How Klout Works

Wondering how influential you are in the social media realm? Klout claims that it can measure your impact.
Wondering how influential you are in the social media realm? Klout claims that it can measure your impact.
Courtesy Klout

Gone are the days when we judged our influence-makers by, say, their actual influence.

Instead, we can now shrewdly decide who is the most important person in the (digital) room by cross-referencing Facebook friends with Twitter retweets. A middling celebrity is in your Google+ circle? Congratulations. You, my friend, are now going to get a lot of LinkedIn requests. And how do we know that? Because your Klout score is a glittering 81.

Klout is a kind of arbiter of social networking. Launched in 2008, the company looked at the growing influence of professional and personal networks and discovered there was a use for measuring one's digital cachet. By linking to your Facebook account, Twitter, Foursquare, Google+ and even Wikipedia, Klout can scan any mention of your name and activity on social network sites.

From there, it doesn't just tell you how many times you're mentioned -- it also informs you how valuable the content you create is to the larger fabric of digital society. From a score of one (seriously, do you have a computer?) to 100 (you might be Barack Obama), Klout will let you know if you're making an impact. Klout, in other words, is a network to assess how well you're networking.

And if that idea exhausts you (or inspires legitimate reflection that Facebook posts of last night's dinner aren't getting enough "likes"), then you're not alone. Klout has been skewered by critics as a useless, smug application designed for those who simply want to brag about how digitally flexible they are.

But Klout -- which reportedly has a few million users -- is a digital trend that isn't easily dismissed [source: McHugh]. Consider this: The software company Salesforce posted job openings sweetly requesting that candidates have a Klout score higher than 35. We're now beyond just asking for a clean criminal record or a background in accounting, I guess.

But what business is Klout really in, and how does one's score even add up? Find out on the next page.