If you’ve been involved anywhere in the social media sphere over the last few years, the name Klout might ring a bell. To the rest of you, Klout (the preferred stylization of clout) is a social media aggregator that ranks users’ participation across their various platforms (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and assigns them a central score between 1 and 100.
While the most influential online user consists of the likes of Justin Bieber (who currently stands at 100), the average Klout score is actually only around 20. So even if you are the leader of the most powerful country on earth (Barack Obama’s score: 94), you’re still not going to be able to take down a legion of female fans who retweet, share, like and create discourse from every single word.
But how did all of this come to fruition? After oral surgery in 2007, founder and chief executive Joe Fernandez’s jaw was wired shut for three months, leaving him with only social media to communicate with the outside world. “I got really obsessed with understanding the influence of every person, and that is how Klout started.”
We sat down for a discussion with Fernandez to better understand his vision for the company as well as his personal tips to increase your Klout.
Playboy.com: Since the founding of Klout, has your vision for the company changed dramatically?
Fernandez: By that time it was early 2008. When I unwired I started telling my friends about what I was doing and trying to get them to join me. But nobody would; everyone thought this was kind of a stupid idea. “Who cares who is influential [on] Facebook and Twitter?” was basically the conversation. Maybe it was all the pain relievers, but I still loved the idea and wanted to build it. Over the four years, the system has definitely evolved. The algorithm has changed literally from something I was working on in Microsoft Excel to having a team of scientists that are way smarter than me working on this every day. But the core vision of wanting to help every person understand their influence and wanting them to be recognized has always remained the same. But the productization has evolved.
Playboy.com: How did Klout Perks come about?
Fernandez: I was always telling my friends where the best restaurant is, and I was easily recognized for that. So it was something I had hoped would happen with Klout, but I thought it would be much further down the road than it ended up being. Pretty quickly after we launched, major brands were asking us if we would give them the list of influencers for major topics. We never wanted to give anybody the list, but the idea of helping those influencers get access to these special experiences was exciting to us.
Playboy.com: Is that primarily how the monetization of the site operates?
Fernandez: I see Klout Perks as version 1.0 of how we eventually monetize, but right now we’re really focused on the user value. Helping every person understand their influence and keeping the score accurate and transparent. Broadly speaking, we’re in an interesting position in terms of understanding the people who are having the biggest impact.
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