Some people might think that Klout’s latest incarnation finally gives the service a real purpose. But many Klout Perks recipients have been fans for years, receiving freebies like McDonald’s gift cards, bags of dog food and nail press-ons as part of an influencer reward system.


Klout’s latest Perk involves a partnership with Hulu, giving the online network a chance to distribute exclusive content to a group of influencers. It’s a way for Hulu to attract more subscribers and for Klout to make good on their pivot toward content distribution—and, depending on their taste in TV shows, viewers win.

The safe bet: sending samples

But it’s still worth asking just how effective Klout’s Perks are, at least from a brand perspective. Klout Perks mimic a very traditional (and proven) PR tactic: put a sample in a box, pay postage to ship it to an influencer, and hope that she tells everyone she knows about the product after using it. But the extent to which the influencer shares her new discovery varies from a single social mention to a full-blown blog post review. This tactic is flawed for a number of reasons.

First and most importantly, Klout facilitates conversations between the brands and influencers. The service streamlines the process and makes it easier for brands to segment and target. But it’s also lost the genuineness of the engagement in the process of scaling. And if the influencer doesn’t feel a connection to the brand, how memorable will the brand be in the influencer’s mind?

Second, there is no obligation—real or perceived—to reciprocate the kindness of the brand who provided the sample. Outside of a star-ranking system and optional comments, the influencer isn’t required to tweet, post or blog about the Perk, and there’s really no unobtrusive way for the brand to ask if they’d even consider it. As mentioned above, if there isn’t a relationship between the brand and the influencer at stake, what sense of obligation does she have to the brand?

The game changer: streaming content


Klout influencers were greeted by this message last month:

Congrats! You’ve got so much Klout that Hulu has chosen you to be among the first to watch the premiere episode of DEADBEAT.

Combining everything viewers love about Netflix (instant, streaming TV!) and Klout Perks (zomg free stuff, yay!), Hulu’s most recent award seems like a home run.

The Internet Age has taught humans not only that we’re capable of instant gratification, but that we deserve it. While it’s fun to get packages in the mail, it’s even more rewarding to stream exclusive content at will. And offering the privilege of pre-screening a Hulu original series truly is a perk of being a Klout member.

But more than that, it’s rewarding and exclusive enough that many recipients would be compelled to share with their audiences in hopes of augmenting their perceptions as influencers. In other words, Perks like these could make you look cool and makes others want what you have.

Streaming Klout Perks has the potential to create real social buzz and generate authentic interest in a digital release of any kind (music, books, movies—the possibilities seem endless) before it hits the mainstream public, and that’s a good thing. But there’s one caveat that cannot be stressed enough: for this model to work, your content has to be mind-blowing. “Good” content isn’t good enough anymore—to be shared, it has to be shareworthy.

Aside from these social media mentions below, most social chatter consists of the pre-written text: “I’m among the first to watch @Hulu’s DEADBEAT because I’ve got Klout! Be sure to check it out on 4/9 #KevinHelpUs.”


Close, but no cigar, Hulu.

Streaming Perks from Klout present opportunities for brands to reach new audiences with new content. And for Klout, it’s a way to justify its claim to be an influencer service. For influencers who enjoy free stuff, it’s already a win—but for brands that want to follow suit, they’ll have to tune in later for results.