Category Archives: Influencer

Social Media Coming of Age – at the tipping point?

Super Bowl Advertisers Tap Social Media:

“Brands employed social media, whether to poll consumers to determine how well their ads were received, or to drive additional traffic to Facebook where they could actively engage with their potential customers – something that TV simply can’t facilitate. To generate additional traffic for the social sites and online communities that have been integrated into their marketing strategies, several brands enhanced their Super Bowl microsites with social content, and in turn added promotional content from their brand sites to their social efforts.”

BBC says Use Social Media – or Leave:

“BBC news journalists have been told to use social media as a primary source of information. For BBC news editors, Twitter and RSS readers are to become essential tools, until now the broadcaster has been very cautious about social media.”

Meet The First Miners of the New Social Graph :

“These days, it’s all about who you don’t know. That’s the theory behind a group of very interesting software projects being built on top of the giant graph of friend/follower connection data that Twitter exposes about its users. Name 3 people whom you admire, despise, work with or otherwise pay attention to and tools like HiveMind, Follower Wonk and Twiangulate will quickly calculate who all those people are following in common on Twitter. Say you’re a reporter covering New York city schools. Who might be a good source to contact? Here’s what Copeland recommends: Look at Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s list of followers on Twitter. See which ones look like education-related organizations.”

The State of Social Media Around the World 2010:

This is an extensive post and well worth clicking through to see the well illustrated detail.

The Conversation Prism

“Upon review, it’s clear that Facebook, at 400 million, is truly earning a global audience, which naturally burrows its social roots with every new connection and the connections of connections forged within the network. According to research, Facebook dominates in 100 out of 127 countries measured. In 50% of the countries included in this study, online photo sharing dominated the list of social media applications. It is also among the oldest of social services within the included mix. 44% of the countries in this survey embrace online profiles in social networks suggesting that their personal brand, whether for engaging in personal or professional interactions, is becoming increasingly important. 81% shared photos and online profiles as the top 1 and 2 activities with the exception of Japan, China, and South Korea where blogging displaced social profiles as a top application. 94% of countries reported that micro-blogging (think Twitter) were among the least pervasive with the exception of Japan, where it ranked fourth – just below social network profiles and above video.”

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Thinking about Influencer Marketing

As we are now implementing the OpenMic Influencer Identification Algorithms, we want to provide some suggestions as to what you’d do with them once you’ve found them – in the meantime, here are some notes on related articles:

Influencer Marketing Guidelines

The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) defines an INFLUENCER as a person who has a greater than average reach or impact through word of mouth in a relevant marketplace. And INFLUENCER MARKETING as when a marketer identifies, seeks out, and engages with influencers in support of a business objective.

WOMMA also identifies 5 broad categories of influencer (from formal to informal) – 

1) Formal Position of Authority (e.g. Political / Business leaders)
2) Subject Matter Experts (e.g. Academics, Scientists, Authors)
3) Media Elite (e.g. Journalists, Talk Show Hosts)
4) Cultural Elite (e.g. Celebrities, Designers, Musicians)
5) Socially Connected (Community members, Business Networkers)

WOMMA’s Influencer Marketing Guidelines provides a set of best practices for running influencer campaigns – here are the items that I found most valuable:

1. Understand the influencer’s point of view before engaging them in any way – much of the time, they are acting to help other users rather than your brand
2. Make participation voluntary and by invitation only – and respect their privacy at all times, allowing them to freely opt-out
3. Build a relationship with the influencer
4. Ensure that your communications with the influencer are timely – ie respond promptly
5. Never ask an influencer to hype product claims, make usage claims without experience or back claims that cannot be substantiated
6. Provide incentives that do not create conflict of interest or shilling – keep awards simple and relevant to community objectives
7. Thank influencers who participate in your programs.

The set of guidelines goes on to discuss in more detail Thanking, Engagement and Enablement, I have noted a few worthy tips to follow:

* Creating legendary stories can be very powerful ways to both generate conversation and affinity

* Moments of truth about product failures are important

* Your biggest influencers may not always be positive about your product / company / services – your biggest fans may at times be your harshest critics – the fact that they are sometimes negative may make them far more credible to their networks

* Influencer programs are long term multi-year commitments designed to build a relationship – they are not marketing campaigns

* Private access is an excellent way to engage your influencers and influencers also love to connect to one another – Consider both online and offline connection opportunities and even deeper engagements with NDAs in place

* Influencers are a great source of product feedback – your programs should be designed to close the loop demonstrating that their feedback is being heard and acted upon

Trends In Social Influence Marketing

The Razorfish Blog, Going Social Now has an post from March 2009 entitled Trends In Social Influence Marketing

Razorfish defined SOCIAL INFLUENCE MARKETING as “marketing to the network of peers that surround and influence the customer across social platforms and on brand Web sites

The post identified and detailed 10 trends – my highlights are below:

