Small business owners have something in common with their larger counterparts: they are constantly looking for technology that will enable them to measure the success of their social media campaigns.

Klout takes into account reach, amplification and impact to produce a reading of your social media presence. (SCREENSHOT)

In a perfect world, every Facebook post, Pinterest pin and tweet should influence followers and friends to act in a desired way. The Klout score uses data from your engagements and the people in your network to measure three things: reach, amplification and impact.

Reach is perhaps the simplest measurement of all, reflecting simply the number of people who receive your messages. When you register with Klout and walk through the initial steps to determine your score, you give Klout permission to see who is in your social networks. (More on that later.)

Amplification is the number of people who respond to your messages by commenting on them (in the case of Facebook) or relaying them (in the case of Twitter) to their own social networking groups. It is different from the raw number of people in your groups, many of whom probably read your messages but do nothing with them (which, to be honest, doesn’t help your score).

Impact measures the number of times that your top influencers relay your messages to their own networks – more commonly known as tagging or wall posting in Facebook and re-Tweeting in Twitter, and the like. It takes into account how far from the source the original message travels and the number of adjacent – or even distant – social networks it penetrates.

Combined, these data sets yield a raw score. To put things into perspective, the people at Klout posted a memo on their website in November that says “the average Klout Score is close to 20 and a Score of 50+ puts you in the 95th percentile. We now analyze 2.7 billion pieces of content and connections a day.”

In the interest of total disclosure, my own Klout score is currently 44. I don’t worry about comparisons to others too much, either — after all, Warren Buffett’s Klout score is 35. Somehow, its clear to just about anyone that Warren has more “klout” regardless of his score.

So how does one get a bigger score? Quite simply, you must encourage the people in your social networks to actively respond in some way to each of your messages – perhaps even writing on someone’s wall or re-tweeting even if the message doesn’t necessarily say anything wonderful or controversial or clever. Truthfully, a mindless relaying of messages could be a great way to game the system and get a higher score.

But if you are in business and you want to measure whether your advertising and marketing messages are really working, my advice for dealing with a Klout score is painfully simple: leave it alone. If people like your messages, they will react to them or share them. If not, they won’t. In that context, if your Klout score should go higher, then you know that a slogan or a thought is actually resonating with your audience and should be kept – until, of course, the Klout score starts to go down .

Keep in mind that a Klout score works best when it is not used as the basis for bragging rights. It should be employed as a benchmark for accurate measurement of your social media campaigns.

Finally, you should understand exactly how Klout gathers its data in order to compile the scores. Like other sites, Klout asks for access to your accounts as part of the registration process. The Klout engine mines the data from the people in your social networks and then marks their identities to determine when messages have been relayed or critiqued. In doing this, Klout asks you to surrender some of your privacy – and the privacy of the people in your network.

Klout does this discovery in a far less intrusive manner than some other programs. More importantly, it does not generate spam or useless communication – at least, none that I can determine.

For the small business owner, sharing personal information – and that of an audience – is a relatively small price to pay for a true and relatively accurate measurement of influence. On a good day, a Klout score can tell you whether or not some part of your marketing or advertising is working. That by itself offers great value and should be an integral part of your social media mix.

Eric Yaverbaum is a best-selling author and chief executive of Ericho Communications.

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