Klout score takes off with American Airlines

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To many people, one of the appealing benefits of a good score on influence ranking services is that you can take advantage of perks – free products, services or experiences offered to you based on how high your rank or score is.

Each of the Big Three such services – Klout, Kred and PeerIndex – has its own perks programme. The company that has it down to a fine marketing art in the US is Klout with its associations with big brands such as Microsoft, Sony, Cirque du Soleil, T-Mobile and, they say, over 300 more.

Now Klout adds American Airlines to its perks roster in a deal that gives Klout users access to nearly 40 worldwide lounge locations including San Francisco, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, and London.

[…] if you have a Klout Score of 55 or higher, you can gain access to the Admirals Club by going to aa.com/klout. You do not have to be an American Airlines passenger to be eligible for this Perk.

It looks like an appealing benefit, more so I suspect if you don’t travel that frequently and aren’t a member of an airline’s reward programme that gives you access to airline lounges.

But read the small print carefully first – this is actually a sweepstake for US residents only running through May and with the prize being a year’s free membership in AA’s lounge programme, worth $450. And there’s only one winner:

One lucky winner will win an annual membership to the Admirals Club® lounge and enjoy the ultimate oasis in the airport when they travel.

Everyone else who enters gets an opportunity to buy access into the programme at a $50 discount.

Hmm, looks a bit misleading to me in how this perk is being described by Klout.

Still, as an exercise in connecting with existing customers and introducing itself to new ones in an interesting way, American Airlines will very likely gain good exposure across the social web. And for Klout users, well, you do get a benefit if you go ahead and click the blue ‘GO’ button on the AA website, as I did:

aaklout1daypass

If you then complete the registration to get a One-Day Pass good for three months, and tweet that fact, you get an additional sweepstake entry.

Thanks, AA. Not sure how all this will work given I’m not a US resident, but I might stop by the lounge at Heathrow just to check it out!

I quit Klout in 2011 but came back late last year (although you never really can leave) when researching influence programmes for a client assignment. Influence rank is one thing; marketing activity like perks programmes is another. It’s a legitimate practice and very much part of the marketing landscape, whatever I or anyone else may think about it personally, if the separation between both aspects of what Klout and the others offer is crystal clear.

Influence rank such as Klout’s has already made it into areas like recruitment (“Desired skill: Klout score of 35 or higher”) and hotel reservations.

The trick, I think, is the more transparent your offering is, the more you as a brand will benefit from that honesty in building genuine engagement with your customer or influencer.

The devil is in the detail.

(Via AdAge)

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The reality of influence discrimination

jobDo people discriminate against you because of your score or rank from an influence measurement service like Klout?

A thought-provoking post by Kerry Gorgone writing in Marketing Profs argues that, yes, it happens, and offers some advice to employers and would-be employees:

[…] A note to employers: Don’t rely too heavily on any one metric when hiring someone. Years of experience and demonstrated success in the industry should mean more than a relatively new online scoring algorithm.

In addition, don’t dig too deeply into a candidate’s topics of influence. You can’t “unsee” something like an affiliation with a particular political party or cause, and even if you weren’t actually discriminating based on this affiliation, it might look as though you did, which can result in liability for your company.

Job seekers: Tend to your online brand and your social scores (but don’t obsess), and be aware that interviewers will discriminate based on a number of factors. You might never know which, so make an effort to keep the interview focused on your professional accomplishments, rather than your personal opinions.

See also: web marketing consultant Sean Carlos‘ two-part analysis “Can Social Influence Be Distilled Into A Score?” published in Marketing Land, examining social influence metrics and the primary players: Klout, Kred and PeerIndex. Well researched and worth reading:

Related post:

(Image via The Contract Recruiter under Creative Commons license.)

Will Klout ever let you go?

In November 2011, I quit Klout. Totally and completely. Not only did I close the account, but also I cancelled permissions to allow Klout to connect to each of the online social places to which I’d previously given it permission. That included manually removing permissions from Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare and others I can’t recall.

Now and again, I checked to be sure I wasn’t on Klout: if I went to www.klout.com/jangles, I’d get a 404 error.

Precisely what I’d expect when Klout had told me last November “You will be removed from Klout.com within 24-48 hours” as noted in the screenshot above of the confirmation message I got once I’d done the terminating click.

Today, I decided to sign up again. Notwithstanding my scepticism about Klout’s business model – an opinion largely unchanged since I wrote about it last year – I wanted to see for myself what all the new stuff Klout rolled out earlier this week was about. You can’t really do that unless you’re in the system.

It’s also partly spurred by discussions between Shel Holtz and I in recent episodes of our weekly podcast in which we’ve discussed matters like recruiters specifying a certain Klout score as a desired candidate attribute, something Salesforce.com did recently; and taking this recruiting notion a stage further to look at the context of someone’s score rather than the score itself as Andrew Grill, CEO of Klout competitor Kred, argues.