* Reaching the influencers gets easier via the social graph and the plethora of technology vendors that make targeting easier.
* Different influencers will matter at different stages of the marketing funnel, too.
* Agencies will find ways to put a valuation on each consumer’s potential influence for specific product categories.
* Google and a few others are already taking a crack at defining your influence rank.
* Consumers will define the brands by the sheer volume of their opinions. They’ll be shaping the brands more than the brands will be shaping them.
* Social advertising will grow up (whatever that means!)
* The portable social graph will fuel marketing innovation (this is Facebook and Twitter Connect)
* Loose ties (like the friendsters of yours on Facebook) are as valuable as your strong ties (close friends) because they’re the ones that bring new ideas into your world and share your opinions with people who are further removed from you
* Social influence research will become more important than social measurement – n evolution from measuring sentiment to understanding opinion and synchronizing it with the Net Promoter scores

There are a few more, go read the post – if you’re an agency, it’s probably worth the read.

Creating A Healthy Influencer Marketing Program

Finally, here is a Powerpoint deck by Emre Ersahin available on SlideShare entitled: Creating A Healthy Influencer Marketing Program

Definitely worth a look – it contains a step-by-step process, refined from a set of good and best practice examples of how to run an Influencer Marketing Program – not the only way, but certainly one proven way. It presents a methodology based on Discover > Create > Execute > Measure centered around ‘Social Capital’ that leverages the value of online networks.

Here are the basic steps:

Discover – target audience and identify and recruit influencers

Create – influencer concepts and programs

Execute – program implementation online and offline

Measure – the results and evaluation of the benefits

Valuing the Lurkers, Champions and Experts

We’re all of a sudden oh so busy trying to identify, quantify and qualify our online influencers. Amy Lee’s recent post, entitled The Value of Lurkers. In our efforts to measure the noise of the online conversations the lurkers (people who read, but don’t actively contribute content) often get ignored in the measurement – perhaps because they are harder to find and measure.

The Lurkers are important – these probably form the larger proportion of the community and are the one’s probably being influenced. Amy picks out three metrics that will allow measurement of Lurkers:

  1. The number and turnover of lurkers
  2. Segment users into groups and start tracking email open rates more carefully
  3. How long a person remains a quiet part of your community

A thoughtful response by Scott Moore discussed benchmarking of participation metrics and balancing a set of metrics that contribute to the overall health of the community.

But again it all tracks back to the role and objectives of your online community – and this is equally important whether your community is independent or sponsored by a business.

Which takes me onto a post from the Web Social Architecture blog entitled Getting It Right: Designing Community to Support Your Core Offering. This post is a fantastic antidote to the current trend of every site should be a community – “People aren’t on your web-site to make friends and using community to get something done is a huge value, because it promises responsiveness, detail, honesty and affinity”. Don’t just throw up discussion boards, but think about your offering and help your customers increase that value. Ryan Turner‘s post is worth a read.

As we at Overtone are designing our Influencer metrics and engagement tools, we are thinking deeply about why you’d want to  identify, qualify and quantify your online influencers. The top three usecases are:

Turning Customer Issues into Product Innovation – online communities are where customers get to make their feelings known to the organization, to other customers or to both – to get their issue resolved. You want to identify those customers who are your expert users, those who will provide the most useful feedback that will help you improve your products. You’ll want to get into a deeper level of engagement with those customers – the Lego Mindstorm case study provides a great example of how Lego recruited “citizen developers”. Sony Online Entertainment actively engage with their Community Influencers to list, publish and incorporate the most desired features of their influencer group.

Customer Self-Support – The recent Business Week article on Intuit discusses how their Online Community has spawned a number of expert customers advising other customers and taking the load off Intuit’s in-house support team. To be able to identify those customers who are performing such activities and then providing them with improved service levels when they need support provides a leveraged model.

Managing Customer Champions – Finding champions for you products who have some influence and engaging with them to ensure that they stay that way. These champions can be found on your own and on third party community sites.

We’ve got a few more, but we’re also mad keen to hear why you want to identify and engage with your online influencers.

Other articles worth checking out too if you’re keen on identifying the Influencers in your community:

How to Measure Online Influencer by Micah Baldwin, March 2009

Online Influencers: How The New Opinion Leaders Drive Buzz On The Web by Alice LaPlante, May 2007

How do you find influencers? by Sam Decker (CMO at Bazaarvoice)

Online Reviews Second Only to Word of Mouth as Purchase Influencer in US, Survey Finds in Business Week, October 2009

A Poor Man’s Guide to Finding Influencers by Mike Nelson, March 2009

SIM Scoring: Social Media Influence Metrics are an Art, July 2009

Social Media Reading – Influencers

How social media influences trust in advertising

There has been an explosion of user generated content, and as a result, consumers have a new way of assessing brands, products and services.

Nielsen’s 2009 Global Online Consumer Survey of over 25,000 Internet consumers from 50 countries and covers degrees of trust consumers have for advertisers/brands.

90% of consumers surveyed trusted recommendations from people they knew personally
70% trusted opinions from other consumers posted online
70% trusted brand websites

Key takeaway: “Strangers” opinions posted online offer as much trust to the consumer as the company website.

