#FollowFriday: Gregg Tilston – Taking Flight with Social Media

One of the first people I started to look up to in my journey in this social media world was Gregg Tilston. I can’t remember what is was but he always been one of those people in the community that had time to give back.

Gregg is not only the social media lead for Flight Centre globally, but he is also active with Movember in Toronto. And if you’re a good guy, you might even be fortunate to share a beer, coffee or meal with him.

One of the reason’s I looked up to Greg in the first place was his understanding of the digital space and his constant thirst for knowledge. Here’s a conversation I had with Gregg. We discussed strategy, analytics, security, and of course, Klout.

Enjoy!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_J4UQAMfYQU&w=560&h=315]

the problem with Klout (and other online influence measurement tools)

Earlier this summer I wrote a blog post about the importance of influence. And while I still believe in the idea of Klout and what they are trying (or hoping) to achieve they are still a little way off from a perfect product.  

Don’t forget context

I have come across a number of professionals and agencies who use Klout scores in the creation of influencer programs and strategies.  (Full Disclosure: I am a managing partner and co-founder of a social media and community management communications agency. We haven’t used Klout for our clients.)  And it astounds me that brands pay good money on account of a Klout score with no context.

Here’s what I mean.  What does a Klout score of 40, 76, or 29 (pick any number you want) actually mean?  Nothing in my opinion.  What does matter is context.

Market

What market is a brand targeting? For argument’s sake let’s say that the product is a fluoride-free kids toothpaste.  The brand wants to give away 250 tubes of toothpaste to parents of young children.  The hope is to generate valuable word of mouth buzz to help the toothpaste maker (and their agency) earn some online media mentions.  Does it make sense for the agency of record to work with Klout to identify 250 people with high scores? What if Klout could identify which Klout accounts were parents in a specific target geographic area?  Even if Klout could identify parents who love trying toothpaste and want to use a floride-free brand.

Influence doesn’t end (or begin) online

And herein lies the real problem.  Most parents concerned about floride-free toothpaste are not concerned with their Klout scores.  And this is wildly assuming that these parents are even registered on Klout.

Wait Karim! If these floride-free advocates have high Klout scores won’t that help the toothpaste maker generate valuable online mentions? Maybe.

Influencers

There is greater value, I think, in directly engaging in conversations with these people.  Here’s an idea: Connect directly with a dozen or so popular parent or mommy (even daddy) bloggers.  Find out what their needs are.  Find out what their readers (and community) are interested in. Work with them to create a program that benefits all parties involved: The blogger (or influencer), the blogger’s community, and the client.

During this process you may even find out that the influencer and their community you are engaging with are not interested in the fluoride-free toothpaste. Which allows you to move on to another influencer and engage with them.

Moving forward

The simplicity of measurement tools like Klout is that they tend to make people who work with brands’ communications and marketing programs lazy.  It’s too easy to take a bunch of influencer scores and blast them with messaging.  What’s not as easy, and therefore more rewarding in my opinion, is taking the time to properly engage with potential influencers.  Take the time to deliver a quality product and service to your client.  Don’t take the shortcut.

What is your opinion on Klout?

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Why Klout (aka influence) is Important

Like it or not influence matters.  And chances are you’re not sitting on the fence on this one.  Especially when it comes to online influence. You either love Klout or you hate Klout.  

You love Klout because you either understand what they are trying to achieve.  Or if you’ve received a free bag of chips.

You hate Klout because you’ve never “won” anything in your life or your score is lower than 50. Or you don’t believe in what Klout is attempting to build.

But if I asked you if influence matters you would have to agree with me.  Think about it for a moment:

  1. have you “liked” something on Facebook?
  2. ever “retweet” something on Twitter?
  3. have you ever forwarded an email or online article?
  4. do you refer products or services you enjoy to your friends?

You answered yes to at least one question above.  And by doing so you’ve exerted your influence over someone else.  And I believe this is what Klout wants to capture:  The influence you, others and myself have in comparison to others.

Is Klout perfect just yet?  Of course not.  And it may never be.  But here’s the question you should ask yourself:

Will you stop forwarding good content to your sphere of influence?  Of course not.  And that’s why Klout is important.

What say you?