There’s a lot of talk about the merits, or otherwise, of the Klout score. Some call it the new AVE while others say it is just one way to measure influence. And, from a consumer’s perspective, they are right. From an advertiser’s perspective, it doesn’t matter.
From speaking to clients, colleagues and peers, the biggest bug bear holding brands back from social outreach programmes is that they are almost impossible to predict their success and they do not scale. The product that Klout offers to advertisers solves both of these problems. You are guaranteed a set number of participants and with that guarantee comes a reach and scale that you cannot model with traditional outreach.
Everything comes back to the oldest truth about the web, and media in particular.
If you don’t pay for the product; you are the product.
- You don’t pay for Facebook but you give it your data in return for a more contextualised, relevant experience.
- You don’t pay for news online (unless you subscribe to The Times etc) but you act as an impression for the news sites to sell on a CPM basis.
- You don’t pay for Klout but you accept the perks that its advertisers pay to give you.
So, as an advertiser, do I care whether your Klout score is one or two points higher than it should be? Do I care if, out of the 1,000 influencers I want to reach, 100 of them are slightly mismatched? Do I care that I’m considered influential about 50 Cent? Do I care that Klout can be gamed?
As long as I get scale and reach within my geography, I don’t think I do and I don’t think clients do either. As long as, in aggregate, the 100mm people that Klout indexes are, plus or minus 5%, the right place on the bell curve, I think it’s a worthwhile system to use. As practitioners who live and breath in social media, of course we strive for complete accuracy and the purity of the data, but I think we’re missing the wood for the trees by focusing in on the little things. Yes there are outliers and while we should be cognizant of their presence, we shouldn’t ignore the platform.
It’s a horrendously practical thing to say but its the same with Facebook likes, Twitter follows and YouTube views. We want quality first and foremost but without scale, social media is an inefficient way to spend marketing dollars. Without scale, as my boss says, social media is little more than a science experiment that will struggle to attract repeat funding. And that is the ultimate litmus test of Klout – will advertisers return? My sources say that they are.