Using Klout and social scoring for sales and marketing teams

One of the things I have been interested in is examining practical applications of Klout and social scoring to an internal enterprise.

If you are unclear about social scoring systems and what they attempt to measure, it might be useful to start with this blog post about Why Klout Matters.  Like a credit score, let’s assume that companies like Klout, Kred and Appinions are beginning to measure something that correlates to an individual’s social media effectiveness.

I had an opporunity to test some of these ideas last week when I conducted a social influence workshop with a global services company in the UK.

I began with an overview of the basics behind these systems and what we can really learn from them.

Then, thanks to Andrew Grill, president of Kred, we were able to construct an internal dashboard that approximated the relative social media effectiveness of many company employees. It was nothing short af a revelation to these top executives. Here are a couple of observations:

Who is the real company spokesperson?

One of the executives said, “I don’t know any of these people on this list! You mean they are representing our company?”

Indeed.  I told him the story about how one of his IT employees — the person with the second-highest Kred score in the company — connected with me through this blog and on Twitter, and over a period of two years we had become friends. When he found out I was coming to London, he offered to introduce me to the company’s marketing team. That led to organizing the workshop.

“You see,” I said, “to me, this web developer IS the face of your company. The only reason I am here today is because he is representing you so effectively on the social web.”

This was a profound lesson for the executives. They were discovering their most effective representatives on the social web — and it was quite eye-opening.  Now they are wondering about: How do we thank them, learn from them, and find ways we can work more closely together? How do we transfer their expertise to other parts of the organization?

Where is marketing?

It was illustrative that 80% of the top influencers where in no way associated with PR, sales, service, or marketing. This was an equally shocking revelation. Shouldn’t these departments be highly visible on the social web, especially in a technology and services-oriented company?

This company prided itself in being on the forefront of technology and best management practices but this simple ranking made them realize they were missing an enormous opportunity to discover gaps with their customer-facing strategies.  This led to a lively discussion about further training and how some of the key ideas from Return On Influence could be incorporated into basic sales best practices.

Influencer Outreach

The exercise also started them thinking about using these scores to discover unknown or under-utilized resources at prospect companies, possible partner companies or even as a way to find high-potential new employees. How could they find like-minded and passionate individuals who have a natural interest in their ideas and technologies?  They had already observed how it could be used to find a resource like me. The possibilities seemed vast.

It was exciting for me to see some of the core ideas of Return On Influence come alive in this corporate setting and I wanted to pass along some of the experiences to you.  Can you see how some of these simple lists can help you and your sales efforts?

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  • Mark, great anecdotes, thanks for sharing. What really struck me was this: 

    Less than 80% of the top influencers were in PR, sales, service or marketing. 

    As marketers, we are surprised by this, but I would argue we shouldn’t be. Social media is used by people first. Frankly, if it were primarily about business, there wouldn’t be much left of social media. 

    So why are we surprised that individuals from across our organizations are gaining influence in social media? If they were not, then social media would be just a marketing medium, not a platform for individual communication and collaboration.

    Great insights, this is data that would be very interesting to see from multiple companies!

  • Congratulations for the post, Mark. Some points make me think more about companies. Sometimes we live in a digital marketing bubble and when you said 80% of the top influencers where in no way associated with PR, that made me reflect about companies and Digital Marketing strategies. Thank you for sharing.

  • I think this exercise helped them realize how broad and important social media can be. I had connected to this company through the best online salesperson they have — their IT guy, who until that point was completely unrecognized for his effort.  It’s good for him to get this recognition too! 

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  • A great way to show executives what social Media is about. I assume it is not that easy to perform such an analysis as you described, but my guess is, that the results in many other companies would be quite similar.
    Kind regards from Germany

  • Citizen tnfluence, collaboration, and recognition are the cornerstone concepts of the new normal “for sales and marketing…”

    What a coup for all of us to consider, embrace, and implement!

    Thank you Mark for continuing to shine a light on the core ideas from your book ‘Return of Influence’ 

  • Mark, what a really interesting perspective on the impact the social domain will have (is having) on so many areas! The impact of this revelation will be so far reaching as companies (and regulators) begin to realize that “they” are no longer in “control”.  But, as evidenced by some recent online discussions over the weekend, all goverments in the free world are now (following suit with others we used to think were deplorable nations) trying to pass legislation to determine and retain all that is being said online about anything, everyone and everything.

    Companies now must understand that the potential “influence” of Joe/Jane in the mailroom (if there’ll still be a mailroom) could have a profound impact on their business from a commercial and regulatory perspective.  Getting their arms around this new world of tranparency is going to be both uncomfortable and challenging.

    But, like always happens in society at large, all of this will shake out for the betterment of everyone.

  • Thanks for you comment Abel. Glad it helped! 

