Klout is an application dedicated to tracking a profiles audience and performance on specific social networks. Anyone can click on a Twitter profile and check the followers, but we all know that's a fairly inaccurate way of measuring social success. Every social network has "exploits", but there's no real way to fake a successful social media presence (although I'm sure some shady types are working on it as we speak). Klout aims to thwart those tricks and place a real numerical value on the efforts social media experts put into building their sphere of influence. Just like analytics offer a way of gauging web traffic, answering "What's your Klout" is a way of providing track-able data for businesses to work with.
Klout is the Standard for Influence
The genesis of Klout has a clever backstory involving Joe Fernandez, a painful 2007 hospital stay, and an idea on measuring web presence in order to plug a gaping hole in tracking social media prominence. While you're certainly welcome to read the whole thing, I think it's easiest to say that Klout fills a need in providing accurate data about social media influence.
Visit Klout.com and you'll quickly see how the data is displayed. Each social profile is given a score between 1 & 100, and this score is easily available to anyone looking to verify or track individual profiles. This profile is based off usernames, so it should be noted that naming consistency is key in making this determination. Klout's engine then utilizes over 400 signals from eight major social media platforms in order to gauge the users score based on the previous 90 day period. Besides profile scores, interaction scores of particular posts are very valuable at providing insight into what information is gaining traction. With over 620 million scored users and 48 billion Klout API calls monthly, this is one social tool that appears to have some legs.
What's Your Klout? Tracking Your Klout Score
A Klout Score is a measurement of your overall online social influence. As previously mentioned, those scores range from 1 to 100 and after logging in you'll immediately be presented with your own score. While there are various explanations how they gauge measure reach, amplification, and network score, at it's purest level they're measuring how successful you're doing on each platform.
Not everyone is a fan of Klout. There are many detractors who say "who are they to judge?". Give these links a quick look so you're seeing both sides of that story.
Currently Klout uses Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Bing, LinkedIn, and Wikipedia to determine a profiles engagement. This data is then run through an internal algorithm to generate metrics. Klout also ties in their own internal recommendation mechanism, which has created a bit of a fuss among social media professionals. We've included a few links worth viewing on that topic, but it's easy to imagine that a company that is both profiting off generating a score and promoting the usage of their website in order to get a higher score has a few flaws. That point aside, it should be noted that Klout does a great job of measuring social value and as far as I can tell - they do it better then any other company online.
While checking "What's your Klout" once might give you a basic idea of your social media performance, the real benefit comes in tracking your scores over time. Just like A | B Tests give analysts comparative information, tracking your Klout score allows you to see what is working for your profile and what isn't. If you're not interested in how your audience views your posts - I'd suggest you rethink that approach, but if you are it's time to dig in a little deeper.
One fantastic addition to the Klout family is Klout Perks. Around the office we've come to the conclusion that Klout Perks is one idea that it'd be tough to find as objection with. A company that is providing the service of gauging social media value, then offers contact to external business who give those influencers freebies. As Eric Channing Brown put it on TechCrunch, “Klout’s real strengths lie in its algorithm and wealth of social data”. This makes perfect sense, since it introduces companies who want exposure to influencers while also offering those users freebies - that's a win/win. While Klout has put this concept on the back-burner, it's one that we believe should really be revived.
Tapping into the Klout API
Web developers looking to utilize the Klout scoring tool, can integrate it pretty easily. Just signup and register your app at the Klout Developers section and you'll be provided with a pair of API keys. One key is used for OAuth verification and the other for anything else (named the "Partner" key). Klout offers a selection of existing code samples, but this simple PHP call should illustrate the basic operation fairly well.
Echo Your Klout API Scores in PHP
<?php $api_key = 'APIKEY'; $twitter = 'haeckdesign'; $id_url = 'http://api.klout.com/v2/identity.json/twitter?screenName='. $twitter .'&key='. $api_key; $json = file_get_contents($id_url); $id = json_decode($json, TRUE); $kloutid = $id['id']; $score_url = 'http://api.klout.com/v2/user.json/'. $kloutid .'/score?key='. $api_key; $json = file_get_contents($score_url); $score = json_decode($json, TRUE); echo round($score['score']); ?>
If you'd like more detail on tapping into the Klout API, Brad Knutson offers a great post on that topic. If you're working with a different code base, additional wrappers are offered for Node, Ruby, Python, Objective-C, Mono, and Java (available in the developers library). All offer simple methods of easily presenting the Klout API elements.
If you're using Klout on a project there are two simple suggestions we'd make. First - be sure that you're caching the results intuitively. Minimizing API calls is always a good idea. Secondly - make sure you're adhering to Klouts style guide. Besides being the law of the land - The demands aren't particularly high and following the rules to a company offering a free API is really the least a web developer can do. In whole, If you're looking to integrate a social profile's value into your app there really isn't a better option. Tying into this API is truly the easiest and most accurate option available online.