New platform features simplify influence measurement: What Forrester calls “the new black for b2b brands”
Influence changes every day with the natural ebb and flow of conversations and content that is meaningful enough to capture the attention of an audience. We set out to provide marketers with an easy way to assess three things:
1. How well are they influencing the influencer at a given moment in time
2. What has changed in the influencer landscape; and
3. What should the brand do next to either course correct or optimize a successful tactic.
That is why Appinions is introducing a new feature to the platform – Dashboards.
Dashboards presents influencer insights at-a-glance, which appear in various Tiles for existing topics, programs or Gap reports. The Dashboard is a living canvas, which will evolve with the changing needs of marketers.
The various types of Tiles are pictured below.
Tiles available at launch:
1. Topic Tiles: Shows the “who” and “why” that drive changes in influence.
Topic Tiles (as pictured below) provide three key pieces of data that reveal the individuals and opinions that drive influence at a given moment in time.
1.Topic Tiles display the change in Net Influence Score, opinion volume and sentiment over a seven-day moving average.
2.These Tiles also call attention to bursting influencers who have achieved a sudden bump in influence.
3.Last, Topic Tiles show the most “actioned” opinions, which are those opinions that have been published or referenced most frequently across networks or media more than any others in the past two weeks.
2. Program Tiles: How are key influencers performing?
Appinions allows users to set up programs to select influencers for closer monitoring. Program Tiles provide insights that show to what degree these select individuals are driving influence within the program.
3. Influence Gap and Overlap Tiles: Measure Success in an instant!
The Influence Gap Tiles provide a short-cut view of the comparative influence between two topics or entities by showing a widening gap or increasing overlap. Clicking on the various areas of our signature Venn diagram reveals why the program is trending in either direction.
Our goal was to distill our complex, rich influencer insights into snapshots that show progress and inform action. The Dashboard allows users to get a quick status of key influence metrics related to their brand or a topic of interest.
Appinions plans to roll out additional Tiles over time that reflect richer insights that keep our clients better informed as to how they are doing, what changed and what actions they should consider.
What our clients are saying about Dashboards:
I am delighted to announce that Appinions has been selected as one of the finalists for SEEK, the inaugural innovation program hosted by Essence.
From the nominations put forward for consideration by an advisory board of high-profile senior executives from Silicon Valley Bank, Google, AOL, Econsultancy, House of Fraser and Essence, Appinions was one of only eight finalists to make it through to the live showcase in London.
SEEK will uncover the most exciting and transformative marketing innovations emerging from around the world and it is a great honor to be included as one of the best up-and-coming companies in the industry. The live final of SEEK, which takes place on July 9, 2013 in front of an audience of marketers and industry commentators, is a great opportunity to share our story and unique approach to influence marketing with a global audience. We are looking forward to the challenge.
If you want to tune in, the showcase will be live-streamed. Look for details from us next week!
Link to SEEK website: seek.essencedigital.com
Event hashtag: #SEEKLdn
You have a blog, a Twitter account and a Facebook page. Maybe you have a lot of followers or maybe you don’t, but you still want to be considered an “influencer.” And why not? Influencers are getting a lot of attention for the role they play in the consumer purchase decision-making process and some of them are working with really cool brands they love.
This week’s round up of top influence marketing news from around the web focuses on understanding what it means to be an influencer and what it takes to become one.
Here’s what we’re reading this week. What’s in your reader? Leave us a note in the comments section at the end of this post.
The State of Play for Influence Marketing in 2013 – Infographic
Before purposing yourself to become an influencer, take a peek at what the future looks like for marketers and influencers. Sam Fiorella and Danny Brown, who literally wrote the book on Influence Marketing, published an infographic with some tasty morsels of knowledge. For example, 50% of survey respondents indicated they will be allocating budgets for “influence marketing” strategies.
