What Klout Brand Squads Means for Brands

Klout score is referenced when discussing a person’s social media influence. Some might brag about their score; others might snicker and say it’s meaningless. And some love to game the system by giving K+ (Klout’s internal measuring number) to friends/enemies in silly categories.

Before this week it’s been difficult, however, to see how influential someone is in regards to a specific brand. It was more about being influential in the area of videogames, as opposed to a console maker or developer. That all changes now.

Klout launched this week, in beta, Brand Squads, which is a way for those influencers to have a “direct impact on the brands they care about most.” Red Bull is the exclusive launch partner and I’m sure a number of brands have already made inquiries to find out how they can be next.

It’s a natural evolution for Klout who’s been offering Perks for a while; perks are free things those with influential Klout in categories that brands care about can offer to them to try out—often with the intention/hope that they’ll say something great about them on their social media channels.

With Brand Squads, a brand and influencer can now see a list of top influencers and see the conversations taking place in social media. Consumers will also be able to see brand updates (think News Feed stories from Facebook or tweets from brands), as well as earn access to those Perks. (This should make it easier to find Perks you care about; me personally, I’m not interested in hair gel for my mangy, Lego man-like hair).

It’s an interesting direction for Klout to try and go after Facebook and Google who have been courting brands to make their own pages for a long time—Facebook especially. But Klout has an important weapon at their disposal — offering free stuff!

The difficulty Klout faces is that it doesn’t necessarily help you expand your consumer audience. While it helps reach top influencers, rewarding them in a way that you hope can be viral is not necessarily measurable in terms of growing your consumer base. Plus, there’s no incentive for us marketers to keep using Klout once we’ve used their system to learn our top influencers. Armed with that knowledge, we likely would rather take that relationship off Klout’s platform and onto another one where there’s a direct engagement between the brand and the influencer… and no third party.

What do you think about Klout Brand Squads? Is this something you’re already thinking about for your brands?