Friday, February 10, 2012

Social Influence: 3 Questions for Marketing and PR Pros

How important is social influence and why should we care?


Those two questions have been buzzing around my head like maddening bees for days now as I prepare a discussion for a Social Media for PR class at RIT.


With the seeming boom in social influence measuring tools (Klout, PeerIndex, Empire Avenue, TwentyFeet, to name a few) in the end what do all of these scores mean if you are a marketer or a public relations professional?


So to find out what the world thinks I’m simply going to ask three questions and see who responds.


For this unscientific survey I will ask people active in social media and perhaps not-so-active in social media to give short answers (by Twitter DM or "@" message to @mikefixs if necessary).


The three questions:


1. Why does social influence matter to a brand, business or organization?


2. How or does social influence determine who you interact with?


3. Has social influence on your end or the customer/client’s end played a role in a successful or better outcome?


Please use the Comments area below to answer.


Any help you can give in spreading this request to others in social media would be greatly appreciated.

14 comments:

  1. Hi Mike, here are my thoughts...

    1. Why does social influence matter to a brand, business or organization? - Authentic influence/trusted connections with others, not Klout generated, is the actual trigger to activating customers or transactions. Anything other than that, it's just numbers and reciprocal 'clicks'.


    2. How or does social influence determine who you interact with? On a business perspective, I only connect with people who intrigue me or keep my interest. One of the key ways I identify this is 'do they respond when you ask them questions?' And, 'are their responses a simple thank you or emoticon? If so, move on. They are not truly an engager, they are just broadcasting. On a business level, this is a one-way push and is a turn off.


    3. Has social influence on your end or the customer/client’s end played a role in a successful or better outcome? Absolutely. Everyday I am involved in dialogues that are creating channels that are proving to be fruitful in either building relationships with key folks in companies that are leading to recommendations for projects left and right. Mostly after they have vetted me via my LinkedIn profile or Google+ About page.

    ReplyDelete
  2. 1. Increasingly, customer software is looking at Klout and other social criteria to determine offline influence. Like it or not, it matters. Does this mean that other criteria are less important? Not at all. But social is going to become ever more critical.
    2. It's one factor, and since my company is tied to social influence and covers it on our sites, it matters a great deal. However, to remain sane, I turn off social at various times completely. And my boyfriend thinks it's nonsense.
    3. Oh yes. Personally, if I have a problem with my bank, or a hotel, or whatever, my Klout score gets attention when I tweet. But perhaps more important, people I have never met or never will meet reach out to me for help and to tell me that they appreciate what we're doing at Social Media Today. That makes my day.

    ReplyDelete
  3. As you know, I have a new book on this topic, Return on Influence, so I have been thinking about this a LOT!

    1) The social web has democratized influence. Ignoring those passionate about your brand is perilous. Understanding this revolution is critical. Critical!

    2) As a person, zero. I don't consider it. As a company, social influence is being incorporated into mainstream customer service and CRM programs. Will influencers get more attention? You bet.

    3) In my new book I have more than 15 case studies of how social influence is moving into mainstream marketing, PR, service, advertising and sales.

    ReplyDelete
  4. 1. Why does social influence matter to a brand, business or organization?
    >>>Social Media gives you the opportunity to not only control the conversations people are having about your brand but instigate, create and then reward and respond.

    2. How or does social influence determine who you interact with?
    >>>Honestly, I have my friends I know from work and offline but as a consumer I don't interact with many brands that aren't online reaching or influencing me in one way or another.

    3. Has social influence on your end or the customer/client’s end played a role in a successful or better outcome?
    >>>Yes over and over again, 100s of times a day bot just for me personally but for many clients getting their music in front of the right people.

    ReplyDelete
  5. 1) Look at how Kawasaki and Brogan have become ambassadors for Google+ in the last few months. Social influence is definitely key to brands. The difference is today those brands are aware of influencers.

    2) Not on a personal level. I actually try to focus more on interacting with people I can serve and provide value rather that chasing influencers. Do I ignore it? Of course not. A retweet from my friend Jessica here can easily put an extra 20 pageviews in your pocket. As Mark said, influence is now integrated into CRM and Email platforms.

    3) Even though I try to ignore scores, I'm sure it can be a factor in the decision process, just as HR departments are looking at candidates social profiles.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hey Mike!


    1. Why does social influence matter to a brand, business or organization?

    Let's deconstruct this a little. In a business context, what is social influence? is this the ability for one and many people to influence others to action?

    If it is, why should this matter to a brand? to put simply, if people aren't talking about your brand, they're talking about your competitors. Brands dont want to be in digital crickets land as not engaging in the social media space is akin to a brand paying for a billboard in the middle of the Sahara.


    2. How or does social influence determine who you interact with?

    This is correlated to what captures my interest at the time. One doesn't have to be the expert in the field of interest, they can simply be a guide/curator to opening the doors of further learning and inquisition.

    If the person happens to be knowledgable about a particular interest, it becomes a coffee conversation. We go deeper in a Q&A session.


