Earlier this week, Klout announced its own version of brand pages -- Brand "Squads." Klout calls these pages a "way of giving influencers a place to be recognized and have a direct impact on the brands they care about most."
And while influencers get excited for their potential to be recognized by top brands, social media marketers also have plenty of reasons to be excited for this cool new tool.
This post will break down all the new features Klout Brand Squads will provide, and why they matter to marketers. But first, take a look at the Brand Squad of Red Bull -- the lucky brand being used to beta test this new feature -- so you can get an idea of what the layout might look like when this rolls out to all brands.
1) Brand Influencers
What It Is: Klout's new Brand Squads will showcase the top 10 influencers of that brand. These are the people who most frequently talk about that brand on their own social networks. You also have the ability to see the top 100 influencers.
How Marketers Can Benefit: If someone loves you enough to be listed as a top ten influencer, you better be sure to convert that influencer into a customer (or leverage their influence in some other beneficial way if they're not a prospect, such as a partnership of some sort)! The top influencers are a snapshot of your most loving and active fans. And if that influencer is already a customer, you better be sure to make them a brand loyalist! Remember, Klout connects to twelve different social networks (with more to come). Thus, this list is providing an aggregate grouping of people who frequently talk about you across multiple social channels.
So what do you do with these people? If you have a list of loving leads and brand loyalists, you have a list of people who are willing to provide you with feedback about your business -- people who genuinely care about your growth because it has an impact on their life. Make them feel like an integral member of your community, and ask them to write reviews, be beta testers on new product rollouts, and refer you to others that might like to use your products or services.
2) Social Media Buttons
What It Is: The new pages will allow brands to include social media buttons for their various social accounts.
How Marketers Can Benefit: These help users more easily find your social media presence. While marketers know the basic importance of having such buttons, there's an added benefit of having them on Klout. Think about it -- when you're on a brand's Facebook page, there's no Twitter button that lets you find their username. So you go over to Google and do a search for the brand, click through a few accounts, and then decide which account is the right one for the brand you're looking for.
Right now, a user can only get a look at your entire social presence on your website. Klout's Brand Squads would be one of the few social brand pages where users can easily navigate to a brand's various social accounts.
3) Latest Activity
What It Is: Think of it as Klout's version of the Facebook ticker. The Latest Activity bar showcases all Klout activity related to your brand -- when someone gives you a +K, when an influencer of your brand gives another influencer of your brand a +K, and when someone adds your brand as a top influencer.
How Marketers Can Benefit: You can share any activity that appears in this list. By hovering over the update, a pop-up will appear next to it asking if you'd like to share that update. If you click "tweet," Klout will automatically pull the Twitter username of the person giving you a +K. This provides the cool opportunity to not only easily thank users giving you a +K, but also follow people who are clearly brand loyalists. And as all social media marketers should know, it's just as important to follow the people who care about you as it is to gain followers.
4) Brand Perks
What It Is: Klout released Klout perks last year. Essentially, Klout perks "are exclusive products or experiences that you earn based on your influence." Red Bull is testing this feature by having three different perks available. One for the top 10 influencers, one for the top 100 influencers, and one for the top 1,000 influencers.
How Marketers Can Benefit: You have a free and easy to way to reward people who care about your brand! B2C companies could offer free samples of their products. B2B companies could provide trials or discounts. There's plenty to try -- and you have the comfort of knowing the perks are going to people who already showed interest in your brand -- you might just learn what offers incite leads in the bottom of your buying funnel to pull the trigger on a purchase. Here at HubSpot, for example, we're preparing for our annual Inbound conference. We might use the perks feature to reward people with discounted tickets to our inbound marketing conference!
5) Top Brand Content
What It Is: At the bottom of each page, there's a showcase of content being shared about your brand. While you can see who has tagged you in posts on Facebook or who mentioned your handle on Twitter, Klout Brand Squads will highlight content from all platforms.
How Marketers Can Benefit: You have an easy way to see the top content being shared about your brand. You can easily share or tweet that content by hovering over the post. Just like the top influencers and Latest Activity bar, you have yet another way to see who is talking about you and what they're saying. The unique benefit here is you can see who was influenced by that post. So not only can you see that someone is talking about your brand, you can see who was influenced by that initial user.
While this isn't something to be staring at all day, if you're hosting a particular campaign, it'd be helpful to see if people are talking about it and influencing others to talk about it. If HubSpot tweeted about the Inbound conference, for example, we would want to see not only if others started talking about it, but also who that retweeter influenced. It's a way of watching how a piece of content travels from a business account to a user, and from that user to another user.
Deficiencies of Klout's Brand Pages
While Klout Brand Squads will offer some beneficial new features for marketers, it's hard to tie it all back to a business' entire marketing package, because there seem to be no analytics tied to all of these new features. The next step to make these brand pages worth marketers' time would be the addition of an analytics tool. Data from HubSpot's Dan Zarrella proves that a Klout score is "a surprisingly effective measure of overall online marketing success." And if that's the case, we want to see that these Klout Brand Squads contribute to that success.
The other drawback is that it's not clear if your top influencers are actually influencing positive discussions about your brand. For all you know, someone in your top 100 followers could be sending very negative messages, and in return you could be rewarding them in some form such as perks. While it never hurts to show everyone some love, it'd be helpful to know the tone of what is being discussed -- especially because negative feedback, while painful to take, is how businesses make improvements.
Are you looking forward to Klout Brand Squads? What other benefits do you see for marketers from these new features?