Finally Getting Klout

I finally get Klout. No, I never had much clout in any kind of situation, but I finally understand the concept of “Klout” – the social influence metric.

Klout is like a credit score for social networking influence, calculating and assigning a number that depicts a person’s relative influence (clout) in the social networking universe – Facebook, Twitter, G+, foursquare, and just about every relevant social network out there.  I remember signing up for Klout several years ago, like I do with many online services.  After an initial period of fascination, it was relegated to the back burner of my mind.
Every so often I’d get an email telling me my current Klout score.  The Klout Score is a number between 1-100 that represents your influence. The more influential you are, the higher your Klout Score.  But like getting a credit score that no one else really reads, Klout had little impact, much less meaning, in my personal or professional life.   Klout was more like a vanity metric, or an attempt at “gamification” – i.e. trying to change my behavior based on my desire to get a higher ranking on Klout.
In May, I received a gift card from Coffee Bean just because I maintained a relatively high Klout score.   I didn’t think too much of it at the time; it seemed like any one of a number of direct marketing incentives we get all the time.

Whack on the head

Then, less than 2 weeks ago, I had an “aha moment” with Klout.
Klout invited me and a guest to a sneak preview for the new movie “We’re the Millers”  (more on this in a moment).  Again, I thought it was just another nice-to-have perk – sort of like the calendar, pen or coffee mug that you might get from attending a short seminar.   But when we got there, it was obvious that everyone in the theater was invited based on their high Klout score.  We were all invited, not only for having some degree of social influence, but because we were all clearly active and enthusiastic movie fans.
Aha.  The Klout score is not for me  – it’s for marketers wanting to clearly identify social media ‘influencers’ – and not just influencers: Relevant, engaged and enthusiastic social media influencers.  Marketers not only are able to identify people who will be enthusiastic about their product – but engage with people with a proven track record for engaging with and influencing other like-minded people.
This is even more obvious once you read Klout’s website:   “Influence is the ability to drive action. When you share something on social media or in real life and people respond, that’s influence. The more influential you are, the higher your Klout Score.”  But they are not talking to me, the user. They are talking to marketers.

We’re The Millers

Back to the movie.   As Klout already knew, I’m a very big movie fan – as evidenced by the inordinate amount of time that I spend on IMDB, and on any number of Facebook and twitter groups.  I’m a huge fan of the “classics”, usually defined by American Film Institute’s top 100 list, but I generally enjoy almost any and all movies – even the bad ones.  Some films are gourmet meals while others are snacks, vegetables or guilty pleasures.
Watching We’re The Millers was somewhere between allowing myself to eat a big Mac to devouring a bag of Halloween candy in one sitting:  It wasn’t gourmet cuisine, but it was just the right mix of quantity and quality that I can consume within 90 minutes.  Really, it was totally enjoyable from start to finish.  Perhaps this had something to do with all the other movie fans that packed the theater;  in fact, I’m sure this played a big role in the enjoyment factor.    It’s a shame that it was R rated –  hilarious R rated humor, I might add  – this otherwise would have been a decent family movie.  Well, certainly not decent, when you factor in its themes of drug smuggling, strippers, ‘unusual’ romantic pairings (and trios, and foursomes).
Jennifer Aniston always is best in these B-movies.  Like her or not, she’s made some of the most enjoyable, forgettable movies in the last decade.  And in this movie she did a better than average job.  Jason Sudeikis was great in a leading role, then again he already has my undying respect for getting Olivia Wilde to move in with him.   The sophistication of the plot of the movie was just a few notches above any of The Hangover movies.  Again, no one walks into a Jennifer Aniston movie expecting “Citizen Kane”, but we did walk out thoroughly entertained.

Back to Klout

Perhaps one of the most notable things about the entire event was that movie studio’s marketing team was so paranoid about “leaking” the sneak preview that they banned all cellphones from the theater (you had to leave them in your car, and yes, they used body scanners to check).   The NSA should learn some lessons from these guys about preventing information leaks.  But then again, We’re the Millers is hardly state secrets.   The level of security and privacy left us scratching our heads. While they ‘suggested’ to us, if we liked the movie, that we please blog, post and tweet about it – right after they confiscated our phones and tablets.
A week and a half later, the most memorable part of the event was certainly not the movie (although was really fun) it was finally recognizing the relevance and potential importance of services like Klout.  When used appropriately, they can be powerful marketing tools – not just for big companies, but for any kind of business that relies on word-of-mouth or viral marketing.  And seeing the effectiveness of this Klout event, I can now see how other services (like Foursquare) are going to be highly important marketing tools in the near future.
PS – Rent We’re the Millers when it comes out on Redbox, or even better, see it in the theater: It’s a terrific “date movie”.
(Photo Credit: Photo by Michael Tackett – © (c) 2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

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