influence
 

Klout scores and social media impressions – a bit of a joke or a genuine currency in marketing?

“Oh, great – so my business class lounge is going to be full of social media gurus now?” – this is a flippant paraphrasing of comments after an airline said it would be rewarding social media influencers.

American Airlines is opening up its Admiral Club services for 24 hours to anyone with a score of 55 or higher on the social media measurement service Klout.

Klout works out how “influential” an individual is by examining their presence in a range of social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, etc) and how they share content and engage with other users.

So, for example, CNN leads the media organisations with a Klout Score of 99, whilst Bloomberg has 88; comedians Stephen Fry and Steve Carell have 90 and 86 respectively; in the travel world, blogger Matt Kepnes is at 72, Jen Leo at 65, Henry Hartveldt at 61.

You get the idea.

American Airlines is not alone – Cathay Pacific and Virgin America have both played with the Klout model.

American’s lounge access promotion works well on a number of levels: it gets all the social-loving and Klout-obsessed media and blogs writing about the project; it demonstrates to the wider industry how in tune it is with a buzzy social media site; and will probably introduce a raft of new people to its normally rather exclusive services.

And therein, some suggest, lies a potential problem.

Not in my backyard

Should apparent influence in various social media channels give a passenger the same perks (i.e. access to a classy lounge) as someone who has, say, paid north of $3,000 for an air ticket?

It would appear not to some, thus the earlier comment in the opening line about having to share such facilities with folk not from these parts.

For American Airlines and others, perhaps they all see the trade-off in populating their normally exclusive services with social media-types and other celebrities as a worthwhile endeavour, despite potentially upsetting their regular, high-spending travellers?

Given that the AA offer is just a 24-hour pass to its Admiral Lounge, members will arguably either not realise or indeed care that they are hanging out with various Twitter and Facebook maniacs.

In a few months it will, of course, be interesting to see how the AA project has worked out.

For example:

  • How many of those given access to the lounges did actually tweet about its presumed brilliance or share pictures around their respective social networks?
  • What was the overall ROI of the initiative?
  • Did any of those taking up the offer decide to become fully fledged members of its loyalty programme?

But perhaps a bigger question revolves around what REALLY is social media influence and does it have any long time value?

The idea behind the Klout system, depending on who you ask, is either knee-tremblingly awesome (!) or a complete waste of time, especially when the subjects users are supposedly influential in are examined.

The platform can be gamed (giving people the nod – a credit – for a particular subject matter is dead easy) and the results are often weird to say the least.

NB: the author was hugely influential, according to Klout, in “Lady Gaga” and “obesity” for a ridiculous length of time despite never having mentioned either in the two channels – Facebook and Twitter – that the service monitors

But Klout remains wildly popular and is clearly seen as a tool worth using by brands to get their message or services out to, well, influential people.

What’s your impression?

Related directly to the Klout system is the concept of “social media impressions”.

The term is used extensively by all sorts of organisations and individuals these days as a way of illustrating the apparent reach of activity in social media.

For example, content and other activity from last weekend’s TBEX blogger conference in Canada supposedly had a “reach” of 19 million.

Meanwhile, the weekly #TTOT Twitter chat says it “reaches up to more than two million users” and achieves “impressions” of around 30 million.

The metric is usually worked out by calculating the number of people tweeting (or retweeting) with a particular hashtag, then counting the number of followers each has and then multiplying it by the number of tweets.

Going by the same formula, the reporting team members and the main account at Tnooz mentioning this article just once will give it upwards of 40,000 “impressions” on Twitter – this is before anyone amongst the general readership decides to do the same.

If, for example, just the Lonely Planet decided to mention the story in a tweet then the impression count would soar to 1.12 million.

For fear of doing Tnooz a disservice, using the example above, our stories are not being read by well over a million individuals every time. And even without LP’s involvement, impression figures based on Twitter “reach” are nowhere near the actual hits on an article.

But it’s a currency, especially when figures with the word “million” at end of them materialise, which sounds jaw-droppingly impressive, so it is therefore no surprise that is being used increasingly by marketers or PRs to demonstrate the impact of a message or conversation.

In short, however: it is completely impossible to say an “impression” is actually anything of value at all. It would be the most connected and engaged conversation of all time if every follower of an individual just happens to be logged on… reading every tweet… constantly.

