How Klout Works

Your Klout Score

So let's say we're signing up with Klout. You probably won't be surprised to learn that Klout can easily access your personal social networking data with a few swift "OKs" from you. But now that you have your number, how do you get it higher?

Klout is kind of like a credit check. While the service might give you helpful hints about what will hurt or harm your score, nobody can be entirely sure why their score is what it is. What we do know is that Klout says it uses 400 "signals" in an algorithm to show how important you are. Some of those signals are given more weight than others. For instance, while having a bajillion Facebook friends might be great, even more important is that your bajillion Facebook friends all comment or "like" the statuses you share.

The same goes for Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Foursquare. Sure, it's great to have people connected to you, but Klout's Web site is careful to point out that it's how people react to your digital content that ups your score. Just being active isn't going to make you important; Klout measures what they call "moments," or social media reactions that have gotten the most attention. Newer content is also going to get more Klout. There's a 90-day "rolling window," so not checking Facebook for three days won't kill you. But if you had a hit song with the tween set during the '80s, your one-hit-wonder status probably won't make you a Klout star unless you're leveraging it constantly on Twitter. (Which you should really be doing anyway.) In short, getting influential people to interact digitally with you will make your score go up.

And here's something else to keep in mind if you're despondent about your score: One small nip to that algorithm, and suddenly everyone who cultivated that sky-high score is a loser with no Klout. (It really happened in October 2011, and Klout CEO Joe Fernandez was derided so badly he tweeted that the Internet as a whole wanted to "punch me in the face" [source: Stevenson]. So it's best you don't put too much time and effort into it, right?

Well, not exactly. Because some businesses and people actually care.