Read the full post here: The State of Play for Influence Marketing in 2013 – Infographic
The Influence Hierarchy
Jason Keath tells us, “Influence marketing is cool. It is fun. It is sexy.” Why yes, it is. That’s why you want to be an influencer, right? We particularly like this post because Jason explains all the basics and helps everyone understand the difference between being a Bieber and a Blogger. He also uses a lot of visual aids, which makes Friday reading even that much more enjoyable.
Read the full post here: The Influence Hierarchy
The State of Influence Marketing and Scoring Platforms
One thing a potential influencer should understand is that there is a big difference between the various social scoring systems. Some are more weighted towards a particular platform and most don’t take into account offline influence. Except, of course, here at Appinions where we take all channels into consideration, as well as topical context.
As a potential influencer, it’s important to realize that brands and companies don’t take many of these platforms as gospel. In fact, over 68% think it’s only a starting point, as Francisco Rosales shares in this post at Social Mouths.
Read the full post here: The State of Influence Marketing and Scoring Platforms
Content isn’t King. Trust is King.
Last, but not least, is this piece of advice that is practical for both brands and bloggers wanting to position themselves as influencers and the title of this post says it all, “Trust is King.” Yes, content is important, very important, to build your readership, but if you don’t have trust, you’ll never have influence. This post from SEOMoz shares 10 pieces of wisdom on how to develop trust.
Read the full post here: Content isn’t Kind. Trust is King.
It seems logical that success with influence marketing requires you to connect with the influencers who have the largest followings. The reality, however, is that bigger isn’t always better. If an influencer has followers in the right niche or boasts a high level of engagement, it may not matter if he or she has hundreds rather than thousands of followers. What will matter is who their audience is and how well connected they are to their audience. Here are some factors that make a difference when determining whether an influencer’s following is the “right” size.
Local Versus Global
A smaller following may be big enough if you have a business that caters to a small, local audience. In such a case, an influencer with a few hundred followers in your local area may prove more beneficial than an influencer with a large following that is spread across the country and unlikely to be interested in your local offerings.
An influencer with hundreds of thousands of followers is unlikely to prove an asset to your brand if those followers have little-to-no interest in what you have to offer. For example, if your brand caters to parents of preschoolers, but your influencer’s fans consist mostly of parents of teens, it’s a poor fit, even if the influencer has a huge audience. If, on the other hand, you sell a highly specialized product and your influencer’s followers all have a need for that product, that influencer may prove an asset, even if their following is small.
Of course, engagement matters as well. A huge number of followers doesn’t mean much if they aren’t well engaged. Remember, an influencer can’t get a number interested in your brand: it’s people you need to engage. As such, an influencer with a smaller number of well-engaged followers may help your brand more than an influencer with a large list of followers who initially connected with her but don’t actually trust her, pay attention to her posts or interact with her anymore.
Follower size can matter if your brand needs an influencer who is seen as an authority or a leader in a particular industry. In such a case, having more likes, fans, or followers (with commensurate engagement, of course) may give the impression of knowing more about the topic, being better connected with the industry, and therefore offering more value to the audience.
Each brand’s market is as unique as its goals, which means there is no one-size-fits-all for follower size. Instead, brands can maximize benefit by choosing the influence marketers who best fit their market and their goals.
Image credit: Skakerman
Some people mistake influence marketing for the process of getting customers to shill for brands.
To the uniformed, it may seem that influence marketing is all about convincing customers to, perhaps in an unsavory way, cajole other consumers into buying from you. Of course, brands do have the goal of selling more, but such blatant promotion and empty connection is most definitely not what influence marketing is all about.
Influence is About Connections
Instead of asking your customers to sling your wares, influence marketing involves making logical connections to people who have the right audience, and providing something of value that those influencers can feel good about sharing with their followers. It involves developing relationships and using those relationships to better inform and engage your target market. And influence marketing can help you do something so much more important than simply telling your prospects to buy: it helps you to learn what they want and need from your brand.
