If you follow social media, online influence or Facebook marketing, chances are you heard the news last week between Klout and Involver. Klout measures influence on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and, most recently, LinkedIn. Involver is a social media marketing company. Together the two startups are making it possible for brands to customize the Facebook fan page experience based on fans’ Klout scores.
The connection between social media influence and Facebook marketing made headlines. Curious, I got a hold of Megan Berry, Marketing Manager for Klout, and Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, Senior Vice President of Marketing & Customer Success at Involver, to discuss their partnership, measuring social media influence and the future of Facebook marketing. (Full disclosure: Involver is an Eloqua client.)
First off, how did your two companies find each other?
JASCHA: I had a chance about four months ago to meet up with Matt Thompson, who is the head of platform (at Klout). He and I started exploring ways that we could work together. Our conversations were around connecting the scoring mechanism that they created to Facebook to help marketers start customizing what they’re trying to deliver to their end customers and their fans.
MEGAN: We had been interested in the idea of integrating for a while. We didn’t know exactly how that integration would work, but the idea of bringing Klout into Facebook fan pages was something we were very interested in.
What do you see this integration offering businesses? What does it offer consumers?
MEGAN: If you have a high Klout score you can see something different, or get a different discount code or product based on that score. In essence, you can customize the experience. It allows (brands) to leverage the brand advocates that are already on their page and give them something that they can share, and help spread the word for that brand.
How would my experience differ if I had a Klout score of 70 instead of 20?
MEGAN: If you imagine a big retailer using it, they might offer various discount codes based on your Klout score: if you have a Klout score over 70, you might get $100 free to try something, those between 40 to 70 might get 50% off, and then under 20 get 10% off, or something like that. It really allows you to segment what you’re giving away based on their power to share.
What impact do you think this integration of influence measurement means for Facebook marketing in general?
JASCHA: This is a first step in changing the game in terms of Facebook marketing. I mean that to be as an explosive a statement as it sounds. As marketers, we want to figure out how to have better relationships with important customers and fans on Facebook in particular, and Facebook is one of the few channels where that reality should actually be there. But it hasn’t been. So using Klout scores to target specific fans really starts to pay on the promise of Facebook, which was near one-to-one marketing.
MEGAN: it’s amazing how much Facebook theoretically knows about people, and yet nothing is customized when we visit a brand. Like you cannot choose to give a different message to people of different ages. Facebook does not give you any of those options. This is really the first example of customizing a Facebook fan page based on something about the fan. It’s quite logical.
So how does influence play a role in Facebook marketing? Does reaching the Super User help reach the less engaged?
JASCHA: What Facebook has done, for me as a marketer, is given me the ability in theory to have relationships with hundreds of thousands of people. But what it hasn’t given to me yet is the ability to develop that one-to-one relationship where I can see (fan’s) Digital Body Language; where I know when you come into my corner store that you want your bag of rice and you like this particular brand of shoes, and I’m going to have those things there for you because, when I do, you’re going to tell your friends to buy from me. That just doesn’t exist. This kind of corner store marketer, individual relationship where I know their body language and I understand their buying habits, and how I’m going to spend my time with them, hasn’t existed for the B2C world. (Klout’s scoring) isn’t perfect yet, but it’s the best in the industry bar none. And to take what they’ve done and map it back to a Facebook helps me to understand the time I should spend with groups of people or individuals, and the kinds of things I should deliver to them. Different levels of education around my product all start to play a role in how I deliver different types of messaging to them.
I can imagine a scenario where you might see some backlash from consumers. I might be a huge fan of an ice cream company, regularly consume their content on Facebook and share it with friends. But I don’t spend a lot of time on any other form of social media. The person with a higher Klout score who only clicked “like” once on the fan page and never came back might get three free pints of ice cream and I only get one. Do you think this will rub some people the wrong way?
MEGAN: There are a couple of answers to that. One is, if that ice cream company managed to convert that guy who is a 70 on Klout, and actually get him to be share about the brand, that would be a really big victory for them. The idea behind this integration is that you’re able to take those very influential people and make them brand advocates.
The second thing is that in the future we’d really love to have a product or topic component. That’s a way’s out, but it would be great if you could see that this person is influential on food and in some way give them something that is specific to that.
JASCHA: Bad marketing is bad marketing. This is a tool that opens up possibilities of personalization that haven’t really existed, especially from a B2C side. You just have to be really smart about how you use it and the types of campaigns that you deploy.
It seems like B2C marketers are often more active on Facebook than B2B marketers. Do you think the integration of influence scoring will change that?
JASCHA: I don’t think it’s specifically going to have huge impact on the B2B industry. I think the faster adoption will happen there because the tools for business process to support relationship building have been developed in B2B. But I do see the popularization of B2B marketing practices in the B2C world. And I think tools like Klout in particular are going to start to move that trend along faster. I believe the business processes I’m able to manage by using tools Eloqua provides are honestly going to play a much more important role in the world of B2C moving forward, and this type of integration between Involver and Klout are one of the first salvos into that space.
One of the arguments I hear against Klout is that it’s a vanity metric that doesn’t really tell you anything. Do you think this integration disproves that assertion?
MEGAN: When people say, “You have a Klout score of 60, so what?” my answer is businesses who are using Klout scores in their customer service, hotels that are letting people get upgrades based on their Klout scores. When people understand the impact having a large Klout score can have in terms of their life, that’s when they care. Similarly, you could say, “I have this SAT score, so what?” When it impacts where you can go to college, then you care.
The other side of that statement could be we don’t want to have standardized testing inserted into our dealings with commerce.
MEGAN: I’d argue that you’re already being judged when it comes to commerce. Right now it’s based on how much money you’ve already spent with that company. But businesses have loyalty programs and rewards, and they do value some customers over others. What we’re trying to do is add another metric, which is what kind of network value do you have, what kind of referral value can you offer a company, how many people could you bring back and help get engaged with that brand?
So what’s the next step in the evolution of this program?
JASCHA: Honestly, the sky is the limit here. You can think about what’s the natural progression into different content types being one of the first and most exciting areas. You can start to get into other types of content, video being a great example. The second area I can speak about very broadly is Klout is doing something very cool around topics that you may or may not be influential about, and sort of figuring that out in terms of the kind of content you deliver as well.