Status updates, comments, tweets, shares, retweets, likes, +1s - all of these data points help social media analysts and marketers gauge the influence of a particular person or business.
With the different metrics and analytics tools available on the market, what is one metric that 400 million social media users can use to measure their own social media influence? A Klout Score.
Founded in San Francisco in 2009, Klout is a company that measures digital influence through data points from Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms.
In Klout, every user receives a score from 1 to 100; the higher the Klout score, the more influence the service thinks you have in your social networks.
Several cynics and faultfinders consider the score as whimsical and insignificant to the social media industry, even though Klout has steadily increased its reputation and popularity during the last few years due to its carefully calculated, complex algorithms.
With a Klout score of 78, marketing expert Gina Carr disagrees with the detractors, as blatantly suggested in her new book's title.
Written by Carr and Terry Brock, Klout Matters: How to Engage Customers, Boost Your Digital Influence- and Raise Your Klout Score for Success attempts to address the currently heated debate on the value of a Klout score.
The book offers a clear, deep perception of understanding on how to make the most of websites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Wikipedia.
A Professional Tool
The BusinessNewsDaily and Carr had an email interview wherein she provided some valuable tips to people not only to magnify digital influence, but also to explain why the badmouthed Klout score is a professional tool that analysts and marketers have to take into proper consideration.
Carr told BND that Klout matters to potential and current influencers, especially to authors, speakers, marketers, actors, and other types of thought leaders, because decisions nowadays rely on influence, and Klout offers a good way to provide a system of measurement for online influence.
She said Klout is significant for people who want to obtain Klout Perks from brands that share products and services with extremely influential individuals.
Asked whether or not there are certain professionals who do not need Klout, Carr said the Klout score will be insignificant to businesses focused on small geographical markets, because it best for professionals in search of national or international audiences.
ABCs of Social Engagement
Apart from the tips on Klout score improvement, Carr said the new book provides some of the most vital principles such as the ABCs of social engagement: A for "always be engaging," B for "be consistent," and C for "connect."
1. "Always be engaging"
This line talks about personal engagement that is best done through online communities, such as Google+ Communities, LinkedIn Groups, Facebook Groups, and Twitter chats.
The widespread distribution of marketing materials across different industries has become an outdated form of advertising, and marketing now tends to use targeted connections on a personal level.
People will always prefer to talk to a real human being than an automated program to connect and engage with them.
Social media marketing is at its finest when real people are involved.
2. "Be consistent"
If you only tweet monthly, you definitely are ineffective on Twitter because your followers will easily forget about you.
You want to come out on your social networks regularly and unfailingly, with a well-planned strategy to connect and engage with the community.
This signifies that you deal with other people by listening to their needs or demands and reacting or responding in detail, with since support and attention.
"Connect" may also mean it is vital to connect and engage with your social networks through the klout.com website.
Many people still do not know they are unconnected, although most - if not all - of them already are on Klout.
Eventually those people will see an increase in their Klout score after they add their other social networks to their Twitter account through klout.com.
Klout Scores as Part of Job Hunting
Asked about the potential of Klout scores as a replacement to resumes, Carr said this is beyond the horizon, and added, "It's not "either/or," it's "both/and. A Klout score could replace a resume would be like saying in the early 1900s that a telephone will someday replace all face-to-face meetings."
Even so, Carr thinks Klout scores will be considered in future hiring processes, as more and more recruiters use this metric to filter job seekers and applicants.
No Time for Social Media
People now are so busy with current events that they no longer have time or room to accommodate new things.
Carr said the most successful individuals follow a particular strategy and create a timetable to communicate and engage with existing and potential customers on social media to optimize the platform for business.
The authors advise people to focus on the business strategy, and then to have systems - productivity tools, a checklist, a schedule for content creation and sharing, and so on - to serve as their daily guide.
In addition, you have to use social media for business to focus on platforms where most of your customers spend their time, and devote time and effort to what your customers consider important and valuable.
This catchphrase still holds true today: What is important is what important people think is important.
Carr said the important persons to a business that have to paid attention to are those people who pay the bills - the clients, customers, patients, members, or some other term.
To finish multiple tasks at the same time, especially duties you have no need of doing, you may contract out or outsource some parts of your social media marketing campaign
For instance, you may hire a virtual assistant or team that will prepare or create nice photos or videos to match textual content, or a social media assistant to prepare content to be posted on your social media accounts.
You have to pay attention to your social networks, such that these platforms always convey the right message using the tone of your voice, with vigor and encouragement.
Social Media Tools and Blog Posts
Asked to provide examples of online tools that may help individuals and businesses to facilitate social media management, Carr said some of the tools that social media marketers use more often are Buffer, HootSuite, and EyeJot.
Carr said it is vital for influencers and thought leaders to develop compelling content for communities, such as blogs, podcasts, and YouTube channels.
Apart from that, it is important for companies to obtain content from problems and questions that customers regularly bump into.
The top posts on blog sites are those that begin from customer feedback and complaints, and then flourish into a good-looking fruit tree where customers may partake, she added.
A closely connected subject matter is to draw from the information pool of your own sales department, because it regularly handles customers.
In customer interactions, the sales force encounter and learn problems and complaints customers run into, so social media marketers recommend members of the sales division to contribute and write editorials in the company blog.
Being an Expert
How do you become an expert or authority in your chosen field?
Carr said an aspect to develop is to fix into a certain topic and become a thought leader with a well-established name as the go-to guy for that subject matter, credibility, valuable marketing skills, and relevant knowledge, rather than empty words and thoughts.
While there are several methods to follow the route, Carr said it starts from two things: relevant marketing skills and knowledge, and proper dissemination of information.
Apart from having the facilities to cater to the market demands, you have to broadcast information through several ways and means, such as blogging, writing books and columns, recording podcasts, and other modern tools to circulate information.
Even so, Carr said authoring a book on your field is still among best methods to establish your name as an expert.
The Future of Klout Score in Small Business
To end the interview, BND asked Carr about the future impact of Klout scores to small businesses.
She and her co-author believe Klout and other social scoring systems and metrics will gain traction and be valuable in time, because the essence of word-of-mouth marketing is for businesses to manage customers who regularly share positive things with friends.
Carr said hotels now use Klout scores to determine which guests may avail a reward or an upgraded amenity during check-in, and it may extend to small businesses sooner or later.
Since small businesses have limited resources, owners will want to focus their marketing budget on the most valuable assets, and focusing on highly influential people makes sense.
Klout provides the small business industry access to a competitive advantage through understanding potential customers.