  • Actually it is quite easy. You can do it yourself in just a few minutes if you already know the names you’re looking for.  Woulod be more difficult in a large company of course.

  • It really is interesting to see this stuff come alive!

  • Keen points Steve. Thanks for adding to the debate! 

  • This is rather interesting, Mark, especially the first paragraph about the IT guy. Fortunately, you were able to conduct the workshop and make the executives aware of the gap; but how many other businesses still have no clue that the gap exists? At the end of the day, you want to build relationships with those who have a higher level of influence. Even if your network is relatively small (like mine), you can still move eyeballs if you have the right people on your side.

  • That’s what struck me as well, Eric. Very intriguing… Perhaps it’s because they don’t have the old school PR & Marketing methodologies ingrained in them!

  • Yes Indeed Mark!  See my comment as my review of your book on Amazon  

    {disclosure: associate collaborative partner}

  • Mark, this post is phenomenal! It should be required reading for corporate or nonprofit executives. I think most would be very surprised to learn who really is the face of their company on the social web — which is really just another way of saying who is likely to come into contact with customers and potential customers. And that helps drive sales. It’s a lucrative channel that corporate leaders need to be aware of and tap into. I wonder what will happen to those marketing and communications managers who are not paying attention to their own social influence. (Just last week, I met one who hadn’t Tweeted for seven months, still used Twitter’s egg for her bio profile and wasn’t on Klout — probably didn’t know about it.) Titles, such as marketing/communications manager, don’t matter. Influence and awareness do. Your book Return On Influence explores that concept so convincingly.  

  • Well said Tony. An interesting case study that could probably open a lot of eyes! 

  • An irony was that the marketing communications manager (the person with the title) wasn’t present on the Kred list at all. Very illustrative I think! we need a larger organizational view. Thanks for your comment! 

  • What a great use case for these tools.  Invaluable information, and I also love the fact that this example truly leverages what the tools *can* do — measure online activity on social media — to show who is representing your company on social media sites.  Thanks for sharing this!

  • As always, a fascinating insight, Mark, and a keen perspective on the potential broader impact of social media on any company’s marketing strategies – with or without the awareness of the marketing department !

    I think it is also important that companies beware of the limutations, at least for now, of the measuring tools.  You referred yourself to the fact that “companies like Klout, Kred and Appinions are beginning to measure..”

    I have a Klout presence as the client for which I principally work.  The only Facebook page I can connect with that is my personal page – the client’s brand page is there but cannot be measured by Klout currently.  I had my birthday earlier this month and I am currently in a different part of the world to my wife and 1 year old son, so my personal Facebook profile is getting some more use than usual.  I was amused to see that, the day after my birthday, my Klout score went up noticeably – presumably a reflection of the “Happy Birthday” posts on my wall and my responses to them.  My reply here, my presence on Pinterest and so much more will go unmeasured by Klout.

    So, yes, the points you make are very valid and the post overall extremely helpful, as usual.  But the measuring is in its early stages and it is unfortunate when a company places over reliance on these scores at the risk of abandoning other tried and tested ways – particularly when it comes to the recruitment and development of employees.  It is one more tool, to be used with understanding of what can be measured and what cannot.

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  • I think it is time to start putting aside the argument that these numbers are meaningless. Clearly, many companies are using the information creatively to achieve new value. Thanks Tonia! 

  • Make no mistake, we are in the silent movie stages of this technology. But stay tuned!  Interesting days ahead. Thanks Matthew! 

  • Yes indeed Mark!  See my review on Amazon {Disclaimer: Amazon collaborative associate partner}

  • Anonymous

    Mark, this was excellent to read! Very astounding, but I’m not surprised one bit. As a recent college grad, I am applying for social/emerging media jobs because of my understanding of the process; and highly active on over 20 social platforms. I don’t have your influence, but more than most in those positions. Now when I did research in these positions, the people currently holding these positions were hardly using sm themselves, which makes me think how the hell did they get THAT job. Companies aren’t searching for influential people for those jobs, the ones who need to be influential online, but are hiring the wrong type. I get frustrated to see companies do this because they are thinking so one-dimensional and are focused too much on the old principles. And sadly, only a handful of people in most companies are probably the only ones who even know what Klout or Kred even is, and they are probably not executives either. I live in WI and everything is VERY traditional here so again, I’m not surprised by that stat. As always, your content rocks and so do you Mark! Keep it up!

  • Anonymous

    Great showcase that social media works. I already overcame the pain of accepting that I have become a number and I am excited to watch more upcoming interesting debates about social scoring;-)


  • Mark, terrific post. What’s really interesting is how strategically valuable social measure tools are becoming. And the many ways they can be applied. 