Presumably most people can see beyond the mountain of zeros at the end of such figures to realise what is going on – it is, after all, just playing around with figures.

But as the trend grows, it demonstrates two things:

  • So-called social media influence and impressions, as concepts and measurable marketing tools, remain as shaky as this author’s knowledge of Lady Gaga.
  • There is a real and urgent need for a more robust way of obtaining the GENUINE impact of activity in social media.

Until then, don’t believe the hype.

NB: Influence image via Shutterstock.

NB2: Author’s Klout score, for the record, is currently 66. Other Klout scores correct at time of writing.

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.

 

Comments

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  1. Patrick McCoy

    Kevin, your opening line was a pretty solid conclusion one can quickly draw from what AA was promoting. ‘Boosting my klout score will get me a better plane seat or 1st class or to go sit in the airport lounge! AWESOME, let me post this and this and this and share that, too. LIKE.’

    If it was AA’s objective to get people to write articles such as this or get people to post and share and review AA info, then kudos to them for creating the buzz.

    In our experience, we find the “Klout score” to be something that confuses people and small business owners, created a new service for those in the web marketing world which is still very difficult to explain clearly to a prospect, and ultimately aid all those social media “gurus” out there to just have more crap to spin around in a meeting to basically sell the management of Facebook posts and Tweets.

    I’m all for innovation and new technologies which can help build a brand, however, not convinced people should read that much into their klout, especially us SMB owners. Do you really think Tammy cares about her dentists klout score? Probably not. No matter the size of your business, the real question boils down to, has your klout developed a return and are you or your social media agency measuring that return? Interesting concept AA presented, but I feel would only work for the big boys! Thanks for the post, Kevin.

     
  2. Becca

    In my opinion, still it is inevitable that we have to deal with services like this, because it is how we try to get a grip on the whole ‘influence’ matter. Because influence and authority will matter.

     
  3. Kevin May

    Kevin May

    Just a quick note to say thanks to ALL for your fantastic contributions here – I’m glad we managed to get views from all sides of the argument.

    cheers!

    KLM

     
  4. barbara

    Oh, and Klout thinks I’m an expert on onions. Enough said.

     
  5. barbara

    As an online marketer, I care about metrics. I have to – my bonus is based on them 😉 The problem here is that the ‘metrics’ are poppycock. To be fair, I think they’re less poppycockish than other PR ‘metrics’ I’ve heard over the years, but poppycock they remain all the same.

    The cold hard fact is that marketers (who generally control the PR budget) in a commercial business are required to hit targets that investors actually care about. Quite simply, those targets tend to be financially driven – sales, revenue, customer acquisition, yadda yadda. If you can’t demonstrate commercially viable results (ie ones that matter) from your portfolio, we’re not going to hand over our marketing budget to fund your jollies.

     
  6. Durant Imboden

    Klout scores are about as reliable as AVE (“Advertising Value Equivalency”) scores, except that–in print media, at least, where ads are sold by the column inch or fractional page–AVE scores have some basis in fact.

     
  7. James Carson

    Good article – I recommend Mark Schaefer’s book Return on Influence for more on this – it gives a lot of detail and clarity…

    It’s not so much the score that is Klout’s value – it’s really the data behind it. And when companies want to meet influencers by partnering with Klout, Klout don’t select on just the score – it’s very carefully worked out.

    The number is just what always makes the headlines… the data is far more complex and important.

    I’ve just written a 5,000 word piece on the topic here for your reference! http://www.fliptop.com/socialscore/

     
    • John Pope

      James,

      Nice one.

      Took me awhile, but, extremely informative and beautifully presented piece. Highly recommended to all, for sure. I’ll definitely be reading ROI, too. But, I’ll also still reserve final judgement on Klout (and others) til I discover more convincing data. Not quite a card-carrying-kool-aid-drinking believer… just yet.

      You definitely know your shizzle for rizzle, though, and can certainly communicate. Kudos.

       
  8. Stuart

    Interesting debate as per. Here’s a couple of comments on the original post and comments…

    1. An LP retweet of an article gets approx 4-5 times more unique visitors than a normally published and pushed out there post *at best*. We’re talking 3-5 thousand unique visitors here (over a month). Am assuming others are getting similar results?

