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The New VIPs

By Julius Solaris
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I forecast in late 2010 that 2011 was going to be all about New VIPs. It has happened.
This post is by for Event Manager Blog (Info).

It all started here. If you flick to slide 3, I was trying to tell you that the way you established the influence and authority of your guests was about to change.

I'll give you some examples of how it changed and some tools to understand the online influence of your guests.

The Traditional VIP

The traditional VIP is a Very Important Person. Nobody knows why. She just is.

She may be rich, powerful or good looking. Nonetheless we identified the VIP as an influential person.

As event lovers we treated VIPs with special care. We reserved special places for them, we made them skip the line, they never paid a ticket, they got champagne while everyone else was given Diet Coke.

All of the above was based on the concept that these guys were important. Again, on the basis of what nobody knows - possibly perception, guesstimates, smart thinking.

The New VIP

In the past 6 years things changed a little. Facebook, Twitter and Blogs re-wrote the rules of the game. Brands as well as event planners realized that in order for them to sell more products or tickets, online influence was the new metric.

The difference is that online influence can be measured. Or at least we can give it a more tangible try.

Enter the New VIPs...

How to Measure Influence

There are few tools available to discover the online influence of our guests and who we should really treat as VIP.

Klout is becoming the standard for online influence measurement. Klout looks at many social networking handles to give you a balanced score of an individual's influence. By memory Klout was one of the first to venture into measuring online influence.

At the time when they started, Twitter followers were in fact the standard. With Twitter follower bots though, lots of Twitter users gained thousands of followers overnight. Some of them got busted and a new metric was needed. Klout helps a lot in identifying these scammers.

A practical example. Look at someone's Twitter profile.

If:

- you never heard of them
- they have 25,500 followers
- they follow 26,000 people

Then, go to Klout and check their score. They will probably have around 25. Which is considerably lower than what they should have with their followers numbers. Busted!

PeerIndex is very similar to Klout and worth checking as well. I sometimes find it to be more accurate than its competitor. It is always good to check both.

How do I know if my Guests are Influential?

Most of the times the only piece of information you'll have about your guests is an email. It is always a good practice to ask for social networks profiles upon registration, that usually eases the work. But if you don't have that information, how do you find out the Twitter or Foursquare handle of your guests, indispensable to know their klout score? Easy.

In my slide I mentioned Rapleaf and Flowtown. Well, these guys don't do that anymore after being under massive pressure for data sharing policies.

The good news is that you can use two alternatives, Qwerly and FlipTop (hat tip to Dough Camplejhon, their CEO, for letting me know on Twitter). The main difference between the two is that Qwerly offers an API while Fliptop provides a dashboard. The process is essentially the same.

Dump your email database into the services and they will fetch the web for social networking profiles associated to that email. Cool!

You know your Influencers, what now?

Treat them as you would treat VIPs. Surprise them. Want an example?

The Next Web reports on how Bal Harbour Shops, a Luxury Fashion Website, during an event called Fashion's Night Out reserved a VIP area only to those with Klout of 40 and above, the Klout Lounge.

This could have possibly resulted in having a bunch of geeks ruling the scene, but that is what is all about. Traditional standards are not relevant anymore. Specially aesthetics.

Hospitality and Travel Industry peeps are really embracing this concept. If your Klout is high, it is highly likely that a Tweet can earn you a dinner or that an Airline gives you an iTunes voucher.

Bigger brands are not being spectators either. Here is how some are using Klout coupons on Facebook to attract influential customers and how you can do it yourself.

What's Ahead?

Nobody knows my dear event lover. What I can tell you though is to be extremely careful in treating your guests based on their appearance or traditional standards of influence. There is a new breed of VIPs and you need to know who they are.

In the meanwhile, since I am gearing up for my next party, remember to give me a +K on Klout for Social Media 😉

about the author

Julius Solaris
Julius Solaris is the editor of EventManagerBlog.com, he is an international speaker, author and consultant.
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