Influence is About Being Social
A lot of influence marketing today takes place in social media, with influencers using their blogs and social channels to connect with their communities. Your customers – who should be the audience of your influencers – use social media in ways that benefit and interest them, such as staying close to their friends and family members, following news stories, searching for jobs, or talking about their kids, hobbies or travels. They use social media for the things they value.
When a customer discovers your brand, or gets further engaged with your brand, via an influencer they trust, it’s often because they consider their connection to that influencer as a social connection or recommendation. That’s a very powerful thing for you and your brand.
Influence is About Conversations
Influence marketing can encourage the kind of conversations that help you build, launch, or improve your product or service. Your interactions with influencers stimulate conversations that provide valuable insight into how to make your products and services more beneficial for your target audience, and even discover how to make your marketing efforts more effective.
Influence is, Most Importantly, About Trust
Influential touchpoints for consumers and businesses are shifting away from company-driven marketing to consumer-driven marketing. By increasing the number of brand trust points™ you have with your consumers, you can increase the likelihood that they will engage with you and buy from you.
Influencers can create or be part of multiple trust points on your behalf. But trust is not bestowed on influencers by their audience, it’s earned. If influencers don’t stay true to their personalities, areas of expertise, and expectations they’ve developed with their followers, they risk losing their audience altogether. So when they work with your brand, it’s going to be only when they feel there’s a true benefit for their community, and that it will maintain their community’s trust.
When you use influence marketing for your brand, you aren’t asking customers to pick up their megaphones and shout to other customers, all for your profit. Influence marketing is both more subtle and more complicated than that. Make sure your influence efforts include carefully choosing influencers – people with the ear of your market – and enlisting their help to amplify your brand’s message and influence buying decisions in a trustworthy way.
It’s hard to get married without being in a committed relationship first. Even before that, it’s a good idea to go on a few dates first. What if you’re a single guy or gal looking for love? You have a few options; you could try the bar scene, get set up on a blind date or go on a reality TV show. It’s probably not a good idea, though, to try to score a date on a couples-only cruise. And why would you?
Influencer marketing works much the same way. After finding that special someone who catches your eye, there’s a slow courtship process that crescendos to the day you pop the question.
Here’s what we’re reading this week; it’s all about looking for love in the wrong places, one-night stands and why your customers hate you (ouch!).
According to this post by CRN, a whopping two-thirds of businesses are using social media, but less than one-third of customers think of it as a means to resolve customer service issues. Why? Most people think a brand’s social media presence lacks the personal touch. We believe that influencer marketing can solve this problem by letting the voice of people your customers trust represent your brand.
Amy Birch, at Social Media today, reports that a whopping 73% of Facebook users will unlike a brand page for a variety of reasons. Breaking up might not be hard to do for customers, but it sure hurts the brand! Some people won’t click the “like” button, even if they think your brand is great, simply because they might be embarrassed to make it public. Again, another great case for using influencer marketing to reach that audience. The same users that might be embarrassed to like a diet or weight loss product page would be more receptive to engaging with a real person.
Read more: Facebook Survey: What Users Hate About Brands
These two posts caught our attention this week. One talks about Gen-Z trusting mobile & social content and having grown up in a two-way conversation with brands. The other builds on this theory by showcasing the success of brands using influencer marketing on Instagram and engaging users to participate as well.
Neal Schaffer pops the big question in his recent post by asking, “If social media is about creating long-term relationships of value, why do so many companies target influencers for one campaign and move on?” He draws on his own recent experience reflecting on the differences when he received perks and when he was genuinely engaged. This post pretty much had us at “Hello.”
If you’re interested in developing relationships with influencers, be sure to check out our eBook, The Influencer Continuum™: From Influencer to Super Advocate and our recent post, Connecting with Influencers: Making it Personal.
