It's starting to appear on job listings, business cards, and in email signatures. That's right: Klout.com is gaining credibility. The service, which shows a score ranging from the mid-20s up to 60 or 70, is an indicator of social media influence. Raise your score above 50, and you'll start receiving "perks" that include test drives in new cars and a carton of iced tea in the mail. Even if you don't care about the perks, if you own a small business Klout is a good measure of how well you connect through Twitter and other channels with your customers.
Klout offers some guidance for raising your score, but most of the tips are generic enough that they could apply to gaining Twitter followers or increasing your page views on Facebook. ("Create good content" is not a tip as much as a no-brainer for any marketing effort.) And, some sites offer so-called tips that are more like ways to game the system—a technique that could earn you a public chastising. Read on for more advanced tips designed to help you stay on course with a legitimate Klout campaign.
Tools like Timely and Buffer are great for scheduling posts in advance. You can spend a few hours a month planning a few announcements, one-time deals for a product, or random thoughts that appear on a regular basis. The benefit is that you can make sure your Twitter feed or Facebook page stays active, even when you are out of town or busy with other projects.
One advanced tip is to find Klout users with a high ranking and then engage them in discussions. Iman Jalali, the marketing director at TrainSignal, a company that offers online computer training, says retweets from high-profile Klout users can help raise your own score. But it has to be genuine—targeting a tech guru with your new muffin recipe doesn't make sense.
While engaging with other well-connected users is important, Klout seems to rate you higher when you engage in a legitimate way rather than just doing "drive bys" with a few select users. Dave Davis, the managing director of Redfly Marketing, an Irish Web developer and search-engine optimization company, says chatting with highly ranked Klout users does make sense. Yet, it's also critical to engage with those who retweet what you say and to post replies to their tweets. He says Klout is most interested the percentage amount you engage with the followers you do have on a regular basis rather than just sending a few posts to a select group of followers.
Some Klout users don't realize how important it is to hand out your +K to other users. When you do, other users will eventually return the favor. Steven Zussino, the president of Grocery Alerts Canada, a company that shares grocery deals, says you should first search Twitter for the phrase "I gave +K about..." and the topic you want to search. Once you find users who have handed out +K routinely, find their profile on Klout.com. Check their achievements to see if they have given out a bevy of +K awards, and return the favor. You can expect those users to send you a +K as well.
Twitter is mostly about posting short comments, but a photo reaps more rewards. Brandon Marker runs Microventures, an investment firm for start-ups, says there's a reason Twitter tried to buy Instagram and Facebook made a lucrative offer. Sites like Tumblr and Pinterest prove that people are looking for information visually and they will click on pictures they like. Today, a picture is worth a thousand clicks.