If you’re wondering what Lithium Technologies is going to do with Klout, the social influence measurement startup that it acquired earlier this year, the company is giving its first real hints today at its LiNC user conference in San Francisco.
I spoke to Chief Product Officer Tapan Bhat in advance of today’s announcements. Lithium helps businesses build online communities for their customers, and it’s making a number of product announcements today. But there are two specifically that involve Klout.
First, Lithium will start supporting “pop-up communities,” where Klout influencers can earn rewards through the Klout Perks program for participating. Bhat said that this approach makes sense for one-off events — for example, if a company is trying to create buzz about the launch of a new product, it can invite relevant influencers to try the product out and post images and commentary. And this, in turn, could make Lithium more relevant to certain types of businesses that are more “campaign-oriented,” like consumer packaged goods and entertainment companies.
Second, Lithium says it will introduce Klout scores for products later this year. This was a bit tough for me to wrap my head around at first, because I wasn’t sure I believed that a product could be “influential” on social media. Bhat suggested that this will be less about influence and more about quality — sort of a review score aggregated from social media. He added that the vision is to turn the Klout score products into the definitive measure that determines how good a certain product is, one that reaches across the differences in opinion and scoring of different review sites. (I imagine this is one area where we’ll understand more once we actually see the product.)
These announcements might seem more about businesses than consumers, something Bhat attributed to the focus of the LiNC conference. He added, “We will be doing a lot in terms of the value proposition and evolution of the Klout consumer service later this year. Our definite idea for the direction we want to take it is broadening the appeal of the Klout service.”