My days start the same way. Every morning at around 2:15am, I wake up and hit the feeds. I have over 20 SEO blogs, 40 social media blogs, and a dozen automotive blogs that I start with at the beginning of my day and that I check regularly throughout. I read more about these two important topics, search and social, on any given day than most read in a month.
I’m not saying all of this to brag. If anything, it’s sort of sad that I chose to enter a pair of worlds that are in such a state of constant change that staying on top of my game is a daily task.
The reason that I bring this up is that despite all of the effort that I put into staying ahead in search and social, the topic that I’ve received the most questions about over the past two months is Klout.
It’s the only thing I understand about internet marketing that has absolutely nothing with driving traffic, generating leads, or making sales, yet a day hasn’t gone by in a long time during which I am not asked about how to do better on Klout.
If it is to be, then so be it. Let’s talk Klout…
Understanding the Underlying Forces
Before learning the tips and techniques that can help you grow your Klout score, it’s important to understand the dynamic. Monitoring Twitter tells me that there are some misunderstandings surrounding how Klout works.
First and foremost, it’s a 90-day scale. Every day worth of activity is not adding to your score. It’s replacing whatever you did 91 days ago. This is important to understand because all too often I see complaints about how someone had a strong content day with a ton of +Ks, great posts on Facebook that got a ton of likes and comments, and retweet requests designed specifically to go after more Klout. These people wonder how their Klout score could have gone down after such a strong day.
The reason is that it’s a replacement day. One day falls off the tail end as yesterday gets added to your score. If 91 days ago you were a social media rockstar, yesterday’s addition to the mix might not make a big difference.
Another dynamic that must be understood is that the it’s not a linear scale. It’s a logarithmic scale. In other words, moving from a 60 to a 65 is much easier than going from a 65 to a 70. The difference between 79 and 80 is greater than the difference between 50 and 60. This does nothing to change strategy but it’s good for the psyche to not get discouraged; moving up quickly into the 60s or 70s might set you up for disappointment if it takes you a month to go from 74 to 75.
The last thing to understand about the underlying forces is that the different networks do not necessarily compound. Having an amazing Facebook profile and adding in a stellar Twitter account does not give you double the bang. There is repetition involved. Facebook friends are often Twitter friends and as a result their influence on you is only counted once even if they double the activity. Even if the networks have completely different audiences, there will be a forced overlap between the networks. Again, not terribly important but combining it with the rest of the understanding behind the system gives you the ability to “feel” your Klout score more easily. Now, the tips…
What to Avoid
Notice the title of this article. I mentioned doing it the “right” way. There are definitely wrong ways to go about building Klout. These things include but are not limited to:
- Don’t Get Klout Goggles – The quest to get a higher number has caused many that I’ve seen to abandon their real social media goals (such as promotion and/or marketing) and replace it all with Klout bait. Klout can get you free Axe Body Spray. It won’t pay the bills.
- Don’t Buy Followers – This should be a no-brainer and anyone reading this blog is probably advanced enough to avoid this at all costs, but it should be stated that from Klout’s perspective, quality definitely rules over quantity. That’s not to say that you’re going to blow up the Klout world with 14 Twitter followers and 8 Facebook friends, but take a look at CJ Romig. He has 1600 Twitter followers, 200 Facebook friends, and he’s in 500 Google+ circles. He has average numbers in the follower department, but his Klout is 70 because his content is amazing and his engagement is strong.
- Don’t Fake Engagement – It’s one thing to be interesting. It’s another thing to be desperate. This is probably a personal bias that has nothing to do with tips and will probably offend some, but it annoys me when I see people post a picture of a sick little boy in Africa with the title, “Like this if you think Lizo deserves clean water. Share this if you think he deserves a proper education.” Exploitation. Don’t do it. If you’re not writing a check for every like and share you get, don’t get involved with awareness campaigns that lead to nothing.
- Don’t Overpost – First of all, it doesn’t work. Second, it’s more annoying than effective. Third, it still doesn’t work. Just like with followers, posts have the same basic formula – quality over quantity.
- Don’t Pollute Your LinkedIn – Yes, Klout looks at LinkedIn, but it’s weighted very low. The network is much more valuable as a networking tool than an engagement tool. You should always stay on point with what you post and who you connect with on LinkedIn.
Do it Right
Now that you know what not to do, here are some tips to help you get your score up.
- Long vs Short – Long posts (including photo galleries) on Facebook and Google+ that are text-heavy tend to get more likes. Short posts (including single images) get more shares. Comments are determined by the quality and style of the post. Try to mix it up, posting short posts often and inserting long posts from time to time. Stick within the bounds of your personality, though. Tracy Myers does exceptionally well with his long posting style, while Louie Baur rarely posts a complete sentence. Both are rocking the Klout.
- Mix Real Life with Virtual – Some are able to keep their social media profiles loaded with what they’re doing in the real world. Look at John Boitnott. He’s always on the move and documenting his journeys in the form of images and videos. He posts through Facebook mobile, Instagram, and other tools to keep his posts flowing properly (discussed below). On the other hand, some can do well without a single image from their smartphone. The ideal formula mixes the two, combining real life events with interesting finds or opinions that come from the comfort of your desk.
- Splitting the Tools on Facebook – The most annoying part about the biggest (and most Klout-influential) social network is that they batch images. If you take two photos in a 24 hour period with your mobile device, they get batched. More than one Instagram post in a couple of days – batched. Using tools like Hootsuite or Buffer more than once in a 24-hour period – batched. The problem with batched images is that they do not have like, share, or comment buttons that appear in the news feed. For someone to like an image that has been batched, they have to click through to it, something that most are unwilling to do. I’ve seen batched images on my feed get zero engagement. I could then manually post the same image the next day and get dozens of likes, comments, and shares. Facebook likes posts from Facebook.com. The others get one touch a day or less. Mix up your posting tools and avoid getting them batched.
- Don’t Forget Google+ – I can always tell when a friend remembers Google+. They’ll be inactive on it for days, then bust out with a dozen uploads to make up for lost time. The best way to do it is to post on Google+ at the same time that you’re posting to Facebook. Technically, you want to post different content as the two networks have nuances, but that’s for another blog post to discuss. For now, if you’re posting to Google+ every day, you’re already ahead of the curve.
- Give Klout +Ks – Those who give, receive. If you’re active on Klout, you should get 10 +Ks per day to give to those who influence you. Take advantage of these. It’s not just about being a nice person and giving kudos to friends. Giving often gets people to give back to you. Call it artificial. Call it back scratching. Call it cronyism. They put +Ks on the site for a reason and they do have an influence over your Klout score, so using them daily is a simple best practice.
- On Twitter, One-Way-Engagement (unfortunately) Works – Getting into conversations on Twitter is great. It’s easy. You can spark them. People will spark them with you. Everyone benefits from this type of back and forth engagement. Unfortunately (I think it’s a flaw in their system), you get more credit for being a snob. If you get retweets and @replies from people that you aren’t talking to, it weighs more than conversing with them. Klout looks at conversations much the same as how Google looks at reciprocal links. Don’t let Klout change your Twitter personality, though. If you thank every single person who retweets you, don’t stop now! You’re a better person than most. It’s a good bit of information to know but you don’t necessarily have to act on it. Snobs are snobbish, after all.
- Build Diversity by Spreading Out – The Klout algorithm sees patterns. If the same people are liking, commenting, sharing, retweeting, +1ing, and generally engaging with your content over an over again, the returns on Klout diminish. The easiest way to reach a broader audience and diversify is to post through the day and night rather than in a couple of batches the way that most people handle social media. Spending 10 minutes every couple of hours is better than spending 30 minutes twice a day.
If you do these things, you’re on your way, but remember that these are just tips. The real keys to Klout are (a) building an engaged audience, and (b) posting absolutely amazing content. If you’re funny, be funny. If you’re controversial, be controversial. If you’re cynical, go to Reddit and forget Klout exists.
Remember, your value is not determined by an algorithm. Klout is a game, an inaccurate measurement designed to keep geeks like me worried about our scores. I might have a higher Klout score than Robert Horry, but I don’t have 7 NBA Championship Rings on my hands to go with it.