NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Adam Kmiec has amassed more than 2,600 followers on Twitter where he speaks his mind on everything from the newest tech start-ups to digital advertising and his criticisms of daily deal site Groupon. The Chicago-based head of social media at Walgreens ( WAG) was surprised when he received an offer last month via e-mail to test drive the new Chevy Volt for three days based on his status as a high level influencer in social media circles.
The offer was sponsored by Chevrolet as part of their "Driving The Midwest" campaign in collaboration with a tech company called Klout, which aims to measure the influence of users' opinions, links and recommendations across the Web. "The facilitation of the experience was brilliant," said Kmiec. "I just had to sign two pieces of paper, it was pretty turnkey. And we're not talking about a candy bar here, this is a $45,000 vehicle." Kmiec then did exactly what Chevy likely hoped for: He wrote about the experience on his blog. Looking to target increasingly tech-savvy consumers in new ways, big brands are teaming up sites like Klout, Tweet Grader and PeerIndex to help them reach people who will evangelize their products. Klout and others use data from sites like Twitter, LinkedIn ( LNKD) and Google ( GOOG) + to determine a so-called "influence score" -- which ranges from 0 to 100 -- for users based on how much sway they have over fellow consumers. Ideally, these people are trusted experts within their social circles in a specific niche area, such as wine or gardening, which makes targeting them easier. Kmiec has a Klout score of 63, high considering the average score of a user is in the mid-20s. President Obama has a score of 88, while Lady Gaga has a 90. " Facebook helps you understand your friends," said John Frankel, a partner at ff Venture Capital and a Klout board member. "Klout helps you understand strangers."