Don’t Irk The Influencers: The Power of Klout

Klout.

A word that didn’t exist a few years ago. Now, you can’t look at an analytics or metrics blog without hearing the word pop up. According to Klout.com, “The Klout Score is the measurement of your overall online influence. The scores range from 1 to 100 with higher scores representing a wider and stronger sphere of influence. Klout uses over 35 variables on Facebook and Twitter to measure True Reach, Amplification Probability, and Network Score.

True Reach is the size of your engaged audience and is based on those of your followers and friends who actively listen and react to your messages. Amplification Score is the likelihood that your messages will generate actions (retweets, @messages, likes and comments) and is on a scale of 1 to 100. Network score indicates how influential your engage audience is and is also on a scale from 1 to 100. The Klout score is highly correlated to clicks, comments and retweets.”

In other words, Klout is a quantifiable score that tracks how much people care about what you say. As an “influencer” (why people follow my random tweets about nothingness with the occasional reference to food, web analytics, travel, cupcakes, yoga and running is beyond me, but thanks for finding me entertaining and/or interesting), you are the proverbial voice that is heard above the noise online.

A quick snapshot of how Klout is building momentum:

klout.com

As Klout gains popularity, they’ve partnered up with brands to identify influencers and build brand awareness with programs like Klout Perks, a program that boasts “special treatment for influencers,” which sounds like a huge win for brands-influencers get exposure to a new product or company and in return they’ll get some social buzz-tweets, a facebook post, maybe a blog here or there. Sounds great, right?

Well….sorta.
What happens when the “special treatment” becomes a customer service issue? Here is my personal interaction with Klout and why, as a marketer, I would never trust a marketing or loyalty program to an outside source.

I was given a Klout Perk with Popchips (see an example of the program going on in New York now). It was awesome-I got an @ reply on twitter from Klout Perks and signed up for my snack pack and gifted the perk to five of my friends. I filled out the appropriate information, paid it forward to my best friends, and checked my mailbox with anticipation. As the weeks went by, I started feeling like the last kid picked at kick ball and wondering if I had been forgotten. A couple of correspondences later, Klout Perks said they were in hot pursuit of my chips and they’d fix the situation ASAP.

A month later, I am chipless in Boston and while it’s not really Popchips fault (I assume that since they haven’t responded at all to my tweets that this entire initiative is being handled by Klout Perks), I’ve got a sour taste in my mouth, which I can only attribute to a lack of tasty Popchips in my presence. If I were the social media manager (or marketing manager) for Popchips, I’d want to ensure that the brand integrity was being upheld and I would have stepped in to help even if it wasn’t under my umbrella of responsibilities. As a marketer, I would never trust another company with my brand’s image or my potential (or current) customers. It’s hard enough to retain customers and build loyalty when you’re actively cultivating relationships with your customers without handing them over blindly to an outside source that isn’t accountable for the success of a marketing initiative or well-versed in your brand’s vision and practices.

A friend of mine, Jeff Esposito (@jeffespo on twitter), also received the Popchips promotion and had a great experience, so the system isn’t entirely flawed. There is definitely room for improvement, but by the looks of this video, when Klout Perks runs smoothly, it’s a rewarding experience. Klout Perks and Popchips. Klout, Popchips, was it something I said?

I know beggars shouldn’t be choosers, but for future reference, don’t irk the influencers.

About Karen Costa:
As the Online Marketing Specialist at Compete, Karen Costa specializes in the day-to-day online marketing functions for Compete.com-paid search, email marketing, social media, affiliate, etc. Before Karen joined the Compete team she was an online marketing coordinator for Bliss Spa and then worked for a couple of start ups. Karen says, "I'm not sure what I want to be when I grow up!" Find Karen on Twitter as vanillabean45 or connect with her on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/karencosta