About Klout and how to measure social media ‘me’, especially on Twitter

What is the best way to measure your social media impact? The answer depends on which social media you’re using and what impact you’re aiming for, so finding the answer involves knowing what measures are available. If you don’t want to read my whole investigation below, the executive summary is that (for the moment) I’m really only interested in measures of clicks on links that I’ve tweeted. But that’s highly personal to me and to find out why and what else I found, read on…

Klout seems worth investigation (again: I blogged about Klout and one or two other tools once before), and I’m writing here about the free version, as indeed with other tools I mention. There are many such tools, and I must refer again to the excellent blog post on this topic by Imperial College Library.

Klout measures and provides an interface to various social media sites, including:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • WordPress & Blogger
  • Instagram
  • Foursquare

Initially, I only linked it to my Twitter account. I got e-mail reports each week, comparing the last week with the week before. I just linked it to my LinkedIn account as well and apparently it reports on that monthly. And I have now added WordPress, too.

Klout and Twitter

I’m not sure what they’re measuring but I noticed that my score went down in a week where I tweeted once and there were no re-tweets or interactions with me on Twitter, compared with the previous week. That previous week was across Easter and I had not tweeted at all, neither had anyone interacted with me in any way on Twitter. My first thought was to compare the Klout score to the childish notion of counting Christmas cards received in comparison to how many one sent!  On reflection though, social is what Twitter is all about, so Klout is measuring what Twitter does and “giving in order to get” is not a bad idea, if you’re funded in order to reach a large group of people.

Perhaps it’s worth mentioning here that Klout has a “perks” system through which you can earn privileges, but that’s also not my goal. Klout can measure more than just my Twitter activity so I will keep an eye on it now that I’ve linked two more profiles to it.

Like Hootsuite, Klout can create content for sharing across the networks that you’ve linked up with it, and schedule content to go out when you like. It also brings content to you that it thinks you might like to see. Perhaps this is an area that I should explore more, but I’m most interested in how it measures me, for now.

Apart from the weekly e-mails of my score, there is a section called “Measure” on Klout itself, and that gives a 90 day history. You can see a little blue line wiggling up and down across a graph, based on your overall score. This reminds me of Google Analytics, and it is useful in the same way. If interactions of the kind that Klout measures are what you intend to achieve,  and you know what activity led to a peak, it tells you something about the effectiveness of that activity.

A “Recent Activity” report tells me what I’ve tweeted and gives me dots according to how much each tweet has affected my score. All bar one of my tweets scored one dot (from a maximum of five), and now I can start trying to second-guess why one tweet scored two dots: I have an idea that it’s based on numbers of re-tweets and the score of the people who re-tweeted. (Also see below: I learn more about this tweet from Twitter and Hootsuite!)

In short, I’ve not seen something that’s right for me yet, on Klout, but there is a lot more for me to explore there.

Since I’ve really only looked at Klout for measuring Twitter, I ought to compare it with other tools that also measure me on Twitter. I don’t have time to look at them all, but  some other tools of interest are:

  • PeerIndex : seems a bit like Klout, at first glance, although the name sounds more serious, somehow.
  • Kred : see below
  • T-index : borrows the h-index method for measuring tweets & retweets!
  • Socialmention.com : I searched for my Twitter handle and got a score report straight away. Probably worth further investigation: I’m pleased with my 65% passion score. That’s a solid 2:1! But what does it really mean?
  • Twitter itself : see below
  • Twittercounter : see below
  • Hootsuite : see below

Other tools for measuring Twitter: Kred

Kred can be linked to both your Twitter and Facebook accounts, although I’ve only used it with Twitter. The first thing I noticed was a very busy dashboard measuring/reporting on all sorts of aspects. There is a global score, but you can also view your scores for within particular subject communities.

Kred explains that it gives two scores: influence (out of 1000) and outreach (out of 10). Influence is, according to Kred, “the ability to inspire action”. It is based on re-tweets, replies, mentions and follows. Outreach is based on your own re-tweeting, replying and sociability. Both scores can be affected by using +kred and thanking others for their influence. I do like the transparency about how scores are created. I didn’t find a community specific enough to my own interests which I thought was a shame.

Two days later, and I got an e-mail from Kred declaring me to be a “social media superstar” (and you’re not trying to flatter me into something?) and asking me to claim a .ceo domain. I did this, out of curiosity. It then picked up on my Twitter bio but in order to make its profile more than a slave to my Twitter profile, I would have to pay: of course!  I also found that I couldn’t  log in to Kred again, to check things for this blog post: possibly something to do with cookies. Two days later than that again, I also could not login, although it appeared to be a different problem. Oh dear!

Scott Levy compares Klout and Kred on Forbes.com and says that they are useful “to explore what someone does via social media, their interests, and even outreach”. Those writing about these sites (I googled “Klout vs Kred”) use phrases like “social influence”, “social authority” and “social credit”. They give advice that you should build a good network, have a strategy for sharing your content and leverage others’ influence to your advantage. That advice seems to me to be relevant to anyone wanting to build a good reputation, whether by social media or via traditional academic publishing & conference routes. The thing is, if you’re using social media then your score from any of these tools will reflect your reputation amongst those who also use social media.