    3. Has social influence on your end or the customer/client’s end played a role in a successful or better outcome?

    Social influence tools provide a nice guide but I dont reply on them too much. My personal offline indicators are what I use.

    Here's the rub, the tools that measure social influence won't necessarily reflect a person's offline influence. Influence requires a holistic approach.

    For example, one of my favorite business minds, Tom Peters and I engage now and then on Twitter. His Klout score is low compared to many others in his field. However, offline invariably his keynote speeches and books sell out. He's a titan of thought in management, marketing and business.

    Have you heard of Shah Rukh Khan? low Klout score again and many other indexes as well I imagine. Online, his scorecard is low. Offline, he stops a nation with his movies and his hundreds of millions of fans. Arguably, Khan has more fans than the biggest Hollywood star and has more clout than many world leaders.

    In this ever evolving digital space, treat everyone with kindness and respect despite their klout scores. Once you put the love out there, the love always flows back...sounds like offline, right?

    All the best Mike. Love your work!

    ReplyDelete
  7. 1. Marketing is about delivering messages to stakeholders. Whether your company has earned social influencer or capital and can leverage that to communicate directly with their audiences or your company has to identify others with social influence and disseminate messages through them to the end audience, understanding social influence is vitally important. Without and understanding of it, you will find it difficult to do the basic job of marketing.

    2. Personally, it shouldn't. Frankly, from a brand perspective it shouldn't either. Limiting your communications or relationships to only those with influence is elitist and misses the point of being a valuable member of any greater community. But the simple fact of the matter is your brand may need to optimize the time spent communicating. In those cases, you have to target and prioritize influencers for your communications. Just please don't ignore those who may not be influential. They're your customers, too.

    3. Sure it has. A client last year wanted to connect with social influencers for wide-reaching company branding but also a focused product line. Our recommendation was to sponsor a conference where many of these social influencers were collected and genuinely participate with the event. There was not a direct product push, but the products were there to experience. The client was delighted with the results. They left with relationships, not direct sales. But those relationships led to widespread buzz around the product and end-result sales.

    ReplyDelete
  8. 1. For any brand or business to survive and thrive it needs to understand and embrace social change. There is an evolving shift in the way we choose to receive and share information driven, I believe, primarily by that great influencer: Communal Discovery. That innate need within us to be a part of something greater than ourselves, to be able to report and play a part in events that shape our worlds. A new landscape of social influence has changed the game-plan for business, brands and organisations of all sizes and cannot afford to be ignored.


    2. If my social audience is interested in my brand then there has to be a common bond somewhere - an ambient warmth and something that links them to me in a way that is mutually beneficial. It's just a matter of finding the common denominator; a matter of tuning into the individual.


    3. Most definitely! I encourage my clients to step away from the traditional and to look at the whole picture, rather than focus on pockets of influence in a particular area of their business arena. After all, todays brands are far bigger than the sum of their parts and they need to look to both gain and use social influence through ideological methods of connection. It's a whole new way of looking at business and it's one that really works.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Mike, you have some great responses here. Good questions, here are my views.

    1) Influence matters because it is a proxy for the ability to distribute your message. Lots of social media followers doesn't mean lots of listeners, but influencers are able to contribute to the spread of a message in their area of influence.

    2) Social influence determines who companies want to make a concerted effort to engage with. However, social influence measures are unreliable at best. They may be a reason to search out opportunities to engage with specific influencers, but you cannot know who will be influential. Influence measures should never be used as a reason to ignore an individual or provide a lower-than-standard level of service.

    3) Yes. Even in the most simple situations, social media can extend a traditional advertising program. We have seen prominent influencers share our content in even these simple examples. With a well planned, concerted effort, you can (usually) achieve much more (usually because viral isn't always predictable!).

    ReplyDelete
  10. 1. Why does social influence matter to a brand, business or organization?

    Social influence matters, whether we like to admit to it or not, because of social proof aka peer pressure. There are few 'decisive' individuals on the planet and the rest want 'help' making their decisions.

    In order to prevent (or decrease the odds of) making a wrong decision...they seek the social influence, the sway online and the online energy of the brand, organization or business.


    2. How or does social influence determine who you interact with?

    For me, personally - I am just interactive, period. However, when I am strategically moving in business...I DO tend to seek those with offline or online social influence because of the leverage that represents. We can choose to move 1000 people individually or we can reach 1000 people through ONE contact if we are using leverage through social influence.


    3. Has social influence on your end or the customer/client’s end played a role in a successful or better outcome?

    That likely depends on who you ask ;) I have had those that I supposedly 'influence' come to my defense with a critic. I have had 'fans' raving about products or services and I have also recommended, suggested for or against things that I hope have spurred a positive outcome for those reading or listening.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Nice post,Marketing is about delivering messages to stakeholders. Whether your company has earned social influencer or capital and can leverage that to communicate directly with their audiences or your company has to identify others with social influence and disseminate messages through them to the end audience, understanding social influence is vitally important.

    ReplyDelete
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