This article originally appeared in the Nov. 30 issue of Marketing as part of “Being Influential”
Sam Fiorella’s Klout score is 0. For the partner at Mississauga-based agency Sensei Marketing, this is a point of pride.
Initially Fiorella worked tirelessly to raise his score (to, at its peak, 74), an attempt well documented in both Wired magazine’s April cover story on Klout and in Mark Schaefer’s Return On Influence: The revolutionary power of Klout, social score and influence marketing.
In the past year social scoring tools like Klout, Kred and PeerIndex have gained traction and become a source of constant debate for marketers. Some say they lack merit, can be easily gamed and measure noise, not influence. Others say they’re useful for identifying influential users– especially when paired with other data. Because of his high Klout score, Fiorella has fielded tons of Klout inquiries.
One day Fiorella was having lunch with a prospective client and the conversation turned to Klout – the client was impressed with Fiorella’s score. Things were looking good. Maybe too good.
“They said, ‘I looked you up. You’ve got a really high Klout score. You must be good,’” Fiorella recounts. The client was satisfied that Fiorella’s high Klout score meant he could run a successful social campaign. Case closed.
Fiorella was prepared to talk about his approach to social media and the successful campaigns he’s run for clients like Ford, Home Depot and AOL. But the client wasn’t asking about that. Nor was he curious about Fiorella’s popular marketing blog, The Social Roadmap, or the talks on achieving ROI and social media for small business that Fiorella gives all over North America. The only thing that seemed to matter was Klout. “He says, ‘Well, your Klout score is high, so you clearly must know what you’re talking about,’” Fiorella says.
“I said, ‘You know what? You have no clue whether I do or don’t.’ That very day I went and opted out of Klout.”
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For Fiorella, this attitude is emblematic of the wider problems with social scoring tools. What they measure is a narrow slice of influence, which is only useful when set in a proper context and connected to a trove of other data. Without that context, all they measure is noise.
“I don’t believe there is any single tool out there that is an accurate measurement of someone’s influence. There are accurate tools of someone’s amplification but not of their effectiveness as an influencer,” he says, noting that tools like Klout measure how noisy someone is – how many retweets and mentions they create, but not whether those mentions were positive or negative, nor whether they caused any sort of action, like a purchase or store visit.
Like many marketers, Fiorella advocates using a diverse set of tools when measuring the ROI of influencer programs. At Sensi, Fiorella and his team use a process they call KPI mapping, which involves creating a mass of customer profiles based by tracking the engagement customers have with a brand such as in-store purchases, store visits and e-mail newsletters, as well as social data like tweets and engagement on Facebook and other social networks. Once all the data is collected, Fiorella’s team analyzes the impact of specific combinations of metrics, such as engagement location, income and behaviour, and their impact on short-term revenue and the lifetime value of the customer. When patterns that lead to actions, such as purchases, are illuminated, they can be encouraged, and the users who caused them can be identified as influencers.
Because brands are increasing their investment in influencer programs, there is a big demand for measuring how a particular user’s social feeds leads to a purchase. By using a processes like KPI mapping, Fiorella says, marketers can highlight which users’ influence is strong enough to sell product, which a tool like Klout can’t do on its own.
“We take a look at these factors then overlay them onto the customer’s interaction with the brand. Did they purchase? How much did they purchase?” he asks. “We’re able to determine the type of and frequency of social engagements that lead to customers becoming more profitable or referring more people,” he says.
Fiorella says KPI mapping isn’t difficult. But it isn’t a process for marketers prone to short cuts, either. “This takes time to do. I didn’t say it was quick. I said it’s easy,” he laughs.
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