Do Klout Perks carry any real-world weight?

You may be more than the sum of your parts, but to Klout, you're just a number. The analytics company monitors your interactions on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and beyond. It then sorts through the data to generate a numeric score that purportedly "measures a person’s overall online influence" on a scale from 1 to 100.

Klout Perks

tweak to Klout's algorithm in August was designed to improve accuracy, pulling in more variables and identifying "real world reach" with factors as Wikipedia mentions.

That number's accuracy is critical for more than online bragging rights. Companies pay Klout to offer Klout Perks"products or experiences" to encourage high-scoring users to spread the word about their brand. For example, American Express gave $25 gift cards to encourage Klout "influencers" to shop during its Small Business Saturday event last November.

But do Klout scores generate enough ROI to warrant your small business's attention? Are Klout Perk campaigns worth the effort?

Murky numbers confuse things

Unfortunately, Klout is notorious for its tight-lipped nature. To celebrate the second anniversary of Klout Perks, though, Klout claimed in a blog post that it had delivered 700,000 perks in 350 separate campaigns over two years, with 300 different brands--including big leaguers like Coke, Disney, Microsoft and American Express.

That sounds impressive. However, 350 campaigns over two years averages out to just one campaign every two to three days. And if those 350 campaigns came from 300 brands, then a lot of companies aren't double-dipping into Klout Perks. Does that mean the ROI is low?

Individual campaigns show varying value

A sample Klout score

Chevy, however, has used Klout Perks three times. Its second campaign enabled 130 Klout users in five U.S. cities to take a Chevy Sonic for a ride. The results, according to Media Post: 16,000 positive social media comments and a handful of homebrew videos--yet only a single confirmed sale. Chevy's Klout Perks campaigns are highly targeted affairs, however, singling out users from specific niches and cities. Is that the right approach to a Klout Perk campaign? At least one social media director says no.

Morgan Brown ran two Klout Perks campaigns for event ticket-seller ScoreBig.com; one offered 155 users with high  scores in L.A. $100 in freebies and a $10 credit to referred friends. A second campaign blasted out free, early access to the site along with $25 off of any purchase to 10,000 people in New York, regardless of their Klout score. The first campaign didn't generate much additional interest; aside from the 79 users who claimed the $100 perk, the company only gained 173 users from referrals. Additionally, the cost per user was astronomical given the size of the perk.

The second campaign and its shotgun-style approach, meanwhile, generated 40 times as many social shares as the first, creating three times as many impressions and reaching nearly five times as many people. Since the perks were modest, the cost to acquire new members was far smaller, and well within company goals.

Are Klout Perks worth the time, money, and effort?

Klout perks
Klout Perks participants get this box. What else?

It depends what you're after. Targeted Klout Perk campaigns that single out high-profile influencers may be able to kick up a lot of social return on impressions, but probably offer little real-world return on investment. Klout's new algorithm could help, but I doubt it would make a major difference.

On the other hand, a shotgun-style approach that targets as many people as possible with less stratospheric perks may just pay offif you plan it well and leave the bar to entry low.

In the end, it all depends on execution and costs, but Klout keeps its Perk campaign fees close to its chest. That's another area where Morgan Brown's post comes in handy; rumors often cite a $25,000 starting cost for a Klout campaign, but Morgan Brown's two only cost $5,000 apiece, plus Perk expenses.

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