Disclaimer: This blog post is in no way condoning the gaming of, or attempts to “buy,” a higher Klout score. This post is also in no way stating or inferring that any given user of the platforms mentioned below, regardless of their metrics or “prices” on the respective platforms, has ever utilized the method I am about to explain. The purpose of this post is only to suggest the potential for activity which might increase your Klout score in order to expose potential shortcomings of a human algorithm attempting to calculate online influence in order to suggest ways to improve upon it.
If you’ve been exposed to social media marketing, you probably already know that you can buy Facebook Fans & Twitter Followers, but can a higher Klout Score of Social Media Influence be bought as well?
It’s an interesting topic, because everyone knows that any algorithm, whether it be the Google search ranking algorithm being duped through Black Hat SEO techniques or Facebook EdgeRank being “duped” through the purchase of Facebook Ads, can be gamed. And, without doubt, whenever there is a change in the algorithm, as Klout had last year, there are always cries that it’s unfair. I’ll let you decide whether you think any of these platforms changing their algorithms is fair or unfair. I just go with the flow, because these algorithms are clearly here to stay and must be dealt with by marketers.
Klout seems to be on the mind of everyone these days, including recent coverage by Wired and Forbes, on how Klout may help you get more job opportunities, a free hotel upgrade, and even preferred customer service. I already gave my own perspective on Klout a few months ago shortly after their algorithm change which caused an uproar among some:
For social media marketers, having a selection of various metrics to choose from in measuring social media influence can only be a welcome addition to our toolbox. Just as brands will have to determine if they feel the new Klout algorithm is a step forward or not, we social media marketers will also need to determine which metrics we feel best justify “influence” or at least help us in our analysis of social media users.
In other words, it doesn’t matter what we feel about Klout on a personal level. If more companies and brands are using it as a metric that will influence their actions towards people, having a higher Klout score is in everyone’s best interests. That’s why there are so many interested in trying to “game” the metric. Even the subject of that Wired article “spent the next six months working feverishly to boost his Klout score.”
I look at it this way:
Gaming your Klout Score is now the equivalent of SEO for Social Influence
So, in hopes of helping all of my readers try to “game” the system better – and with the end goal of hoping that developers maker their metrics for social media influence less “gameable” and that marketers (and hiring managers) not take the metric as seriously as they might be – I am going to suggest a little known way of how you can actually pay money to increase your Klout score. Note: You won’t find this method on Klout.com!
Now, while there is no guarantee that this will work for you, if you are one of those that is serious about your Klout score, give it a try, and let me know how things go in the comments section. Thanks!
Step 1: Register on Klout.com
Klout requires you to register by connecting either your Twitter or Facebook page. You could do either one, but since many like to keep their Facebook page private, feel free to register by just synching your Twitter account.
Step 2: Join Empire Avenue
I introduced Empire Avenue to you all sometime ago as a niche social networking site that mattered to social media marketers. Little did I know that shortly after publishing that post, Google Plus would emerge and influence some social media influencers (pun intended) to spend more time on G+ and a lot less on Empire Avenue. That being said, there are still a large number of very active participants in social media that are also active on Empire Avenue, including myself. In fact, one of the things I started noticing was that those who were active on Empire Avenue seemed to have higher Klout scores. Empire Avenue is a game, a virtual stock market to be specific, so I don’t (and still don’t) see any correlation between the two scores, especially because the Klout algorithm doesn’t look at Empire Avenue activity.
So where is the correlation? After looking at the Klout profiles of the top ten of the Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencer list and comparing it to a sampling of Empire Avenue users with high Klout scores, a pattern emerged:
Top Ten Social Media Influencers According to Forbes (Klout Scores / Number of +Ks Received in Last 90 Days)
- Chris Brogan 75 / 1,516
- Ann Handley 69 / 259
- Guy Kawasaki 86 / 1,796
- Gary Vaynerchuk 70 / 689
- Scott Stratten 74 / 732
- Robert Scoble 82 / 1,532
- Glen Gilmore 58 / 48
- Liz Strauss (not registered on Klout)
- Jason Falls 69 / 614
- Mari Smith 79 / 1,899
While there isn’t a one-to-one correlation, clearly we can see that people who have received a lot of +Ks from others have a higher Klout score; in fact, everyone who has a score over 75 also has more than 1,500 +Ks in the last 90 days.
