Get the attention of the right person on social media, and he or she could introduce your brand to millions of new customers. That’s why celebrities like Kim Kardashian charge up to $10,000 for a Twitter endorsement. But finding unpaid influencers isn’t always easy, and connecting with them can be downright impossible.
Klout is working to change that. Founded in 2008, the San Francisco-based company uses social media metrics to measure online influence on a scale from 1 to 100. The higher a score, the higher a user’s influence — and the more likely that user is to compel others into action.
How Klout is Changing Marketing
Klout can help social media users gauge their own influence, but its main purpose is connecting businesses with influencers. In a recent issue of Wired Magazine, Klout Vice President of Platform Matt Thomson predicted that people with formidable Klout scores will eventually board planes earlier, stay in better hotel rooms and get access to VIP lounges.
For now, though, most corporate users connect with influencers via “Klout Perks.” These perks — items awarded to people based on their Klout score — can take the form of free samples, discounts and even tickets to exclusive events.
Offering Klout Perks can give a business remarkable reach, but calculating the ROI of those perks can be tricky. According to one Klout case study, Audi invited more than 200 influencers to test-drive its new luxury sedan. This led to 3,580 tweets and more than 51 million impressions. But nowhere does the case study mention a rise in sales — or whether the sentiment of those 3,580 tweets skewed positive, negative or neutral.
Klout’s scoring system is also controversial. Its algorithm accounts for three key measurements: true reach (how many people you influence), amplification (how much you influence them) and network (the influence of the people in your circle). But the system can be gamed. Critics also love to point out that, by Klout standards, Justin Bieber is more influential than President Obama. (He’s the only celebrity to have a perfect score, while President Obama scores a 96.) And @Big_Ben_Clock, a Twitter feed that tweets nothing but BONGS, is considered by Klout to be influential about Miley Cyrus, Valentine’s Day and tea.
“Klout’s pervasive problem is that the deeper among us are never going to judge anyone based solely on some arbitrary decimal score,” Alexia Tsotsis writes on TechCrunch. “We all have an inherent sense of who is influential and when that doesn’t stack up against some dumb number we lose faith.”
But that’s the problem: unless they’re already part of a community, it’s unlikely that marketers will inherently know who influences that community, and who doesn’t. They need data for that knowledge, whether that data is number of followers, number of page views, or, yes, even Klout scores.
Using Klout Perks as a Marketing Tool
Offering Klout Perks to influencers in your target audience could be a good way to extend your reach, but as with any marketing effort, it’s best to start with an understanding of its limitations.
Klout can target your perk to specific demographics, so be sure to target thoughtfully. Your perk should also include a clear call to action. Do you want participants to take photos and post them onto Facebook? Should they share their opinion with their networks? While you can’t obligate people to take an action in exchange for receiving a perk, you should consider what action you want users to take — and be prepared for the consequences.
Finally, make sure your Klout Perk aligns with your overall marketing strategy. “Technology is a tool,” marketer Shelly Kramer says about Klout Perks in The Realtime Report. “But it does not substitute for experience and good marketing strategy. You should always gut-check the data before using it to drive decisions. And you need humans to do that (with brains) — not just measurement tools.”
Have you used Klout as a marketing tool, or benefited from its perks? Let us know in the comments section below.