    2. What Debbie said

    “We need research and better evaluation from the likes of TweetReach in the same way so we have more realistic figures in the future”

    Couldn’t agree more with this statement. At the moment it doesn’t make any sense to anyone who’s studied the analytics and seen the results from social. (GA wise I kind of think social *as a whole* is a bit better than Bing, but only if you combine FB, G+ and Twitter). A long way to go before it even starts sniffing the hem of Google’s cloak. Google still the daddy.

    But it is a long way to go and maybe Klout is better than nowt. Still not convinced though. Then again I always thought audited circulation figures were made-up bullshit too.

    It is a new world out there. Might be worth ditching the hype and start with solid figures. Not sexy but a little more scientific.

    Cheers Stu

     
  9. Debbie Hindle

    Kevin asked me to respond to this post from a PR perspective. I really enjoyed reading this article and all the comments. The debate appears to be distilling down to how do we target and evaluate social influencers? The great thing about a fast-changing world is that it’s fast. Social influence tools are certainly still in their infancy so if you compare Kevin’s ‘joke or genuine’ question to a red or green traffic light system I’d say our approach is ‘amber’ – considering everything in the mix but with a healthy sense of caution and common sense.

    Targeting influencers
    The way we evaluate any platform whether it’s the Daily Telegraph or GoSeeWrite is
    – Does this brand fit my client?. An uber- luxury hotel will not want to target The People or its social equivalent regardless of its reach
    – Is this the right quality fit? A blog may say it’s a luxury blog on the masthead but is it the right quality that will match my client’s brand?
    – Is it reaching the right people? A ferry client of ours once said at a blogging event – “you may have 100,000 followers but if they don’t live within a two hour drive of Dover I’m not interested”. I’m on a mission to get bloggers to create really detailed media packs with more demographic background and taking a lesson from traditional media packs. If we’re reviewing potential partners for a client campaign we typically look at the volume of each platform the influencer is on and engagement (including YouTube Google+ etc). Most blogger packs will include Kred scores which are interesting but not what we base our decisions on. We rarely quote Kred scores or their like to clients.

    I’m worried by the implication of the discussion and the comment by Jeremy Head that: “ there are too many lazy marketeers out there looking for a quick fix (who needs to know people by networking and research anyway” . Understanding social influencers does need a lot of detailed ground work and why I’ve been an advocate for several years of working with and getting to know bloggers, encouraging clients to attend blogger conferences and understand how they work as the industry develops.

    Evaluating influencers
    Setting ROI metrics around any campaign, whether its social or traditional then depends on the campaign objective – the output expected from any coverage rather than for the coverage itself – was it to increase engagement, raise awareness, fan levels, drive website traffic and bookings?

    We do quote Tweet Reach in reports back to clients but with a healthy dose of scepticism, explaining what it is, but so that they are aware of the tool. If I can quote my Social Media Account Director Ruth Haffenden here, she said: “We need to ensure brands understand what is meant by ‘reach’ or ‘impressions’ and that it is merely stage one of influencer research, not the end result of a campaign. If you just base a campaign on reach and impressions, it’s like planning a consumer event and choosing a destination solely on footfall in that area, taking no consideration for the type of people that frequent that area and the type of interactions you want to have with them once they’re there, or even bothering to follow up on how many sales were made!”

    I agree with Joe Buhler that social is in similar situation to evaluating traditional media. Organisations like tourist boards have to find a global way to account for spending taxpayers money and sadly, the Equivalent Advertising Value is still the one that’s used as a standard.

    When we all needed to start evaluating online coverage there was a similar question about online reach and value. We were getting reports from our monitoring company of online articles valued at massive levels because they’d taken the overall reach of the website rather than the volume/audience of the website section. Not everyone on MailOnline reads our lovely articles about Atlantis, The Palm in the travel section though I’d love to think they do. That evaluation company has now changed its processes and puts more realistic assessment of reach rather than just using the whole website stats. We need research and better evaluation from the likes of TweetReach in the same way so we have more realistic figures in the future.

    That’s why I appreciate the fact that Melvin of TravelDudes and Keith of Velvet Escape are working together to try to develop a simple EAV model for social media. Before the highly-skilled Tnooz audience jumps in to diss this. Please give the guys a break. They are effectively trying to crowdsource with the industry for ways to make this work. Please join in and give them your ideas that may give us something useful.

