To each according to his influence

Palms’ chief marketing officer, Jason Gastwirth, is currently building out “The Klout Klub,” which “will allow high-ranking influencers to experience Palms’ impressive set of amenities in hopes that these influencers will want to communicate their positive experience to their followers.” The Palms is already pulling in data from Klout and referring to it as part of their reservations process.

That quote is from this piece in AdAge which¬†has a lot of great comments and the main thread running through them is this “treating influencers differently creates an unrepresentative impression of your brand experience”.

I can see the ones-and-zeroes sense in taking note of influencers, using software to identify them makes a lot of sense but there are plenty of problems with this. Treating someone as a VIP because of the influence they wield means they will never be able to give an unbiased opinion of a service because they haven’t experienced it the same way a regular person is likely to.

The last thing a restaurant critic ever wants is to be recognised before the meal is served. If a critic’s readers found out that a review was compromised in that way they would lose respect.

A big part of this week’s Six Pixels of Separation podcast with Mitch Joel and Joseph Jaffe is on this topic and Mitch followed that up with a blog post explaining why he doesn’t want to use the influence or platform he has to get special treatment and by using tools like Klout, as Mitch implies, brands are asking for it. Read the comments to Mitch’s post too, some great stuff there.

It’s a thorny topic – preferential treatment based on celebrity and status, driven by a desire to please and to be praised can make a brand seem sycophantic but the alternative risks provoking the wrath of the influencer. Surely even thinking that way is the brand admitting ‘our regular level of service isn’t good enough to be remarkable and can randomly fall apart so badly as to make people angry’. Should brands aim to solve for the many or salve for the few?

Image credit: TimOve