Measuring Klout: Love it or hate it, influence marketing is here
The Klout phenomenon escaped me for a while. It seemed to divide people into two camps: those who object to the principle of saddling individuals with a rating score; and those who obsess over gaming social media activity to elevate their score and lead them to glory. Much of the dialog felt like the jocks versus the nerds during homecoming week.
Now I realize both sides are missing the big picture. I finally got it when I read Mark Schaefer’s book Return on Influence. It was an eye-opener, which I can only describe in two words. Awe. Some. I knew I was in for an interesting read when I came across this passage in the introduction:
We are at the dawn of the creation of a new social media caste system determined by how and when you tweet, connect, share and comment. The haves may score better jobs, higher social status, even better luck on the dating scene. The rules of personal power in our world have been changed forever. And there’s no turning back.
The new rules of online influence
The book lays a solid foundation for understanding online influence from its historical applications in marketing, to its basic elements, its role in content marketing, scoring processes, and current and future applications. It covers a lot of ground and is a compelling read for today’s online marketer.
In the first section he talks about the evolution of earned authority on the Internet. The glut of information available to users renders choice irrelevant. So we have a natural inclination to seek out authorities as a filter. Authorities earn trust by an online presence characterized by consistency, commitment and affinity.
Scarcity also plays a role for online influencers. While content is free, the real commodity is time, attention and reach. Influencers serve as brokers or gatekeepers to move content. The real power on the social Web is in reciprocity, the subtle indebtedness of exchanging favors for the distribution of ideas and content. These new rules are a dramatic change from traditional marketing. And they are being incorporated by marketers in new ways.
Influence marketing in practice
In another section, Schaefer outlines several case studies of companies using social scoring as a driver of marketing strategy. It is a powerful testimony of the potential for leveraging influencers to create buzz that achieves business objectives.
APPLYING SOCIAL PROOF TO TRADITIONAL MARKETING
An online merchant that matches buyers with trustworthy sellers added Klout scores to seller listings and saw likelihood of sales increase by 500 percent. Social proof gave juice to the purchase decision. The scores gave buyers added comfort in purchasing when they could see how long sellers have been online and how active they were.
ENGAGING INFLUENTIAL FANS
Auto manufacturer Audi used Klout to engage technology influencers outside of traditional trade press to nurture brand advocates on the social Web. They also used Klout scores to interact with millions of Facebook fans, employing targeted content. It enabled a more meaningful engagement. The outreach resulted in the buzz and reach they were seeking over and above traditional marketing.
A consumer packaged goods marketer devised a conquest strategy by combining social listening and Klout data to identify unhappy competitor customers and targeting them with coupon promotions. It is part of an overall strategy to move from expensive coupon blasts inserted in newspapers to more organic advocacy and pass-along activity online.
MANAGING ONLINE SENTIMENT
One company CEO interviewed is integrating influence scores into customer service to craft rapid responses to customers with the most potential for spreading negative word-of-mouth online.
PUBLIC RELATIONS AND CRISIS MANAGEMENT
A corporate director shared how he used social scoring to manage a potential PR disaster that could have affected company stock prices. A blogger posted that a key client might be going bankrupt, an assertion based on faulty data. After reviewing the influence scores of tweeters sharing the information, he concluded the misinformation was unlikely to spread enough to have an impact. The data gave the management team confidence to watch and wait. The meme quickly died.
These are a few brief examples of how businesses are currently using social scoring outlined in Schaefer’s book. Beyond the applications of early adopters, he concludes with a look to the not-to-distant future.
The future of social scoring
In researching the book, Schaefer interviewed 70 prominent thought leaders on social scoring and influence. Here are some of the developments they foresee for influence marketing.
1. The social scoring trend will help people reclaim their data and the value of that data.
2. Scoring algorithms will advance to measuring the dollar value of probable referral sales from the individual.
3. Technology will enable the understanding of network structures and influence of interactions in the network. Scores will be more about subjects of influence and the impact on the network.
4. Social scores will integrate into other key business metrics such as customer loyalty, satisfaction, retention, attrition, CRM.
5. Marketers will look to combine influence scores with location-based data.
6. Technology will seek to connect online conversations with offline behaviors.
7. Social scores will evolve into a form of social currency, where services are customized to individual levels of influence.
In this video, Mark Schaefer talks about the ideas behind influence and social media marketing discussed in his book.
‘We are numbers now’
It should come as no surprise we have arrived at a time when we can put a score to our individual influence. Google and Facebook keep track of massive amounts of data about our activities, habits and preferences. We are scored for our creditworthiness. Database marketers score us for propensity to buy. The natural progression leads to scoring our influence on social media. It has gone mainstream and has led us to new opportunities.
For those who struggle with the humanity of being rated for social influence, Schaefer offers this concluding thought: “Yes, we are numbers now. Unavoidably, we will be known for our Klout scores and followers and badges of social proof. But the smartest marketers will always remember that we are people too.”
Like this? Subscribe to get an email notice
when awesome new posts are published!
- 23 quotes to inspire your content marketing & the difference you can make contentmarketinginstitute.com/2017/04/quotes… via @cmicontent #contentmarketing PRESSED: 44 minutes ago
- The epic rise of SEO: How, why & where to invest searchenginejournal.com/the-epic-rise-… via @sejournal #seo #seostrategy #inboundmarketing PRESSED: 1 hour ago
- Online, Under Armour spreads itself thin wsj.com/articles/onlin… via @WSJ #ecommerce #prodmktg PRESSED: 2 hours ago
- 10 frequently asked questions about contextual email marketing movableink.com/blog/10-freque… via @movableink #emailmarketing #emailstrategy PRESSED: 3 hours ago