    I spent too many years discussing the value of PR in the marketing mix without being able to give direct evidence of impact. Did that person call to make a booking because they’d read an article or an advert? Would that person even know the difference? Most companies don’t have the budget to do research to see if PR has had an impact on awareness– it costs more than the PR campaign itself. But social has the potential to deliver tangible evidence of PR impact. When I first saw referral traffic stats on Google I promise you I jumped for joy. Last month I was looking at a client’s analytics and saw that an article that had been published in 2010 was in the top five referral sites to their website last month. I’m now showing long-term value, not just a one off ad value. Clients that track how visitors from social platforms use their website and go onto book are giving us more data than ever before about where PR/social is working.

    Finally back to the subject of this article. This is clearly not the same as the daily graft of assessing and evaluating influencers. It’s a great PR stunt. I checked my Klout score when I read the story (not there yet). It made me think about the airline and services. We’re all talking about it. It will reach potential influencers beyond the travel bubble- which Matthew Baker highlights above.

    If it becomes a problem for paying customers, or draws in too many people they can raise the Klout level to reduce numbers claiming success and driving more news columns. I’ll be watching – and hoping to learn – with interest

     
    • John Pope

      Excellent, sensible and sober commentary, Debbie.

      Note to self: When requiring PR services in future, speak with FourBGB first.

       
    • Jeremy Head

      Hi Debbie
      Kevin asked me to comment too… knowing I’ve expressed scepticism about Klout in particular… I’m sure you realise I had my tongue firmly lodged in my cheek above.

      Like I said, the need to measure influence/reach etc won’t go away (and it shouldn’t). It’s just important to understand the value of quality over quantity – as you and Paul and many others in this chain have pointed out.

      A lot of the old school marketing theory still holds true – the old 80/20 rule in particular. The difference now (compared to when I started out in direct mail etc) is it’s way way cheaper to get your message out there nowadays – so people can be tempted to just go for the scattergun approach assuming they’ll probably get to the right people along the way. That’s an example of what I meant by ‘lazy’.

      Cheers
      Jeremy

       
      • Debbie Hindle

        Hi Jeremy – yes I could see tongue firmly in cheek as you typed.

        Scattergun marketing and PR has always been a problem of course (I once did some work experience at a radio station and saw the weary regional news producer open press releases with pictures of building products falling out of the envelope)

        I suppose the fragmentation of media just makes it even more tempting, but counterproductive.

         
  10. John Pope

    @Matthew,

    Dammit, I thought there might be a solution that was way to obvious, and eluding my small mind.

    Note to self: Occam’s Razor does apply to most mysteries of the universe. 😉

    Thanks for the lesson in humility, I definitely needed it.

     
    • John Pope

      @Matthew

      P.S. I’m going to get the jump on Google this time and corner the market – they don’t know who they’re dealing with…

      A man needs a life goal, after all.

       
  11. Bruce Sweigert

    I think there is still an unhealthy infatuation with social media as an entity in itself, rather than just a new communications channel.

    In this case, some of the basic tenants of marketing and brand are ignored. For a full-service global airline such as American, their customer profitability follows the 80/20 rule – 20% of the customers create (at least) 80% of the revenues and earnings. A successful airline devotes its resources to both know who their most important customers are, and treat them the best it can with relevant and personalised service and product offerings.

    Giving Klout “influencers” a free ride into the lounge is assuming that these people will somehow deliver a positive message about the lounge to the relevant customers (or future customers) that want to know. Its a totally random approach, based on an assumption that the more times a message is broadcasted, the higher the chance that it will arrive to the right target at the right time. I remember in the early days of the net, someone telling me the most cost effective way to advertise was to buy email lists and send out as much messages as possible because if you send enough, you will eventually get to the the right people. We now know this as spam.

    Typically when a service or upgrade is offered complementary, it is targeted and on a discrete basis, not announced to the entire world. This is to ensure the value of the service.

    Access to the lounge is perhaps one of the most important benefits of achieving status on any airline loyalty program. Giving away this valuable service serves to degrade the exclusivity and potentially the service level that the facility and staff can provide to its most important customer base. All this for the hope that the influencers will say something nice.

    #whypayforalounge

     
  12. Stuart McD

    Sorry Melvin, I’m trying to get my head around what you’re describing, but just to concentrate on one bit of the math. Where you say:

    “So if you run now a campaign over a couple of weeks/months with several people involved and reach 4 million accounts and create 80 million impressions, the chances are very high that most of the 4 million actually have seen some of those tweets.”

