Facebook is throwing up a red velvet rope around a new VIP page. And today Audi and online influence indexer Klout are creating tools to help the web's savviest users jump it.
Klout VP of Platform Development Matt Thomson tells Fast Company the new exclusive page is about finding influencers, movers, and shakers in their niche markets. Brands will be able to give favored treatment to visitors through both a free and paid app created by social media front-end developer Involver.
Simply put, having the VIP Facebook page flips on its ear the scattershot approach to finding people who influence other people to like a brand. The VIP page sets up a filter for users, then, once they're inside, the page allows brands to analyze natural language and overall activity with influential users' posts on selected topics to find not only the well-known Guy Kawasakis and Gary Vaynerchuks but also "the person who is in the middle of Ohio who influences friends on car buying," says Thomson.
Though companies may have have millions of fans, the tools haven't existed "to understand who is important to interact with and what topics to interact with them on," says Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, SVP of Marketing at Involver.
For now, pioneer program partner Audi is offering some eye candy wallpaper. But, in the past, for high Klout scorers, Audi has given away free test drives with the 2011 A8. The potential to lavish the socially savvy with prizes and have them post pictures of their newfound enthusiasm for the brand are endless: Weekend trips, tech give aways, and free concert tickets are likely on the horizon.
Prior to Klout and Involver's work, Ford pioneered VIP social media marketing, outfitting influential bloggers with their own cars during elaborate scavenger hunts, which eventually led to increased market awareness of their new cars. Now, with Klout, less deep-pocketed brands can bring the same experience to their own niche influencers.
Klout says they've been approached by political players, but so far are yet ready to withstand the rancor of online politics. With 2012 giving a front row seat to social media, it's likely that key influencers would be given special seats at a rally, a spot on the press bus, or even a coveted spot at a personal dinner.
The creeping influence of money on the Facebook experience could have serious psychological impacts on how users begin to see what was once simple recreation. Facebook and Twitter have allowed few initiatives to permeate the wall between money and fun, but their data gives brands increasingly clever ways to exploit the precise monetary value of each user.
Also, such measures may inadvertently trip the FCC's guidelines on blogger disclosure of paid endorsements.
Klout is just the beginning of how loyalty, unbiased social influence, smart business, recreation, and equality duke it out on the new digital turf.
[Image: Flickr user irina slutsky]