Last summer, we just couldn’t get enough of the latest tech startup, Klout, here at the GMG offices. In case you’re not familiar, Klout is a program that measures your overall online influence through True Reach, Amplification Probability, and Network Score on a scale of 1-100. In other words, it measures your social media influence. Think your Tweets about what you had for breakfast were meaningless? Not necessarily. Everything you Tweet, all your Facebook status updates, how many followers and friends you have, how many times you’ve checked in on Foursquare, and even the YouTube videos you’re in are all factored into your influence–in other words, your Klout.
The quest to build our own personal Klout scores may have spurred an intense intra-office competition, but we were really interested in what the Klout rating system actually meant for businesses. At the time, we decided that Klout offered a quick, quantifiable way to measure a person or company’s social media influence in their respective market or industry, as well as a way to drive customers and new business prospects that may look to social media for recommendations
Our interest was piqued again when Klout unveiled Brand Squads last week. Brand Squads identify the top 10 and top 100 social media influencers about a specific brand, offer an activity stream of brand presence on various social media networks, and (our personal favorite) brand specific deals offered through Klout’s Perks platform.
Think of it like this–Brand Squads is an entirely new way of rewarding the consumer for engaging with their favorite brands. Whereas brand pages on traditional social networks are still managed and controlled by the brand, Klout’s new platform reverses the roles and puts the consumer in charge. Brands can keep tabs on their top influencers, keeping them abreast of new products and brand developments, and reward them with merchandise or brand experiences.
While Brand Squads is still in beta with RedBull as the sole launch partner, Klout will roll out additional Brand Squads in the coming weeks and months, so it’s definitely not too early to start thinking about your brand’s…well, clout. While Brand Squads makes it relatively easy to identify brand advocates, the real value of the platform lies in how brands use and act on this information
But the idea of recognizing and rewarding brand advocates on social channels is nothing new. Companies use Foursquare to award badges, such as “Mayor”, to the people who most frequently and publicly check in to their locations, and also offer special deals for “checking in” as well. Many a brand have used both Twitter and Facebook to engage with and reward brand advocates as well; from simply recognizing a fan by retweeting or mentioning them on the brand’s social media site to hosting giveaways rewarding customers that most interact with their brand. We’re guessing it won’t be long before these other networks come up with new ways for brands to interact and engage with their customers in response to Klout’s Brand Squads. As brands become more social, the quest for the most effective web presence will undoubtedly become more complex–and we’re personally excited to see what changes lay ahead.
What do you think about Brand Squads, either from a consumer or brand perspective? Do you think they will make a difference in how brands engage with customers? How will existing social networks respond? Let us know!