On Klout, it's who you know and what you know

Do you know a lot about a particular topic? Soon, you could be rewarded with extra social media influence.

Klout, a website that tracks your social media influence and calculates a score based on it, is in the early stages of launching Klout Experts. Although it's only open to a limited audience on Klout at this time, the overall goal is to have Klout users who are most influential in certain topics answer questions for users seeking enlightenment. The person asking would be rewarded with high-quality information from a trusted source and the Expert would be rewarded with a potentially higher Klout score and more prominent search-engine results.

"With Klout Experts, our goal is to enable every person to share their passions and expertise with the world," wrote Klout CEO Joe Fernandez in a blog post. "Klout Experts will create a path to not only increasing your Klout Score, but also to helping others by sharing your insights and opinions."

I was given early access to experts, presumably due to having a high Klout score. So far, I've been presented with a series of questions based on the topics I am influential in — Chicago, iPhone and social media for examples. I can also look at other questions being answered and lend my opinion even if I'm not listed as influential in that area.

Some examples of questions I've been asked include "How do I grow the community I manage?" and "What are your top three favorite iPhone apps, and why?" To keep answers from getting too unwieldy, Klout has wisely limited these responses to 300 characters. So far, I have responded to 141 questions.

According to Fernandez's blog post, an even smaller subset of Klout Experts are already having their answers delivered on search engine Bing. Eventually, as this opens up to more users and more answers make it to Bing, it increases the likelihood of more social media relationships being forged.

Earlier this week, I was asked how Klout Experts differs from Quora, a question and answer website edited and organized by its community. While similar on the surface, Klout isn't allowing editing of responses by others — at least not at this time — and Quora's questions aren't always centered around a particular topic. For example, a popular question on Quora is "What is the meaning of life?" And while those answers are informative and interesting, Klout's methods are much more specific and targeted.

Share your expertise by going to http://klout.com/experts. There, you can learn more about the program and sign up for the waiting list.

Speaking of questions, what questions do you have about social media? Tweet them to @scottkleinberg or @amyguth. We might select yours for use in a future column.

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