June 2008 Archives

Is Social Influence Marketing bigger than radio? Someone thinks so and its not me

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bj_fogg1.jpgLife begins to get easier when others talk about a topic that you've been going hoarse evangelizing. In an interview in Fast Company, BJ Fogg discusses the power of Social Influence Marketing and why it is so new and important.

Calling it interpersonal persuasion, Fogg sees it as something potentially bigger than radio. I for one couldn't agree more. He focuses on Facebook in particular but I believe the subject extends beyond Facebook to every digital platform and device. 

For reference, Fogg is an authority on persuasion and also one of the people behind Stanford's first Facebook class. Here's a key quote from the interview.

Facebook is the precursor of something I'm calling mass interpersonal persuasion. That is a new phenomenon and the most important thing to happen in the world of persuasion since the advent of the radio over 100 years ago. Radio changed the game for persuasion because it allowed a message to be broadcast to thousands and millions of people, which was previously not possible. TV was an extension of that, but I don't think it was the big leap that radio was.

Facebook takes very strong interpersonal influence dynamics -- the way people persuade each other face-to-face in small groups with peer pressure, reciprocity, flattery -- and allows those to be used on a mass scale because your social networks are built in. Friends influence friends, who influence friends, and that keeps rippling out. They can reach people very quickly for very little cost and ordinary people can set these in motion. It doesn't require a big broadcasting company or a big PR campaign. If you get the right message in the right way, you'll effect millions of people. Facebook has been the best platform for that, but I think in the future it will be commonplace.

Read the full interview over at Fast Company. I briefly met BJ Fogg last year while speaking at a conference in Denmark and found him to be insightful. He understands persuasion better than most people and its great to learn that he's looking at it in the context of social influence too.

The Marketing Funnel Ain’t Dead: A Midyear Review of Social Influence Marketing Trends

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Back in December we posed the question: How will social media change the way we do business in 2008? We also went on to discuss 10 major social media trends that were going mainstream. Well, we’re in June now and it is time for a mid-year review of those trends. We discuss the trends and pass verdict on their progress.


1.      Social Influence Marketing becomes the third dimension of marketing  There’s no doubt that social media has given rise to a totally new form of marketing called Social Influence Marketing. Those brands that simply treat social media as another channel through which to push advertising are missing the point. Social Influence Marketing is about harnessing the peer and anonymous influencers and strategically leveraging social media to meet marketing and business objectives.


It’s not a channel but a new way of thinking recognizing how the web has gone completely social. And in fact contrary to what we earlier thought, social influence marketing is not just about extending conversations beyond campaigns, it is about leveraging social influencers to achieve broader marketing and business objectives.


Verdict: Trend is even larger than we thought.

OMMA Social: Building brands with Social Media

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ommasocial.jpgI'll be on a panel tomorrow at OMMA Social at the Yale Club here in New York. We'll be discussing how best to mine social media behavior to build brands. Consumers are doing a lot more on the web and they're having many more conversations about brands. How can a brand take advantage of that? That's what this panel will be about.

David Honig, Co-founder, Media6° will be moderating and Dr. Joseph Plummer, Adjunct Professor, Columbia School of Business, Matt Jacobs, Vice President & Group Director of Strategy and Analysis, Digitas, Melissa Davies, Research Director, Healthcare, Nielsen Online and Bill Alena, Vice President Advertising/Business Development, myYearbook.com will be on the panel with me.

Digital Darwinism. Is your brand digital?

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Is there any such thing as a digital brand? Here at Avenue A | Razorfish, we certainly think so. Joe Crump, Vice President of Strategy and Planning explained it best when he spoke on the topic at Cannes recently.

In a nutshell, Joe contends that brands need to view the digital world differently as consumers form opinions of your brand in milliseconds. If they don't like what they see, they can shut you out forever or worse still use social influence to hurt your brand by telling their friends and the rest of the world how boring you are. Here's the slide deck.

The most digital brands are Google, Apple, YouTube, Flickr and Netflix. These brands scored the highest when we measured them against atributes like immersion (how easy it is for a consumer to become engaged with your digital home), social (whether a consumer finds your brand worth sharing), and adaptive (how well a brand responds to a consumer’s digital environment), among other qualities. Interbrand's top brands are Coca Cola, Mercedes, General Electric, Nokia and Microsoft. Download the Brand Gene Scorecard.

Social Media succeeding in the Enterprise

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dilbertStrategicAlignment.gifEarlier this week I was on a panel at a Churchill Club event in Silicon Valley. Hosted by Charlene Li of Forrester, the panel discussed web 2.0 in the enterprise and how social media is changing collaboration behind the firewall. 

On the panel with me were leaders from Best Buy, Serena Software and Oracle. Titled “From Dilbert to Dude: Succeeding with Web 2.0 Within the Enterprise” the panel discussed how grassroots social media efforts take on a life of their own as they move from being “under the desk server” initiatives to enterprise wide initiatives. 

I've discussed the panel extensively over at The App Gap. The panel was also covered by InfoWorld magazine

One interesting point that is often missed when discussing social initiatives within the enterprise is how social influence plays a role too. Peer pressure drives a lot of behavior patterns and enterprise social environments can only further those competitive traits as employees observe each other more directly. 

