thought leaders Archives - Harris Social Media

Three things brands must do before they engage influencers

on Jul 24 in branding, business, marketing, strategy, thought leaders, trends posted , , by

painting jesus sermon on the mount illustrate influencer

Jesus may well be the original influencer. Certainly the Church knew how to use him to market their product. Was Jesus the original influencer? Maybe so, and whether you are religious or not, influencer marketing is the next big thing for social marketers. If it’s not on your radar already it should be.

A post in Social Media Today highlights three influencer marketing campaigns. Such successes encourage brands and social marketers to include influencer marketing as part of their strategy.

Yes, influencer marketing is a vital mix to a marketing strategy. But it should only one part of the overall strategy. Even the best-crafted influencer outreach will fall on deaf ears if the brand doesn’t provide value, both for the influencer and for the audience. 

An influencer will not support a brand that has a crappy product or web presence. Would you recommend a lousy product or service to your family and friends? And no, neither will influencers, simply because they will be aware of the impact on their own reputation and brand.

Indeed, influencer marketing carries a risk, since influencers may be just as likely to trash a lousy product as they are to praise it.  Before jumping onto this particular bandwagon, influencer marketing must therefore be preceded by three essential steps. Look at these first, and if you can answer the questions, you are good to go! 

  1. Brand review — Is your corporate messaging aligned with business goals and your communications strategy. Do your mission and vision statements adequately represent your organization? Have you established a set of core values, and ensured your logo and tag lines match your brand?
  2. Social audit — Does your social presence past muster? Does your social media outreach comply with best practices (optimized profiles, engaging consistently and effectively)? Are you a Facebook-only operation or are you engaging across all relevant social platforms?
  3. Website audit — It your website up-to-date and socially optimized? Does it provide an interactive engaging user experience? Is it search optimized with rich content? 

Once you can check all these boxes you can start connecting with influencers. At which point an influencer is more likely to respond positively to your outreach efforts. If you can’t, your influencer outreach might cause more harm than good.


Social media and e-commerce come together in social commerce

on Mar 28 in business, facebook, thought leaders, trends posted by

Hiroshi Mikitani, founder and CEO of Rakuten, the largest e-commerce site in Japan and among the world’s largest by sales, poses an interesting question on LinkedIn: Does social media pose a threat to e-commerce?

He answers his question by asserting that, for e-commerce, “social networks [are] less [of] a threat” and should be seen “more as potential collaborators”. But is it right to put social media and e-commerce into separate silos? We are fast approaching an online business ecosystem in which social media and e-commerce are seamlessly integrated. Some call this model of business “social commerce”, a term coined by Yahoo in 2005. (Wikipedia: social commerce)

Simply having a social presence does not mean a brand is engaging in social commerce, but sites such as Etsy, which allow user profiles, reviews, feedback and comments offer an intensely social experience for users. And, of course, we are seeing Facebook and other large social networks exploring ways to introduce onsite shopping. Conversely, traditional e-commerce sites, such as Amazon and eBay, are trying to socialize the shopping experience. So rather than social versus e-commerce, we see a world emerging in which buying something online is as much a social experience as it is a shopping experience.

Could social media monitoring have predicted and helped avert Egypt’s crisis?

on Jan 29 in blogging, facebook, monitoring, News, politics, social media, thought leaders, Twitter posted by

Egyptian protester (Reuters)Much of the press coverage of Egypt’s present meltdown has concerned the influence of social media. Organizers used Twitter, Facebook and other channels to get out their message and instigate a popular uprising.

Egyptian authorities belatedly recognized the power of social media on Wednesday last week. They cut off access to Internet sites such as Twitter and Facebook, according to the UK Guardian news site.

Evidently social media has been an essential tool for protesters to coordinate their efforts. Egypt had already cracked down on bloggers, and according to the Guardian piece, “in 2009 the Committee to Protect Journalists listed Egypt as one of the 10 worst countries for bloggers because of the tendency to arrest [government] critics.”

