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« Understanding Digital Body Language | Main | What SXSW Taught Me About Building A Serendipity Engine »

January 29, 2011


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Hi Rachel.
I like this article a lot.

I'm wondering what your thoughts are on sales people versus a "flow of influencers?" Are sales people kind of like the leaders you talked about?


Account Deleted

Good thoughts. These debates are not really new, just louder now that social media is more widely adopted. When I was working with a client in 2006 we were focused mostly on bloggers. I helped them uncover, through links, who followed the influencers and then we went after what you term here the sub-network. To prove your point here, I have read (but unfortunately do not have the links handy) stats that say celebrities both in social media and in TV commercials are not pulling in the ROI - people simply are not influenced by these so-called influencers.


Hi Judi - thanks for stopping by and commenting. I wasn't thinking of any one particular type of influencing factor but sales people can certainly be one type. Influence comes from a variety of sources, some more personal than others.

Hi Sherry - thanks for stopping by and I agree - sometimes the people we assume to be influencers are not really. I think it is very contextual though. If we are looking to be trendy, celebrities may influence us quite a lot on the other hand if we are looking for a home appliance, not sure they would make much of a difference to most of us.

Rachel -- Thank you for writing this. The whole notion of influencers really bothers me. Not just because I find the idea of people anointing themselves influencers highly distasteful, but the whole logic of their argument breaks down at virtually every point. Reach is one thing but it's a fraction of the entire equation.

I really like your idea of a network and flow of influence. Individuals and groups contribute to that and the great thing about the web now is that you can measure that in real time. It's easier now (but not complete) to see where the micro-bursts of conversation occur and analyze how to contribute to them and the network of people involved in the right ways.

What you're saying is really important because it seems that in the absence of a real solution, people are buying into false ideas and products.

Gary Peeples

I agree with you.

I'm helping a company run a campaign right now; the channels are radio, web, direct mail, and email marketing. [It's a small business].

One method of measuring results is "how did you hear about us".

We they are finding is, they only ever cite either (a) the last point of influence or (b) the point of influence that was the strongest.

When you ask them if they heard the radio, or saw something online, you get a yes. So basically, it's a network of influence.

Measuring it, to filter out things that work less effectively -- I suppose -- is the hard part.

By the way, LOVE your blog. Well done. First time here!


Thanks Gary - some of this thinking comes from online advertising in fact. aQantive (now Microsoft) has algorithms that allow attribution back to a set of online ads rather than just the referring ad. Behavior advertising has helped online ad platforms measure the full cycle time of behavior more accurately. The underlying human behavior is the same - it takes a variety of touch points over time to change our behavior.


Agree 100%

Funny how we end up replicating other models from other media. Just as for years companies have paid ads on TV, and pay even more if it's prime time or a famous TV program (=influencer, ergo supposedly higher reach), companies are now obsessed with squandering CM resources (what they think CM is) on spotting twitter influencers and a-list blogger for their brands. And that's why many companies and institutions, when hiring a CM, they just focus on the candidate social network profiles to see their nr of followers, etc. That's our human nature and I'm pessimistic about it. I mean, realistic. We are inconsistent and incoherent, meaning: we never apply to our jobs what we do as users. As users we never buy just because some tell us, just because some famous actor (influencer) says so on TV...but as company owners we want the shortest path to success. And we think 'influencers' is the road to get there.

We forget that empires such as Google weren't born on this model. At the beginning, Google was word of mouth that got global and mixed, not only A-list but anyone...remember my brother recommending me to use Google when everybody was using Yahoo yet. And my brother is no influencer at all, as understood by the social media pundits that are ruining what SM could be. Can't blame them, as I say it's human nature.

And by the way, you mention ROI. ROI is hard to trace back when you can't remember -as you sharply point out- who was exactly the one that made the trigger.

Great post, as usual.

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