    Is what you’re saying that several people are tweeting 20 times over the campaign period? (I get the 20 from 80/4)?

    But if there are, say, 5 people participating in the campaign, but I follow only one of them then I’d potentially see 20 campaign tweets over the period. But if I follow all 5 then I’d potentially see 100 tweets. How is that reflected in the math?

    Thanks

     
  13. Melvin

    I didn’t know that you like Lady Gaga that much, that Klout even finds out about it, without you even mentioning it on Twitter & Facebook! You must be a real fan! 😉 hahaha
    Yes, you can influence Klout and that’s why I wouldn’t trust it alone, but also check user profiles on Kred & Peer Index. If someone is influencial on all 3 platforms, then he probably got an audience.

    I hear more and more often that Twitter impressions mean nothing and this is completely wrong, if you ask me. Twitter impressions alone are worthless, but you have to see it in comparisan with the accounts reached.

    If you have 1000 Followers and tweet once, you created 1000 possibilities (impressions) that your tweet got seen. As Twitter is very quickly, the chances are quite low that many of your followers have seen your tweet. So you tweet it again and you still reach 1000 followers, but now created 2000 possibilities that your tweet got seen.

    Makes sense, right?

    So if you run now a campaign over a couple of weeks/months with several people involved and reach 4 million accounts and create 80 million impressions, the chances are very high that most of the 4 million actually have seen some of those tweets.

    You can’t say how many really have seen them in the end, but the chances are much higher with a high number of impressions. For me that’s for sure a better measurement than print and TV media provides.

    The real trouble is, that the industry still haven’t understood the value of online content, including online newspapers, magazines, blogs, social media, video etc.

    There are guys running YouTube channels and who reached 1-2 million people with their vids and are not able to make a living from it? Try to reach 1-2 million people via TV and see how many people make a living from that!

    Newspapers/magazines…A local newspaper I’ve worked for sold around 30.000 newspapers per day, which is close to a million per month, but in the end they still only reached 30.000 unique visitors (more or less). There was a team of around 50 people involved to run that newspaper and all full time!
    Many bloggers have far better numbers, running the site themselves and can’t make a full time living.

    I would like to see this topic covered instead of talking about impressions and Klout, as this is so much more of importance for everyone working online.

     
    • Melvin

      Oh… something to add. 🙂
      You HAVE to see the full report of a campaign with all stats and reach!!! Just talking about impressions is no good. For example, if you reach 1,5 million people and got 20 million impressions, that might sound good, but is not if you run that campaign as Lonely Planet! 😉
      If you now run a campaign with the same numbers, but have over 1000 contributors with each around 2500-100.000 followers, then this is a successfull!

      PS: I’ve used “comparison” above, but meant “combination”. Sorry, seems I need another coffee! 🙂

       
    • Paul

      Hi Melvin,

      I just want to pick through your response and try and get at the core of why there is so much doubt about the methodology you discuss.

      “Yes, you can influence Klout and that’s why I wouldn’t trust it alone, but also check user profiles on Kred & Peer Index. If someone is influencial on all 3 platforms, then he probably got an audience.”

      First, audience is not the same as influence.

      Second, there is no hard documentation on the inputs or outputs of the three platforms you highlight. Nobody knows exactly what metrics they consider when calculating scores or rankings, or what algorithms are subsequently employed to manipulate them. We’ve no idea.

      “I hear more and more often that Twitter impressions mean nothing and this is completely wrong, if you ask me. Twitter impressions alone are worthless, but you have to see it in comparisan with the accounts reached.”

      ‘Impressions’ isn’t a new concept; the radio industry has used a similar metric for decades. However, nobody buys a campaign based on the number of times an ad could have been heard; they buy based on the numbers of times an ad is likely to be heard by a specific number of people in a specific demographic at a specific time.

      “So if you run now a campaign over a couple of weeks/months with several people involved and reach 4 million accounts and create 80 million impressions, the chances are very high that most of the 4 million actually have seen some of those tweets.”

      “The chances?” Everything you talk about sounds like ‘hope’ marketing. In other words, if somebody throws enough shit, you’re trying guess how much will stick.

      Furthermore, a quick Google shows a series of articles stating that somewhere between 40% and 80% of Twitter accounts are inactive. And that’s before you consider how many people have multiple accounts and are exposed to the same message across them or how often people who follow specific types of users won’t be exposed to multiple retweets of the same content because of how Twitter limits the number of appearances of identical retweets in timelines.

