The facts and the fiction:
Fact: Everyone has the ability to influence and impact their network.
The global travel and hospitality industry boasts an eclectic, conservative, outgoing, introverted, savvy, family-centric, sexy and single, highly influential social following. Teeming with first-time visitors, frequent flyers, locals, newlyweds, professionals and retirees, our collective social networks are diverse enough to connect us with credible potential brand ambassadors across any market segment imaginable. Right?
So what’s with all the clamor about Klout?
Fiction: All influencers were created equally.
This is where the genius of Klout.com comes into play.
Klout Scores are a measurement tool that gives insight into a person’s online influence based on their ability to drive action in social networks. The system collects data based on your reach and impact of engagement within social networks to provide you with a daily score on a scale of 1 to 100. The score is based on 3 major concepts: the number of people you influence (How many followers or friends do you have?), how much you influence them (Are they clicking your links? Liking and @replying to your posts?), and how influential the people in your network are. “Our ability and our desire to understand [our own network impact], and the need and the market for that, is why Klout exists,” explains Joe Fernandez, Klout Founder and CEO.
Klout.com also provides reports that compare Klout Scores peer-to-peer, influencer-to-influencer, and business-to-business. Consequently, marketers can access and segment valuable intel regarding business competition, current top tier online influencers, and the most viral content currently shared. Travelers can also search for specific “Influencers” or “Topics,” including hotels: http://klout.com/#/topic/hotels
Wired editor Seth Stevenson recently asked Klout product director Chris Makarsky how he might boost his own Klout Score. He was instructed to tweet more often, concentrate on one topic, keep it upbeat, and develop an online rapport with Klout-heavy people who may extend his influence. It takes a consistent and diligent approach, no doubt. Luckily, the consumers and businesses that invest these resources in social media management are landing considerable ROI—return on influence that is. Monitoring and improving your hotel brand’s Klout score is a smart tactic for nurturing the success of your ongoing social media marketing efforts,
Fact: Klout has evolved into a social media marketing asset with advantageous implications for both hotels and consumers.
Klout provides another shiny new bridge to unite with your consumer. It also helps by revealing the consumer’s potential as an individual broadcast network. Remember when citizen journalists rose to prominence alongside camera phones and open source blogging platforms? Well, today we have citizen broadcast networks—latent brand ambassadors with measurable audience reach just waiting for a compelling enough reason to boost your brands own reach, influence, and reputation.
From a traveler’s perspective, Klout now accommodates hoteliers, hospitality brands and airlines. Clever brands are offering upgraded experiences to Klout users whose scores prove them capable of starting highly influential conversations about their travels. Franchises can also use Klout to monitor the conversations of their competitive set, tailoring promotions for individual properties in specific areas.
Fiction: Loyalty programs that fail to keep up with the influence of social networking, and related technologies will stay relevant to travelers
These dated programs lose ground with each new social algorithm advancement. But staying tuned in to social media trends like Klout and applying them profitably to a hotel’s business strategy involves a particular investment of time, relationships and resources. Consider partnering with a marketing company that bridges the gap between social media and hospitality. Expand your loyalty programs with integrated e-marketing strategies that include social reservation applications, web and mobile apps, flash sale promotions, photo and video content distribution, and 5-star online customer service. With online travel bookings projected to grow twice as fast as the total market, surpassing $313 billion by 2012, Klout stars may play a key role in navigating the hotel decision-making paradigm—price, quality and location. Social media exchanges provide a satisfaction score, validation, and now a personal reference against the quality rating.
Fact: Early adopter hotels incorporating Klout into their marketing strategies have witnessed exciting results.
In 2010, the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas looked at the Klout scores of guests as they checked in and upgraded rooms for high-ranking influencers—many guests had no idea how they’d earned the privilege. Among Las Vegas-based hotel casinos, the Palms went from the 17th largest social-network following on Facebook to the 3rd highest. The Palms owns from one of the best Klout scores among its peers. Today, they continue their partnership with Klout, offering impressive amenities for “Klout Klub” members, and even co-hosting a special event with the social-media site at CES this year.
At the San Francisco International Airport, Cathay Pacific opened its First and Business Class lounge to Klout users with scores of 40 and higher. Virgin America has offered free flights to high-scoring Klout users. Trivandrum Hotel added Klout Coupons onto their Facebook Page.
Then in February, the enterprise-software titan Salesforce.com introduced a service that lets companies monitor the Klout scores of customers who tweet compliments and complaints; we’re betting those with the highest scores enjoy a premium class of pampering from customer service reps.
The future of Klout lies in the hands of the consumers and how creative brand marketers can get. Recognizing consumers as broadcasters, Klout is racing against competitors like Kred and PeerIndex to establish something similar to the Nielsen ratings for online social interactions. If hotels address their audience strategically with superior content, both sides will benefit. Smart hotel marketers can stay ahead of the game based on how they inspire and reward consumers for their engagement, influence and action. Influence scoring is providing hoteliers one more reference point for better decision-making.