Earlier this week, I received a tweet from @KloutPerks alerting me to the fact that I was eligible for a free $10 gift card to Subway restaurants because of my Klout. After clicking through the link, I became aware that the world’s largest fast food chain wanted me to try it’s new fresh avocado option on its subs and sandwiches.
To be honest, as much as I read the likes of the Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, and Fast Company, I somehow missed the industry news that Subway was rolling out an avocado spread (not to be confused with guacamole which has other ingredients beside the fruit) and fresh avocado slices nationwide. My guess is that this simple fact met one objective of the company leveraging Klout—raised awareness.
Upon arriving at Klout.com for my new perk, I was greeted with the landing page shown below which informed me, the consumer, that Subway restaurants had started “serving a creamy avocado spread made entirely of fresh avocados and containing no preservatives or additives”. A far cry from a foodie, I am not ashamed to say that sometimes I grab a quick meal from Subway, Quiznos, or Chipotle to meet my on the go lifestyle. This coupled with my love for social media drove me to quickly entertain the promotion by signing into Twitter and moving onto the next step.
If you have never received a Klout perk, it’s important to know that the service requests your names, mailing address, and phone number (optional). Klout seemingly serves four (4) measurable goals for a partnering brand: 1) identification of relevant and influential consumers, 2) increased awareness of a product launch/campaign, 3) consumer contact database info, and 4) trial usage of a product/service.
After providing all necessary information, I decided to share the tasty news of Subway’s new avocado options, which cost $0.50 to $1.00 extra on all sandwiches and subs other than the Turkey & Bacon Avocado sandwich. Seeing how this only my second Klout Perk in recent memory, I was eager to show off what I had earned to family and friends (you can see my not so exciting Tweet below).
Launched in 2009, Klout has raised $10 million in funding and already undergone a re-branding effort. The service originally only measured reach and influence of people on Twitter but has recently added Facebook and LinkedIn to the algorithm (but only if the user connects the latter two social media identities). Foursquare is on the way.
For those of you who are not intimately familiar with Klout, I should clarify that the service measures your social influence. It does not, on the other hand, monitor your social media activity, meaning the service is not going to identify which one of your recent tweets reached the most people online. Klout leaves those details to other existing services.
Klout claims to not only target the “A-List” of social media but instead makes it their mission “to help every individual understand and leverage their influence thus aiming to be the standard measure of influence on the social web.
A Klout score ranges from 1-100 with higher scores representing a wider and stronger sphere of influence. The company’s algorithm considers three main factors when calculating the score: 1) Network Influence which is the influence level of the person’s engaged audience, 2) Amplification Probability which is the likelihood that a person’s content will be acted upon, and 3) True Reach which is the number of engaged people in a user’s network.
Klout is not without critics and understandably so. One of the major flaws in Klout’s scoring system is that it fails to take into account a sentiment measurement, meaning the service only measures raw reactions and network growth. Some pundits also knock Klout for generalizing influence. Just because person X has a super high Klout score of 79, doesn’t mean we should trust them on every subject they form opinions on but that’s where the Klout Perks system tries to step in and precisely pinpoint the most effective influencers for partnering brands.
Some companies are buying heavily into Klout’s measurement system. The Las Vegas Palms Hotel and Casino made major headlines last fall by announcing they were building ”The Klout Klub,” which allowed “high-ranking influencers to experience Palms’ impressive set of amenities in hopes that [those] influencers [would] want to communicate their positive experience to their followers.”
Despite it’s shortcomings, I agree with Dan Schwabel who says “we are living in a world now where visibility creates opportunities and reputation builds trust.” Dan calls it the “Reputation Economy”. In fact, just two weeks ago, Klout announced the release of their +K button. A smart move in my opinion because the service is essentially turning to a user’s peers to crowdsource that user’s authority thus lending more to the idea that people are increasingly accountable for the opinions they share online.
As the world becomes more digitally integrated, information become instantly accessible, and the social web becomes smarter, I wouldn’t bet against Klout in the long run as the necessity for brands to find influencers in their respective markets and sway their opinions will only become valuable.