Feel the Klout

Have you ever wondered about your Klout? If you want to quantify your influence on Twitter and/or Facebook then head over to their website. They will give you a score from zero to one hundred on the ability you have to impact and drive your followers to action. It then gets further broken down into True Reach, Amplification Network.

I checked out the results for my very new Twitter account @juliaaustine and expected to get a zero. But, a new feature of Klout.com is that you can link your Facebook as well. So, with my three year old Facebook account added in, I got bumped up to a whopping 5!  My other Twitter account, for my food blog, also and rated a 5, but that must be more heavily dependant on my Twitter activity, as I only use that Facebook account to interact with Twitter. So, I’m a solid 5. What does that mean? Well, I’m in the 10th percentile, so it means I’m just starting out. I already knew that, but it’s nice to know that I have a solid base to start from and that I can only go up from here.

If I want to increase my score I need to start by tweeting new and engaging content, reacting and interacting with my fellow Twits and gain followers who will be interested in my viewpoint and what I have to share with them.

I also checked in on @SweetTartelette, the Twitter handle of Helene Dujardin of the blog Tartelette, to see how she fared with her Twitter following of over seven thousand. She scored an impressive 47, which puts her in the 80th percentile (which means she has more Klout than 80% of the accounts on Twitter). Helene has been blogging since 2007 and generates gorgeously mouth-watering content of her culinary creations that she styles and photographs herself. She has over twelve THOUSAND tweets, compared to my ten, and is at the top of her game.

I am definitely influenced by her recipes, her styling and her photography. My food blog is not in the same style as hers, but I hope that one day she might click a link to my blog and be intrigued by what she sees or reads, and maybe, just maybe, she might tweet about me.

October 18, 2010 Update: My Klout has increased to 12, I moved up to the 20th percentile. I am on my way up the Social Media ladder!

November 14, 2010 Update: I’ve climbed one more rung, so I’m now up to a 13 on Klout. Look out world.

February 17, 2012 Update: It took a while, but I’ve soared up to 40 on the Klout scale. Look out universe!

April 3, 2012 Update: I must be doing something right (according to Klout anyway), I’m up to 47.

Two Cents Worth

It used to be that a media platform was given only to a select few who had the credentials or connections to make it that far. With the birth and proliferation of the internet, anyone who can string two words together can have a blog that can be read (or ignored) around the world. Stories that made the papers or the airwaves were researched, fact-checked and approved before they reached the people. Now a Tweet can be heard around the world faster than you can find which remote turns on the TV.

While anyone (and their dog) can start a blog, it takes something more than just saying something to build a following, it’s about actually having something to say that people want to take the time to hear. It’s not about having the best photography equipment or top notch grammar, it’s communicating passion for a subject or presenting a unique perspective. Also important is the ability to create new content and keep the attention of today’s overstimulated masses.

If a blog somehow manages to gain, and keep, an audience it will only be a matter of time before big industry will try to co-opt its popularity by having the blogger mention, review or promote their product or service. Some bloggers are quite open about what they get for free or how they get compensated. Others refuse to accept anything for free or do paid endorsements. Many blogs host contests and give aways, some prizes are sponsored and others are purchased with ad revenue from the blog. Successful bloggers can also get book deals, sell t-shirts or accept “donations” to fund their blogging.

Big business wants to take advantage of these (potentially) low cost marketing opportunities. Some companies will target multiple bloggers with one promotion. Ralph Lauren’s Pink Pony Foundation invited 100 fashion bloggers to help them promote breast cancer  awareness, as well as the 10th anniversary of the foundation, by posting images of themselves wearing the Pink Pony Polos in their individual styles. This guaranteed them a bare minimum of 100 blog posts and cost them only the price of the shirts.

A larger investment in the blogosphere was made by General Mills when they invited 50 food bloggers for their first Eat & Greet at their headquarters and test kitchens in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Baking blogger, Bakerella was there and her post about it linked to at least seven blogs of the other attendees. The bloggers come across as naive and overly impressed with the hoopla and they seem overwhelmed with the attention and swag that they receive.

What I find most interesting is how the community of bloggers is becoming more interconnected as the bloggers not only read and comment on each other blogs, but find and create opportunities to meet up in real life and even teach each other. Food blogger, My Tartelette, who is a very accomplished pastry chef, food stylist and photography (a blogging triple threat), has held baking and photography for fellow bloggers, which then get blogged about.

By reaching out to bloggers, with events, promotions and give aways, the two cents that a blogger shares with their readers about the company can turn into two dollars (or more) in the real world.

Blogging

I started my own blog just over a year ago. I’d been caught up in various blogs across different categories: food blogs, mommy blogs, finance blogs, fashion blogs, photography blogs, humour blogs, etc. I felt like I wanted to be part of this e-community. Posting comments was not enough. I wanted a handle and an online identity of my own. I thought about what the focus should be. What could I talk about all day and not get bored? What did I like taking pictures of and sharing with people? What was I knowledgeable about that I could cast my own perspective on? The one answer I kept coming up with was: food.

The best blogs communicate passion and a journey. Some of the most polished looking blogs lose their gleam once you start delving backwards into their archives. I find this inspiring, as it shows that nobody starts doing it perfectly from the start. It is following along somebody else’s journey of growth and discovery that is the most interesting part of a personal blog. One of the most infamous blogs is Heather Armstrong’s Dooce. She started her blog in 2001 and was fired from her web design job in L.A. because of posts about her job. Her blog now is the sole financial income for her and her family. The blog has been her chronicle of living in L.A., as a single woman, meeting her husband, getting married, having two children (and two dogs) and the evolution of the blog itself.

Blogs can be fantastic outlets for creativity or an opportunity to create a personal brand. The only requirement is access to a computer and the internet, the difficult part can be building up an audience. There seems to be an exponential increase in networking amongst bloggers with more meet ups and conferences happening all the time. Food bloggers are invited to restaurant events, fashion bloggers meet up at fashion shows and there seems to be an abundance of photography, writing and tech classes for bloggers of all genres. The bloggers then blog about the people they’ve met and link to their sites. There are also lots of online collaborations when themes are thrown out to bloggers to make a dish or an outfit or a photo with a common thread.

When starting a blog you may not know where the journey will take you, just try to make the ride as interesting as possible.