  • Mark–great post. I love to read stories about how the “little people” can be influential. It seems to me that corporations need to realize that they are all made up of people. That these people are important. In my organization we still have folks in the mailroom. And know what? If you want to know any thing really important you can find out by being good friends with the folks who handle everyone’s mail. They hear things. Now, how many executives have paid any attention to these folks, or have admonished them to keep the organization’s secrets secret? None, because they don’t exist. They are invisible, they are unimportant. I have no idea how many of them are active on twitter or facebook, but it would probably behoove us to find out. 

    I am going to forward this post to my “strategic development” department, and my CEO. The lessons you teach us here, are pertinent to all industries and organizations. 

    (and looking forward so much to seeing you and everyone at Social Slam)

  • Thanks for your very interesting insights Cedar. If you like, please send me your resume  and I’ll see if there is any connection I can find for you in your job-hunting. Good luck!

  • Ha!  So you’ve become part of the machine? Resistance is futile : ) Many thanks friend! 

  • Thanks very much for taking your valuable time to comment Jeff.

  • Love this perspective Alice.  We are in the Era of the Citizen Influencer!  Look forward to seeing you soon! 

  • That is just a great use of the tools that has been debated harshly. I haven’t found much of application till day but your story really forces me to look into a diff direction. It’s a wake up call for companies to find out what people are talking, what employees are talking and rewarding such great guys. Thanks Mark for sharing this story 🙂

  • Excellent article and a great example of the reality out there in the wild, wild west (and east) social landscape 😉 

    I think what you saw is representative of the majority of businesses, sadly. I think so few really know who is representing their brand. I am also seeing even the ones that do know “who” is representing their company online not really have a care about what they are saying. 

    We do a lot of social media / business analysis for clients where we look at their existing social media efforts, how they line up with their business objectives, how their audience is responding to them etc. 
    In majority of cases we find that there are few companies who have social aligned to real business goals, prioties for audiences who they engage with and the worst part is they usually have no clue what the assigned social intern or new college grad is tweeting about. Yet they wonder why they aren’t seeing a return. 

    I agree with you and believe the entire social landscape is still in it’s infancy stages. One day we are going to look back on these days and laugh out loud similar to the way we do regarding the first mobile phones the size of a phone book! I think much of these issues come from the pressure to “get social”, jump on Facebook. There has been too much focus on tools versus the art of social media and engagement as well as starting from the inside out, which is what we encourage our clients to do. Thanks as always for making me think. I love your work Mark! Pam 

  • Really great post Mark. This is the kind of story that underscores how much the landscape is changing b/c of social influence, and the rising importance of social ranking. No matter the issues of methodology and privacy that are discussed in the blogosphere, now that they are clued in, those busy executives are going to look for the quickest, easiest way to know who the influencers are in their organization, and it will be Klout, Kred etc.

    Looking forward to meeting you IRL in a few days!

  • Social media is affecting business operations in such a dramatic way.  Does anyone know if they are offering social media courses at college and Universities?  When I was still looking for classes last year, I didn’t notice any courses specifically focused on social media.

  • Yes. These types of classes are being widely offered. Rutgers, where I teach, offers a one-week immersive session that might interest you. There is a link on the right hand side of the blog.

  • Very interesting times, indeed!  See you soon.

  • Thanks very much for your kind words, Pam.  I think you bring up several great points, especially that many of these tools are in the “silent movie” stages. It takes some vision and patience to see clearly where this stuff can go and how new value can be created — even by the huge ol’ cell phones!  Love that analogy!  Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy day to comment!

  • A simple application, and I do believe it shows us SOMETHING. Now — what to do with it! Thanks Prasant!

  • Mark, great post.  Your readers might like to see the Kred leaderboard you are talking about we created for Capgemini at

    We’ve created about 25 of these for SXSW, Ogilvy, Pepsi and even a live TV show.

    Andrew Grill
    CEO, Kred

  • Great post Mark! Reminds me of Marcus Sheridan’s story/lesson from Social Slam. Marcus talked about the company he consults in Michigan and how everyone represents the company/organization. He argued it’s best to empower the employees in meaningful, helpful ways because they all have expertise and therefore play PR roles to a degree. The company he was working with (which was in attendance at Social Slam) went from having 1 person contribute their expertise to the company blog to over 40 people (with great results). Glad you are opening the eyes of executives and C-Suite folks world wide!

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  • My klout and Kred has led to very high profile jobs and high six figures so YES it matters!

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  • This is excellent thought leadership. I think software companies who have staff with deep expertise learned this lesson a long time ago. The ‘hero’ bloggers – think Christian Heilmann at Yahoo, or perhaps Scoble at Microsoft, can often garner bigger audiences than the company blog, which is all too often anodyne and lacking in the deep niche detail that really works for the social web.

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