Social media is playing a much larger role for many online brands and industries today. The emerging, widespread popularity of Klout, a service that measures and quantifies online social influence based on reach and engagement on sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google+, is a strong indication of the impact that social media is having on the way people and companies understand the significance of social media channels.
Klout scores have been an obsession among social media advocates for some time despite the incessant debate as to whether Klout scores actually matter at all. To be honest, Klout does almost exactly what I used to do in my head every time I’d get a new Twitter follower, retweet or @ mention but with a significantly smaller dose of broscience, which I’m assuming is a lot better. I don’t mean to say that their current algorithm for assigning Klout scores is infallible but it does seem to address a previously unfulfilled market demand.
And now, Klout is changing the way brands and stores approach their online marketing strategies.
Social Media Marketing & Klout
Social media marketing hasn’t changed. Much. An effective social marketing strategy can still prove extremely valuable to an online brand or ecommerce store in growing direct and repeat customers through a variety of methods. We wrote about it in a post addressing the idea of social commerce. Add Klout scores into the mix and things get a bit more interesting.
What Klout is effectively doing with Klout Perks is highlighting the value of social media marketing by working with major brands like Coca-Cola, Audi, Hewlett Packard, Spotify and Red Bull to connect with social media influencers and spark conversations about the brand. For example, last year Audi invited top design, tech and luxury influencers to test drive the new 2011 Audi A8 at exclusive events. A few lucky winners got all-expense-paid weekend trips with the new Audi A8 and the hope was that these influencers would start taking about the brand on Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Brands are now recognizing the impact of social media and virality, as well as the power of the individual voice on social media channels. Klout also sees an opportunity to capitalize on this realization by brands and have redesigned their Klout Perks packaging to make it visually impactful and instantly recognizable.
Social Marketing Strategy
Social media marketers have preached the value of connecting with customers/influencers by offering exclusive promotions and engaging in conversations with influencers but it’s been difficult for businesses to justify the cost of incentivizing this seemingly arbitrary group of people without having some sort of benchmark for social influence.
This is exactly was Klout is providing for businesses.
Take Klout’s recent partnership with Gilt Groupe as an example of how a business might justify offering various exclusive markdowns for people with high Klout scores. The higher the user’s Klout score, the deeper the discount. By rewarding Klout “influencers” it increases the likelihood that they will talk about the brand or product in a positive light which upon first glance seems like a brilliant reputation management tactic.
It’s interesting that Gilt Groupe, a company that has built its business under the veneer of exclusivity, has implemented a social marketing strategy that attempts to replicate the virality of sites like Pinterest. It truly does speak volumes about how business are viewing social media marketing in 2012.
Right now it appears to be the brands with larger marketing budgets that are making the biggest splashes with the Klout Perks program but this kind of marketing strategy is something that businesses should be able to implement in the near future as long as they have the right social media tools and an engaged marketing team.
Engagement, Influence & Gamification
Klout also partnered with Badgeville last month, a company that that provides gamification solutions for many of the largest online brands.
Gamification aims to drive up user engagement and lifetime user value with rewards programs and on-site gaming experiences. By teaming up with Klout, Badgeville customers will be able to better focus their efforts to users that are most likely to impact social sharing signals, referrals and loyalty.
Same principle – There’s value in identifying the influencers that are engaging with your site.
Klout Chief Executive Joe Fernandez takes it a step further and said, “We’re evolving it to the point where your Klout can be a passport to the world. You can show it at a restaurant and potentially get a free dessert, or you go to a concert and get access to the VIP area.”
Increase Your Klout Score
So, the lesson here is to become the most influential person(s) on Klout and you will be rewarded with tons of free Klout Perks. Profit.
Ok maybe not. But it definitely illustrates the shift in thinking about online marketing strategy. While the Klout Perks program is still in its infancy, it’s an interesting value proposition for online brands and retailers.