So I go to Klout.com to sign up again – and discover that my account is actually still there, just “disabled.”

kloutdisabled

“This account is currently disabled,” the popup message says when I click on the ‘Sign in with Twitter’ button and give Klout permission to log in to my Twitter account.

So much for saying “You will be removed from Klout.com within 24-48 hours” nine months ago, Klout.

If I now go to www.klout.com/jangles, I get a redirect to Facebook with a request to install a Klout app there. I don’t think so.

The popup text continues, “If you believe you’re seeing this message in error, please write contact@klout.com.” No, I now have no desire nor interest to communicate with Klout.

If I want to get to know what Klout is up to, I’m quite comfortable reading the opinions and words of wisdom of friends and colleagues in America who use this service. Meanwhile, I’m quite happy with Kred and PeerIndex.

Why on earth would I give Klout any trust at all?

[Later:] I had a brainwave and created the perfect theme song for Klout. Go ahead, give it a whirl.

Related post:

Influence rank: the shape of recruitment to come

kloutscoreof35orhigher

If your job embraces community building and engagement across the social web, does your ranking on an online influence-measurement service like Klout matter?

For some companies and recruiters, it certainly does.

A case in point – Salesforce.com has a job ad for a community manager where the list of desired skills includes this:

Klout score of 35 or higher

According to Klout, the Klout Score or ranking “measures influence based on your ability to drive action. Every time you create content or engage you influence others.”

It uses data from social networks to measure True Reach (“how many people you influence”),
Amplification (“how much you influence them”) and Network Impact (“the influence of your network”).

The job Salesforce is hiring for requires skills including 2-3 years of community management experience and building a following in social media. Especially regarding the latter skill, some kind of ranking could help a candidate stand out from the crowd.

I can imagine a situation where three candidates, say, for the job each has impressive credentials for the role, with clear evidence of all the required skills. The differentiator might be in the desired skills, where one candidate has a higher Klout score than the others, and so gets the job.

We’ve already seen this notion of your online reputation ranking starting to come into the world of hiring – US retailer Best Buy set the bar back in 2009 with a job ad that stated “250 plus followers” on Twitter as a preferred qualification – and it seems definite that it will be a feature of recruiting for some types of roles.

An insightful feature in Forbes.com in May offers an indicator of what’s coming with an assessment of the role of social media in recruiting, with this clear signal:

[…] forward-thinking companies and employers recognize that social media is the platform of the future. Whether or not you work in an industry where building your online influence matters (i.e. public relations, marketing or sales), over the next decade you will be hired and promoted based upon your reputation capital.

It looks as though paying attention to your ranking by services such as Klout as well as competitors like PeerIndex and Kred would be a smart idea when you’re considering your career – which probably should be all the time these days.

Welcome to the future process of your next job.

(Via Simon Caine)

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In Defence Of Influence Metrics

kloutscorewallIs Klout getting a bum rap, spitefully pilloried in critical commentary such as my post on November 12 on opting out of Klout? Guest author Tammy Kahn Fennell believes that services like Klout and PeerIndex deserve fairer assessment.

Let me open with this. I am not invested in any influence score company. My company, MarketMeSuite integrates with Klout and Peer Index as one of about 20 other integrations. And we also have the option to turn off influence entirely.  I am writing this because from where I’m standing, influence (specifically Klout) is being given a bad name not because of what it measures, but because how the company profits from it. I thought it was time to think long and hard about whether we want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Neville was nice enough to give me a chance to post an opposing viewpoint to his “Out of Klout” article. Thanks Neville.

Let’s look at the facts of recent events:

Klout made an announcement they were shifting their algorithm to focus less on how much you post, and more on how engaging you are.

They gave people a week’s notice for this.

A couple of weeks ago a whole lot of people woke up to realize they were a fair bit less influential than they were the day before.

Whenever there’s a big change, it causes people to re-evaluate. And when an algorithm shift “disses” a whole bunch of people and flat out says “you’re less cool than you thought,” people can get a little angry.

Anger Turns To Spite

But what I’ve seen happen goes beyond anger. What I’ve seen happen is that people have turned incredibly spiteful toward influence metrics.  Now, if you think it’s a load of BS and that there’s really no way to measure or rank, then fine, I’ll leave you in peace. But what I’m striving to put to rest is the ambiguity around whether people are attacking influence metrics themselves, or just Klout. Neville pointed out in a comment reply to me that he doesn’t feel the same about Peer Index, because he feels the company is run by a nice group of people and that may be true.The folks over at PI are very nice, that’s for sure, but, when my PI score and Klout score are within points of each other, one can’t help but wonder if the metric is actually correct, and that people are condemning influence as a metric because they have it in for one company, Klout.

(As an aside, I have spoken to the folks at Klout and have never found them to be the Ogres they are being painted as, but that’s not the point of this article. We must not judge usefulness on how much we like people in the company, but on whether it is actually useful.)

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