Image credit: Krosstok
It’s easy to take the wrong path when it comes to television, ratings, and marketing via television. Though it once made sense to focus on the demographic for a particular show (and the accompanying ads), the intense focus on demographically-based Nielsen ratings may be waning, as much has changed in the way viewers watch television and how they respond to it. Rather than worrying about who’s watching a show at its weekly scheduled time, today it may make more sense to focus more on what people are saying about that show online.
The Old Way & New Way in Television
For years, Nielsen ratings were the major influencer of which television shows maintained their spots and which shows were canceled. The shows with the highest ratings enjoyed the most security. This meant the show you and your family loved could be canceled if the ratings were low, even if you and thousands of others had become loyal fans.
Today, however, not having the highest Nielsen rating doesn’t necessarily mean the death of a television show. Viewers don’t just tune in using their television sets these days. Instead, many watch via smartphones, computers, tablets, and other devices. And as people have turned to non-traditional means of watching their favorite shows, social media has become more influential in judging which shows are worthwhile.
Part of the reason the Nielsen ratings are so much less insightful is the fact that enjoying television shows extends beyond simply watching them. Many viewers spend time engaging in other ways, not only during their shows, such as by looking up information about the actors online, but also by talking about their favorite shows on sites like Facebook and Twitter long after an episode has ended.
Consider, for example, that shows like Two and a Half Men and Vampire Diaries have millions of fans and followers (29 million Facebook fans for Men, and 15 million for Vampire). Their Nielsen ratings, however, are not as high as a “hit” show might have had in years past. This means that networks have to consider more than just Nielsen ratings when gauging popularity.
Why Influence Matters for Television
The show Community serves as a good example of the power of influencers on television content. In 2011, the show’s third season, Community was given the death knell; cancellation was imminent. But its online audience rallied, and the show was given another shot for the 2012 season, premiering in February 2013.
On the night of its season four premiere, there were two Twitter trending topics related to the show: #sixseasonsandamovie and #savecommunity. Many of its fans wrote blog posts (or even created blogs) to stop NBC from making what some called “its crazy decision” to can the show.
Influencers stepped up to the plate to save Community for a 3rd and 4th season:
The blog post, How to Save Your Favorite TV ShowFrom Cancellation, explains how some fans have saved their favorite shows. The writer recommends contacting critics and TV bloggers who have influence over viewers. These individuals are in a position to get their readers talking and spreading the word about the show across the Internet. It’s a perfect example of the power of influence marketing, and a lesson brands – television and other – can’t afford to ignore.
Aligning Brands to Television Buzz
If you’re a television show, these lessons are paramount for understanding how to reach and engage with your audiences. And if you’re a brand who’s traditionally advertised on television shows, you may want to rethink they ways you promote your product or service.
The old days of reaching a massive, demographically-targeted audience via television may be coming to an end. Instead, consider reaching out to the influencers who care about certain shows and who can amplify your brand messages to their followers.
The foundation of influence marketing is building relationships with individuals who are in a position to help your brand increase awareness, build reputation, connect with an audience, and make sales. The basis for all of these goals is the development of a relationship with an influencer.
So once you’ve decided to reach out to influencers, should you do so as a brand or as an individual? Just who owns (or should own) these influencer relationships?
Our answer: Influencers want to develop relationships with people, so it makes sense to reach out as yourself – a living and breathing person – rather than a brand.
There are ways to use all of the communications methods at your disposal to reach out as an individual, while still maintaining your brand connection:
An Alternative: Creating a Social Media Persona
Of course, you can also create a new persona to indicate that you work with a brand. This persona becomes your identity for using social media on behalf of the brand. For example, you could choose a handle like AbbyatWGBaskets or Virtual_Nikki and then create social media accounts using that handle. This persona allows you to keep your posting, sharing, participating, and connecting entirely separate from any personal or business accounts you have in your own name.
This might work well for you if your personal account, current professional account, or the handle you currently use isn’t a good match for the business you will represent. It might also prove a good choice if the brand you represent isn’t comfortable with you making connections for the brand as yourself or using your personal accounts.
