Sixties television drama The Prisoner, is regarded by most as cult viewing. While loosly billed as a piece of spy fiction, the series covered issues such as personal identity and freedom, democracy, education, scientific progress, art and technology.
For those who don’t know, the storyline sees the main protagonist abducted and taken to what looks like an idyllic village, but is really a bizarre prison. Throughout he is referred to as ‘Number 6’ and struggles ceaselessly to assert his individuality while plotting to escape.
I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.
“I am not a number, I am a free man” was the mantra chanted in each episode and has been used since to represent the struggle some people face for distinction (and not just those residing at Her Majesty’s pleasure). Whether it is your credit rating or driver’s license, everyone will at some point have been filed, stamped and indexed, and nowhere is this more prevalent than online, especially within the social media sphere.
I’m specifically referring here to the emerging group of startups that aim to measure your online ‘influence’: a statistical take on how many people you reach through social media, how much they trust you, and on what topics. Klout has long been regarded as the biggest player in this field, and following a recent investment from Microsoft, is set to go mainstream when Klout scores start to appear in Bing search results. Internet pundits have likened this to Google’s Pagerank, but for people, as you can imagine it has come in for some heavy criticism.
Some have regarded this measure of ‘social worth’ (or Klout score) as irrelevant and preying on user’s ‘social anxiety’. Others have valued it highly, even using it as a barometer for job candidates (the story of Sam Fiorella is well documented) and for businesses, the possibilities are quite vast with perks offered to those achieving high scores. This isn’t simply a reward scheme used to justify Klout’s business model, but more importantly, major companies have realised the importance of high social influencers and the effect they can have on their brands.
In an interview with Wired Magazine, Matt Thomson (Klout’s VP of platform) predicted people with formidable Klout will board planes earlier, get free access to VIP airport lounges, stay in better hotel rooms, and receive big discounts from retail stores and flash-sale outlets. All in the hope that they tweet about it of course.
Measuring this social engagement is the next step for big brands and this week Klout launched a dedicated service giving businesses ‘analytics with pointed insights into how and where influencers are engaging with their brands in social media’. In other words, are your brand advocates working hard enough for you? Which topics are they most influential on and will they drive consideration for your brand?
Given Justin Beiber’s Klout score (last year it was a perfect 100; a little less now), you can imagine how valuable such a social influencer would be to major brands. However, consider for a moment the Twitter account of Big Ben in London: It tweets a ‘bong’ for every hour of the day, on the hour but manages to achieve a Klout score of 78. Not bad for an automated account but I suspect it won’t be getting an upgrade to first class any time soon.
- Digital Marketing.