Social ranking is nothing new, people have been categorised into classes and groups for years, often allowing others to form opinions of them without having to meet or event get to know them. Sites such as Klout, Kred and PeerIndex now allow people to get a similar ranking, all based on a persons online social score. The only difference between this and real life, is that online, it’s all based around data, but how real and relevant is it, and should brands be taking it into account when planning a social strategy?
One benefit of being able to see how ‘influential’ a person is, is that when you follow or are connected to a large number of people on sites such as Twitter, it allows you to cut through the noise, and find what is most relevant and trusted from your peers. From a brands point of view, when looking to engage with individuals on a one-to-one basis, or event conduct blogger outreach, it’s a great tool, as it allows you to really see who will be able to amplify your brand message, and to who.
What brands must be careful of however, is the relevance of these individuals, and how exactly this message will be spread. Everyone has a different online following and what is really key, is the relevance of the followers, and the context in which the messages will be spread. This is where brands can run into problems, as tools such as Klout and Kred do not provide such a feature. Justin Bieber for example, may have a Klout score of 99, but is he the right person to amplify a message about the next Mercedes? No.
Where brands can use it effectively though, is through examining topics that people are influential about. Ford did this through PeerIndex in 2012, giving free Ford holograms to those most influential about cars and the auto industry. In exchange for this, the user would tweet about the hologram using a specific hashtag, boosting the reach of the Ford Fiesta campaign, whilst also ensuring that message was being amplified by a person who is trusted within the right context.
For me, influencer sites can be used as part of a brands social strategy, but only to drive initial awareness amongst an audience. Providing the brand can discover precisely how relevant the individuals are that they are using through social influencer tools, they will have a strong grounding for extending a message, and gaining brand advocates. Don’t go to the effort of researching however, and they are wasting both time and resources, on an audience that won’t deliver a positive outcome.