Who can you trust online? When it comes to Twitter, that question can be answered with Klout, an independent service that takes into account a number of account factors to determine which Twitter users are most authentic, most influential and most worth following.

The specific algorithms used to determine Klout aren’t explicitly known. The impact of a higher Klout score is still being developed as well, but I expect these scores will increasingly be used by a variety of search and sort tools (including Google) to increase visibility of tweets from users with high Klout scores.

Therefore, the higher your score, the wider reach and influence you have beyond your direct followers.

You can learn your current Klout score via their site or third-party tools such as HootSuite. To improve your Klout score, I recommend the following 10 tips.

Create content worth sharing
This may sound obvious, but it’s all too easy to focus on content that you alone care about. Who are your followers, what are they interested in, and what are they likely to read, engage with and share with their own networks?

Start discussions and ask questions
All social networks thrive on conversations. Start some. Ask questions to not just learn yourself, but to find out what a group of like-minded people think. Ask about things in the news, for feedback on a particular product or service. Ask questions that you know others need answers to as well, which will spark the discussion and generate retweets.

Respond and participate
Go out of your way to help others on Twitter. Help those who ask questions, offer unsolicited advice to those who are struggling with something. If you’re ambitious, do a search for keywords you’re particularly knowledgeable about and respond to new people you don’t yet know. Great way to get new followers and increase the measured reach and influence you have across the network.

Register with Klout (and connect Facebook)
No cost, takes three minutes. Make sure Klout knows who you are. They’ll even give you direct, personalized stats and recommendations for how to improve your score. If you’re active on Facebook, connect your account so that Klout gives you credit for influence on other networks as well.

Host a Twitter chat
Pick a topic, a time and a hashtag. Get friends, colleagues or like-minded followers to go online at a specified time and start talking. By initiating the chat, your account will be that the center of dozens if not hundreds of tweets. You’ll also meet and be exposed to a bunch of new people.

Show appreciation and thank people publicly
If someone retweets your stuff, thank them. Individually. It will mean a lot that you did it, and Klout likes etiquette.

Make time for Twitter
You don’t have to be on Twitter all day. But set a few pockets of 5-10 minutes each day to go on, be active, and engage. Even that short amount of focused time can go a long way.

Be careful who you follow
Don’t automatically follow anybody who follows you. Make sure those you follow are relevant and interesting to you. Set the bar wherever you want based on that definition, just avoid spammers.

Keep it short
Leave plenty of room for retweets. I try to leave at least 25 characters at the end of a tweet.

Use hashtags (sometimes, and only when relevant)
Klout likes tweets that don’t have a bunch of hashtags. If you include 3-4 hashtags in each post, it looks like you’re trying to bait people into finding your stuff. If you’re at a conference or event with a hashtag, by all means join the community. But be careful about using hashtags too often, or tagging generic words throughout your tweets just to get them noticed.

If you’re already using Klout actively, what else have you found that’s working? And are there tactics you’ve tried that have actually reduced your Klout score?