The most amazing part of social media to me is that I can instantly share my opinion about any experience with the people who trust me the most. One of the original use cases I imagined back when I started Klout was that if restaurants could understand how influential I was they might offer me a free appetizer or desert. I am always the guy my friends would come to for a restaurant recommendation (especially if they were looking for burritos). I wasn’t looking for restaurants to buy my blessing. As much as I like free food, I would never sacrifice my reputation to my friends by schilling for some subpar meal. The reality of the situation is that I can only try so many new restaurants and if one wants access to my network they should be willing to go above and beyond. The problem has always been that there was no way to prove to a restaurant or any company that any specific person could really impact their business.
Klout changes all of this. When someone shares their experience with a brand or product through social media, we measure the impact it has within their network and beyond. We believe that companies can no longer simply judge each customer by the lifetime value of what they spend with them. Every individual now has a network value based on their ability to leverage word of mouth and social media to influence their network and spread the word about a product or service.
We all have friends we turn to when making purchasing decisions. If I am looking to buy a car or new computer I will definitely ask my co-founder Binh — I don’t care that Hewlett-Packard has Jay-z or Shaun White saying how great their computers are. I am not buying one until Binh says I should. Klout recognizes influencers like Binh and the impact they have on the decisions of their network.
In the past month we have started experimenting with brands who had products we believed Klout influencers would enjoy. This has been an exciting but scary step for our company. As a company focused on measuring influence, the last thing we want to do is “taint” anyone’s Twitter stream. From the start, we have anchored our campaigns around our Klout Perks Code of Ethics.
Klout Perks Code of Ethics:
Klout will never sell or give away your contact info.
Participating (or not participating) will not change your Klout Score.
If you accept the offer you are not required to do anything. We do not want to “buy” your tweets. You are receiving the product because you are influential and have authority on topics related to the product. This is a more targeted form of receiving a sample while shopping at the grocery store. You are welcome to tell the world you love the product, you hate the product or say nothing at all.
If you decide to talk about the product we will ask you to disclose that you received a sample (http://www.cmp.ly/2/va). We will send you more information about this when we ship the product.
Our goal with Klout Perks is to put great products in the hands of people who are both authoritative and influential on the relevant topics and let them tell the story from there. We believe this is a very exciting approach to marketing and is complimentary to the nearly 500 companies who are now using the Klout API to add influence to their site or application.
This is new ground and we are learning as we go. We would love to hear your opinion on how to keep these campaigns relevant, honest and interesting. Thanks!