I joined Klout a long time ago, back when finding a standard to measure individuals influence or reputation was an interesting idea yet to be developed. Since then I have seen many changes in Klout, none of them making the system really useful and many blog posts on how to trick Klout (which apparently is fairly easy, if you are interested), and I have read how Sam Fiorella didn’t get a job because of a poor Klout score, as if that number could be more important than 15 years of experience consulting for major brands like AOL, Ford, and Kraft. And I have enjoyed he mock-site Klouchebag.com, which according to the tweets talking about it seems to be a more accurate tool.
In despite of all that, I still believe in the concept that Klout and its many alternatives represent: a tool to find opinion leaders in very specific fields. It’s a powerful idea that could really help in digital marketing and PR, narrowing the search the search of the bloggers and tweeps that might be interesting to contact in order to spread a message via web 2.0. But of course in order to be useful Klout (or any other alternative) has to actually work well and be trustworthy, which is what is not really happening right now.
Neutrogena had a good idea for an on-line action: find bloggers and influencers who talk about cosmetics and skin-care products, send them a box of free samples so they could try Neutrogena’s new products and blog about them. To find those individuals in the inmensity of Internet and manage the promotion, Neutrogena contacted Klout and created a “perk” that allowed users with a certain Klout score get the box. Up to this point the strategy sounds good, but here is when Klout screwed up the whole thing: all you needed to be able to claim the “perk” was a decent Klout score. Thus, I was able to get a pretty neat box of Neutrogena products, which made my girlfriend quite happy, even though I don’t ever post or talk about skin-care products. Neither I use them, and therefore I don’t even buy them or give advice to others about them. I’m as far from Neutrogena’s target as I can be from a NASA recruiting campaign for a mission to Mars, yet Klout told them to spend money on me and most probably in a lot of people like me.
I feel sorry for Neutrogena marketing team. They had a good idea to approach web 2.0 and use it to promote their products. And for what I have been told, the products are good and the box was quite generous (everything was “full-size” rather than small-sample-size bottles). It’s just Klout that failed, and this is not like when they say I’m influential on “Magic” or “Colorado”, but a serious marketing campaign in which a big company invested real money.
So I believe in the idea Klout represents, but right now I wouldn’t trust Klout at all.