Klout was once a topic of controversy, but these days most social media experts and digital marketers agree that your Klout score matters, especially if you're connecting with customers or hunting for a new job.
Given Klout's importance as a social media metric, what, then, can you do to keep your score climbing? Here those experts — as well as Klout CEO and co-founder Joe Fernandez — offer their tips to improve your Klout score.
1. Be Authentic
Chris Dancy, who has been called "the worlds most quantified man," offers this advice for maximizing your Klout score: "[Don't] engage in trickery and manipulation. Align yourself with your innate gifts and passions, and share them with the world." Why will this help you stand out? "Not many people actually do this," Dancy says.
2. Share Big Personal News
Jason White, senior SEO strategist with Dragon Search Marketing, says the birth of my first child caused a 20- to 30-point bump to his Klout score. That "baby bump" remains to this day, White adds, but it did cause him to lose a little faith in Klout's metrics: "I could manipulate them based on what would get engagement."
3. Connect With Influencers
This means writing posts that will cause social media influencers to share, like or engage with your content. "Who interacts with your posts is important," says Daniël W. Crompton, director of technology for Oplerno. "It really helps to get somebody with a high Klout score to retweet your tweets."
Cassidy Williams, a computer science senior at Iowa State University (with a Klout score of about 71), agrees. "Post things on Facebook and Twitter that you know will get likes and retweets. Interact a lot with people in your network, so that people will interact with you," she says. "Be strategic about your posts. Don't just constantly post a ton of stuff willy-nilly, because that doesn't help you. Only interactions with others help."
Fernandez says more than 400 "ingredients" go into determining a Klout score, adding that the service processes 15 billion pieces of data every day to calculate its scores. Push all that aside, though, and boosting your Klout score boils down to just a few things, he says.
"If you frequently create content your network engages with, you'll have a high Klout score," he says, admitting that it's easier said than done. "The Internet has a short attention span. If you're not consistently in the conversation, your score starts to decay."
That said, being overly active has its drawbacks: People will stop engaging with you, which can cause your Klout score to decline. "Don't be noisy, or people will ignore you — and that doesn't make you influential," Fernandez says.
4. Gain Influence on at Least One Social Network
Some say the Klout algorithm puts more weight on some social networks than others. Fernandez says that's a misperception. "The mix of network impact is different for almost everyone. The social network you're most active on, or that is most relevant to you, will be weighted more heavily in your score than others.
5. As Your Klout Score Climbs, Work Harder
Once your Klout score surpasses 40, increasing it becomes harder, Fernandez says. The service makes it relatively easy for people to get a Klout score into the 30s, to encourage participation. "As you go up the ladder, it gets harder," he says. "Eventually, you hit a wall, and every point you rise is more difficult than the last one." Among other reasons, this is designed to reflect significant influence.
6. Grow Your Non-social Influence, Too
Klout began as a measure of digital influence. Just as Google seeks to organize all the world's influence, Fernandez says, Klout's goal is to reflect all the world's influence. As a result, the service is taking steps to reflect a person's offline as well as online influence.
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For example, Fernandez says, LinkedIn is a good indicator of offline influence. If you're not that active on Twitter and Facebook, but you're on LinkedIn and connected to a lot of CEOs, that will weigh into your score, he says. In addition, though having your own Wikipedia page will only "marginally" help your Klout score, a page that's updated often and has many links pointing to it "will have a big impact."
Another indicator is how often people search for you in Bing, Microsoft's search engine. (Microsoft is a Klout investor, and Bing is a Klout technology partner.) If your name is searched often, that means you have some offline influence, Fernandez says; those searches will then be "an ingredient" in your Klout score.
7. Don't Take It Too Seriously
To be sure, some people obsess over their Klout scores the way some dieters obsess about their weight. "Klout has psychosocial elements," says Shaina Epstein, social media associate for Eastwick. "When people see a score next to their name, [they] want to improve it." At the same time, people with low Klout scores have reported feeling lower self-esteem.
If that describes you, Epstein says, then you're taking Klout too seriously. A Klout score should be used as indicators of activity, she says, and not a hard statistic about who you are.
James A. Martin is an SEO and social media consultant and writes the CIO.com Martin on Mobile Apps blog. Follow him on Twitter @james_a_martin and on Google+. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn.