Absentmindedly (sorry, obsessively) checking my Klout score this morning, I stumbled upon a perk — a shiny ad for some kind of new Starbucks drink offered to the uber-influencers of the influence-counting service. A perk! I love perks.
Klout perks have been around for a couple years, and they're no joke, even if you think the service is: upgrades to a first class lounge at SFO, VIP access at a Hollywood nightclub, deeper discounts on Gilt and more. One guy, as of May, had collected 63 perks, including a phone and an invitation to a VH1 awards show. In June, Klout bragged it has delivered 700,000 perks across 350 campaigns.
Unfortunately, as soon as I clicked on the Starbucks perk for my free drink, my heart sank.
It seems that my Klout score of 59 was just not high enough to meet their bar of influence, a Klout score of 60. I am not influential enough to be worthy of a Starbucks Refresher. Surely, there were things I could qualify for, though? I mean, I'm not INVISIBLE. I have INFLUENCE. I'm not the most powerful person in the Kloutworld (scores go up to 100) but I'm certainly average or better. Can't I at least pick up a pass to a Bud Lime party?
NOPE. To be fair, it seems that the party already happened, and it happened in Chicago and Washington, DC. I am in San Francisco.
Increasingly desperate to prove my Klout self-worth and validate my Kloutsistence with perks, though, I kept clicking around various categories — "Experiences," "Retail," "Sports" — hunting for a perk I could claim. Of the ten current perks, I am only eligible for three. The shame!
And even when I tried to claim my measly three perks, there were problems. After unsuccessfully attempting to get new business cards and a photo album, I clicked on the Red Bull magazine, supposedly open to anyone with a Klout score over 1. Still, no dice.
No Band-Aids for me, either.
Also, the bulk of the perks were all used up.
So what am I missing? Many of the comments were positive, even for the most mundane things, like the Red Bull magazine.“This is the perfect type of digital magazine! Just an awesome design," said one recipient. So, a lot, maybe.
But not everything was as promised. An eSalon hair coloring perk got particularly bad reviews —"Well, this isn't a perk because you can get your first color at eSalon FREE and just pay the $5 shipping...it's actually more. It's one thing for a Perk to be a discount, but for it to be MORE expensive, I'm actually offended,” groused one commenter.
On the higher end, there were more troubling issues. The priciest perk that I saw were tickets valued at around $2,500 to some kind of London event — you needed to have a God-like Klout score of 70 to qualify for them. (Does God even have a Klout score that high?) At least one man who qualified claims he didn't receive his perk at all.
Overall, my personal Klout envy aside, the perk program seems pretty disappointing. Most of the prizes were beyond boring (Band-Aids for Canadians?) and unevenly doled out. If you had actual clout — i.e., you command real attention and influence — you probably wouldn't need Klout to tell you about a Bud Lime summer party. You'd be the person throwing it.