I wrote a guest post last week for Ari Herzog’s blog that explained Klout and how you can raise your Klout score. Here I am going to talk a little about my personal experience with Twitter, Klout and Klout Perks.
In a nutshell, Klout attempts to evaluate an individual’s online influence by looking at not only the number of followers but also the quality of those followers, their following, and the level of engagement of all parties. At this time Klout gathers data from Twitter and Facebook and is integrating LinkedIn as well.
Tammi Kibler on Klout
I signed up with Klout using @tammikibler back in September of last year. At that time, I found several encouraging insights on my profile.
Most notably, Klout said it could tell I choose whom to follow with care. That resonated with me, because I had read many complaints stating if you have a balanced follower/following ratio that “proves” you follow everyone who follows you. Not true. I only follow back about 20% of those who follow me. And although I do go a little crazy at times and follow many new people at once, I choose them with care. I never follow everyone on a list – I look for those I think may be interested in conversation with me or might find value in my tweets.
I appreciated that an application like Klout might be able to measure how selective I am with my follow back policy. However, along with those insights that appealed to my vanity, I found more suspect information.
At some point, probably at the height of a #FollowFriday frenzy, Klout decided I was a celebrity.
Follow Friday Value?
I have to admit I am on the fence about Follow Friday activity because:
- It works too well to ignore.
- I’m not sure I agree that it should work so well.
Some argue that Follow Friday type interactions acknowledge followers and spread community – they certainly increase your visibility by placing your brand in other people’s mention streams – but others argue that Follow Friday Twitter activity is meaningless and redundant. I will just say, Follow Friday will grow your following in certain crowds and raise your Klout score.
Keenonquinoa on Klout
At the end of September, 2010 I started a new Twitter stream for a new blog, How Do You Cook Quinoa? I knew that only a fraction of my @tammikibler writing following would be interested in a cooking blog about quinoa, so I launched the @keenonquinoa Twitter persona to provide a place I can talk all day long about quinoa to people who like hearing what I have to say about quinoa.
I manage @keenonquinoa a little differently from @tammikibler. Most notably, I am far less invested in Follow Friday antics. At it’s peak, the Follow Friday activity on @tammikibler involved some 60 original mentions of me each Friday, and then there were thank yous and retweets. I never automated my response to any of this, and I began to feel it was out of control. Especially once my @keenonquinoa stream achieved the same level of Klout without a dependence on Follow Friday shenanigans.
Many people in social media are watching Klout to see how successful the Klout Perks program will prove to be. With perks, Klout attempts to connect sponsors with influencers to create social media buzz around new products and services. I have had two brushes with Klout Perks, first when they sent me a MoJo throw at the beginning of the year and most recently when they tweeted me for a Plum District promotion.
Perks have the potential to be fun and even somewhat profitable if you get touched by the right sponsors. Some people are curious what they have to do to get in on the program. First, you have to sign up with Klout. Then, a sponsor has to come along looking to connect with someone in your demographic, whatever that happens to be.
Social media buzz done right.
Before I go any further, I want to share my first experience with someone tapping my influence on Twitter. Back in November, I sent a tweet about dessert hummus I had tried at a the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival. @PretzelCrisps tweeted back and offered to deliver samples of their product to be eaten with dessert hummus.
The following day, I received a delivery of Pretzel Crisps in six different flavors. We had enough crisps to last until Christmas. This was fantastic, and I wrote an enthusiastic blog post (though that is NEVER required for these promotions). Whenever we see the crisps in the store, my kids say “Hey, remember when…”
Overall, I have a positive association with the experience, and I commend Snack Factory for their use of social media.
Klout and Klout Perks
If you receive a tweet from Klout Perks, you should keep in mind they have rules they don’t post on the link.
Rule #1 – You must be logged into the right Twitter account to redeem your perk.
The first time I received a link, I followed the link to a page that said, Sorry, this perk is now closed.
I had several tweets back and forth with @KloutPerks where I asked how to redeem my perk. Klout told my to follow the link, then told me to log into Klout before following the link, and when that didn’t work, finally Klout told me to log into the @tammikibler Twitter account and then visit the link. (I had been tweeting on HootSuite and didn’t realize I was still logged into Twitter as keenonquinoa.)