While using a brand-related persona is a viable alternative, you risk losing the following you worked so hard to build if you leave the brand later. The people who connect with you are not just numbers on a list of fans. Instead, they are unique individuals, and you spent time developing relationships with them. If you leave the brand and lose the persona, you also lose the relationships you worked so hard to develop and nurture.
Such was the case with Noah Kravitz, a writer formerly known on Twitter as PhoneDog Noah. Kravitz’s employer sued him for PhoneDog_Noah’s 17,000 Twitter followers after the business relationship ended. When Kravitz left the brand at which he was PhoneDog_Noah, he lost the identity he created and risked losing the relationships he developed under that persona.
A better option may be simply creating and maintaining personal accounts that are professional and credible. By doing so, you can ensure that both you and the brand benefit from the relationships you develop. And if you part ways with the brand, you won’t have to start at square one to rebuild those relationships.
How do you connect with influencers – as yourself, or as your brand? We’d love to hear your strategies and ideas in the comments.
Image credit: Esparta
Every year there is a substantial amount of news that comes from the New York International Auto Show as auto makers from around the globe debut their latest products. To offer an alternate angle on the auto industry for industry professionals and curious minds, Appinions recently exposed thought provoking ideas on the industry generated from our unique influence-based analysis. Last week we hosted executives from some of the most influential brands in the auto tech space at an intimate influencer dinner to reveal our findings. Here are a few of my thoughts on the influential conversations that we analyzed in our study titled, “Is Tech Swallowing Auto?”
Our research shows that innovative tech companies find themselves influencing a previously unrelated industry. How did two tech companies, make it onto the top 10 auto tech influencer list, when OEMs are usually kept behind the scene?
Thirty years ago, nearly half of 16-year-olds had a driver’s license, their passport to independence. Based on research from the University of Michigan, by 2010 that figure had dropped to 28%. That cultural shift is largely the result of technology – today’s phones replace what cars did years ago. Teens are no longer compelled to get into a car to socialize with friends or visit a store to shop for music. Smart auto companies have reacted to this by building cars that have “swallowed the phone!”
Let’s consider some of the consequences of “connected cars.” Take the most recent Tesla/New York Times debacle where Tesla attacked the New York Time journalist who published a scathing report based on a test drive of their latest model. Tesla reacted by disclosing detailed data showing exactly what occurred on that contentious test drive.
What does this do for consumer privacy going forward? How does this open up opportunities for advertising in the future?
The hype and excitement around autonomous cars is not to be overlooked. This topic gets a lot of attention because people find the idea of autonomous cars fascinating. However, the overwhelming conclusion from our analysis is that self-driving cars are for tomorrow not today.
Interestingly, before Steve Jobs left us, he spoke about Apple building a car. It must come as a relief to some that he never really got the time to explore this fully. It does raise an interesting thought; Apple with their passion for vertical integration – think operating system and the hardware (a car in this case), versus Google’s OEM approach of being hardware agnostic and building an operating system that allows autonomous driving in any brand of car. Who would have won?
Fuel economy is another key theme in the auto tech conversations. The IEA published a much hyped report stating that US domestic oil output would equal that of Saudi Arabia by 2020, but failed to focus the analysis on the fact that tight-oil production, the material that gets used in cars, will be one third less than that of the Saudi’s. Let’s face it, U.S. tight-oil production from fracking has been a remarkable phenomenon, but the IEA claim that we have reached energy-abundance by the grace of fracking is flawed and short lived. This is compounded by the fact that the continuous growth in motorization in China and the rest of the developing countries, means the demand for oil continues to grow at a faster rate than this temporary supply blip.
The sub-text here that’s being amplified by the media is this: “We should stop paying attention to innovative ideas, and focus on drilling in every possible direction.” This message is clearly reflected in our analysis where we show how the discussion around electric vehicles is still not as influential as hybrid technology. Interestingly, policy makers dominate as influencers on the topic of fuel economy.
