There’s no room for Klout in the Social CRM democracy
I was recently asked to help someone I know promote their business product on my personal Facebook page. “Just post a link to our webstore” they enthusiastically suggested. I refused. One, because I didn’t have any interest whatsoever in their product, nor did I think any of my friends would, and two, because it would look so utterly false and out-of-place on my profile that it wasn’t worth the effort. I explained to this person that I very rarely, if ever, post status updates on Facebook. So if I was going to break that habit, I was certainly not going to do so in order to flog a bunch of crap; I’d just post some song lyrics or a cat picture or something like you’re meant to.
I give my friends more respect than selling miscellaneous products to them, and besides, they would all recognise it as being completely incongruous with my usual mute Facebook behaviour. It’s this blatant, heavy-handed advertising-dressed-up-as-genuine-communication-between-friends that really irks me about social media, and it’s the cynical monetizing and hierarchisation of this concept by companies like Klout that irritates even further.
I was reminded of this Facebook posting episode when I recently noticed that some hotels have started using Klout to determine how they treat their patrons, and it would seem that this could start to become a lot more common. Klout of course is the self-proclaimed ‘standard’ for online influence. They assign you a score between 0-100 based on how influential they deem you to be in the social media universe. So for the Palms hotel in Las Vegas, depending on your Klout score, you may get a better room upgrade, or maybe that last table at the packed hotel restaurant, and who knows? Maybe even a wider, shinier smile from that receptionist as he/she begs you for a #FollowFriday before you check out.
Why are they doing this? Well, because they realise that in this age, you, as a social-media-connected person, are a potential walking advertisement. It’s true of course that we can now all help friends and people in our network make certain purchase decisions based on our say-so, but this should be done by true experience and sentiment, not a false ‘sponsored’ recommendation. People will start to get savvier to this social game, they will smell a rat in a disingenuous, paid-for update, and you will lose credibility amongst peers quicker than a punk-icon selling butter.
Businesses need to focus less on these ‘quick-win’ solutions of quickly identifying ‘influencers’ that can spread your message about reasonable room rates and ocean views based on a Klout score, and get down to some real work in winning your true social recommendation.
Hotels should focus on using social customer data to better hone and improve their services and quality for all customers. If I stay at your hotel, I am expecting to be treated as an equal to everyone else who is staying there, and if someone else’s opinion on the hotel experience counts, then so does mine. Any hotel that is prioritising someone because a company like Klout tells them they should, is seriously misguided.
Yes people are using social media to talk about your hotel – so listen to them. There is so much data that is waiting to be monitored and analysed. This should be used to learn how you can improve what you offer your customers, and build your offering around them. Learn what their experiences are, what their issues are, and use this to go above and beyond for ALL your customers, and then maybe you’ll see an ROI in the longer term from genuine social recommendations.
In the meantime, if a business wants to reward their customers, how about basing those rewards on what has been a standard for businesses throughout the ages – loyalty. I’d argue Foursquare is more relevant in this Hotel instance: A hotel looks at Foursquare and sees that you are sentenced to a stay in their single rooms at least once a fortnight on lonely business trips; that’s repeat business, that’s loyalty, so why not reward that? Rather than pander to a selection of people that Klout tell you to.
With this Klout model, businesses are rewarding people for nothing; for gaming a website, for sharing a bunch of hollow tweets and ‘sticky’ URLs at times pre-scheduled for ‘maximum engagement’, for engaging with a couple of ‘celebrities’ now and then, and for cynically and purposefully manipulating a flawed and wholly secretive system in order to ascend a pseudo pecking order of social media stratification.
Social CRM is putting your customers and the insight around them afforded by social media at the centre of your business, the idea of Klout goes against this practice at a fundamental level. Social CRM should be treated like a democracy – if the person is a customer, or a potential customer, their opinion matters, regardless of their Klout. The great thing about social media monitoring is that you can go direct to the source for real time insight and sentiment; you don’t need a third party filtering it and telling you who to listen to.
Listen to your customers, not to Klout.