I suppose that if I was going to be serious about social media and wanted to take such advice, then I’d want to use Kred to find people who are influential in the communities that I wanted to reach, and I’d look at the keywords for people who I was interested in following or adding to a list on Twitter, rather than just their timeline of recent tweets, which is what I do at the moment. But of course I’d only be able to do that for those who are on Kred, and maybe Socialmention.com (see above) would be better for reviewing others, since you can search for anyone’s Twitter handle there.

Other tools for measuring Twitter: Twitter itself

On Twitter, there is a Notifications link, and here you can see all the mentions you get, and when you’re added to a list, followed or a tweet is favourited, etc.  I monitor this but not particularly closely. I’m vaguely interested in how many/which of my tweets have been favourited. I don’t do this often myself, but perhaps I should, in order to understand faves better.

Under “Settings” on Twitter, there is a link to “Twitter Ads” and this has rich reports even if you haven’t paid for premium stuff. The tab here called “Analytics”  shows me my “Tweet Activity” and has a time line showing “follows”, “mentions” and “unfollows”. It also lists recent tweets and tells me various things about each one:

  1. the number of clicks on bit.ly links in my tweets (all to my blog, since I use Hootsuite’s tool normally, see below)
  2. which tweets have more than “normal reach”: the tweet that Klout gave 2 dots to, has 22 times normal reach
  3. faves, ie number of times a tweet has been favourited
  4. retweets (number of times)
  5. replies (number of times)

I can select to look at all tweets (default) or the “good” tweets (top third for me: oh look, a tweet with 43 times normal influence!) or the “best” tweets (top 15% for me).  Now I notice that it was also highlighting numbers that fell within these categories, in the default view. No surprises: I already knew that the “43” scoring tweet was well re-tweeted: it had a provocative announcement and I e-mailed about it and the blog post behind it to some contacts, too. I suppose it’s re-assuring to see what I might expect.

Also under “Analytics” there is a report on followers, which tells me which countries and cities my followers come from. It tells me their interests, who else they follow, and the gender balance, as well as tracking numbers through time and showing me that wiggly blue line on a graph. Ah, the lure of the wiggly blue line! I am a fish waiting to get hooked by it!!

There’s a lot more here for me to investigate: what are Twitter Cards, and what does it do with Websites? But I’ve seen enough: time is precious and I really don’t want to get hooked!

Other tools for measuring Twitter: Twittercounter

I registered for Twittercounter ages ago (September 2013, apparently), so at last there are some stats for me to look at. It allows me to compare myself with others on Twittercounter, but that’s not for me. It seems to focus a lot on number of followers. I am apparently ranked number #25,481,506 on Twitter, Worldwide. You can look at the top 100 and what they’re doing, so that could be good if you want to learn tips.

What I found most interesting, was that it picked up on hashtags on tweets where I am mentioned: in my case this was altmetrics, publishing and peerreview, but these are also the hashtags that Twittercounter tells me I tweet about, so it looks like people are tweeting about me when they re-tweet my tweets! I’m also not the world’s best at remembering to use hashtags, but this feature seems to me to have potential.

Other tools for measuring Twitter: Hootsuite

I use Hootsuite because I set up a nice tab page there ages ago, and it does everything I want to do with Twitter. (Tweetdeck does the same sort of stuff.) Hootsuite also sends me e-mails that I ignore (perhaps there are settings I should investigate?!) and has an “Analytics” section and a report on my profile. It is not as nice and clean looking as Klout’s report. But is it more valuable?

It tells me my number of followers and the number I’m following, and the number of lists in which I feature. It gives me three measures:

1) A graph that tracks the number of followers

2)A “keyword over time” graph. What’s that? A flat line, for me!

3) A list of my most popular links, with the tweets containing them. (seems to be based on the tweets I’ve made from within Hootsuite where I used their URL shortening tool so it can track if people have clicked on them.)

The report covers the last two weeks but I can alter the time period. I looked at the entire last year and my most popular link got 8 clicks. It is also the tweet that accrued two dots from Klout. Can Klout track this too? Or is there some kind of cause and effect, that what Klout is interested in has resulted in the number of clicks? Intriguing!

In conclusion

I am interested if people who follow me click on my links. This tells me that I’m contributing something of interest to others, since they seem to want to find out more. If no-one clicks on anything, then I’m either not saying interesting stuff, or I’m not in the right community, but either way I’m probably wasting my time. Not that I invest much time in Twitter, so overall, I’m happy that the level of interest matches my level of activity.

I invest a lot more time in WordPress than I do in Twitter, so really that’s what I ought to be measuring and monitoring, rather Twitter, although it turns out to be useful that my blog links are tweeted via a different URL shortening service, since I can see when Twitter brings readers to my blog, which is one of my goals when tweeting. Although I’m sure that there are other ways to do this.

Since I am on Twitter, it does me no harm to consider what I’m doing there and how I want to measure it or indeed whether I want to do more with it, and this investigation of the tools available for monitoring and measuring my activity there has caused just such reflections.


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