Such a heavy-handed dictatorial approach betrays a profound lack of understanding about social media’s power to communicate ideas.

Is it possible, with better understanding of social media, that this crisis could have been averted?

Sophisticated social media monitoring tools could easily have picked up “buzz” weeks or even months before protesters took to the streets. Social media monitoring would have given the Egyptian government the chance to evaluate the response to its proactive measures and to adjust its policies accordingly.

A proactive approach might have afforded the Egyptian government time to react with conciliatory measures. Monitoring could have identified thought leaders and influencers, to whom the government could have reached out with an olive branch. Would they have avoided the type of instinctive crackdown that contributed to the present crisis? Maybe not. But in any case, social media monitoring would have helped the government judge the zeitgeist and to take appropriate pre-emptive action. Instead, they are now on the defensive, and if history is any lesson, have already lost.

The Mubarak government missed the opportunity to manage change gradually. For such lack of leadership, perhaps they deserve what’s coming.

Popularity versus influence: what’s the difference?

on Aug 12 in business, celebrities, social media, strategy, thought leaders, trends posted by

What’s the difference between popularity and influence? Is it important? Brian Solis has an insightful article that highlights the differences and why we should be interested.

It’s easy to get bogged down in numbers. How many followers do I have? Is your Klout score more important than your Twinfluence? How many clicks did I get on URLs that I tweeted?

Just to clarify for those that have trouble wrapping their head around the concepts(I do!): You can be very popular (a lot of people know you) but have low influence (they don’t care too much what you have to say). Or your popularity can be low (few people know you), but you can have strong influence (they listen to what you say and act upon it). For example, Tim Berners Lee, who invented the Web has undoubtedly had a huge influence, but hardly anyone knows who he is. Practically everyone on the planet has heard of Muhammad Ali, but his influence is not very strong.

So where do numbers fit in? Let’s look at an example. On Twitter Brian Solis has about 62,000 followers, whereas Guy Kawasaki has about 265,000 followers. So Guy is more popular than Brian. But I have never commented on articles tweeted by Guy whereas I’ve commented a few times on Brian’s articles. So for me, Brian is more influential (using his definition).

Personally, popularity has never particularly interested me. So after three years on Twitter I still have only 945 followers. But I hope that among those that know me, I have some influence — so that a good proportion of my Tweets are RT’d, for example.

My baseline is simple: to provide value (to my Friends, Followers, clients, whoever). By providing value one’s influence will grow, and presumably popularity.

For social marketers, the next step is to evaluate the motives and needs of different users to categorize them as influencers or popular users (let’s call them celebrities).

For example, a business that wants to increase brand awareness might want to target celebrities. The business is not necessarily interested in a call to action so being known among celebrities with a large audience is likely to achieve goals faster than being known among influencers who have a smaller audience.

But say the business has a campaign to promote a special. They have a call to action (e.g. “buy my widget”). Now they will want to connect with influencers whose followers or friends will likely act.

My guess is that we will see a refining of user definitions and categories based on data. The influencer/celebrity dichotomy is too simplistic for targeted social marketing. We will want more sophisticated models that incorporate the various dimensions of user online behavior to ensure our messages have the greatest impact.

A new way to use Twitter in the classroom

on Jan 29 in panconsciousness, technology, thought leaders, Twitter posted by

Today, Charlene Li, author of the influential social media strategy book Groundswell, tweeted that she was looking for practical examples of social media being used in the classroom.

Tweet by Charlene Li

In my role with Harris Social Media, I advise schools and educators on social media strategies, much of which I learned through practical implementation of the principles outlined in Charlene’s book. 

But one idea I have been sitting on for a while, simply for lack of resources to implement is a new way to use Twitter in the classroom. I emailed Charlene with the idea, but want to share it with a wider audience.