For companies not engaging in the social media marketing conversation with their customers, they miss out on a literal world of opinion, market research, feedback and customer service opportunities.

Those companies who value the opinions and expressions of their customers by displaying them on the company website have the most to gain.

Influentials, Networks, and Public Opinion Formation

A central idea in marketing and diffusion research is that influentials—a minority of individuals who influence an exceptional number of their peers—are important to the formation of public opinion. Here we examine this idea, which we call the “influentials hypothesis,” using a series of computer simulations of interpersonal influence processes. Under most conditions that we consider, we find that large cascades of influence are driven not by influentials but by a critical mass of easily influenced individuals. Although our results do not exclude the possibility that influentials can be important, they suggest that the influentials hypothesis requires more careful specification and testing than it has received.

The structure and function of complex networks

Inspired by empirical studies of networked systems such as the Internet, social networks, and biological networks, researchers have in recent years developed a variety of techniques and models to help us understand or predict the behavior of these systems. Here we review developments in this field, including such concepts as the small-world effect, degree distributions, clustering, network correlations, random graph models, models of network growth and preferential attachment, and dynamical processes taking place on networks.

Superusers, Step by Step

Sharing some simple tips for companies launching online customer communities about how to cultivate “superusers” — that group of active users from which influencers and advocates can emerge.

PRE-LAUNCH

Identify superuser candidates among known advocates, online or off
Identify existing online communities (if any) to reach out to
Create “superuser-friendly” user guidelines and moderation policies.

LAUNCH

Invite known advocates to preview community, create seed content, and provide feedback.
Add elements to community structure that allow superusers to identify you (welcome forum) and to identify themselves (feedback forum).
Develop a rank and reputation structure to reward and incent superusers.

POST-LAUNCH, FIRST 30 TO 90 DAYS:

Identify emerging superusers as they move up the ranks and provide positive feedback.
Acknowledge their suggestions and ideas, without making commitments.
Tune reputation system based in real user data.

POST-LAUNCH, 90 DAYS AND BEYOND

Review participation history and refine superuser group down to supporters.
Create a private forum accessible only to superusers.
Create a specification for the superuser program — criteria for selection, term of membership, etc.
Reward and empower superusers with additional permissions and privileges on the community.
Explore other opportunities for rewarding and growing the superuser group (invitation to focus groups, participation in beta tests, previews of products, recognition at conferences, in-person meetings, etc.)

The Dynamics of Social Influence: A New Perspective and Agenda

In this blog post, Don Bulmer asks a number of fairly broad questions regarding how social media influences communication:

  1. How are other governments and politicians successfully using or abusing social media for policy and political advancement?
  2. What are the implications of social media on politics in the future (2020 and 2030)?
  3. How has social media challenged governments and politicians through new rules of open/public scrutiny toward trust, transparency and accountability?
  4. What are the social media tools and techniques that successful non-profit organizations/institutions use to advance awareness and motivate people, governments and businesses to take action and affect positive change (giving of time and money), creation of policy, etc.?
  5. How has social media impacted the nature of philanthropic design and social responsibility (local and global)?
  6. How do people use social media and social networks to address personal concerns and support better decision making?
  7. How has social media affected trust and relationships between people and organizations?
  8. What are the implications to future generations of individuals (who today share everything about themselves) on politics and business?
  9. What are the most effective tools used by people to influence change in business and government?
  10. What new syndication and business models have emerged for mainstream media today – to adapt to the phenomena of the social web?
  11. How has the influence of mainstream media changed as a result of social media?
  12. How has social media and social networks affected professional/business decision-making?
  13. What approaches and tools are business using to ‘listen,’ ‘interact’ and ‘engage’ more with their core audiences to improve the way they do business?
  14. How as social media affected and transformed traditional marketing and communication beliefs and strategies?

Community Influencer Programs

The article discussed the following (in the context of Online Communities):

  • How organizations are attempting to identify influencers and elites
  • The various tactics for engaging influential members
  • How to spot these influencers and elites (a more manual process)
  • How to build relationships with the individuals
  • What available algorithms and metrics there are around influencer identificiation
  • How to tabulate those metrics manually
  • What to do with Community Volunteers

Online Community Tribe Round Up

Asking the initial question, What are the top three things you do or wish you could do for your community “influencers”?, Gail Williams collects a number of posts concerning Online Community Influencers

How to Manage Multiple Personalities and Relationships Online

An individual may maintain multiple personas online – for privacy, security or just plain forgetfulness. Organizations have an interest in resolving those personas, but when is it safe or advisable to do so and do the individuals have a say in the matter?

How not to be an online influencer

This one is doing the rounds, the story of how James Andews, a PR account executive issued a Twitter post about a major client’s hometown. If you are influential and you post on Twitter, then people are going to see.

David Henderson’s blog posting, How Not to be an Online Influencer provides the detail. What intrigued me was the sheer number of comments this posting received. It’s also doing the Twitter rounds.