Two months after it acquired social sharing influence measurement company Klout for an undisclosed amount, Lithium CEO Rob Tarkoff last week announced in San Francisco that the company will soon release Klout for Products.
In the same way that Klout analyses billions of data points about people to understand their influence online, it will soon apply this same approach to consumer products – everything from televisions to cars to cosmetics.
“Researching a product can take time. Klout for Products will simplify that process by offering you the definitive measure of people’s opinion of each product. We’re excited about this new feature because it’s yet another way for the most passionate consumers to influence the world,” a statement released at the time online said.
A demonstration of a working prototype of Klout for Products featured Sony products so there’s a good chance the global electronics retailer will the first to market with new product.
Speaking exclusively to B&T, Tarkoff said: “A lot of people are really interested but they don’t yet know what it’s going to mean for choices and driving behaviours. But, I think, if anything, it’s going to drive more purchase for people who would otherwise not be convinced.
“You have that pool of people who are going to buy something, because they’re super fans of Sony. Then you have these people who just want the trusted opinion of someone who’s actually a recognised expert on the product.”
Tarkoff told B&T that Sony has said it often loses out because in a market of people without strong brand affinity they’re looking for the best content and opinions regardless of the brand.
“It’s being able to assign some level of credibility to that conversation by assigning it a score, and that’ll put more pressure on us to be more transparent with what the algorithm is and how the scores are calculated, but we’re fine with that,” he said.
“We’ve already open-sourced parts of it, shown people what it is that we do, ‘cause they can’t get recreated unless you have the scale.”
Tarkoff said companies were starting to realise that they can really generate value from online communities as a serious media outlet, but that there was a real need for companies to understand the science behind what they’re doing.
“Social sharing as a science and how you measure those things is very much in the way that we think of creating customer engagement through a shared value platform as a science. It’s not something to experiment with. We can actually tell you based on 400 examples of large customers who’ve done that…
“Part or the reason we bought Klout is because we don’t believe that you can slap up any forum or community or platform and claim that you know how to do this, it’s sort of like saying I can build database tables and run a Salesforce automation system; you can’t! There is a methodology that goes behind it.”
Getting a science behind sharing, is what Klout has done really well argues Tarkoff, despite the platform coming in for some heavy criticism when it launched with question hanging over the veracity of its algorithm. Tarkoff says Klout has come a long way in its short history. It has now profiled 600 million people.