By now you have probably heard about Klout, or at least you have seen people bragging about their Klout Scores on Twitter. So, what the heck is a Klout Score? More importantly, why should you even care?

What is Klout?

In short, Klout is an app that utilizes social media analytics to rank users according to their online social influence.

Influence. Isn’t this what we are all striving for? Klout defines influence as, “…the ability to drive action. When you share something on social media or in real life and people respond, that’s influence. The more influential you are, the higher your Klout Score.”

Your Klout Score is a number between 1 and 100. Klout measures the accumulation of your influence across networks like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, YouTube, Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress.com, Last.fm, Flickr and Yammer. It does this by calculating the ratio of reactions you generate compared to the amount of content you share.

Sounds complicated, right? It is. Klout prides itself on having an authentic algorithm to calculate results, and the same thinking goes into the algorithm Google uses to keep its search rankings pure and honest.

Do I have a Klout Score?

If you have a Twitter account, you have a Klout score. Despite whether you have actually decided to claim your account on Klout or not, you have a score.

Be sure to check up on yourself! It is important to know and understand what your Klout score is. A great example of this can be found in a story that Wired published last year about a man in a job interview being asked what his Klout Score was. He proceeded to tell the interviewer that he had no clue what a Klout Score even was. After having the interview cut short, he learned that his Klout score was 34, but the person who got the job had a score of 67.

Interested now? The first step is to actually visit Klout and check your Score. How do you know if it is a good one? The average Klout Score is 40. Users with a score of 63 are in the top 5% of all users. To add a little perspective, my own Klout Score is 55 and Barack Obama’s is 99.

Why should you care about your Klout Score?

First of all, Klout Scores change on an almost daily basis, so don’t start to obsess or stress yourself out.

Your Klout Score can help you benchmark the effectiveness of your social media activity and showcase your expertise in a fast-paced marketplace. Klout proves it isn’t about whom you know, but what you know. If you are a professional in a specific field (in my case this is marketing, graphic design, web design and HubSpot), then you should try and strive for a score upwards of 50. If you regularly post to social media about your industry, you shouldn’t have a hard time boosting your score. Simply claim your account and start connecting all your social media networks.

Since your Klout Score is determined by your social influence, it is a great indication of how people are interacting with your content. Your Klout Score can help you gauge areas you are performing well in, as well as identify those areas that may need to be worked on a little more.

The bottom line: your Klout Score is a grading device. While the layperson might not understand the analytics and algorithms involved in calculating a Klout Score, they do understand that 73 is a higher ranking than 45. Yes, building a following on social media takes time, energy and a major effort, but when a potential client or employer goes to look at your ranking, they go to Klout. It is known as the authority on measuring social influence. Your Klout score isn’t something you can ignore. Be aware of your status, because outsiders will judge you on it.

How do you increase your Klout Score?

  1. Go Public: If you have a Twitter account, you have a Klout Score. If you haven’t claimed your Klout account, go ahead and sign up and connect all of your relevant accounts as soon as possible. Don’t worry about connecting every account that Klout can measure. Klout understands that one person can’t possibly be effective across every single social network, so only add the ones you keep up with.
  2. Connect: Klout isn’t grading you on the number of people you follow, or that follow you in return. They are grading you based on your interactions. This levels the playing field. If you are a social media newbie, you can achieve a greater score just by interacting with the followers you do have.
  3. Watch your Influencers: Identify your influential topics and understand who is blazing the trail. Don’t be afraid to interact with these key influencers and keep them engaged about what you have to say.
  4. Ask Questions: When you finally do identify the key influencers on your own influential topics, don’t be scared to ask them questions. If and when they respond, they will mention you and boost your scores. Get curious and ask about their stories. It isn’t often that people don’t like to talk about themselves.
  5. Make Your Content Accessible: If your content takes effort to share, you won’t get the leverage you’re after. Make sure you utilize RT (retweets) and hashtags in updates with your content. It can have more pull that you think.

How are you doing on Klout? Are you a major influencer, just getting started or have you never been out to their site? Have you ever gained anything from Klout, like a perk for being influential, or a client mentioning your score? Let us know in the comments!

Read more: No Klout Score? No Job Then