Klout is evolving from a service that told you how much influence you had in terms of a numerical value, to a service that now tells you why you’re influential and how you can improve on that. Starting today, users will notice a redesigned service that the company claims is the “first step” towards its vision of “helping people be known for what they love.”

The original concept for Klout was never about the score, but about how to help people become more effective in social media. Slowly but surely, the company has seen its product evolve from defining what the score is, to highlighting topics someone is influential in, and then pinpointing key moments that had an impact. But one question remains constant: “How can I raise my Klout score?” This is something company CEO Joe Fernandez hopes the new version of Klout will answer.

Consume, Create, Analyze, Repeat

After signing into your account, one of the first things you’ll immediately notice is that the interface has been spruced up and is much cleaner and more organized than before. Beyond this, the objective of Klout has evolved. The emphasis is no longer on your score, but about how you can create and share informative and relevant content in order to keep your audience engaged and influenced.

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The Create section of Klout essentially acts like a news feed with some aspect of Feedly, utilizing the 15 billion pieces of data per day that the service is processing. At the top of the page features topics that Klout believes you are influential in — mostly gathered through your connected networks, and you can add in up to seven so-called aspirational topics. With each addition, the news feed will refresh to incorporate the changes.

The purpose of the news feed is not to keep you up-to-date about the news, but rather to help inspire you to generate original content. In the above screenshot, because some of my topics — technology, social media, and The Next Web — appear on my news feed. I can share them because my fans and followers may have subscribed to my social media activity because of some influence I have in this space. As Klout describes it: it’s recommended content that will strike a chord with your friends, fans, and followers.

Sanjay Desai, Klout’s Chief Product Officer, tells us that the redesign also includes four tags that will be displayed to highlight fresh content, along with those stories that are starting to trend online. Here’s how they’re defined:

  • On the Rise: Content that is on the verge of trending.
  • Crowd Pleaser: A user’s network is interested in the topics in the content.
  • Hidden Gem: Many people in your network haven’t seen the content.
  • Hot off the Press: Content was recently published by a trusted source.

Users can no longer add topics to other profiles as before. Fernandez tells us that that the feature had been prone to abuse by users for either practical jokes or malicious intent. Now, when you look at their Klout profile, it will simply show you the topics the service says they’re influential in. You can delete topics from your own profile if they don’t match up to your influence.

Another thing that users will notice is a thumbs up/down feature that’s Pandora-like. If you happen to see an article, video, or photo that Klout believes your audience would respond to, but you don’t agree with it, you can downvote it, and vice versa. The idea is that Klout’s algorithm will learn from your interests and actions to make sure that it’s providing you relevant content.

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The new Klout also has a compose message feature for users to push their original content out to Facebook and Twitter. It’s somewhat hidden in the top right-hand side of the screen, but when accessed will remind users of the interface on Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. You can also schedule when you want content to be published. This tool is repeated in the Schedule section of the Klout dashboard — over there, users can program multiple posts to be published.

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Of course, after you’ve reviewed and posted content, the next logical step is to analyze the results. The hope is that by sending out this content, your Klout score will have improved. The Measure section will display activity received on your posts and you can see the impact on your score. Right now, the tracking is the same as what was available prior to today, but the company says click tracking, reach, and reaction metrics will be available soon.

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A one-stop shop for content marketing

But while what we’ve seen is consumer-oriented, Klout has been testing this platform refresh with multiple brands. It’s obvious that businesses will see potential in publishing engaging content to their fans.

This update won’t have much impact on the mainstream social media user. Rather, it’s targeted at those who are looking to make a living through the use of social media. One could think about it like the stars created on YouTube — Klout is trying to repeat the process, except with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other social networks.

We’ve started to see Klout take steps towards its vision of helping people create original content — just look at Cinch, Klout’s independent Q&A mobile app that was launched last year. Cinch let users pose Quora-like questions in the app and their network was pinged to see who could answer it — perhaps something similar to Jelly, except with a stronger focus on topical influence.

It’s refreshing to see Klout take the approach of encouraging content creation. After all, for some, it was a tad annoying to hear an unsubstantiated score which offered no additional analysis. Now, Klout users have an opportunity to reinforce why they’re influential about a particular topic and have the tools necessary to measure the accuracy of that theory. But make no mistake that this refresh is not about the company justifying its existence — it’s doing just fine, Fernandez tells us. In fact, he says that this product release will help his startup break-even, inching ever so close to becoming profitable.

The new Klout product is now available to all users.

Photo credit: CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images