Is Klout a Threat to Democracy?

By Gina Carr | November 1, 2013

Klout-fanFirst posted at ginacarr.com

A recent article by Lauren Fisher, the founder of digital marketing agency Simply Zesty, caught my attention.  Since I am a big fan of the social scoring company Klout, I was intrigued by the title:  “Klout & The Threat To Democracy.”

This article was written in response to a recent promotion by American Airlines in which the carrier partnered with Klout to provide a special one day VIP pass to its network of premium lounges all around the world.  This “Klout Perk” was offered to individuals with Klout Scores over 55.

Though well written and insightful, I think that two of Ms. Fisher’s fundamental premises are flawed.  In her article, she suggests that:

1. People with a high Klout score “have a constant access to technology that will enable you to undertake activities that contribute to this score.”

2. “We have a growing gap between those people that get to use technology and the internet frequently – and know how to use it to their advantage – and those that don’t.”

I don’t know how things work in the UK where Ms. Fisher is based, but in the US, access to technologies like Twitter and Facebook – the primary basis for the Klout Score – is FREE! Anyone with access to a smartphone has access to these tools – anytime, anywhere.

If someone doesn’t have a smartphone, we even have a thing called libraries where people can use the internet absolutely free!  Of course, that means they might miss a couple of episodes of American Idol or Days of Our Lives!

According to a recent article in Latinos Post: “The Pew Internet and American Life Project released a study on Wednesday confirming what seemed to be an inevitability in modern American life: more Americans own smartphones than those who don’t. Of those surveyed, about 56 percent overall could be classified as smartphone owners, and when the study was broken down into demographics, Hispanics helped lead the trend with 60 percent smartphone ownership, though accounting for the margin of error puts both statistics on par with each other.”

The last time I was in London, I was surprised at how many teens were glued to their smartphones using Facebook.

Thus, the truth is that even the “underprivileged” can easily have a high Klout Score. In fact, Klout is a great leveling tool which is a great enhancement to Democracy.  In reality, people who have no CLOUT can have a lot of KLOUT.

For the first time in history, FREE tools like blogging, Facebook, and Twitter make it possible for people with NO resources, NO education, and NO special access to reach the world – sharing their talents & message. This can catapult a person into celebrity-hood (ala Justin Bieber) or even get them elected to a high political office.

Much like a bathroom scale is to someone wanting to lose weight, Klout is simply a tool for measuring social media effectiveness. I find it extremely helpful to gauge my social media efforts and those of my clients.

[Tweet “”Klout is simply a tool for measuring social media effectiveness.” via @GinaCarr #KloutMatters”]

Further, as a marketing consultant, I find it to be an incredibly helpful tool for identifying people who might be interested in my clients’ products and services. Though not a client of mine, the Chevrolet Volt Klout Perk campaign is a great example of how a company can filter through a noise world – using a tool like Klout – to find people who are likely to be great product advocates.

In this campaign, Chevrolet was able to offer a free trial of the new Chevy Volt. Because of Klout, they were able to identify people who were:

1. influential online (that is, they had an audience that listened to them),

2. were environmentally conscious, and

3. were especially interested in cars.

This ability to filter the citizens of the world is an enormous advantage to a company. It also provides a gateway to people who would never have had such opportunities in the past.

[Tweet “”This ability to filter the citizens of the world is an enormous advantage” via @GinaCarr #KloutMatters”]

When big companies like Sony, Disney, Nike, & Microsoft pay attention to Klout, I pay attention too. In fact, according to Klout’s blog, they have “delivered one million Perks to Klout users from over 400 brands.

Although I have never worked for Klout, I have studied the company, social scoring, and influence marketing extensively. I have co-authored a book on the subject for McGraw-Hill (Klout Matters:  How to Engage Customers, Build Digital Influence, and…Raise Your Klout Score, to be released Fall 2013) and I consult with people who want to improve their ability to engage their customers, enhance their digital image, and…(in the process) raise their Klout Score.

I hope that people will dig into the benefits of this field of social scoring and influence marketing.  Klout is not the only social scoring company.  Other companies pioneering this field include Kred, Appinions, and PeerIndex.

In a noisy world, people need tools to filter out what is important. Tools like Klout and Kred help do that. This is just the beginning of a social scoring movement that will indeed “democratize” the world by creating powerful citizen influencers.

If you like talking about Klout, I invite you to join my private Facebook Group that is dedicated solely to that.  Just click here and ask to join.  It is a great place to ask questions about Klout, share advice, and learn about social scoring.

 

Copyright 2013 Gina Carr International  (be sure to include the word, the year, and your company)

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR PRINTED PUBLICATION, E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? To republish this article, please include the following:

Posted by Gina Carr. Dean of the Social Buzz University and co-author of the forthcoming Klout Matters: How to Engage Customers, Boost Your Digital Influence and Raise Your Klout Score for Success (published by McGraw-Hill, Fall 2013). Gina is a popular social media marketing speaker at events, trade shows, and corporations around the world.  Find out more about how Gina can help you build your online reputation at www.ginacarr.com.

 

Related Articles & Links:

Klout and the Threat to Democracy

Hispanic Smartphone Ownership Higher Than The National Average

1 Million Perks

Chevy Volt – Klout Recap

Klout Matters:  How to Engage Customers, Build Digital Influence, and…Raise Your Klout Score

Klout Perks Takes NYC Influencers to Microsoft’s Windows8 Microtropolis

Gina’s Facebook Group Focused on Klout

 

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