One of the biggest tools to roll through the social web over the past year is Klout. What exactly–besides a play on a misspelled word–is it? Simply put, Klout is a web tool that people can use to measure their apparent influence on different social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and more.

It seems pretty awesome, right? To have a tool to tell you how important you and your tweets are? I just signed up for Klout to check my Twitter influence and I have a Klout score of 51. But what does this mean?

For Twitter, what Klout does is use an algorithm to determine your influence by looking at your follower/following count and ratio, how many @mentions you have received, and retweets. Essentially, it looks at how many people you influence, how you influence them, and how influential they are. My personal Klout page is a great hub of information, but it’s still unclear what my score of 51 actually means.

Over the past several months, there have been countless articles written about the usefulness or uselessness of Klout. In one article, ReadWriteWeb writer Robert MacManus writes that yes, Klout is flawed because its “main issue right now is that nobody can figure it out. It’s at best opaque, at worst gibberish.” But MacManus also writes that people should use Klout because it can be useful to measure raw social data.

Not everyone is saying that Klout isn’t reputable, however. For instance, Jay Baer believes Klout critics are being too harsh and ignoring what Klout doesn’t measure, like real-life interaction. He writes that critics’ “slam on Klout is typically rooted in the fact that Klout doesn’t account for people’s offline influence (or even digital influence that isn’t expressed in social media).” In my eyes, offline influence is more important in the end. You can influence thousands of people on Twitter, Facebook, etc., but if you can’t influence people in the real world, then you are falling short.

I believe that Klout is, at best, an interesting measuring tool, but is not the end-all-be-all social data measuring tool some think it is. Now that I’ve signed up for Klout, I’ll still check back regularly. I think it contains useful data, but at the same time I am not going to be putting all of my efforts into raising my Klout score.

Using social networks has one purpose: sharing information with your followers/friends. And if you supply them with interesting content, you will influence them regardless of what your Klout score says.

What do you think of Klout? Do you use it?

(Featured photo © greensimagery)

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