Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Monetizing social networks and the valuation of social media connectivity – 7: objectivity and influencing from a genuine voice

Posted in macroeconomics, social networking and business by Timothy Platt on February 18, 2012

This is my seventh installment in a series on the valuation of online social networking connections, and more generally of online social media connections (see Macroeconomics and Business, postings 42-47 for parts 1-6). I have been writing for the past three installments on influence scores and their potential use and misuse in market analysis, and in marketplace and customer community development (see Part 4 and Part 5 on influence scores per se, and Part 6 on some of the factors and considerations that would go into effectively using this type of tool.) I continue this discussion here, starting with a point I made but did not delve into towards the end of Part 6.

• Conveying a genuine appearance carries more weight than simply coming across as a paid spokesperson, and genuine voices do positively influence.

Quite simply, it does not matter how much influence reach a potential spokesperson offers, and whether they arrive at your business as a celebrity or as a crowd sourced high connections value networker. A high influence score can only provide value if the person holding it is seen by the people they potentially influence as being credible for any opinion or judgment they would share about your business.

Who would offer you greater positive impact in your marketing and in helping drive your sales?

1. A well-known celebrity who is renowned for their drinking and wild partying, and who has absolutely nothing in their background that would connect with what your business does or offers, or with its values?
2. That same celebrity but this time they have a positive personal reputation? It is just that in this scenario they also come across as serving as a paid spokesperson who is simply playing a role in a for-fee acting assignment and whether they use your products or services themselves or not, they are only reaching out to influence for a paycheck.
3. A non-celebrity who presents themselves with a positive image, and who comes across as a genuinely enthusiastic user of your products and/or services? And they come across as simply presenting word of their own positive experience with a suggestion that if other peoples’ experience and needs are like their own, they might find value in what you offer too. Here, the high influence score individual who would act as spokesperson might have a much lower score than the celebrity/actors have but they come across as genuine and as speaking with a genuine voice.

This set of considerations simply adds onto the list of factors that I discussed in Part 6 where I focused on level of connection to the communities that would comprise high value market demographics for the business to target for its sales efforts.

• With the wrong spokesperson for your business, their influence score might at best prove of neutral value and it might actively deter all those people reached from becoming your customers.
• With the right spokesperson, with a positive image who comes across as speaking with a genuine voice, even a more modest influence score as to size of impacted audience might offer tremendous value – and especially if, as in Part 6 considerations, their influence effectively focuses on the target demographics who could be most inclined to buy from you.

Note that I am not writing about disinterested objectivity here. Enthusiasm and even a sense of passionately intense and involved enthusiasm can in fact be contagious. I am not necessarily writing about fad buzz here either with a “cool people use this or do this” message, and add that pushing that as a message is more likely to backfire than work. It comes across as phony and certainly to people who have seen way too many celebrity pitches already. I am writing about presenting a message of being like the people reached out to.

To take this out of the abstract, consider a healthcare nonprofit with a marketing goal of raising funds in support of its mission: searching for a cure for a life threatening and life limiting disease. If a spokesperson steps forward to say they are involved in this fight because they have seen firsthand what this disease can do, in the lives of friends or family or in their own life – that can convey a powerful message. But just a clear, compelling sense of genuine concern and desire to make a positive difference in the lives of others can be enough to be quite convincing and even if the people reached out to do not know why this spokesperson feels so strongly – in this case about finding a cure for this particular disease.

I am going to continue this discussion with my next series installment where I will delve into the issues of social media venue and message. As a foretaste of that posting I note that conveying an effective message depends on both who is conveying the message and their credibility and reach, and on the mindset and intent of the people they reach out to when and where they are reaching out to influence. And a high influence networker and connector may be a high influencer in some social media venues and not in others (e.g. considering sites like Twitter, Facebook, blogs, LinkedIn and the host of review-related sites and social media venues out there as a partial list.) Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Macroeconomics and Business. You can also find this and related postings at Social Networking and Business.

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