This article originally appeared at American Express OpenForumSo, you spend all this time on social media sites, but what do you have to show for it?
If you use social media to post pictures of your children, then your profile is rich with “likes,” some comments, and maybe if you’re lucky, an occasional Twitter reply. But if you’re using sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, FourSquare and whatever else to promote your business and yourself, then you definitely are hungry for some statistical evidence that favourably supports the time and effort you’ve put into an online presence. Fingers are crossed that there is a quantitative payoff for your work social media efforts.
Though just two years old, social media analytics service Klout has picked up in mainstream popularity now that it expanded it’s reach by integrating with YouTube joining fellow integrated sites like Foursquare, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. This summer alone, the small San Francisco startup launched by CEO Joe Fernandez and co-founder Binh Tran have partnered with Spotify, introduced a +K feature and rebranded a perks feature.
Curious, but unfamiliar with it? Well, Klout is a site that measures our influence on social media sites by assigning something of a credit score, a number ranging between 1 and 100. That score determines user influence and ability to motivate online action.
I created my own Klout profile to gauge how effective versus time sucking my social media involvement truly is. My score is a paltry 58, but according to Klout that makes me a “specialist,” with a decent reach. Justin Bieber famously scored 100, but that score is well earned. OpenForum has a score of 73 and categorized as a “thought leader.” My well-known American in Paris, food blogger friend, @DavidLebovitz is also a “thought leader” with a score of 66.
Seeing the numbers is motivating to me to figure out how to waste less time and influence my followers more. (This would be an opportune time for me then to shamelessly suggest you readers “like” and RT this article, and follow me @levinemachine.)
Knowing whether you are a massive time sucker on the Internet, or a productive information sharing bunny is all fine and dandy, what is even more useful, however, is what can we do with this information that might ultimately help our businesses?
For Sandi McKenna one half of the Midlife Road Trip blog (her other half is Rick Griffin), Klout is yet another social media component the duo use given that their blog, was born out of social media. (Midlife Road Trip has a 58, McKenna’s @McMedia has a 73, @RickGriffin has a 72.)
“It gives us additional credibility in our areas of expertise: travel, food, video and adventure,” says McKenna. “We are cognisant of our Klout score and use it to keep us honest, authentic and true to who and what we are about.”
For McKenna and Griffin Klout is a self-monitoring tool they use to keep track of where and who they have a greatest influence on. With that information they focus their twittering and content production more heavily in those areas. As a result, they’ve benefited from perks the site offers for their involvement which have included a camera and hotel stays—helpful rewards for travel bloggers.
“It keeps us social,” says McKenna. “We’ve noticed if we are on the road, not interacting as much, that our score drops. Our ultimate goal is to someday be able to translate our Klout score into sponsorship and advertising dollars.”
For Nancy Schuster, a freelance lifestyle publicist representing the online brandAccessoryArtists.com, she is considered an “explorer” with a Klout score of 44. The site helps her grow her business by weeding through and determining how legit her impact is beyond the handful of “likes” she sees on her wall about clients. She also uses Klout for a back up of statistics on her clients to get a quantitative overlook of their global relevance.
“It’s really been the only true testament of relevance at this point in the digital game,” says Schuster. Like most business situations, the proof is in the numbers and Klout measures mine and my client’s impact and global influence. This is something I need to be able to show to my clients and the buying public. Klout allows me to back up my reputation with metrics.”
Like anything involving social media, Klout has it’s obsessive component where users want to see their clout translate into a higher Klout score. Schuster checks her score weekly and uses her progress or lack of as a barometer. She’s decided for her business, while her score is important she is also focused on the category label Klout assigns.
“I’ve been focusing on altering and maintaining my Klout style,” says Schuster. “I believe my “style” may actually have a stronger impact on viewers. Being a “tastemaker” or “broadcaster,” for example is more important in my line of work then being defined as an “observer” or “dabbler.”
So what’s the best way to get that score up and show your social media influence? Focus on what you know best and love, but also keep a well-rounded online presence that doesn’t just include posting on your end, but a real engagement with your online community that involves both friends and followers.
Do you waste an obscene amount of time on social media sites or are you using them usefully?
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