Klout Looking for Clout With Brands

Mysterious influence-measurer rolling out +K button in June

Get ready for another social button to populate pages across the web. Klout—a startup that rates users’ online influence somehow based on their Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Google+, LinkedIn activities and reach.—said in a blog post on Thursday (May 3) that it plans to expand the +K button beyond Klout.com. Klout CEO and cofounder Joe Fernandez told Adweek on Friday that the company is eyeballing June for that rollout, while sharing some thoughts on how brands and publishers might utilize the new button.

The +K button enables users to vouch for whether a Klout user should be considered influential on a given topic with a simple click of a mouse. So theoretically a Web-wide rollout would allow a brand or publisher to embed the button on their site and solicit visitors to rate them as influential on a given topic. That might particularly appeal to the wave of brands looking to become more conversational (and less promotional)—or even publishers themselves.

When Klout debuted the +K button last June, the company took measures to avoid abuse by allotting users only five +Ks per day. Plus users can only credit an individual for being influencial on a specific topic via a +K once every seven days. Fernandez said Klout will keep those limitations in place at least initially. “We think scarcity is important,” he said. “You have to think about what’s really influencing you…it gives it meaning beyond just the click of a button.”

Klout had a “relatively quiet” first quarter release-wise, Fernandez said, but that hasn’t been the case during Q2. Klout added brand pages and unveiled its iPhone app last month and plans to further build out both products over the next month. Fernandez was short on details, but said that Klout is “far along on the next iteration of the mobile app.”

As for the brand pages, Fernandez said the +K rollout would “open the door to” closer ties between a brand’s Klout page and its website. But Fernandez is also looking at how to better integrate brand pages with the Klout Perks rewards program, which lets brands target offers to Klout users based on their Klout scores. Chevrolet, Lipton and Spotify are among the brands who have run campaigns using Klout Perks, and Fernandez said 25 such campaigns ran last month.

However, according to Fernandez, one frustration with Klout Perks is their one-off nature. So he wants use brand pages as a way to extend that interaction. “You can see it a little bit now on the Red Bull brand page, where there’s specific levels of influence and each level is associated with a Perk and that Perk is kind of always on and keeps going and people jockey for position within those levels to level-up in their Perks,” he said.

Klout is also looking at ways to extend Perks beyond Klout.com. Fernandez pointed to its recent initiative with Gilt—where people received discouts during flash-sales based on their Klout scores—as one example.

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