Like many following Klout’s recent publicity offensive, I’ve been observing and thinking about Klout for a while. I’ve written a couple of posts where I shared some of my thoughts about Klout from the ‘appropriateness of measure’ and ‘commercial opportunity’ perspectives. These are both areas where I think Klout could improve. And probably so do they as a young company experiencing rapid growth. Today, I share what I think they have done brilliantly – reflect their product in their marketing and their marketing in their product.
Sounds obvious. It is. BUT, it is exceptionally difficult to get right and Klout has done a pretty good job of it.
Klout has taught us a good lesson on how to really snowball a product launch. Who wouldn’t admit that they’ve gone to check their Klout score more than once in the past month?
It is important to first clarify what I mean by product launch. Clearly Klout’s site has been around for a while. The Launch for me is about the day the team is ready for a full on marketing push to drive as much usage as possible. This nearly always involves PR and when well executed, generates PR that snowballs generating lots of bonus coverage. Bonus coverage doesn’t happen by itself and is not the job of a PR agency itself. It happens by reflecting accurately the great attributes of a product which itself has the job of hooking customers and reeling them it.
For anyone who spent the past month in a bubble, Klout has been all over social media, critical for credibility in their field, but also surfacing in mainstream media and garnering all sorts of comment on their algorithm, reliability, relevance. The important thing is that Klout is driving discussion. It is on the tips of people’s tongues and making conversation. The team responsible for marketing Klout, whether by design or luck, have clearly connected with the emotional triggers that drive just enough response to get people engaged – both in the product and in the media talking about it.
I see three key emotional triggers:
They build all of these into the product so it is clear that their marketing and their product and, without question, their company embodies these characteristics which have made for a great product launch. The team at Klout understand people as much as mathematical algorithms. They have honed in on the human characteristics that, at a most basic level, we all share and thrive upon.
Let’s look at Controversy. Why do I think that it is built into the product? Well, it suggested that I was an expert in the topic of Nuclear Power. I don’t know anything meaningful about the topic, though I have a fairly strong opinion about its role in our future. This label is controversial both for me and for true experts who would easily see the artificial nature of that label. Similarly controversial are the Tweeters who influence me. Though some are spot on, in some cases, I do not agree with these individuals or want to perceive myself as influenced by them. So I am subtly motivated to change my behaviour. Thereby increasing my interactions with some and possibly decreasing my interactions with others.
Compulsion. Here’s a human trait that we don’t often want to associate ourselves with, but it is something that drives us. We all have it, but in each of us, it is directed in a different way. A colleague once asked me how often I look at my LinkedIn profile to see how many people were checking me out. I felt like a teenager wondering if the boy in class thought I was hot. But I also immediately felt like a loser because my answer was an honest never. I was not looking for a job nor thinking about doing so. I used LinkedIn regularly in the course of my work to recruit, locate business partners, and investigate other companies. I had never thought to see who was looking at me for the very same things – what a dolt! So I went and checked it out. I signed up to waive my anonymity rather than become a paying subscriber for the exercise (sorry LinkedIn.). I looked at my ‘stalkers’ a few times and lost interest. There was really nothing to be gained from that particular activity and I prefer real life direct interactions with people. Klout has changed all that for many people. Imagine how interesting it is to check your score. Did all those clever tweets yesterday make me more popular? And when they don’t, perhaps we’re not so clever as we think. How many of you check your Klout score weekly or more, and look farther at the individual components to see how you’re doing. It is so simple that we are literally compelled to check it out. A stroke of brilliance from the product visionaries at Klout.
And the age old competition that is driven by Comparison. Klout does this brilliantly. Their product compares us to each other subtly by showing who we influence and who influences us. They then compare us directly with some of our followees. Are you a celebrity? a thought leader? an observer? Even the labels motivate us to compare. For some, the same labels may compel you to select our target category and begin working for it. Some people are happy as an observer, but many want to at least carry an active label – explorer, networker. Set a target and go get ‘em.
I’ve talked a lot about the product when this post is about marketing, why? Well as every good marketer and every good product manager knows, the two are fairly inextricably linked. So Klout started with a product that in and of itself is designed to drive the kind of marketing metrics people only dream of – repeat visits, true engagement, and disucssion outside of the site.
Once the snowball starts rolling, it just keeps getting bigger and going faster. This is great news for Klout, just as it is for the competitors of Klout. I would expect there to be at least two signficant standards over time. After all, competition means comparison. Comparison compels us to improve. I can’t wait to watch this unfold.