As a community manager, I'm constantly fascinated with social influence. So, when Klout introduced itself as the standard for that very thing, I took notice. You may already know from a previous article that I was less than impressed. As it stands today, Klout thinks I'm influential about a number of things, including bacon. My score has been hovering for months at a measly 51, despite the fact that my Facebook and Twitter audiences are bigger, and more engaged than ever before. Needless to say, I am just as unconvinced that Klout can determine how powerful my social voice is, and I'm not alone.

But, there's still hope for this fledgeling network, and it lies with brands. 

A few weeks ago, Klout announced that they were unrolling brand pages, starting with Red Bull. By turning a brand into a topic, Klout is expanding brand promotions into engaging, trackable metrics for the social crowd.

Here's how it works, in the case of Red Bull:

  1. I'm a consumer who loves Red Bull. I drink it almost daily. I love what the brand represents, and I'm plugged in, so I take my sentiments to Facebook and Twitter regularly.
  2. I discover that my favorite brand, Red Bull, is on Klout, meaning I can get credit for all of the conversations I'm starting about them. 
  3. The more I talk about them, the more +K points I get, and the more influential about them I become. 
  4. I become a featured influencer, and can unlock exclusive perks like Red Bull merchandise. 
  5. Replace Red Bull with your brand, rinse, and repeat.

So what if your Klout score isn't the best, and you have a few outliers in your topics? You, as a consumer, now have a reason to engage with a service that's previously only been reserved for the social media obsessed, and highly competitive. You have a reason to grow your social presence, and to start conversations that justify other users giving you +K about topics - in this case, about brands. 

By now, we all know that audiences love exclusive content. That's why we as brand marketers pull tricks like requiring a Facebook Like to access a tab. We as amateur psychologists also know that people like recognition and reinforcement. So, coupling exclusivivity with positive reinforcement, and the fame and glory associated with being a social media standout, means tons of free publicity.

Many people forget that social media needs to be social, and Klout will help brands succeed here by reminding them that it's the conversations that count in the space. In turn, brands will find opportunities for their fans with Klout, and it will slowly shift into a service that truly can live up to its claim: the standard for influence.