Klout. You've no doubt heard of the social influence barometer at one point or another, but chances are you've never actually used it, have no idea how to use it or just don't have the time to learn.
First, let's start with the basics. According to Amy Schmittauer of Schmittastic! Social Media Tips, Klout is a website that takes social media activity and measures your influence regarding how you're able to make your followers respond to some sort of call to action. This can range from re-tweeting on Twitter, sharing on Facebook or simply clicking a link. Klout compiles all of this information and uses an algorithm to a produce a score that ranges from 1 to 100.
However, for those who are still curious (i.e., the majority) as to how Klout really works, the company has recently released a new section on its website called "Understanding Klout," and featuring informative pages to educate the masses.
Brands can certainly benefit from this how-to section, specifically one that explains how your influence is measured and turned into a score.
According to Klout's website, influence is measured by the aforementioned Twitter and Facebook actions, as well as LinkedIn comments and likes, foursqure tips and Google Plus comments, re-shares and +1s.
Klout also plans to measure other popular sites in the near future, including Facebook Pages, YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, Blogger, Wordpress, Last.fm and Flickr.
Furthermore, because Klout values calls to action, a higher Klout score can be more easily achieved by obtaining a smaller, engaged audience as opposed to a larger network that doesn't act upon your content.
The typical Klout score ranges from 20 to 50, and anything beyond that becomes exponentially more difficult to obtain. So while it's true pop star Justin Beiber has a perfect score of 100, less-famous advertisers and website owners with far less resources must constantly work to grow their influence over time. This means staying active on all social media endeavors and ensuring that your activity is actually resulting in more traffic, such as increases in local search, more Twitter or Facebook Page followers and likes, or a greater number of connections on LinkedIn.
In its 30 Web Trends for 2012, SEOptimse predicts that while Klout may not be thoroughly understood, it's still currently the most effective device for measuring influence. It's also rumored that it may be acquired by Google next year, which would no doubt enhance its importance.