Posted by: pauditore | July 29, 2009

Bloggers are the New Influencers: How Do You Find Them and Assess Their Business Model?

Identifying and understanding the dynamics of communications today and how it is impacting business, and government is challenging many organizations globally. Suddenly, companies like IBM have a Chief of Social Media leading their Smarter Planet initiative and even Ford motor company is creating and distributing social media press releases. According to David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR and World Wide Rave, a Harry Potter Theme park was launched by conducting a secret midnight webcast with seven influential bloggers. Within one week, 300 million people knew about it through the editorial network that follows everything Harry Potter. Blogging is the game changer in communications these days and it is becoming more than instant gratification and free information, it is the new influencer channel.

As I said during my BMA conference presentation earlier this year, social media and the platforms that support it are a new front in the communications war. Those organizations that are laggards in leveraging it risk losing competitive advantage and understanding the persona of their customers. And those government agencies that don’t engage their stakeholders will not have a clue, eventually becoming marginalized process controllers. From a government perspective, there is no hiding from the stakeholders and social media has already demonstrated a dramatic change in the political landscape in the form of, President Barack Obama.

For- profit business is war, and now many Non-Profits are aggressively competing for the same resources. Make no mistake about it; the frontline of business war always begins with communications. Before the Internet and Web 2.0 we relied on elevator pitches, press releases, advertorials, static positioning, word of mouth, advertising-TV and print. Now the new front lines have emerged and they are forming into social networks channels, peer groups and visual portals like YouTube. We live in a visual society and an increasingly visual global economy, and it is getting more so every day with richness of mobile devices. As the second largest search engine in the world, YouTube is now a credible source of news, information and product information that is increasingly being used in marketing communications. Marketing communications people today not only have to be good writers, and practice their four Ps, (product, position place and price) they need to be film producers and bloggers. The challenge to business and government alike is how to identify the influencers. The rapid evolution of social networks makes it difficult to identify and engage with these new influencers of the millennium. Identifying who they are and their level of influence has become even more challenging than ever for many companies both small and large. Who are they and how do we find and engage with them? I asked Margot Heiligman, who manages everything SME, CRM and MVP in SAP Business Influencer Group how she finds influential bloggers and measures their influence. The bullet list below details her approach:

How Margot Navigates the Blogosphere

  • Twitter (serarch.twitter.com) One of the easiest ways to find the top bloggers is to search Twitter, for example to search CRM use: (#CRM)
  • Twitter Ecosystem for example Twellow, Twibs.com directories that tell you the top Tweeters for a given topic.
  • Technorati Search Engine for blogs
  • Social Media Monitoring Tools: Radian6
  • Google Alerts
  • Blogging platforms such as WordPress, Typepad and Tumblr are gaining momentum.

(If you have other approaches to navigating the Blogosphere please comment on this post and share with others)

Influencer Business Model Assessment

Blogging is just one channel for some influencer’s communications and they may have several other outlets, such as columns, interactive web sites and many are accomplished authors and experts in their respective areas. Some have hybrid business models that can influence your customer’s perception of your product and services and they can enhance or deteriorate your company’s brand experience. Some bloggers on the other hand don’t adhere to some of the basic values of our capitalistic system and could care less about money and relationships. The first step in understanding the influence of bloggers is gaining a clear understanding of their business model in your market segment. Do they have press appeal (are regularly quoted in the trade press), do they speak at industry conferences, are they consultants to your customers, do they really have deep expertise in their field? Once you have established that they are true influencers that can impact business and brand perception, then its time to take the next step and formerly engage with them. The depth of your engagement is dependant on the business model and value system of the blogger/influencer and may or may not be possible.

Remember that the Internet is still the, Wild, Wild, West, there are a lot of pioneers, Indians and cowboys. Do your homework, use your best judgment and remember that any engagement relationship is like a date, hopefully leading to something more meaningful. If it starts out to be too hard in the beginning, then that is a major warning signal of what things might be like down the road. This is one true fact that I have learned and practiced in my business experience.

The Personality of Fish: Coelacanth, the Missing Link

Earlier this month I wrote about one of my favorites, the Great White Shark and I mentioned J L B Smith, perhaps one of the world’s most famous ichthyologists. In 1938 Dr. Smith became famous for finding a fish long thought to be extinct, the Coelacanth, Latimeria chalumnae. The Coelacanth was caught by a fishing trawler off of South Africa and at the time was considered the missing link between fish and reptiles. This find tremendously helped support modern Darwinian evolutionary theory, and that life evolved from the sea.

Nick-named Old Four Legs, the Coelacanth was thought to have become extinct over the last 200 million years ago and scientists were stunned to discover one alive. Apparently Coelacanth’s live around and near sea mounts off the South African coast and native South Africans had been eating them for years. There was great controversy in the scientific community about the single specimen that was discovered primarily because it wasn’t properly preserved. It wasn’t until 1952 that a second specimen was discovered and properly preserved for examination on a French island near South Africa.

Scientists used submersibles to view the Coelacanth behavior and during expeditions they observed that “the coelacanth retreats to deep underwater caves during the day and cruises slowly over the ocean floor at night to feed. It uses it fins much like a four legged land animal, working its right pectoral fin in tandem with the left pelvic fin and vice versa. The lobed fins are extremely mobile and can be rotated through 100 degrees; however the fins are not used to propel its body along the ocean floor. The fish also performs peculiar head stands and it is thought that the animal uses its unique electro-receptive rostral organ in this behavior to detect its prey. The coelacanth is a beautiful steel-blue color with light iridescent markings along its body (each animal has unique markings) that camouflages the fish and blends in with its volcanic rock environment that is dotted with light colored oyster shells.” This content is from the JLB Smith Institute of Ichthyology website at:

http://cdserver2.ru.ac.za/cd/011120_1/Aqua/Ichthyology/Ichthyology/JLB.htm

I hope that you have enjoyed the Personality of Fish segment of my posts, as you may realize, I love the ocean and everything about it. So great selling and marketing in the millennium and know your influencers.

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