      There are some many factors to take into account, so many variables to consider. A system based on hope and chance rather than fact doesn’t cut it, not when you’re asking for money.

      “You can’t say how many really have seen them in the end, but the chances are much higher with a high number of impressions. For me that’s for sure a better measurement than print and TV media provides.

      You’re relying on ‘chance’ again, which is not the basis for any paid marketing campaign. And regardless of the methodology, TV provides in-depth statistics on the size of audience at any given point in the day, demographics of the audience etc. Print can demonstrate circulation figures based on physical sales, demographics of the reader etc.

      Moreover, and this is a crucial point that goes back to the heart of every concern I have with travel blogging, is the disregard for quality of content. To quote a phrase often used by investors when talking about scale, it’s the quantity of the quality that matters – not simply one value over the other. Any marketing campaign has a value of exactly zero if the content fails to engage its audience. The assumption that exposure is the same as influence is dead wrong.

      “The real trouble is, that the industry still haven’t understood the value of online content, including online newspapers, magazines, blogs, social media, video etc.”

      Not true. The industry does understand the value of content. Content in many shapes and guises is monetised every day. Can it be monetised in the same way or to the same degree or to the same levels of profit as it was two decades ago, when analogue content had the market monopoly? No.

      “There are guys running YouTube channels and who reached 1-2 million people with their vids and are not able to make a living from it? Try to reach 1-2 million people via TV and see how many people make a living from that!”

      Sorry Melvin, but that’s just rubbish. Louis Cole has 300,000 subscribers on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/FoodForLouis) and makes a modest living directly from his channel. He’s often sponsored to travel the world and attend events as a result of his YouTube activity, indirectly monetising his activity. The quality is excellent, his content is engaging and he can provide nailed-down metrics as to his audience. There’s no guessing involved.

      “Newspapers/magazines…A local newspaper I’ve worked for sold around 30.000 newspapers per day, which is close to a million per month, but in the end they still only reached 30.000 unique visitors (more or less). There was a team of around 50 people involved to run that newspaper and all full time! Many bloggers have far better numbers, running the site themselves and can’t make a full time living.”

      Here’s the bottom line. Analogue media had the playing field to itself for centuries. There was competition on the platform, but not to the platform itself. Analogue media was the monopoly, so it could charge what they liked – and it did. 20 years after the internet appeared, everything has changed. Nobody has a right to anything anymore. Bloggers don’t haven’t a right to make a living, just as newspapers don’t have a right to survive.

      What traditional media has over bloggers is legacy and momentum. They have history with advertising agencies and people with spend, because they have time and time again been proven to achieve results – it’s very easy when yours is the only marketing channel. Bloggers haven’t done that yet. Bloggers may have far better numbers in terms of monthly uniques, but no consumer reads one blog or visits one website a month. Changes to content production and distribution have removed the barriers to entry, but it was those barriers that allowed analogue media to generate large profits and achieve scale. You can’t have it both ways.

      Fundamentally, however, you’re not talking about ROI, despite using the term over and over again on your website. ROI is the benefit of a spend; it’s profit, bookings, sales, some tangible return on the initial investment. Exposure, awareness, impressions – they’re all features of paid activity. Whichever way you cut it, however high the numbers, in no way does activity guarantee ROI. There are ways to do it, or at least improve the methodology to provide more meaningful number, but at the moment I don’t see your arguments or website coming close to doing that in a convincing fashion.

       
      • Matthew Barker

        Great comments, thanks Paul.

        Especially “audience is not the same as influence” – exactly right. This never ending quest for the utopia/crutch of simple and quantifiable influence metrics is clouding the fact that reach ≠ influence.

         
        • John Pope

          “There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies and statistics.” Benjamin Disraeli

          The concept and principles of social media influence platforms is sound in theory, and they will most certainly increase in value and number over time. However, the present incarnations (Klout, Kred, Peer Index, etc.) are indeed very superficial, and have not executed to their optimum potential.

          But the same type of cycles happened with the Ford Model T compared to the Tesla Model S. It will take some time for better, more credible and finer tuned additions to emerge – each iteration will likely be evolutionary improvements from its predecessor, not revolutionary, as the basic premise is a solid foundation to build from.

