I have a really hard time putting any kind of stock in to a Klout score. It just seems extremely artificial to me. After all, a quick look at those with scores of 100 yields an awful lot of pop music personalities, whom I shall not name because they clearly do not need any additional referrals. Klout strongly believes that these individuals hold a massive amount of influence, but the question remains: What are they influencing people to do? Retweet their stuff? Buy their song on iTunes? Big deal. Above and beyond that, the real influence of celebrities doesn’t really amount to too much.
One can easily argue that individuals who are ‘experts’ on a particular topic have far more actual influence than celebrities, because they often post blog articles and advice that people will put in to practice, thereby changing the behaviour of their audience based on the information that they share. If they share a review of a web design technique that works, or tips for communicating in the social media world, many followers will heed their advice and put those tips in to play for themselves. This, in my opinion, is a much more accurate description of ‘influence’.
But there’s a third group of people who hold ‘influence’ in the digital world. They’re not celebrities. They’re not experts. They are what I call the ‘enthusiasts’. People who are absolutely nuts for whatever it is they are talking about. They live it and breathe it. Whatever it is, it is their passion. It could be cars, PC’s, flowers, web design, photography, woodworking, travel, or antique toys. Everyone is passionate about something, and everything has someone who is passionate about it.
These individuals are a new kind of influencer. Finding these individuals and engaging with them can create a brand advocate of far greater strength and loyalty than any well-known expert. After all, if a popular expert endorses a product or service, there is a good chance that there is some mutual benefit coming back to them from that company. Either they got the product for free, or were paid to do a review, or simply got the benefit of being featured on the company’s website. Not to say this is bad, because most popular experts got to where they are by being good at what they do. They evaluate products and services very methodically, and tend to have broader experiences to draw comparisons from. But an enthusiast? They probably paid for whatever it is out of their own pocket.
There’s something to be said for having super-passionate enthusiasts interacting with you, sharing their opinions and reviews, and becoming your best friends. Social media amplifies their voices and creates a whole new level of word-of-mouth. Someone with 200 followers who’s crazy about your company tweeting about your stuff for weeks (or months) on end can have far more reach and influence than a single tweet in the daily stream of an expert to an audience of 30,000.
Ultimately, if you are carefully checking Klout scores and looking at follower counts in order to determine if mentioning or responding to a specific individual is ‘worth your time’, you may be missing out on a huge untapped resource of ‘influence’. Every single person who mentions you is worth your time. You never know who’s voice will really carry the farthest in the social media world.