Klout Perks – Does the bribery work?

Me, when I received Klout perks in the mail…

Ask most accomplished digital marketers about Klout and the vast majority of them will scoff. “Klout scores don’t mean anything.” “The scoring system is flawed and ridiculous.” These are the kind of responses you’ll likely hear. And they’re right. Once you’ve received your first “Klout thinks you’re influential in [something you’ve never, ever talked about],” you’ll know that there isn’t a whole lot of deep science behind the ranking system. So the question remains: Why is Klout still around? The answer is twofold.

My score on Klout as an Influencer
My Klout score…

One, we are a culture that loves an easily identifiable number, whether it actually holds any real validity or not. We love ratings, star systems, and any easy way to rank people, things, or anything we can assign a value. Especially in these times of overbearing multitasking in our business and personal lives, the easier we can dismiss that which isn’t important, the quicker we can get on to our next task at hand.

This is about how I look when I hear FREE

Two, we are a culture that loves free stuff, regardless of whether we need it or not. I’m most guilty of this myself. I’ll admit that the real and only reason I continue to monitor Klout is that I love to get free stuff and revel in the possibility of gaining early access to beta testing apps and networks. The only fuel behind why I’d ever fret over my score is the concern that I’d fall under some unknown threshold and miss out on some Perk not yet known to me.

I received my first physical perk in the mail a few weeks ago. It was some iced tea samples for a big brand. They gave me a pretty ridiculous amount of samples, which is kind of nice, but it’s going to take me so long to get through them I’m not sure if and when I’ll ever have to buy any of it. The tea was alright, a little too sweet for me, but I’ll drink it throughout the summer. I received my second physical perk this week. It was a sneak peek at the new season of a TV show. Here’s the thing. I don’t have cable, so I won’t be able to watch it once it airs anyway. I also misread the Perk, not realizing that it was season 2, so I’d be lost to start with. Did the fact that I received these two items turn me into a brand advocate? No. If the right thing came along, however, it just might, and I think that’s what brands are banking on. For example, in a post a couple weeks ago, I talked about a Klout Perk for Learni.st, a Pinterest style network that allows you the share and learn things within your community, which I received early access to. I dug the network and the idea behind it, and I actually have even invited a few people to sign up for it while they’re in live beta testing. The creators of Learni.st answered and acknowledged all of my questions, checked out my blog post when I wrote about it, and were excited to have me participating. In this instance, I became an advocate for their product because I liked it and actually felt like I was part of an exclusive group. I didn’t feel so exclusive drinking a glass of tea from a brand I was already well familiar with and I knew was quite established. That’s where I think the power in these Klout Perks really lies. Creating loyalties with brands you may have never heard of, or up-and-coming startups and apps where the feedback of a real and invested community can take a company and its designers to the next level of innovation and creativity.

So, what do you think? Does ‘rewarding’ those with Klout scores above a certain threshold really get a brand anywhere? Do you feel that being rewarded with a freebie would get you behind a brand, or does it take something a little more for you to become an advocate?

Let me know below with your comments. Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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Can’t Keep Up? Which New Social Networks to Consider or Ignore (Part 2)

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

I’ve begun dabbling in other social networks, just to see what kind of things are popping up now that Facebook had its less-than-stellar IPO. Although I still see Facebook hanging around for quite a while, there are definitely some others that may be worth noting. A couple I’ve been invited to as Klout perks (and I’m a sucker for free stuff and exclusive access) and a couple are already establishing themselves well.

LoveIt touts that it is “your personalized visual community where you can easily share everything that interests you, find people who have similar tastes and discover new things you may not have found otherwise.” That’s all well and good, but I haven’t been able to find a single thing that distinguishes it from Pinterest other than the cute squirrel logo. I came across LoveIt as a Klout perk, gaining early access to it. Once I signed up, It was immediately evident that it was going to be a Pinterest-type site. I gave it a chance though, and began actively searching for things that differentiated it from its predecessor. Now, I understand taking an idea and trying to improve on it with new features or better functionality, but this is not the case. LoveIt is exactly like Pinterest. I can’t find any distinguishing characteristics. If I’m missing something, let me know. Otherwise, if you already have Pinterest, skip this one folks. It’s not worth starting your boards all over again. Sorry LoveIt, you’re just not original enough for me to love it.

Image from Learni.st

Learni.st is another social network that bears similarity to Pinterest. This one, however, makes certain to distinguish itself from its predecessor both in improved functionality and cause. Learni.st is meant to be a learning community. As their help board puts it “Use Learnist to share what you know. Create a Learn Board on a subject you understand and add ‘learnings’ by pointing to existing web videos, blogs, images and documents. Anything.” The site cleverly has an entire section of Learn Boards dedicated solely to the user experience, complete with FAQs, problem reporting, feedback and terms of service. Learni.st is currently in live beta, where you can sign up and use some of the site’s primary functions. You can get full access if someone invites you (see below if you’d like me to send you an invitation to get started!).

There are a handful of key distinguishing factors that I think make Learni.st pretty cool:

  • Your interaction is more than just liking or re-adding (i.e. repinning) a post. You can actually check off that you’ve ‘learned’ it, and your profile will keep track of your learning progress in specific categories. In this way, you can actually visually build up your credibility in a category by showing how many blogs you’ve read, videos you’ve watched or articles you’ve perused. You can also check up on others’ progress on their profile and see if they’re a resident expert, or still have some work to put in.
  • If someone has a Learn Board that interests you, you can follow and like that board. Even better, if you have something you think would make a great addition to that board, you can suggest a learning for that user. Suddenly boards can become community projects, which enriches the experience of other visitors to that board.
  • Let’s face it. Some sites just aren’t pin friendly. Either the images don’t come up to select, or the ones that do come up are rubbish (or ads for something unrelated). Learni.st lets you get around that by allowing you to directly link to an image URL or upload your own images. I’ve found it nice to use a grabbing or snipping tool to capture something from the page and save it to my computer, then upload the image to represent my learning. You may even be able to use Curate.us to create an image, although I haven’t tried that yet.
  • As is becoming a standard, you can add an applet to your bookmarks bar, allowing you to ‘Learn It!’ whenever you’re browsing the web. I really dig that ability. Streamlining is key.
A snip of what the Learni.st interface looks like

The team at Learni.st are obviously still working out some bugs, since it is in beta, but they have been amazingly quick to respond, and the turnaround and communication is unparalleled. This is a great set of people, with an awesome mission, and brilliant customer service. I’ll be using Learni.st for a while. I want to see this one launch.

There are a couple areas of potential improvement. An on-site notification of interaction (likes, follows, comments, etc) would be great. To my knowledge, there is not anything set up aside for email notifications. Also, tagging people in comments would be nice, especially if you want to recommend that someone checks out the board. This may help with inter-board traffic, which will enhance the social feature a bit more.
Are you using Learni.st already? Do you want to check it out with full functionality? If you leave a comment below and email me at robzaleski1@gmail.com (if you’re not comfortable tossing your email address in a comment), I will send you an invitation for full access! Watch for part 3 of this series next week.

Now go get your social on!

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