In a recent post by Brian Solis “Influencing the Influencer” I was struck by the image showing a definition of leadership. Solis goes on to suggest how important people are in the marketing mix. Rightly so, he sets the context as the ‘attention economy’ as many who participate in social networks have an insatiable appetite for attention, notably those who see themselves as “authorities and tastemakers” or at that exalted level of self-actualisation, brands. Apparently, these are the folks that brands must recruit across the social media galaxy in order to truly lead, then connect with the broader audience – the ‘everyman’, in a most sincere and meaningful way.
So, like the days of television rabbit ears, brands need a shill: “A person who publicizes or praises something or someone for reasons of self-interest, personal profit, or friendship or loyalty.” (via Dictionary.com)
This is the oldest game in the advertising playbook. The difference is of course, that the brand is supposed to recruit people who come from a superior gene pool, that of the online reviewer or opinion leader. It’s real time, it’s from the heart and… it’s transparent. To reinforce this approach, a number of SaaS applications are mentioned such as Klout and PeerIndex that use ‘human’ algorithms to calculate one’s social currency (capital?). It’s so valuable, anyone can calculate their influence scores for free.
Has it occured to those who advocate this kind of approach to identifying influencers that some consumers have no interest is what others think? Rather, consumers prefer to try things themselves. In otherwords, they prefer to take the lead, thank you very much.
For marketing managers, understanding customer preferences and value drivers, is really the first place to start. Management by algorithms alone is a very dangerous thing to do as it places limits on the ability to learn, develop insight and understand consumer behaviour in context.
As in using spell check, your facility with language doesn’t improve over time.
– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia