Klout, a startup that measures social influence, has spent the past year trying to turn its initial buzz into a lasting business. Now, after four months of testing, it thinks it has found a solution.
Today Klout is launching a platform that lets users dictate their level of influence for the first time.
When Klout launched, it stirred up controversy because it told people how influential they were or weren’t based on a score of 1 to 100. It also told them which topics they were most influential on. Klout didn’t offer a lot of insight into how scores were calculated.
“The question I get asked most frequently is, ‘How do I increase my Klout score?'” founder and CEO Joe Fernandez tells Business Insider.
The new platform helps answer that question, and it looks a lot like a social news reader. Now when you log into Klout, you’ll see a number of articles that are relevant to your area of expertise. Klout uses the 15 billion bits of data it processes each day to recommend content that falls into four buckets: Content that’s about to go viral (“On the Rise”), content your audience is likely to engage with (“Crowd Pleaser”), content that hasn’t been seen by your followers (“Hidden Gem”), and timely articles (“Hot off the Press”). Klout lets users blast the content to their social media followers right from its platform. They can also schedule blasts in advance.
Klout is starting with article recommendations but it’s plotting an expansion into other types of shareable posts, such as quotes, photos and questions/conversation starters.
Sharing Klout’s recommended content won’t directly boost a person’s Klout score, Chief Product Officer Sanjay Desai tells Business Insider. But at the same time, Klout is recommending the content because it thinks it will engage audiences, and engagement lifts scores.
Klout’s social news reader isn’t a new concept. A lot of companies suggest shareable content but most cater to CMOs, not individuals. New York-based Percolate is one example. NewsCred, which just raised $US25 million, also focuses on the marketing cloud. So does Contently, which just raised $US9 million.
On the consumer side, LinkedIn acquired Pulse to start dabbling in content recommendation tools. A lot of mobile news readers have also launched recently, like Inside and Circa, which are competitors.
Klout is hoping the sheer amount of data it’s processing will help make it the best solution yet. It measures influence scores for 500 million profiles and pulls data from eight social networks. It’s also able to pull search data thanks to a partnership with Microsoft and Bing. More than 200,000 businesses have partnered with Klout on its previous offerings, including Perks, which allow CMOs to send offerings to influential people.
Revenue generation hasn’t been Klout’s primary focus. Still, it managed to generate about $US10 million last year, up from about $US4 million the year prior. Klout has partnered with 42 of the top 100 brands, including McDonald’s and P&G. The enterprise tools and Perks Klout formerly offered brands will still exist, but Klout is hoping the new platform will generate significantly more revenue in 2014.
Right now, Klout’s platform is free. It will likely launch a premium model for marketers who want to have more tools — like the ability to manage more than one account at a time. In addition, Klout may offer sponsored content to relevant influencers.
Will Klout’s new conversation-starter strategy work? Fernandez believes in it but he’s able to admit that running a startup is an emotional roller coaster. “On any given day,” he says, “I feel as close to $US0 as I do to a billion.”
Here’s what the platform looks like: