Klout coupons for Facebook – will it work?

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Audi Facebook content available with Klout score

Score!

A new app for Facebook pages will take a user’s Klout score into account before giving them access to certain content.

While exclusivity is great for generating publicity, could this tool risk leaving some legitimate fans feeling snubbed?

Klout measures activity and influence across Twitter and Facebook, using 25+ metrics, and calculates an overall score on a scale of 1-100. The idea behind the Facebook app is that brands can then offer exclusive content, deals and discounts to users who meet a certain influence threshold. Theoretically, this “gating” should reward and capture the attention of social media users who are more likely to share their experience with their audience.

Audi is the first brand to use the technology, and the first “perk” available is a desktop wallpaper - a relatively minor prize but certainly a gesture that I’m sure Audi fans will appreciate.

Klout, like other influence measurement tools, does have some drawbacks - if you’re not satisfied with your rating you can “game” your way to a higher score  so the accuracy of the number may not really reveal much about how much influence a user genuinely has.

Another difficulty is that the quality and areas of interest for your audience are not indicated. Using Audi as an example, even though I have a score of 38, my involvement with automotive discussions and communities is very low and there are equally likely to be petrolhead types who may already be Facebook fans of Audi but don’t have enough of a social network to be considered worthy of additional content, even if they post in specialist car forums.

As a gatekeeper, using Klout risks letting in the wrong kinds of fans, or worse - it could alienate genuine ones. I’m of the opinion that while rewarding loyal and influential social media users will clearly have benefits for word of mouth, tools such as Klout and others may need to become more refined.

That said, maintaining a user’s interest and engagement requires something in return for their time, so I really do appreciate the direction that this is taking. Brands should always be thinking about what they can offer their fans, friends and followers in return for their interest.

Empire Avenue, social capital and the value for brands

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Homepage logo for Empire AvenueRecently quite a few of the FreshNetworks team have started buying and selling each other on the internet.

…It’s not as bad as it sounds!

What’s happened is that Empire Avenue, a gamified approach to measuring social influence, has sparked off some friendly rivalry as we work out just how much social capital we hold.

So how does Empire Avenue work? Basically, it measures your activity on certain social networks, and is not dissimilar from other influencer measuring tools such as Klout and Peer Index.

Where Empire Avenue differs is that your value can effectively be peer-reviewed by others buying and selling shares in your score, giving you an incentive to remain a valuable commodity and remain active on your social networks.

What’s the value for brands?

While it can be a fun (and distracting) way for individual users to interact, the value of Empire Avenue for brands is especially interesting.

Xbox is currently the most valuable branded stock, but other businesses in the top 20 include Nokia, Audi, Toyota and Ford.

The early adoption of automotive brands is interesting, as one of the features of Empire Avenue is the option to buy “luxury items” - like a fancy badge that displays a manifestation of your virtual wealth. At present these are generic items - cars, boats, houses etc. but I expect we’ll soon see branded versions being offered by companies as aspirational items, or even rewards for loyal fans.

Brands will also be able to communicate with their users as the Empire Avenue platform offers real time chat and status updates. It also offers users the chance to  purchase in-game adverts to encourage visits to their profiles and, hopefully, investment in their stock. The relationship works both ways and brands can also invest in their fans, which is certainly a new type of engagement that goes beyond what we have seen before.

If you or your company are already active on social media, now may well be the time to think about “investing” in Empire Avenue.

Michelle Obama’s $2.7Bn Influence

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michelle obama influencer

Image courtesy of Studio08Denver

There’s been a great deal of talk this week about influence. It’s been driven (dare I say influcenced) by an article in AdAge by Matt Creamer. He takes a swipe at Justin Beiber (dangerous) and points out that automated social media monitoring tools (or influence trackers) like Klout, need some human analysis and insight to get the most out of them.

Clearly there is more to influence than popularity (see this slidshare about online influencers), but popularity can be a pretty key determinant for some influencers. The Oprah Effect is worthy of note as a case in point.

Anyway, all this chatter reminded me of the Michelle Obama Influence Infographic.  The Harvard Business Review recently published reserach by academic David Yermack. He found that there was a strong correlation between the brands Michelle Obama wore and subsequent stock price increases. The percentage increases are small and there is a causation/correlation debate to be had, but when she’s potentially driving $2.7Bn in value for these brands, it’s worthy of note:

influence and michelle obama

Measuring influence in social media

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A few weeks ago, I spoke at the Social Media Influence conference in London on a panel discussion how to measure influence in social media.

It’s a tricky subject and people tend to fall int two camps:

  1. People who are looking to define and then develop a set of quantitative metrics that can be used to measure influence. I’ve seen the simple (building on page impressions) to the complex (with algorithms and calculations that I’m not convinced always make sense).
  2. People who try to measure softer factors such as the influence that somebody plays and then mapping this against the contributions they make online

I think that both of these methods are great ways of exploring what it means to contribute to social media. But in terms of real influence, I think other factors are as important. In fact, all of these methods look at input measures - the amount of content somebody provides, the number of people who reads this, the number of contacts or connections they have. Perhaps a better way to measure influence would be output measures - finding a way to identify and measure the impact that somebody has rather than the effort they put in.

My thoughts on this are fairly early at the moment, but we’re starting to gather data at FreshNetworks from our online communities that might help to explore and develop output measures of influence.

In the meantime, you can see the panel session I was part of below (there are two videos to view).

  • Why Social Media Is Like Distance Running
  • Cultural Voyeurism and Social Media
  • The Art of Conversation - It’s About Listening Not Marketing
  • 10 immutable laws for measuring conversation
  • Mastering Social Media

Major events influenced BBC’s news online

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It seems that major events were the impetus for most steps forward the BBC has taken in engagement. At yesterday’s Social Media Influence conference in London, Pete Clifton, Head of Editorial Development for Multi-Media Journalism at the BBC, spoke about the lessons they had learnt and the steps taken. And to me it seemed that major events were the catalyst for much of this change.

Event 1: The 1997 General Election Campaign

The BBC news website grew out of an experiment during the 1997 General Election in the UK - an important time and a major campaign which saw the Conservative Party being replaced by Tony Blair‘s New Labour after 18 years in power. The BBC put up a few pages to cover the event as an experiment of how news could work online. The plan was to take this down over the summer following the campaign, but a second event stopped this.

Event 2: The death of Diana, Princess of Wales

Just as the site was to be wound-down, a second event occured that would also merit from some special treatment online. The death of Diana, Princess of Wales in the summer of 1997 led the BBC news team to set up a second set of pages - updating these and letting viewers email in their tributes and opinions. The first interactive news article on the BBC’s site was born and the site was not taken down. The importance of news online was realised and so the full BBC news site launched later that year.

Event 3: 7/7 bombings in London

By 2005, the BBC News website was well used and formed an integral part of the channel’s news outlet. The events of 7th July of that year in London helped in the shift of perception from multi-media news being something that sat apart from main editorial activities to something more integrated. When news-wire and London Underground reports were still reporting a power surge on the tube network, and nobody really knew what was happening, BBC News received an email containing a picture of a bus where one of the bombs had exploded and an eye-witness account of the events. Interacting with viewers through multi-media and online was now making the news. In fact the opening sequence on the main TV news bulletin the following evening was entirely UGC - videos shot on mobile phones from inside trapped Underground carriages.

These major events seem to have shaped the BBC’s activities and strategy for news online. In fact it is now an integrated part of the news offering and will soon no longer be a separate team, but will sit with the rest of the newsroom.