These are just a few of my thoughts on the major topics and sub-themes we explored in this industry study. Please let us know your thoughts as you peruse the data.
Yesterday evening, Appinions (with our partners at AOL Autos) kicked off the 2013 New York International Auto Show by welcoming an intimate group of the most influential people at the intersection of auto and technology. We had the pleasure of being joined by the likes of Chrysler, Ford, Google, Hyundai, Kia, Microsoft, MINI, Nissan and Sprint for a lively evening full of stimulating conversation over delicious fare.
Our latest study, which was referenced in Jim Farley’s (Ford Global Vice President of Marketing & Sales) NYIAS welcome keynote yesterday, explores what is shaping influential conversations at the intersection of auto and technology. Influence analysis reveals that the top brands and individuals who are leading in various technology subcategories – connected car, fuel economy, driverless cars – are those that are driving the most influential conversations around the automotive industry.
The presence of tech companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple stood out in our research. As Appinions CEO Larry Levy pointed out in his welcome address, “Innovative tech companies find themselves influencing a previously unrelated industry.” These companies are not only present in the conversations, but in many cases leading them as cars aim to become more connected.
Ford currently tops all categories in this study on influence (with other established auto manufactures like Toyota, Audi, GM, Honda and BMW not far behind). Credit their ability to successfully leverage a key partnership with tech partner Microsoft for Ford SYNC and their launch of high-fuel efficiency cars for the brand’s resonant voice in auto tech. Ford is creating timely products that matter in these times when tech is top of mind.
Last night we had the pleasure of having David Kiley, AOL Autos editor-in-chief moderate a Q&A with John Hendricks, the Director of User Experience for the Windows Embedded Division at Microsoft. With the advances in technology, one of the questions the group drilled down on was “Is driving being treated too casually?” – meaning, where do auto manufactures and their tech OEM partners draw the line between what can be offered and what should be offered? Should it be OK to have access to one’s Twitter feed on the dashboard?
As Kiley pointed out, “Brands have some editing responsibilities to preclude customers from being too connected to external factors while behind the wheel,” and as the desire for more features grows from customer demand, auto makers and their tech partners will have to make these editing decisions.
The value in a car that has smart features (as opposed to connected) cannot be overlooked. “Instead of users having to interpret how different [in-car] components work, the system will adapt for the consumer,” explained Hendricks as he discussed the hunger auto and tech companies feel to push to the next phase of enhancing the user experience. This type of intelligence is illustrated in Nissan’s tire-pressure-monitoring system (TPMS) which not only tells the driver which tire is low, but also sounds the horn when the optimal tire pressure is reached. Amazingly this feature cost Nissan virtually nothing and was the result of a software tweak. But the payout for such a feature can be big.
Kiley highlighted this feature to illustrate an example of how brands should “delight their customers” with these sorts of features, and Nissan has excelled at this with their TPMS. We were joined at dinner by Nissan’s Global Chief Marketing Manager, Larry Haddad, who commented on the practicality of such features in the context of providing customers with something that will truly make the user experience better. Though quite simple, it’s a key differentiating factor that consumers think about when making a considered purchase. Sometimes, it’s not all about the bells and whistles.
Another interesting question was raised around where tech partners end and where auto manufacturers begin in a co-branded situation like Ford SYNC (with Microsoft). How does one brand not miss out? A look at these sorts of partnerships through influencer-insights reveals that often one partner does miss out on this branding opportunity. In the case of SYNC, it’s Microsoft as Ford ranks 1st in influence on the connected car topic; Microsoft ranks 10th for the same partnership. When brands enter in partnerships, this is a point to consider when developing the marketing and communications strategy.
The aforementioned topics were just a few for the many avenues explored at our event. At the root of these conversations lie the power of having a pulse on influencer insights and having visibility into how brands, people and entities are shaping trends through their opinions.
You can find the full study below.