Klout has been an interesting story. The company, that tries to measure online influence, has had it’s share of ups and downs. People claim the score is meaningless, but when an algorithm update sent scores plummeting, thousands upon thousands of users cried out. In a recent interview with Mark Schaefer, his insight was spot on:
“I noticed that anytime someone wrote a blog post about Klout there would be this foaming at the mouth. People would be violent in there. One guy said to me on my blog, “Mark, are you with me? We’ve got to stop this.” I’m thinking, wow, people don’t react this way over pagerank. This is something new.”
It’s surprised me as well to see the emotions this score has brought to the surface. I’m not sure why this happens.
That said, the score is imperfect but at the same time is surprisingly accurate. I often describe Klout like measuring your height in spaghetti noodles. If I say I’m 7 noodles tall, that’s never going to be a perfect measurement, but if you grab a few dry spahetti noodles, you’ll get a pretty good idea. That’s what Klout does, it gives you a pretty good idea of someone’s online influence. And that idea can be a powerful tool.
An additional layer that drives interest is game principles. In other words, Klout is the gamification of social influence. You have a score, you earn accomplishments, you can give and receive awards.
Aspen/Snowmass is the first resort I’ve seen take advantage of the Klout Perks program. Perks let you give away your product (or a heavy discount) to influential groups in the hope they’ll become some level of advocates for your brand. For example, during the launch of “Art of Flight”, Red Bull gave away DVDs and hats, which some of you likely took advantage of (myself included).
Aspen/Snowmass’s perk was a free lift ticket. They have thick stack of tickets ready to be given away as Klout Perks.
The first criterion you can set is Klout score. If someone doesn’t have a score that is at least X or higher, they aren’t eligible. Pretty straightforward.
For their Perk, Aspen/Snowmass requires a Klout score above 40.
Klout not only finds how influential you are, but also attempts to identify topics you are influential about. Giving and receiving +K lets them further identify and nail down your most influential areas (though +K doesn’t appear to have any influence on your score).
Aspen’s required medium topic influence in one of the following: Motorsports, Outdoors, Photography, Skiing, Snowboarding, Travel & Tourism.
Another key ingredient with perks is choosing where these influencers should be located. Destinations don’t have to be as picky as local brands but still should think about the major metro areas that feed their resort.
Location’s for Aspen’s perk were: Los Angeles, CA, San Francisco, CA, Chicago, IL, Dallas, TX, Denver, CO, Aspen, CO, Aurora, CO, Boulder, CO, Colorado Springs, CO and Fort Collins, CO.
So, let’s say Aspen/Snowmass chose Portland, Oregon as one of their areas, skiing as a topic, and scores about 45. Even if I am influential about skiing and have a Klout score of 63, if I don’t live in Portland I won’t be eligible for the perk. This is oversimplifying their system, but you get the idea.
I really like Aspen’s choice to use Klout Perks. To have a high Klout score, you typically have to be the type that spends a good amount sharing the things you do, read, and discover through your social networks. The higher the score, generally speaking, the wider the reach with every photos or update you post.
What is the price of word-of-mount marketing from influential people? Is it worth a lift ticket? Is it worth a lift ticket that may not have ever been used if it weren’t for your perk? Giving away free lift tickets to this group, in my mind, is not wasting money.
What I especially like is that, to an extent (gifts of this nature typically require disclaimers if the recipient blogs about their experience), the brand is removed from the conversation. Give your skiing product to influential people and let them do the talking. Seems like a good recipe to me.