What about those that are active and “influential” within Empire Avenue who also have high Klout scores? I checked out a few active Empire Avenue users with Klout scores above 75 but not considered influencers in the eyes of Forbes, and they all had +Ks in the last 90 days of at least 500, with a majority over a thousand and some having more than 2,000 +Ks, which would be more than any of the Forbes top influencers.
Now, we all know that there is no single “correct” metric for measuring influence, so for some people these Empire Avenue users might be far more influential to them than those on the Forbes list. These Empire Avenue users could have received +Ks organically from being active in social media and adding value and touching the lives of many people. This post is not concerned with how people with high Klout scores received their +Ks. But, so far, we can come to an early conclusion that there seems to be some relationship between being active on Empire Avenue, receiving a lot of +Ks, and having a higher Klout score. While Klout unquestionably measures a great number of things about your social media presence in calculating your score, a +K is a defined instance that is sent from one Klout user to another, and because it is user-generated, it can easily be duped.
Step 3: Launch an Empire Avenue Mission
Missions were introduced by Empire Avenue late last year as a way to “drive engagement and traffic.” The concept is pretty simple: You first need the Empire Avenue virtual currency, which is called “eaves,” in order to purchase “stock” in another social media user. The only way to get eaves is to 1) have someone by your stock, or 2) receive daily “dividends” from your stock portfolio which is calculated on their social media activity. Missions now offer you a new and easy way to earn eaves by heeding the call to action that the mission creator is paying you for.
As an Empire Avenue user, you can also create a Mission. By creating a Mission, which is offering other Empire Avenue users free virtual currency in exchange for performing a real life online call to action such as viewing a YouTube video or becoming a Facebook Fan, you can “buy” engagement and traffic to a limited extent.
You could also create a Mission, with a link to your Klout profile, asking others to give you a +K.
Now, here’s where the virtual world of Empire Avenue and real world of Klout merge. I noted that Forbes social media influencers with a Klout score over 75 had 1,500 +K in the last 90 days. Assuming that 50% of the people who accept our missions actually give us a +K, we’d have to have a mission that gave 3,000 people some virtual currency to accept the challenge. Although missions start at 500 eaves, to incentivize others to act upon your mission, you’d probably need a 1,000 eave bonus, meaning that you’d need to spend 3,000,000 eaves in total to achieve this. The whole purpose of Empire Avenue is to make money by wanting you to buy Eaves, so you could spend $600 to buy 3,000,000 eaves, use that to start a +K mission, and hope that enough +Ks roll in to help skyrocket your Klout score.
If it sounds easy to do it’s because it is easy. Your primary challenge will be in attracting other Empire Avenue users to take your mission, which could be done by further incentivizing them by offering them more virtual currency for their actions. Of course, there’s also the matter of the 50% conversion rate, which can probably be increased if you know enough users on Empire Avenue (or have enough shareholders) and can effectively spread the word to them (or send them a shareholder mail).
The ability to “buy” a higher Klout score really forces all of us to answer this question: How much is perceived social influence worth to you?
Post-Publishing Note (May 3): As you can see from the comments, well-respected social media expert Scott Allen pointed out that Klout had mentioned that +Ks do not influence Klout scores, and I was able to confirm this through a #KloutChat blog post written by my Twitter friend Christel Quek. That being said, as Stacy Kinney pointed out in her blog post Tips for Increasing Your Klout Score:
People can manually give you Klout points. Although the site claims these points don’t factor into the Klout algorithm, I happen to think they just say that to prevent people from abusing +K to artificially increase their Klout score.
Whether you believe the authorities or not is up to you, but hopefully this blog post gave you some good for thought.