In my model, there are four key elements: 

  1. Every student has a mobile device that can text via Twitter (or Yammer or similar application).
  2. Students are encouraged to use the devices to message each other with tweets.
  3. Rather than keep these tweets private, the micromessages are projected on a screen in the front of the classroom (visible to everyone) while the teacher is active in his or her presentation of material.
  4. The teacher has a screen available so he or she can follow the stream in real-time.

This model would provide several advantages to the teacher and students.

  • It can be used on the fly or in later analysis to measure student engagement in the material
  • The teacher can use it as a real-time method to gauge his or her efficacy in keeping students’ attention
  • It allows students who are less confident or outspoken to ask questions and interact on a level playing field
  • The stream can be searched for topics and themes that may not have been obvious in real-time
  • It empowers students to self-police themselves for disruptive behavior
  • It could prompt serendipitous conversations and discoveries that would not otherwise emerge in a traditional setting
  • It offers an objective measure of teaching efficacy that does not rely directly on test scores
  • It represents a stream of collective consciousness (what I have called panconsciousness) that may raise each individual’s awareness of the topic

When I saw Charlene’s tweet it prompted me to go ahead and publish a draft this blog post that I’d been sitting on awhile.

I’ll be surprised if others haven’t thought of this way to use microblogging in the classroom, and may even be implementing it, but I have not heard of such cases. I’ll certainly be excited to learn if Charlene’s research unveils any instances. In any case, if you have thoughts about whether this model would be worth field-testing, please share them. I am sure science education researchers would be interested in studying its pedagogic impact.

Lead by example to succeed in social media

on Oct 08 in hints and tips, social media, strategy, thought leaders posted by

“A leader leads by example not by force.” – Sun Tzu

Reputation and visibility are the key to successful social media marketing, particularly for your personal brand. You enhance your reputation and visibility by being a thought leader. As a leader, you want to exemplify the principles and practice of sound leadership.

We can interpret Sun Tzu’s advice to lead by example, as meaning that to establish yourself as a thought leader you need to set an example. This might mean that you post original and relevant content on your blog. Or you thoughtfully comment on other people’s blogs. Similarly, if you are working to build your reputation on Wikipedia, write interesting articles and carefully edit others.

In this instance we can interpret Sun Tzu’s meaning of force as being heavy-handed and over-bearing in social channels. People who spam LinkedIn discussion boards with posts to their own Web pages or blog posts will be shunned by the group. Tweet nothing but spammy links and people won’t follow you. Users who dive straight into Wikipedia just to post links are likely to be banned by the community.

Other forceful approaches, such as when posting personal attacks or aggressive comments on a blog, are likely to be shouted down by other users. On a discussion board, such a user will be flamed (subject to hostile and insulting comments). Force in these cases will lead to loss of credibility and alienation. 

We can summarize Sun Tzu’s lesson to lead by example and avoid force:

  • Doing what you would like others to do
  • Do only what you wouldn’t mind others doing to you


Post 1 in the Sun Tzu series: Know your enemy and yourself to succeed in social media

Wikipedia: Sun Tzu

Know your enemy and yourself to succeed in social media

on Oct 02 in blogging, business, hints and tips, social media, strategy, thought leaders posted by

“If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.” — Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu was a 5th century BC Chinese war commander whose wisdom, summarized in The Art of War, reaches us through the centuries. Sun Tzu’s teachings have been applied to politics, culture and business, as well as warfare. 

In social media, you need to know your competition (“enemy”) and yourself if you are going to be successful. The first step is to understand who your competition is, what they are saying and where they are saying it.

For example, if you blog about food, you’ll want to research the various categories that are being discussed online such as recipes, ingredients, organic food, pairing food with drink and so on. These may all be specialist areas your competition is blogging about. Can you compete head to head, or can you exploit a gap?

Next, research who are the influencers and thought leaders. Get onto Technorati and look for bloggers who have the highest authority and page rank. You can use to check on the monthly traffic of these websites. Compare with your own stats. You can use the difference to set some goals. No goals, no success. Remember to research forums. A lot of conversation takes place on discussion boards. Use Boardreader to look for prominent websites.

