Kings use Klout to influence influencers

The Sacramento Kings' inviting 25 local social-media influencers plus a guest to a home game isn't a wholly new idea.

Teams such as the Cleveland Indians and Golden State Warriors have made similar overtures this year to sports-centric bloggers and fans on social media with treatment and access similar to what accredited members of the news media receive.

But the way the Kings went about it was different for Saturday's game, a 105-103 loss to the Dallas Mavericks at Arco Arena.

Sacramento was the first pro franchise to utilize Klout, a San Francisco-based company that identifies influencers by topic and ranks them via reach and popularity on social-media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

Klout's client base includes big-name brands such as Nike, Audi and Disney.

And the team targeted more than just die-hard Kings fans.

Though being an influencer in sports was a plus, Klout CEO Joe Fernandez said the team also went after parents who brought a child as a guest to tap into the family demographic.

It's a strategy that sought to bring the Kings' game experience to a wider array of potential fans.

"We're always looking for ways to reach new fans, and this experience is a great way to get the word out about all the fun and amazing things about a Kings game at Arco Arena," said team vice president of marketing/communications Mitch Germann in a press release about the event.

Attendees of the event started off the night in a lounge at the arena, where food was provided and a social-media discussion featuring Fernandez and Kings forward Jason Thompson took place. Members of the Kings' dance team then facilitated a trivia game with prizes.

The group also got an opportunity to high-five players on the court before the game and were treated to box seats with concession coupons. Upon commencement of the game, a photo opportunity with Kings guard Tyreke Evans was available at center court.

While the invitees weren't required to share their experiences at the game, several did.

On Twitter, one mother shared a photo of her son on the floor waiting to high-five players. A father shared this thought: "Great time so far at the Kings game. Thanks @klout for the experience."

Another attendee blogged about his entire night's experience, calling it "incredible."

Fernandez said because of the exposure Klout got with the Kings, another NBA team has reached out to the company, as have the San Francisco Giants.

Like MLB's Indians, who struggled with attendance this season, the Kings are dealing with low numbers in the stands. The team currently ranks last in the NBA in average attendance at 13,212 per game.

While Saturday's event was successful in broadcasting the Kings' game experience to new eyeballs in the social streams, it's something that might need to be repeated to make a deeper impact.

"I think they saw this as an investment over time," Fernandez said. "A one-off thing like this has a little bit of an impact, but it's something you've got to stick with over time. And I think they see that."

Ryan Corazza is a freelance writer and web designer based in Chicago who also contributes to ESPN Insider's NBA Rumor Central.