August 2008 Archives

A New Frontier of Social Influence: Portable Social Graphs

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This post was originally an article for Avenue A | Razorfish clients across the country and around the world. Ray Velez and Jesse Pickard coauthored this piece with me.

The explosive growth of social networks across all age demographics is largely because of our social graphs. It’s the mapping of who is connected to whom within a network of peers. And as a result, people are increasingly surfing the social networks and the broader web through the context of their friends and acquaintances—what those friends talk about, what they recommend, and what they consider to be relevant.  

Two years ago, this online behavior was not that common online. That’s changing now. According to a Fast Company magazine article, the affect of the social graph on marketing is going to be even greater than that of radio, the telegraph, or television. We tend to agree. 

Apple influences the influencers with bundles

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Over at Customer Experience Matters, Bruce Temkin of Forrester Research discusses a recent Apple store experience. His daughter needed to buy a laptop and the family trooped out to the local Apple store to find the right one. 
But guess what happened along the way? Bruce ended up with an iPod Touch himself as it was bundled with the laptop for free. Now he always wanted an iPod Touch. The fact that he wanted one (plus the Massachusetts' tax free day) sealed the laptop deal for him. Reflecting on this experience, he called it "influencer bundling." The core product (for the daughter) was bundled with something targeted specifically at the social influencer or in this case the actual decision maker (Bruce).

Now arguably, the iPod Touch isn't a specific influencer item as everybody would be interested in one and not just the parents of a student looking to buy a laptop. But it does demonstrate the power of social influence. For example, a Quicken software package could be bundled in with the laptop targeting the father of the student as the post suggested. 

That's exactly how social influence marketing takes place - by not just marketing to the purchaser but also to the influencers as well leveraging social tools on domain and on the social media platforms. Beautiful. I expect to see a lot more of this online in the next year as we learn more about influence.

Are we thinking about Social Influence Marketing broadly enough? Probably not

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Analysts agree that precious few dollars of a marketer's budget have been spent on social influence marketing. A JupiterResearch report in July showed that one half of all advertisers spent less than 5% of their online budget on social marketing. On the flip side, the same marketers plan to increase their marketing budgets by 25%.

While those numbers are probably accurate for marketers across the board, I wonder whether they capture the complete story. Social Influence Marketing (SIM) is not just about spending on a campaign that can be deployed through a social platform like YouTube or Facebook. It isn't even about building applications for these platforms or paying for "viral seeding". 

bathandbody.jpg(Pictured above are ratings and reviews from the Bath and Body Works website).

SIM is a lot broader than that and can include site side activities like establishing a rigorous brand monitoring program, enhancing a retail website to include ratings and reviews from companies like BazaarVoice or Pluck, making all digital content portable using services like Social Notes and conducting primary and secondary research to understand how exactly peer influence works at every stage in the marketing funnel.

Sorry but Twitter is not in trouble

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Now I love the industry that I am a part of. Its fast moving, dynamic, controversial and innovative. But every now and then, a comment here or there irritates me. And a recent Businessweek article by Ben Kanz (an insightful blogger by the way) hinting at an impending doom for Twitter does just that. Here are the two reasons why.

Sure the twitter business model is flawed or more accurately non existent. But that doesn't mean that one can't be created around it. A business model that's advertising or even subscription driven through value added services. Many a similar business have been able to provide meaningful value added services for which customers open their wallets. The article while thoughtful, fall shorts in that it assumes that Twitter must make a business out of its current feature set without evolving its features or its business model.

Webmaster Radio interview

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logo_adtech1.jpgI was interviewed by the folks over at Webmaster Radio on the sidelines of ad:tech where I spoke. The interview covered our perspective on Social Influence Marketing - what social media means for marketers and the principles of peer influence. I also touched upon our recent AdLife announcement in it. My panel on the Long Tail of Social Media was blogged about here too. A key question that I posed to the audience is what value can and should you place on a particular conversation? Can a dollar value be placed against views of video clips or comments at the end of a blog post?

Interview with Bazaarblog on Social

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I was interviewed by the Baazarblog recently. Bazaarvoice is doing some incredible work in pushing social influence marketing. Their reviews and rating products are among the best in the marketplace. The interview is after the fold though I suggest you read it at BazaarBlog. You'll find some other great posts there too. I've published it here more for archival purposes. And while you're on their website, visit their industry statistics page. It's a great resource for anyone looking to make a case for social influence marketing. 

SXSW Interactive Panel Picker. Vote for me. I'll reduce taxes!

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sxswvote.gifThe SXSW Interactive Panel Picker is now open. I've submitted a proposal and if you think its interesting, please vote for me. Here are the proposal details and the link to my entry. 

For some theorists, this is the biggest deal since radio. How can and how will the largest brands in the world harness social influence via portable social graphs? With primary research into social influence behavior and big brand case studies, this presentation will make your head spin.

Cast your vote if this sounds interesting. I need all the help I can get. And just kidding about the taxes. Also support the other Avenue A | Razorfish submissions.

Avenue A | Razorfish to develop new Social Media Offering

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Today we made an exciting announcement to develop new social media advertising offerings in partnership with Pluck. The offering, code-named AdLife, will inject social media features like customer comments and user-generated content into digital advertisements such as banner ads or microsites - in effect, turning mainstream ads into social media opportunities distributed across the digital world.

What's so special about this? It brings together two major trends on the web - firstly consumers are more influenced by their peers than by any traditional forms of advertising. Secondly, nothing can beat the potential distribution and placement of a message via a display advertisement on the web. Putting social media elements into the ad
 units makes them more interactive, personal, accessible, relevant and engaging to users. It's a natural extension of everything that has been done on the display advertising space on the web before.

At Avenue A | Razorfish, we're one of the largest buyers of online media in the world and we're partnering with Pluck, a social media technology vendor serves 2.5 billion impressions a month to bring this to life. For more information read the press release or read David Deal's blog. I'll also be discussing the announcement during my ad:tech talk this afternoon.

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