For many people who blog, tweet, and post, the end goal is to gain influence. But it’s well-known people like U.S. President Barack Obama, Justin Bieber, and Lady Gaga – or renowned newspapers such as The New York Times – who enjoy a particularly high online reputation. According to Klout, a barometer for measuring influence in social networks, Obama nearly reaches the top score of 100.
With a Klout score of 61, however, Tim Bruysten is not that far behind. The professor teaches at the University for Media Design in Düsseldorf, Germany, and students in his courses no doubt notice the gentle buzz on the table every few minutes, each time his smartphone receives a new text message, e-mail, or post. There’s no point in aiming for maximum exposure if you don’t have the enthusiasm for being constantly online. “Don’t start to add up the time you spend on social media,” Bruysten advises.
Conquering the “blue ocean”
However, investing your time alone won’t attract the crowds to your posts. To be successful in social networks, microblogging, and the blogosphere, you need to take a close look at the relevance of the topic, analyze whether it will have an impact on the Web, and see who’s already writing about it. You should be familiar with tools like Social Mention and Google Trends, searching on Twitter, and posting an ad on Facebook. “What’s the use of launching a new blog if there are already 30 others like it?” Bruysten asks, and suggests posting comments on existing blogs until you have slowly but surely made a name for yourself. The “blue ocean” – in other words, a completely new and uncontested topic – would seem to be a better option. But be warned: “It may be the case that no one on the Internet is interested,” Bruysten explains.
Next page: How long does it take to build a following?
There’s only one way to find out: Get out there, follow users, post comments – until you start to get more and more likes and retweets. There are plenty of networks: from Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ to Foursquare and YouTube. And don’t despair: Google spends the first weeks finding the activities, indexing them, and thereby making it possible for others to find them.
It takes another six to eight weeks until anything happens, and followers, retweets, and mentions increase. After three months, you can finally tell whether your topic is a winner or not. Working that out is already an undertaking in its own right, not just because of the amount of effort involved. That’s why Bruysten no longer talks about “social media” but instead about the “social enterprise.” So, how curious are you about your own Klout score?
The Klout score
The San Francisco-based company Klout has developed an assessment system that calculates the online influence of a person. The unpublished algorithm is supposed to contain the “50 seeds that disperse a message.” A person’s Klout score is between 0 and 100 and the greater the snowball effect of a post or a comment, the higher the score will be. In a nutshell: To have a high Klout score, your topics need to be talked about.