          Paul,

          I second Matthew’s sentiment, great comments. I’d also include in the message to Melvin to maintain his passion for the “blood sport” of digital media and advertising. You (Paul) clearly have the benefit of much wisdom from likely many years in the biz – Melvin’s likely just recently cut his teeth.

          Matthew,

          Again, astute observations as per normal. But, much much more importantly, how did you manage the “not equal” sign in your comment? That’s almost as good as a David Blane magic trick, to me anyways (Seriously). And are you using a mac?

          Also, just a shot in the dark but, can you also explain to us the origin of the Nazca Lines in Peru? It appears you’re as good a person as any to understand the secrets of the universe, seeing that you figured out a computer keyboard. 😀

          Many thanks in advance.

           
          • Matthew Barker

            You’re wildly overestimating my keyboard skillz there John. I just google “not equals symbol.” I’m sure they’ll create their own symbol tool soon and put millions of punctuation websites out of business…

             
  14. Peter Syme

    Now if an airline takes off on time lands on time , does not lose my bags I am a happy customer and I may comment on it positively. Everything else is fluff and not interested. However, if a Klout score started to reduce my annual airfare bill well I may be interested!.

     
  15. Josh Steinitz

    Kevin, admit it — you love Lady Gaga and are likely an expert on all things Gaga-related.

     
  16. Drew Meyers

    I’m in the total waste of time camp with respect to Klout…

     
  17. RobertKCole

    One other aspect where Klout comes up short is the context associated with that influence. American is trying to figure out a way to get inexpensive promotion through a channel that will hopefully influence travelers to buy American Airlines tickets. As many have mentioned – this is far from a cause & effect relationship.

    But like many aspects of social media (and the associated influence metrics), Klout feeds off narcissism. People generally strive for high scores out of ego. But better yet, if Klout can convince companies to provide benefits to those with high Klout scores, even more people will strive to get higher Klout scores for bragging rights or access to benefits.

    Competing metrics like Kred break down influence by category, See http://kred.com/#search/kevinlukemay for Kevin’s 999 out of 1000 score for travel. But the question is, since Tnooz talks Travel Tech, predominantely to the travel industry, how influential is Kevin in getting travelers to perform an activites or purchase services from a particular travel brand?

    LinkedIn has its own process for members to vote for people’s skills – For the aggressive social networker, it’s all about competing to get a high score – the question remains is how relevant, authentic and reliable is any socially sourced score?

    Of course, all of these metrics can be gamed. Check out Empire Avenue (http://www.empireavenue.com) to see all the “Eav’s” (the social currency used by the site) that are paid to retweet, like, comment, etc. It may not be real money, but many individuals are using it to raising their social influence scores for fun and profit…

     
    • Shashank Nigam

      Robert – great points, as always. The social influence ratings and rankings can often be gamed, and are not always very relevant, as you demonstrated using Kevin’s Kred score!

      Though, there is a bit of a shift happening here. Traditionally on social media, people get discounts or they are able to win tickets. But these influencer programs like the one launched by American Airlines plug into the actual customer journey. They enhance the actual travel experience, and that’s unique. Many of the selected participants will be experiencing such a service for the first time. And they are highly-likely to share, spreading the word further.

      While the buzz being driven seems very strong online, it is the real-world metrics American Airlines and others should seek to measure. Here are some questions they should be asking and metrics to be measured.

      * What’s the click-to-use ratio?
      * Do you have the contact details of all those who are participating, tweeting etc?
      * How many people who used the service spoke about it online?
      * Once they used the service for the first time, what was the follow up – a tweet, an email or a personal meeting?
      * So you gave them a service for free – is there anything you can offer that they’d pay for?
      * Now that you’ve got them to use the service for the first time, how do you get them again?

      As the power of influence moves from online to real-world it will be critical that airlines and airports determine metrics that go beyond buzz, and drive real-world business goals. American Airlines, Cathay and Virgin have made a good start. Let’s give them credit for that. But I’m sure this is the first step. And till we see their next moves, we shouldn’t judge. But guide.

