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In 2010, a Deloitte study showed a whopping 82 percent of consumers say their purchasing decisions are “directly influenced” by peer reviews. In an era when marketers are forced to question the cost and value of celebrity endorsements, that’s a powerful number. Celebs ranging from Dan Marino (NutriSystem) and Tiger Woods (American Express, Gatorade, Nike, and more) to Jennifer Hudson (Weight Watchers) and Catherine Zeta-Jones (T-Mobile) have boosted brands with their star power. Yet, more and more, consumers are turning to less-famous faces for facts about brands and their products. The same Deloitte study showed that not only do consumers believe what they read online, they’re eager to share their opinions; 69 percent of those who read reviews share them online with family, friends or colleagues. Enter Klout, a social media analytics company that measures a consumer’s online influence based on data hulled from Facebook, Twitter and the likes. In less than three years, Klout has established more than 100 million profiles. Earlier this month, it announced it serves roughly 1 billion API calls — or third-party data requests — per day, 80 times the amount served in the same period in 2011. While there’s no doubt that celebrities — especially certain celebrities — can influence consumers, for marketers, Klout is a not-so-subtle reminder that the everyman carries, well, plenty of clout. By tracking data like how often one’s links are liked and shared or one’s tweets retweeted, Klout assigns scores ranging from 0 to 100 in terms of Internet influence. Companies like Red Bull have taken notice and are making use of the site’s version of brand pages, called Brand Squads, through which brands can offer influential Klout users perks, or gifts. Influencers who receive perks create an average of 30 pieces of content for said brand. Incidentally, only one person can boast a perfect Klout score of 100: Justin Bieber.
Maybe I’m just blogging out loud, but it seems like — Bieber aside — celebrity endorsements aren’t what they used to be. In the Age of Klout, marketers can — and should — identify who can help build their brands best.
Which prompts the question: In your mind, do celebrity endorsements still carry weight? Would you abandon them altogether for this new alternative?
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Note: Blogging Out Loud will return on Tuesday, June 5, 2012. Happy Memorial Day.