A California based social media analytics firm with the unwieldly name of Klout is beginning to wield considerable marketing influence thanks to a "killer team of scientists and engineers" who mine social media and enable it to measure one's "influence".
In reviewing a book by academic and social media expert Mark Schaeffer titled "Return on Influence: The Revolutionary Power of Klout, Social Scoring, and Influence Marketing" the Wall Street Journal's Marketplace column notes how "influencers" can drive a news cycle, in this case the infamous pink slime controversy.
The WSJ article notes how a "citizen influencer" who was "an otherwise unknown blogger" ended up at the top of a list pushing the "pink slime" story while "big media (in this case ABC News)" was in sixth place. Big business, never averse to influence peddling, has not failed to notice with "more than 5,000 companies—from Disney, to Audi, to Turner Broadcasting—have already tapped market-leader Klout to identify influencers." It is, as Mr. Schaeffer, observes "an entirely new marketing channel" that when done well can be enormously effective the advocacy is organic.
Klout and others in the field are not without detractors. Others have suggested that the social websites that rank users’ social media influence don’t really measure influence like they claim to do. Rather, a user’s social media score measures the “capacity to influence.” Even its proponent Mr. Schaeffer cautions that that the relatively new technology can get "gamed" and end up offering a significantly higher score than merited as in the case of R&B singer Justin Bieber.
The foregoing has not deterred some global business like Boticca.com, an online marketplace for talented and independent fashion designers from around the world, who have fully embraced the new marketing channel to promote an offer to a targeted group of consumers. The company's tech and investment savvy CEO noted that by "using Klout, we are aiming squarely at consumers who are influencers and interested in our designers' products." Seems like a question of time before other industries from airlines to hospitality and beyond embrace the new channel.