From there, observe. Take time to figure out what tactics your competition are using. Are they focused on content? Are they highly networked through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn? Try to understand what makes them tick. 

Correlate your knowledge of the competition with what you can and can’t do. By comparing your abilities with competitors tactics you can position yourself where you are likely to have the most impact.

(Excerpted from my forthcoming book: How to win on the social media battlefield: Lessons from Sun Tzu)

Twime: Apportion Tweeting versus blogging to lead

on Jan 13 in blogging, quote of the day, thought leaders, Twitter posted by

Thought of the Day, Jan 13, 2009

I can’t abide absolutism, so a blanket statement such Ben Yoskovitz’s is bound to raise hackles. Ben is making the point, it seems, that Twitter is not a tool to create authority or thought leadership. He’s quite right, but is just stating the obvious. Of course, you can’t have a detailed exposition on X or Y in 140 characters. Ben creates a straw man, then proceeds to knock it down. No big deal there. What would have been more interesting, would be to look at why 60 per cent of top Twitter users are bloggers. Are these trying to create authority and thought leadership through Twitter? Nope. These “thought leaders” and “authorities” see Twitter simply as a vehicle to connect with others and thereby disseminate their content. Many Tweets include links to blogs or other online conent. Why? To share and communicate, not to build authority. Of course, if you spend all your time on FriendFeed or Twitter, as Ben points out, your blog activity is going to diminish. Any mature writer should be able to portion their time appropriately to prioritize what is important to them.

“But you can’t build authority and thought leadership through Twitter or other microblogging services (or aggregator-type services) like FriendFeed. Not unless you previously had some authority and reputation through blogging.”

— Ben Yoskovitz
You Can’t Build Authority and Thought Leadership via Twitter

Influencing influencers

on Dec 10 in branding, business, hints and tips, quote of the day, thought leaders, Twitter posted by

Quote of the Day, Dec 10, 2008

Social media, in particular microblogging tools such as Twitter, offers the possibility of one-on-one conversations with anyone who is interested in your product or service. Marketers have taken a keen interest in the potential for connecting with the most influential members of this audience, so-called influencers. As Nick Hayes recognizes, being able to influence the influencers can provide a much higher ROI than simply broadcasting your message, whether through social media or traditional channels. The key, then, is to understand exactly how to message such influencers, to ensure they become evangelists for your brand, rather than disdainfully (sometimes arrogantly) rejecting your approaches out of hand.

“While few people have argued about the importance of influencers over the past few years, we’ve been surprised at how reticent many organizations have been to adopt influencer practices. … These days, especially with all of us reading of an economic downturn, organizations know that they have to change from their traditional spend allocation, so there’s a greater willingness to do something different. And targeting a company’s business influencers now fits the bill of being refreshingly different and measurably beneficial in sales terms.”

— Nick Hayes, founder of Influencer50

Companies Waste Billions by Influencing the Wrong Influencers

Tim Berners-Lee is wrong

on Dec 08 in marketing, quote of the day, thought leaders, trends posted by

Quote of the Day, Dec 8, 2008

Tim Berners-Lee is a modern guru, having invented the HTML programming language that underlies delivery of Web content through browsers. So it is with reluctance and caution that I assert that Berners-Lee is incorrect. This quote for Berners-Lee’s blog is, however, a statement with which I cannot agree. Rather than making life “simpler”, as he suggests, the Internet has vastly complicated it. Not that that’s a bad thing necessarily. Indeed, the proliferation of information, the explosion of creativity, and the democratization of the media have improved the quality of life for millions, and enriched worldwide culture in ways unimaginable just a decade or so ago. So to say that the Internet has made life simpler is, to my mind and with all due respect to Dr. Berners-Lee, just not the case. It has made life so much more complex, rich and diverse, and infinitely more interesting.

“Let’s think about the Net now as an invention which made life simpler…”

— Tim Berners-Lee

Giant Global Graph