What is Your Social Clout?

Cover art from America's 1998 album, Human Nature

Image via Wikipedia

I wonder what this will look like?

Most social media users aren’t necessarily thinking much past re-connecting with old high school chums, posting family pictures and brag-tags of exotic trips and locales visited…or like me, touching base with friends I don’t necessarily make time for on a regular basis. What most people aren’t consciously aware of is the intrinsic influence they might have or not have over their friends, colleagues and associations that follow, listen, respond, repost or retweet their neocortex profundities.

An article by David Teicher came out today that may excite, disturb or perhaps alarm you. Man may well be created equal with certain inalienable rights given to him by a creator (US Constitution), not all consumers are created equal and your social “Clout” may end up being a determining factor in what  “special treatment” you receive from ambitious company marketers that are positioning themselves to be a step ahead of you. Think I’m kidding? Go to the Palms Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and see if you are in the “Klout Klub”.

As a marketing professional, it is always good to analyze potential opportunity and discover intrinsic value and determine ways to harness that power. Integrity meet ambition…we see it, hear about it, and feel it…that greedy and selfish side of the human specie that always seems to find a way to take something good and abuse it. No one is immune from the temptations of greed and power, it is just represented in various forms; from Governments, Unions, Corporations or individually.

Will it pay-off?

Is this a step towards exploitation of the social influencing machine? And will “Clout” mean the same thing when we know clout power players will receive special privileges for being social influencers? In the world of politico’s, this is quite commonly referred to as a kick-back. I envisioned that walk of shame the airlines force coach passengers to make as we parade past the first class passengers who are already seated with champaign in hand.

What creates influence and will it weigh as much?

How does one become an opinion leader and can it be lost? Social media marketers understand there is a big difference between a “thought” or “opinion” leader and someone who is popular. When someone is given the royal treatment in the hopes of glowing recommendations, what will that do to credibility? Here is the thing, most of us will continue to trust within our social group even if our experience is nothing like what we heard. We are more willing to fore go these discrepancies with friends than with marketers directly. They may be on to something here!

What is most perplexing to me is that no matter what our ideology is- our inescapable human nature to take advantage of, exploit, manipulate for personal or corporate gain seems to always be a decision away…just the reasons might differ.

The other conundrum is…if things are engineered in such fashion, what will be the impact or perhaps implications to the movement towards “organic” and “authentic” customer interaction? If you knew that a company treated their customers unequally based on their clout, yet professes in brand messaging that every customer is important…will the message be confused, heard or believed?

Now I believe in the free market system and in rewarding those that truly make all of our lives easier from Microsoft street (a stone’s throw away from me) to the dry cleaner and teriyaki joint in the shopping center down the way. As complicated as what “gives” an influencer Clout (by the way, the company developing the Clout algorithm is named Klout), the consumer empowered world we live in is heading towards authentic social driven interaction with brands, this just seems counterproductive or perhaps counterintuitive. You be the judge.




  1. Sean C.

    Not only is it counterproductive, but thinking folks will catch on rather quickly. One cam make the argume t that there aren’t that many “thinking folks” left, bit such thinking is shortsighted.

    Additionally, you asked whether once an influencer is in a brand’s pocket, their influence will retain any meaning (or, by wxtension, will even continue to be influence). But my take on this is that influence isles than popularity. Few people would take marriageand parenting advice from Brittany Spears seriously. Influencers are generally (at least somewhat) intelligent speakers and usually good communicators. This type of personality is rarely “in someone’s pocket”. A company may pick up one of these exceptions, but if they don’t believe on the product, it will show, and the company ultimately loses.

    • Rudy Baca

      Sean! Thanks or your thoughts on the matter and I agree. My inclinations are usually to believe in the inherent good…but wondering about the long term effects as well. The dilemma I pose here is one of human nature and the part of the brain that makes decisions-which is different than the speech/ logic side which in todays online world is how people put thoughts into words which is ultimately effected by the other side of the brain. As an example, when I read the Klout power article from the Ad Age, my instant and internal reaction which moves much faster than the auditory side was to figure out how to expedite my own clout power…this is the human nature side I am suggesting gets in the way. I had to step back and process in order to make the pros & cons assessment. Hope that helps you understand where I am coming from better! cheers!

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