July 2009 Archives

Fluent coverage across the web

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socialtagcloud.jpgIt's been an exciting week with the launch of Fluent. We were covered across the web from publications like Ad Age, MediaPost, PR Week and Clickz to blogs like ADOTOS,  Conversation Agent, Marketing Pilgrim, Amex Open Forum and Hard Knox Life. The feedback has been tremendous especially via Twitter which not surprisingly drove a large share of the traffic to the report. What's especially interesting is that the coverage has been quite varied with different publications and blogs choosing to highlight different pieces of the report. 

In the coming weeks, I'll be dissecting the findings here and surfacing some deeper insights as I continue to comb through the data from the research and the SIM score pieces myself. Watch this space and thank you for all your feedback to date! It is both validation and educational too. Fyi - the tag cloud above is of the keywords in the research article and was created using Wordle.

Harvard Business School - A failure?

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Every now and then I read an article that startles me. It is usually not for the deep insights (though there are many sometimes) but for the brutal honesty and humility. Here's a perfect example. Reading the excerpt below in the latest Businessweek is somewhat shocking. Coming from a 15 year Professor at the Harvard Business School gives it all the more gravitas - 

 I have come to believe that much of what my colleagues and I taught has caused real suffering, suppressed wealth creation, destabilized the world economy, and accelerated the demise of the 20th century capitalism in which the U.S. played the leading role. 

We weren't stupid and we weren't evil. Nevertheless we managed to produce a generation of managers and business professionals that is deeply mistrusted and despised by a majority of people in our society and around the world. This is a terrible failure. - Shoshana Zuboff

The articles goes on to explain that by focusing too tightly on economic value and encouraging students to think about shareholder value above all else, HBS did a disservice to its students and to society. She's probably right and the problem extends beyond HBS too. Interestingly, some people probably feel that we do not have a strong enough alternative model in place. One that can rebuild the trust of Americans (only 10% of Americans trust big business today) in the corporate world.

I believe that trust has been weakened forever. It will never be the same again. That's not bad as instead we're going to trust each other - peer influence is going to rise in importance everyday especially as we're able to organize collectively, tap into each other's intelligence and harness  collective wisdom for individual action.

Fluent, the Social Influence Marketing Report

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I'm excited to announce the launch of Fluent, the Social Influence Marketing report from Razorfish. This is the first report of its kind which understands who and what influences consumers at different points in the marketing funnel.

The insights in this report are built on three pillars - a survey with 1,000 North American consumers, six months worth of real conversational data to frame the introduction of a new social index and the experiences of Razorfish Social Media Leads across the world who advise marketers in industry leading companies everyday. 

The survey and conversational driven research also busts three myths about Social Influence Marketing. 

1. That companies have figured out how to build their brands in social media. They haven't. For example, six out of 10 consumers don't bother to seek out opinions of brands via social media. 

2. That television is dead. It isn't. Consumers view TV ads as more trustworthy than ads on social networks. Marketers need to do more in the social realm, but they need to do it in a way that builds trust first. Brands don't have the trust today.

3. That you cannot measure in the social web. Not only do campaign specific metrics matter and can be measured but we believe a SIM Score for the social web is extremely important. Think of it as the blood pressure for the brand in the social web. In the report, we introduce this index and show the SIM Scores of 5-6 brands in 4 industries. We also compare the online numbers to offline share of voice data to demonstrate how those two worlds are blurring.

Read Fluent, the Social Influence Marketing report and come back to the blog to share your thoughts, comments and criticisms. Over the next few weeks, I'll be delving into the insights more deeply over here. And if you like the report, please tell others about it!

Does SIM mean big ideas matter less?

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ideascartoon1.jpgThere's a lot of talk in the advertising industry of how big idea advertising is losing its importance. Rather everyday ideas, small and nimble ones that can activate consumers and influencers alike across the Internet seem to be getting as important. On our own internal social media email list, we've been having a raging debate on this too.

We're certainly moving to a world where it is important to listen, inform, activate, entertain and respond to consumers in a more continuos fashion.  This requires the clustering of marketing activities in new ways, having a continuos low-burn marketing effort in place 365 days of the year. It also means deploying new strategies and campaigns in real time based on the engagement with the previous ones or any particular event. It is constantly in motion as advertisers chase consumers across the different digital platforms and channels and try to keep pace with their changing needs, preferences and locations of engagement. It is about speed and relevance. 

I think it is fair to say that the notion of 365 day marketing or continuos marketing in a SIM world is a necessity. More and more brands think in these terms for digital marketing and practically every marketer will need to have a baseline 365 component to all their marketing plans.

Who are the influencers that matter?

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A few weeks ago I was on a panel at the Advertising Research Foundation Audience Measurement Summit with Ed Keller (The Keller Fay Group), Rob Masters (Unilever) and Colleen Fahey Rush (MTV). We discussed the relationship between online and offline influencers and the importance of each. Also discussed was the role that influentials play (they're ten percent of the population but impact 25% of all brand conversations) versus the social influencers who are the everyday people who influence their peers around decision making for specific products and services.

My take - the influentials are very important but they're not the sum total of all influence taking place online or offline. The social influencers and the known peer influencers (think close family and friends) increasingly play more important roles in brand affinity and purchasing decisions. They're harder to reach but thanks to social graph technologies they're more traceable online. It is getting as important to market to them as it is to market to the influentials. Maybe there's room for both Duncan Watts and Malcolm Gladwell in this world!

DishyMix Podcast covering Social Influencers

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A month ago Susan Bratton of DishyMix fame interviewed me for a podcast. DishyMix literally gets thousands and thousands of listeners tuning in every week. We discussed social influencer, social graphs and marketing more broadly. Podcasts are fun and Susan is a dynamic interviewer. A transcript of the interview is available here too.

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