Future brand endorsements belong to Social Media rock stars. Forget athletes and pop stars. Websites like Klout are breeding a whole new type of celebrity – Influencers. When Influencers tweet, people pay attention. Brands are already finding ways to tap into this advertising goldmine by capitalizing on their follower cache. This monumental shift is changing the world of Marketing and determining who is worth a company’s advertising dollars. Celebrities will slowly be edged out by those who are leading the Social Media movement.
Klout looks at your Social Media profiles and scores you based on both the number and quality of the people you associate with online. A high score reflects two things: 1) You are interesting enough that people not only care about what you say but they spread the word when you speak and 2) your following is vast and desirable enough that your message can influence. Major brands are quickly taking notice of Influencers and moving endorsement dollars in their direction.
Imagine planning a trip to Vegas. The hotel concierge notices that you’re a Social Media pro and upgrades your room. Throughout your trip, you tweet about living it up like a Vegas god and post pictures of yourself in the Hugh Hefner Suite on Facebook. Your hotel just earned advertising that comes across as both genuine and convincing. Not a bad trade considering what the cost of a billboard on the Vegas strip goes for. It’s not as far-fetched as you think considering The Palms Hotel has been reviewing guests’ Klout scores and handing out upgrades and free Cirque du Soleil tickets for almost a year now.
Unlike a Vegas billboard, Klout allows companies to evaluate specific Influencers, analyze their following and direct their message to a very targeted group. Why would Coors Light want to give an incentive to just anyone with a high score when they can instead target the top 10 Influencers on Beer (Yeah. That’s a real category). Whether they’re offering to let you test drive a new Audi or handing out a free Frappuccino, the bottom line is that they want you talking about their brand and they will give you a reason to give a glowing review.
The Influencer’s emergence in brand marketing is still in its infancy, but you don’t have to look too far back to see history repeating itself. Almost any American Vogue cover through the 90s featured the likes of Cindy, Naomi, Kate and Giselle. Fashion covers were reserved for supermodels. But when editors took notice that readers were more interested in what their favorite actresses had to say, they were quick to make a change. The most recent Vogue coves to date showcase singer Rihanna and actresses Reese Witherspoon, Penelope Cruz, and Emma Watson. Not a supermodel in sight. The shift reflected a fundamental change what type of celebrities had influence.
Social Media has created an entirely new type of celebrity and their endorsement is a lot cheaper than that of Tiger Woods (pre scandal) or some Hollywood starlet. Of course, today they might be getting a free hotel upgrade and tomorrow they might be signing an official ad deal with a six figure paycheck. Either way, there’s no denying that life as Social Media superstar certainly comes with its benefits.