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Klout CEO Joe Fernandez took the stage at the 2012 Mashable Conference earlier this month to explain how to use your Klout score and what's next in the world of online influence measurement. Joe is well aware of the controversy surrounding the Klout score, which is why he wants Klout to evolve beyond the score, which he cites as being just the tip of the iceberg with the real value of online influence tracking being what's still under the water.Klout began with a simple mission: "the democratization of influence." Joe wanted to create a way to recognize people for their influence, and putting a number to that influence using the Klout score was the most data-centric way to do it. However, he hadn't factored in the psychological aspect that would elicit negative feelings about that score. He said, "There is no way around the fact that we tie a number to your name and picture. It affects your ego."Rather than thinking of Klout as a grading system, Joe urges people to think of Klout through a different lens. "Klout should expose the world to what you're passionate about or an expert about. [Think about how you can] use Klout to help you curate that and show it to the world to benefit you and beyond," he explains. Joe asked audience members, who were primarily content publishers, to ask themselves, "How does your Klout score fade to the background and how does what you're doing with your influence become most important."To that end, the company has a goal to add things to do on Klout that will enable people to share what they're doing and activate their audiences. Another Klout goal is related to localization and mobility. In other words, offering ways for people to localize Klout to their neigborhoods and leveraging local reputations through mobile devices. Joe said, "Remember, Klout is an overall score of your influence across the globe, not within your local area or specific area of interest."Joe also explained that your Klout score is additive which tracks activities on a variety of networks and uses a proprietary algorithm to weigh those activities and sites to create the numeric score. However, people use social sites differently and one site might be more powerful for a specific niche audience than another. The Klout score is evolving to better measure all of these factors, but it's not a perfect science. Content publishers should use it as a guide and as part of an overall online influence monitoring tool, but alone, it doesn't tell the full story and can be misleading.

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