates get discussed? Do they keep showing up across the industry?  Do they attend and speak at key events?  Are they really shaping and regularly contributing to the conversation? 

Still with me?

Our own SocialEars HR Edition and SocialVoices database are really helpful here, because we measure many factors (like those listed above) that contribute to an individual’s influence and visibility in the HR industry, and we build tag clouds for the topics they most frequently talk about online and what media outlets and blogs they read (e.g., the content that influences them) and the people sharing their content.  That’s not a commercial; that’s a really useful aside.  Thank me later.

And, ultimately, it’s not about a number assigned to you by an algorithm.  If I really wanted to be popular, I would do what you need to do.  I would follow and interact with industry thought leaders.  I would start and regularly maintain a blog.  I would comment on and share other people’s blogs. I would grow my LinkedIn and Facebook networks and share content on those social networks.  I would find a way to Tweet constantly in the midst of my full-time job—but I would Tweet timely content useful to my followers.  And I would pose provocative questions.   That’s how you build influence.  And how you get popular.

Read about how to use Social Listening and Conversation Analysis Software to improve your marketing and PR here.

Post written by HRmarketer staff member, Heath Havlick.  Heath's postings on this site are her own and don't necessarily represent the opinions of HRmarketer or other staff members.

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