What is your Klout score? If you market your law firm through a blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+ and are actively engaged in social media, you should be familiar with Klout—and you should know the answer to that question.
If you haven’t heard of it, Klout is a measure of online influence across social media. Since its launch in 2008, Klout has been the subject of a love/hate relationship in the social media community. I have written a few short posts about Klout on the Lawyerology! blog; however, a more comprehensive discussion of the controversial site is warranted to illustrate how Klout can help attorneys who are involved in social media.
How Does It Work?
Klout uses an algorithm to rank online influence on a scale from 1 to 100. For example, a highly influential user like President Obama has a Klout score of 94. Klout arrives at the score by collecting data from the various social media forums that the user connects with Klout, the most prominent being Twitter and Facebook. Although it does not affect the score, users on the site can reward others that they find influential by giving them +K in particular topics. For example, law, lawyers, legal, and legal information are all Klout topics. The site then ranks the top 100 recipients in each individual topic.
My Personal Klout Story
I am a relatively new user of social media. While I have had Twitter and Facebook profiles for years, it was not until the beginning of this year that I decided to expand my networking and marketing efforts by becoming actively involved. With the help of my in-house IT guru Shaun Bender, I set up a blog, tuned up my profiles and got involved. Early in the process, I discovered Klout and have been using the service ever since. In the six months that I have been on Klout, my score has risen from the 30s to the 70s and I am currently the number one +K influencer in many topics including law, lawyers, legal, and legal information. How did I do it? Keep reading and I will reveal some tips.
Why Does This Matter, and How Can It Help a Practicing Attorney?
As most practicing attorneys know, marketing, networking, and referrals—along with advertising for those who do advertise—are responsible for a large portion of most any attorney’s business. This is particularly true for plaintiffs’ lawyers like me. First and foremost, Klout is free advertising for social media. To the extent that you can build your profile and get yourself ranked high in any of the law-related topics, you will benefit in the form of free advertising to Klout users that view those topics. Because Klout allows you to display a written profile, you can enhance your online presence by redirecting those searching the topics to your firm website and blog via links in your profile description. For attorneys, increased traffic to firm websites and blogs generally result in increased business opportunities. When you consider the fact that Klout does not require any time investment (remember, it ranks your influence through data from your other social networks) it should be a no-brainer for attorneys and law firms already engaged in social media.
A Few Words for the Haters
Many have complained that Klout’s ratings do not reflect real world influence. One thing that seems to be lost in many of these arguments is that Klout is only ranking social media influence. There are many attorneys and non-attorneys that have far more influence on the topic of “law” than I do. However, among attorneys actively participating in social media, largely through Twitter and my blog, I have built online relationships and a reputation that makes my online influence greater than those that have far more influence offline. For example, my offline influence on the topic of law is minimal when compared to a Supreme Court Justice, but my online influence on the topic of law is far greater than that same Supreme Court Justice who does not participate in social media. Online influence and offline influence are clearly not the same, so criticisms of the site rooted in such a comparison are flawed at their core.
Tips for Increasing Your Social Media Influence and Klout Score
If you want to increase your Klout score, you have to increase your influence in social media in general. The first piece of advice I have for attorneys wanting to increase their influence in social media is to use an individual profile. I have a Twitter profile for my blog, for my firm website and for myself @rsullivanlaw. I quickly discovered that people are far more interested in following a real person. As I have transitioned most of my social media activity to my personal profile, as opposed to my “brand” profiles, I have seen a significant increase in followers, engagement, and influence.
Good content is also key to increasing social media influence. Do not simply blast mindless RSS feeds and law firm plugs across your profiles. This will not increase your influence or engagement. Yes, I realize that practicing attorneys have little time to invest in social media, after all I am one, but there are tools available to minimize the time investment. Hootsuite, Bundle Post, and Buffer are a few of better tools to schedule postings and minimize time investment. Take care not to abuse these tools. If you want to increase influence and engagement, you will have to invest some time in selecting the articles and postings that you schedule. People do not want to follow robots. If you want to increase influence and engagement, your postings must have a personal touch.
Finally, engage! Use the time that you free up with the help of Hootsuite, Bundle Post, and Buffer to engage your followers. If they retweet your post, thank them. If they ask you a question, answer it. Even if they simply wish you well, reciprocate. People like to retweet the content of people they like and they like people who engage.
Will these tips alone instantly rocket you to the top of all law-related topics? Definitely not. We all know there is no formula for success, but doing these things will certainly increase your influence, expand your network, and increase your Klout.
Rob Sullivan is the editor of the Lawyerology! legal blog and a practicing trial lawyer at the Kansas City, Missouri law firm of Sullivan, Morgan & Chronic, LLC. Rob practices in the areas of product liability, railroad accidents, trucking accidents, and general negligence.