       
  18. Norm Rose

    It is good to see the industry trying to embrace influence as a factor in their social media strategy, but there is a much bigger area of social network analysis that should be embraced. Simply using a person’s Klout score of simply their # of followers does not tell a complete story of their influence. Do they act as a “gatekeeper” to others who primarily look to their comments about a travel supplier? Are there people in the social map who are “isolates” and are not connecting with anyone, including the brand? How does negative sentiment impact the brand based on the person’s influence. How effect is the brand hub in communicating to the socially connect customer? I would suggest you take a look at the NodeXL (a open source social network analysis tool plug in for MS Excel) Graph Gallery of various travel companies to better understand how social network analysis is the next frontier for social media. https://nodexlgraphgallery.org/Pages/Default.aspx?search=airline%2C

     
  19. Joe Bühler

    Skepticism is certainly warranted when it comes to Klout “influence” and “reach” and “impressions” and all the other yardsticks used to measure activity on the social web. The latter two are as old as PR itself. Back in the pre-Internet dark ages those were used to measure the effectiveness of a PR based article or editorial in print and other media. Was the fact that a story appeared in a newspaper or magazine with a million circulation really effectively measuring the influence it had on an actual purchase decision? Hardly. Now, the same less than accurate measures are used in the social space with “likes”, “tweets” etc. There is some cumulative value in all these activities but let’s not go overboard in rating their effectiveness. But also, let’s not entirely throw the baby out with the bath water and deny social web initiatives any effectiveness.
    Despite being around for five years plus, this still a rather new way of communication among people and for people with organizations and brands and the changes this has brought and will continue to bring about how business is conducted can’t be denied either.

     
  20. Jeremy Head

    Regular readers will know I think Klout is utter tripe.
    http://www.travelblather.com/2012/04/social-media-klout-the-value-of-influence.html

    But the idea of trying to measure online influence definitely won’t go away. There are too many lazy marketers out there looking for a quick fix (who needs to actually get to know people with influence by networking and research anyway) and too many dumb clients prepared to pay for this kind of smoke and mirrors (a big number MUST be good!)

    I’m increasingly all for gaming it and reaping the rewards. It won’t be long before SEO agencies will be also offering Social Media Influence Score Optimisation services too I reckon.
    Google is up for it too – your G+ profile is its way of determining your influence or authority. I for one plan to get pumping that little baby for all I’m worth. More connections, more +1s, more comments, more everything… And then maybe I’ll have a crack at Klout too. (Anyone tried Kred by the way??)

    Blimey… I won’t have time for my friends or family any more but it will give me such a nice warm feeling inside to get my Klout score past the magic 60 mark. Then, finally I will have arrived.!

     
  21. Nicholas Putz

    This article had me excited and now i’m quite disappointed because my score WAS 63, and now it’s changed to 55 for some reason. I know in the past, Klout has decided to randomly and arbitrarily change the score benchmarks out of nowhere, so what is a true score anymore? I have continued to push and share more content, with more engagement and now my score drops 8 points and i’m at a 90 day low?

    Makes no sense to me, and part of the reason I stopped paying much attention to Klout.

     
  22. Matthew Barker

    Nice to read some sense on this for a change, thanks Kev.

    I’m sure the airlines know what they’re doing. They’re just as interested in the wider coverage this story might generate on regular media (here for example) than in some travel bloggers sending a few tweets. An airline that already has a sunk cost in its private lounge can afford to do this (provided it doesn’t alienate its proper customers) most travel brands don’t have that luxury.

    Interesting that it seems to be open to anyone with a high score, not just travel-related people. I can only assume they’ve been studying my research… https://www.tnooz.com/2013/04/11/social-media-2/so-just-what-does-social-influence-mean-in-travel-marketing/

     
  23. Bruce Sweigert

    Good article. It brings it to the point – is a million impressions of some blogger tweeting “Woot – I’m sipping champaign in the Admirals club. Its really awesome!” really what you want?

    I think the target audience of the Admiral’s Lounge is pretty aware of the benefits of a lounge (and the loyalty program). It also degrades the exclusivity of the program and many of these lounges are getting pretty full to capacity as it is and as a paying customer I’d prefer the extra space.

     
  24. Phil Butler

    Excellent Kevin, not much for me to add except that like most grading systems on the web, people only passively pay attention to these sm scores. I think my klout score was or is up there someplace, but honestly it’s my opinion people determine a user’s influence by other means mostly.

    I think Klout and other measurement systems of a type are no better than snake oil really. That’s opinion, of course, but based I guess on some tens of thousands of hours doing social. After a while one can figure out very quickly if someone is influential without massive data sets to back it up.

    Thanks for keep tabs Kevin,

    Always,

    Phil

     
 
 

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