This is the second in a three part series about Klout. Read my assessment of Klout here.
In my last post, I complained about the manipulability of Klout as a result of its (denied) reliance on volume and frequency to drive the score. As I continue to think more about Klout and their kin, I realised that there are some really exciting potential uses for businesses becoming the authority on influence.
Really knowing influencers and experts about certain topics is a critical skill of experienced marketers. There’s a massive industry of sports and celebrity endorsements of all sorts of products that short cut to influence by use of popularity. In parallel to the notion of 1:1 marketing, social media has allowed a new type of ‘celebrity’ influencer. Individuals who are exceptionally knowledgeable in their niche are great influencers for the category. If channels like Twitter enable them to reach a large enough audience, tools like Klout could enable marketers to short-cut the hunt for these key leaders to promote and endorse their products.
Klout is onto this and trying to incentivise usage of advertiser products in exchange for potential endorsement. A Klout Influencer’s endorsement might reach a smaller audience than the A-list celebrity or athlete, but their audience is one with whom the endorser has built a relationship through discussion. That relationship should raise the trust that such a recommendation will carry. I experience this within my friend group who often ask which products we recommend for travelling with our kids. Indeed we’ve road tested many! Will an algorithm be able to get specific enough to find these true influencers or is it a popularity contest?
One of the existing problems that Klout has is discover-ability of key influencers. Although +K will begin to allow direct endorsement of a person’s expertise and influence, only the very dedicated will have the patience to note the Twitter IDs of those who influence them and enter these one by one into a Klout search. I’ve been happy to test +K with the handful of individuals Klout selects as my influencers or influencees. I’m not so interested in searching for people whose IDs I don’t know.
What about an alternative business model for Klout where they allow access to their data for businesses large and small to hunt down their own key influencers and create offers and opportunities directly. Most businesses, even small ones will pay for this, and it saves Klout having to manage the entire sales force and agency relationships with big brands. Imagine the impact of a long tail of marketers. The platform could be so much more powerful.