When a Klout score is not enough
Last week Advertising Age published an article on the possibilities of using Klout score and other online influence measurement tools for marketing campaigns. The author, David Teicher, mentioned the Palms Hotel and Virgin America as examples of companies using online influencers to promote their products and services.
Although it was refreshing to see that more companies equate online influence to something more than the number of fans, likes and follows, there are still some issues to consider when planning a campaign around online influencers.
First and foremost, online influence should be measured across all platforms a person uses, not just Twitter and Facebook. Although PeerIndex includes blogs into its influence score and Klout is working to integrate LinkedIn, MySpace, Digg and YouTube, there are dozens of other networks to be included if a measurement tool strives to provide a single number as a significant indicator about someone’s online influence.
The other technical issue to consider is the difference between the total number of conversations and impressions an influencer creates across all platforms and the number of unique conversations and impressions across all platforms. Some people use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, just to name a few, for different purposes, thus they have different audiences. For others, all platforms serve the same purpose and such individuals engage with the same audience on several platforms.
But beyond technicalities.
Online influence is relative and highly contextual. Someone’s influence depends on the category/industry/topic he is trying to be an influencer in, so to speak a highly credible expert. How do we know if a user is influential unless we compare him to someone else? But we can’t compare apples to oranges. We need to compare people who are in the same field/topic. Online influence doesn’t simply depend on someone’s area of expertise, but also on what others in this industry are doing/talking about: how many people talk about the same topic, how many conversations each one of them initiates on average, what is the depth of these conversations, how much information each one shares, etc. If John is one of the few online active people in industry XYZ, even a few clicks, mentions, retweets and comments will make him influential.
As (buzzword alert) propagation planners say, it is not about reaching influencers; it is about reaching and engaging the right influencers. Engaging people influential in the HR field, even if they have a Klout score of 70, to promote fishing equipment is wasting money. Targeting people influential among fishermen, even with a Klout score of 20, is a much better idea.
In all fairness, Klout does allow you to search for influencers within certain topics, but there are two problems with it. First, it still provides a single number to rank all users, not a number within an industry. Second, users have to sign up for Klout for others to see their score. Although it might seem ridiculously irrational to some of us, there are people who tweet and blog for reasons other than influence and sales. PeerIndex, on the other hand, can compare a score within a topic, but it compares it only to users with whom you engage, not to all users within the selected topic.
The bottom line is that all online influence measurement tools are still in their infancy stage and if we want to create marketing campaigns around online influencers, we need to focus on something more than a single number ranking credibility across one or two platforms. We need to identify influencers within specific topics and industries with specific demographic and psychographic characteristics.
Just my $0.02.
What would you add to all these issues and considerations? How can we use influence measurement tools effectively?
Image : Stefano Maggi