A Klout crash course

CIOs often seem to worry about their clout, as in their degree of influence among senior business leaders and coworkers. Soon they may have to start thinking about their Klout as well.

First launched in 2007, Klout is an online service designed to measure the degree of influence someone has through various social media channels. Klout uses an algorithm that takes into account not only how many followers someone has, but how often the information they share on social media gets spread by others, the number of responses and so on. All these add up to a Klout score between 1 and 100, with 100 putting you in the ranks of celebrities like Lady Gaga and Oprah Winfrey.

Though most closely associated with Twitter, Klout has slowly been adding other social media services into the mix of data from which it develops its scores, including Facebook, LinkedIn and soon Foursquare.
CIOs who are just getting started with something like Twitter might be disappointed if their Klout score is low, but that’s to be expected. As you engage in more online conversations through these services, it’s almost bound to go up.
How Klout can indicate clout
By using Klout and becoming familiar with their scores, CIOs could begin to demonstrate a real familiarity with the kind of metrics that matter to other parts of the business. For example, Klout attempts to give a sense of several areas such as “network influence.” This is the degree to which the most highly engaged people you follow (or who follow you) on Twitter are likely to share the information you put on there. Then there’s “amplification probability,” which indicates whether the information you share (like registering for an event or signing an online petition) will be acted upon. Finally, there’s “true reach,” which factors in not only the people who follow you on social media, but all the people they follow, or the largest potential audience for your information. These are all things that could help feed an enterprise marketing strategy, for example, whether it’s launching a new product or providing feedback to customer service requests through social media.

Klout can also give CIOs a critique of the way their personalities are seen online. The services defines 16 different Klout styles, a classification of how you go about sharing and engaging with others. 

It’s important CIOs don’t attach too much to their Klout styles, however, because they’re always changing. You can move from “networker” to “specialist” relatively quickly, even if the content you’re putting on these services remains the same. It’s all about how the audience responds. Similarly, Klout groups all scores into a Gartner-style quadrant that puts some people as “listening/casual,” others “focused/consistent” and the upper stratosphere “creative/broad.” It’s perhaps natural that most of the Canadian CIOs we ranked fall into the bottom quadrants; many of them probably aspire to be focused and consistent thought leaders as opposed to creative and broad “celebrities,” as the penultimate Klout style is described.

Klout doubt
Not everyone sees Klout as very credible. There are competing services, for one thing, and the question of influence can be relative. If your target audience is bankers, for example, there may be only a small number you need retweeting a link or liking something you put on Facebook to be successful. As CIOs have focused more and more on business outcomes in their work, they should apply the same rationale to social media. Klout does, however, offer a simple and free tool that could help CIOs begin to help their organizations figure out the kind of metrics that make the most sense to them.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Shane Schick
Shane Schickhttp://shaneschick.com
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