29 June 2011

What is Klout Perks?

I feel so dirty.

A couple of weeks ago, Klout contacted me via Twitter, asking if I would accept a package from TNT promoting their new series, Franklin & Bash.

Sure, why not? It was a leather folio with a legal pad inside (pictured above), plus a DVD of the show. What was I going to do, blog about it?

Oh. Wait…

What is Klout Perks?

Klout is a social media analytics company that has popularized the Klout Score, a measure of overall online influence. They recently launched a new version which you can see here. My own Klout Score currently stands at 55, and I’m influential about retail, social media, advertising, and six other topics.

Klout Perks is a program where marketers can send swag to influential social media users, hoping they’ll tell the rest of their network about a product, service, or – in this case – TV show.

No, really, this blog post is about Klout Perks, not Franklin & Bash. Honest!

Do Klout Perks work?

It’s a little early to declare whether Klout Perks are an effective marketing tool because the program started a year ago, and just recently was featured on Klout's blog. One early result is that a lot of bloggers are writing about their experience. Will it take hold?

Here’s what Klout needs to do to ensure the success of Perks:

Think like a direct marketer. The first batch of clients is pretty diverse, including an automaker, a QSR, and of course Franklin & Bash. (Darn! There I go again.) Each client will have a different experience based on what they’re promoting and possibly the way they’re promoting it. The quality of the swag will matter in how much buzz they generate. Klout is a sophisticated analytics company, but some old-school direct mail techniques may help them diagnose what works and what doesn’t, such as comparing Offer A and Offer B, testing and tweaking their messages, etc.

Make it easy for influencers to influence. Blogger Mack Collier points out that his Klout Perks package contained no digital content to promote the TV show they sent him. All we got were souvenirs. He and I both had to take pictures of what we got in order to write our blog posts. Other than that, all I can do is direct you to the website for Franklin & Bash. (Grrr…)

Worry about acceptability as much as ethics. Klout provides an Influencer Code of Ethics and Disclosure. That’s helpful, but influencers are influential because they’re on solid social ground, not solid legal ground. Would I be embarrassed to shamelessly promote Franklin & Bash on TNT? Would you be embarrassed to receive a tweet from me about it?

I’ll be honest: I didn’t even watch the DVD they sent me, because Franklin & Bash doesn’t look like my kind of TV show. Nevertheless I appreciated the opportunity to participate in another attempt to mix marketing with word-of-mouth.

Hat tip: Thanks to Josh Brusin of Chicago Foodies for taking today's photo.


  1. Interesting insights. I personally had quite a few doubts about Klout before but am feeling more confident about it.

    I can see why it's annoying that they don't make it easy for influencers to influence, but at the same time I feel like it's because they don't want to make it seem like they are "buying" influencers. Just as they won't tell you to tweet about the awesome things you got for free, they weren't going to give you a QR code or something to promote it.

  2. It definitely makes it a more credible system how you aren't obligated to review it. Unlike traditional media where columnists have to appease big advertisers.

  3. Hi Steve,

    I think the novelty of Klout Perks has us all talking more about them than the sponsors. Potential sponsors should be asking themselves who is paying for all this Klout Perks publicity.

    I also wonder why Klout Perks so obviously ignore relevance in their equations. As you point out, Klout is a sophisticated analytics company. They have access to our tweets. So, why are they choosing to send a Plum District gift certificate to someone who never tweets her shopping experiences? Or in your case, why send a courtroom drama to someone who never watches this programming?

    Perhaps they are trying to test influence outside the usual networks.

    I agree with Mazy that including media with the package might sully the disclosure. At what point would it become a press release with bribes?

    I disagree that Klout Perks began a few weeks ago. I received my first Perk in January, and your link to the Klout blog says Perks have been around for more than a year.

    Thanks for sharing your experience so we can all better understand how Klout works.

  4. Thanks for the comments, everyone. Please feel free to continue the discussion. Tammi, thanks for pointing out the true age of the Perks program. I got the "several weeks ago" info from a secondary source, which actually is when they launched the new Klout beta. Good catch -- I'm amending it now.