So finally, I got in, and I learned about MoJo (the site http://wwwmomsandjobs.com appears to have stopped working), a company that empowers women in my area (Lowell, MA is about ten minutes up the highway). I was offered a blanket that was part of a campaign where for every one sold the company would donate a blanket to the homeless. Sounded like a great campaign to me, so I sent in my address.
This was on December 15. Having had an instant gratification experience in the past, and thinking this campaign was aimed at holiday sales, I expected my blanket would arrive before Christmas. When it did not, I sent a DM to Klout to inquire on December 30, and they told me a blanket should go out in a few days.
I did receive the blanket about a week after New Year’s Day. It wasn’t really a blanket, but rather a throw, which is only an important distinction if you expect to sleep with it in a bed, I suppose. It was a luxurious throw: cream colored, soft, stretchy (an added bonus when you have to reach for the remote). Beautiful.
Probably not what I would want to lug around the streets of Lowell in January, not in cream color anyway.
I never ended up writing about the throw. Partly because I felt the throw did not live up to its “blanket” claim, but mostly because the throw really didn’t fit the subject of either of my blogs. Pretzel crisps, yes, they fit a food blog perfectly. A throw on a writing blog? Not so much.
(BTW, when I wrote this I saw that they have corrected the copy on the MoJo site to call the blanket a throw. At this time, they only have it in storm blue, and they have discontinued the buy one/donate on campaign, bringing down the price of the throw accordingly. This is a beautiful and luxurious throw for a good cause at a great price. You would not believe it’s made from plastic bottles. )
Rule #2 – Klout Perks expire without warning
The next time I heard from Klout Perks, I followed a link three days after it was posted. Again I landed on the page that said “this perk is closed,” so I tweeted @KloutPerks and @PlumDistrict to ask about the perk. Neither one of them answered me.
As a Twitter celebrity , I get a little annoyed with companies tweeting whatever they want while ignoring questions or replies from others. It’s bad form for social media. In this case, $50 was worth chasing, or so I thought.
After three days with no response to my tweet, I decided to write to Plum District and ask them what was going on. I went to their website and filled out a contact us form.
The next day, I received a reply from Plum District that this was a matter for Klout and they had forwarded my email.
Frankly, I was nonplussed. I have worked in many corporate settings, never could we dismiss a potential customer to another company. If anything, we would tell a prospect we were going to follow up with the other company and get back to them.
Another day passed before I got a response from Klout that did not acknowledge my questions and downgraded my perk to a $25 gift certificate. They offered no explanation of why my gift had been reduced or why I had not received any response to my tweet.
I was at that point feeling like someone owed me the whole $50.
So I just stopped and struggled for my zen place. No one owed me anything. And the last thing I needed to be doing that week was begging anyone for $50. There are much easier ways to earn money than begging. I dismissed the matter thinking I was done with Klout Perks and Plum District.
The day after that, Plum District’s customer service team rebounded by sending me an email survey asking whether I was satisfied with the response I had received to my customer service inquiry. I told them I thought it was bad form to pass off a customer to another company, and I felt harassed by the experience.
Of course, Plum District offered to make good on the $50 after all, but I was in that zen place and past any interest in becoming a customer.
As you can see, I have had one mildly off-topic experience with Klout Perks, and another which felt like a train wreck that could have been avoided with a response to my original tweet. If these offers expire in 2 hours or 24 hours, just let people know.
What I can tell you: if you receive a Klout Perks tweet, you need to make sure you are logged into Twitter with the proper Twitter account when you follow the link and even then you may be too late (I cannot find anything on their site that explains how long their perks remain open).
Do Klout Perks Have Value for Sponsors?
My sense thus far, including posts I have read about others’ experiences like this one, is that these perks tend to create at least as much conversation around the Klout brand as they do around anyone else’s. Klout targets people who have demonstrated social media savvy, but that means many of these people are as interested in the social media marketing implications of the experience as they are in the actual product experience.
When social media promotion becomes more mainstream and Klout Perks improves its matching process, I believe this marketing strategy could become more effective for sponsors. Certainly, Pretzel Crisps has convinced me that social media marketing can be done right.
Disclaimer: Pretzel Crisps, Klout, MoJo, and Plum District all made their free sample offers exclusive of any obligation on my part to mention them here or anywhere else.
Do you have a social media promotion experience you would like to share? What do you think of Twitter, Klout and Klout Perks?