GSP East moves Social Media forward

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Earlier this week I was at the O'Reilly Graphing Social Patterns East Conference where I hosted a panel on Advertising versus Appvertising. Joining me on the panel were Michael Lazerow (Buddy Media), Kevin Barenblat ([context]), Eddie Smith (SocialMedia Networks) and Chris Cunningham (appssavvy). It was a provocative 45 minutes with some great questions from the audience at the end. Here are my takeaways -

1. Join the conversation is dead. It is not enough to encourage marketers to find ways to join the conversation. That is an oversimplification of what is happening in the social media space. Anything that anyone does has to provide a return more specific and more tangible than joining the conversation. No marketer can justify investments in social media by simply saying that the brand needs to join the conversation. We've moved beyond that today.

2. Social Media needs to talk the language of marketing. While all the media buzz and the successes of specific blogs and social networks have propelled social media into the mainstream (not to mention the usage numbers), from a marketing standpoint this domain is still very fresh. Brands are still trying to figure out what will work and why. The vendors (and especially the new social media specific ones) are trying to figure that out too. 

3. Engagement metrics are still a blur too. I'm still waiting to see a vendor, a consulting firm or a brand introduce a strong metrics framework. The simpler answer is that the metrics depend on the campaign and the specific social media program. For some it maybe impressions, fans, downloads or contributions but for others it can be the number of visitors that get driven to a brand microsite. No one is tracking whether social media programs have direct brand lifts or directly influence conversions.

4. Brand monitoring needs to evolve. Sure, the Umbria's, Cymfony's and Visible Technologies of the world provide a lot of business value. But they can do more to push the industry forward. For example,  I wish these firms would publish reports showing engagement by industry and then for the major brands in each industry. A comparative look would help us begin to understand if there's a co-relation between engagement and company performance.

5. Applications are huge and will only get bigger. Why? Simply because they are profitable and viral tapping into how we actually use the web. More than that, they're also measurable and portable. Applications can also serve as the link between the walled garden social networks and the brand websites. For an example of a major brand playing around with applications, read about Coke's. Remember, the application is the new ad unit.

I strongly recommend attending the next O'Reilly Graphing Social Patterns Conference. Dave McClure and his team did an awesome job. The photograph above is courtesy Duncan Davidson.

LinkedIn makes a strong pitch for advertisers

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While at O'Reilly Graphing Social Patterns East 2008, I heard Adam Nash of LinkedIn make the pitch for advertisers and developers. Notable was the fact that LinkedIn acheived a 361% growth rate in the last twelve months. That's more than any of the other social networks. According to Neilson Online, they had 8 million unique visitors in April 2008. See Adam's slideshare presentation for more details.

What's also interesting is that the average household income of a LinkedIn user is greater than those at WSJ.com, Forbes.com or Businessweek. Last fall, I sat on a panel at Office 2.0 with Adam Nash that was moderated by Shel Israel where we all talked about social networks in general. It was good to hear him talk about LinkedIn specifically. More at the LinkedIn Events Blog.

Is Google really making us stoopid?

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atlantic_monthly.jpgOver at The Atlantic Monthly, a provocative piece by Nicholas Carr titled "Is Google Making Us Stoopid?" discusses how the web has changed the way we interact with information. He argues that the hyper-multitasking of the Internet has made people less introspective, reflective and thoughtful. Rather than simply blame the Internet, Carr also argues that the way we use the technologies is having a profound affect on how we think and act.

As usual, Carr is onto something. And I think this quote in the article describing a conversation that Nietzsche had with a friend about the use of a typewriter changing his writing, captures it perfectly.

“You are right,” Nietzsche replied, “our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts.” Under the sway of the machine, writes the German media scholar Friedrich A. Kittler, Nietzsche’s prose “changed from arguments to aphorisms, from thoughts to puns, from rhetoric to telegram style.”

But Carr also misses some important factors that should have been discussed in his article. Firstly, these changes aren't anything new. Each time a transformative piece of technology enters our lives, it influences our cognitive abilities in unusual ways. The discovery of the printing press changed the nature of knowledge forever (and us too) as did more recent and less dramatic inventions like the typewriter, the radio, the television and now the Internet. Is there something dramatically different about the Internet?

Well, I believe there is. It is not that we have immense amounts of information at our finger tips. Most people aren't journalists like Carr and that information doesn't matter as much. The difference is that we're connected with each other so much more. Our lives are a perpetual dinner party. We're in multiple conversations, continuously moving between circles of friends and the bar. Activity on the Internet resembles how we digest and exchange information when we mingle at parties.

The point being that it is a dinner party because we're connected to each other. Its not Google or the Internet that's making us stupid, it is the fact that we maybe spending more time at virtual dinner parties than we should.

Some of the more controversial responses to Carr's article include:

Influencing hyper-connected customers

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hugh_hyperconnected.jpgIs this what marketers wonder about when they try to identify those influencers? We've all been excited about influencer marketing for a long time, but we often forget that social influence marketing is slightly different. It is about recognizing that depending upon the context and the specific purchasing decisions, the influencers may differ.

You can be connected to 500 people a mix of family, college friends, peers at work, acquaintances and neighbors. Who influences you the most depends upon what you're purchasing and how important or new that purchase is to you. For each of their products, marketers must understand who those local influencers are (if there are indeed generalizable patterns) and then find ways to reach them too. Otherwise, you'll just know that your customers are hyper-connected through the social networks and nothing more. This cartoon is from Hugh McLeod over at gapingvoid.

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