Friday, 14 December 2012

How Wahooly — and Klout — are going to turn your Klout score into cash, gadgets, and gifts

So you’ve got a big fat Klout score from all that tweeting, sharing, checking-in, and social content creation. Now, it could be worth more than just bragging rights, ego enhancement, and the odd perk on an online service.

In fact, soon you’ll be able to get gadgets such as iPhones or flat-screen TV, or perhaps free access to premium online services.

Wahooly, the service that connects startups and influencers, is announcing an expanded partnership with Klout next week that will connect influencers to later-stage startups … and create an online marketplace of rewards for promoting and helping those startups.

The company originally launched in May of this year with seed funding of $750,000 to help fresh young startups get traction. At that time, Wahooly focused on very early-stage companies, and rewards were focused on virtual stock, or “points,” which could only be redeemed if and when a startup was sold or acquired.

But next week the company is turning the dial to 11.

Now Wahooly will connect high-influence people who have a Klout score of 60 or higher with later later-stage startups –  companies that already have traction — and add a rocket booster to their growth. In addition, the company is creating a rewards marketplace that will give influencers choices about how — and when — they want to be rewarded.

medium_7846521020“The whole goal of the program is to demonstrate over the course of 90 days what people with high influence can do,” Wahooly chief executive Dan Severson told me this past week. “We want to take a company that has already built traction and see where we can take them. It’s like a mini accelerator program online.”

Influencers will get points, just as they did initially, but now those points are not just redeemable for cash when a Wahooly-aided company goes public or gets acquired.

“People want liquidity,” Severson said. “They want to be able to sell their points, or redeem them in a reward shop, or spend points on a reward that the startup wants to offer you.”

That could be a tangible reward like a gadget or smartphone, or it could be a premium account on an online service. Which means you don’t have to wait for a “liquidity event” to happen in order to recoup the rewards of helping a young company. If you’ve helped them gain traction, you can theoretically get something back right away.

Inc. Magazine is also in on the partnership, and will be giving high Klout scorers a free 12-month subscription to the magazine. Three later-stage startups are currently in the running for launch, but the first partner has not yet been finalized.

It’s an interesting tweak to the original idea, and one that requires less delayed gratification on the part of influencers — and a greater likelihood of actually getting something for their efforts, since most startups fail. It does, however, increase the likelihood of gaming the system: people developing high Klout score simply for the purpose of participating in the change to get or win something.

I asked Severson why Klout is participating in this expanded program:

“Klout wants to prove that people with high influence scores can create impact,” he answered. “Klout gets validation, and the result is also a public case study for Wahooly.”

photo credit: kk+ via photopin cc, Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

Anne Heche Lavinia Milosovici

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