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A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

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comicbookgirl19

YouTube celebrities – like comicbookgirl19 above – are the fastest growing media stars of our age, yet a group much of the mainstream media seems utterly unaware of. There’s an interesting piece arguing that female YouTube celebrities have greater influence amongst viewers than traditional celebrities, because they’re seen as having more agency – more control over their own image and business:

The reason being, the way a YouTube star will approach social media is fundamentally different from the way a mainstream celebrity like Taylor Swift is going to approach their Instagram account or social media. The mainstream celebrity is using social media as just another platform to project the same images, ideas and positioning, whereas the YouTube stars and digital influencers are using social media as an inherent part of theirDNA. If the fundamental flaw from the get-go is the positioning of that celebrity and whether that celebrity’s positioning is actually credible or authentic, it doesn’t matter on how many different platforms you express that positioning; it is not going to make much of a difference.

It makes an interesting counterpoint to Alanis Morissette’s reflection on Jagged Little Pill after 20 years – and how she struggled to keep her own voice within the traditional celebrity system:

But my growing desire to write in the no-holds-barred way that I now dwell in was being discouraged…under the guise that “no one wants to hear this from you, not the least of whom is your manager.” Oh. I wasn’t aware that I was writing my songs and expressing myself to make sure my manager was happy. Perhaps my burgeoning sexuality and coming-of-age were being made evident through the imagery in videos I started to shoot — nothing wildly gratuitous, but an indication of the sorts of places I wanted to further explore in my art, in my music.

I suspect the creative limitations of the next generation won’t be about managers or labels, but about necessary ways of behaving to get the reach and eyeballs needed to keep their publishing platforms working in their favour.

I wonder how long before we see a YouTube celeb release their own app for the new Apple TV?

Danger: influencer at work

Beware the hype of the social media gurus:

So what we have here are ignorant people (Vaynerchuk, Brogan, Kawasaki, and friends) telling big brands and agencies to dump their money into unproven platforms, or platforms with really shady metrics that they can totally fudge and claim their successful to journalists who don’t really know better. A tech blog may know to call out Vaynerchuk’s portfolio company, MeerKat, for spamming Twitter in order to grow their service, but other publications like AdAge won’t. And guess which one of those publications the brands and advertisers are reading?

This is a pretty harsh attack on some big names, but it makes some valid points. There’s a group of “influencers” who make the point of hyping the new, shiny thing. But as the death of Secret makes clear, initial hype has no correlation with long-term success.

Social media remains a social tool, and like all social interactions, take a while to establish into useful patterns. And some of them will turn out to be fads.

We have more than enough “social media influencers” hyping away. We need more people applying critical thinking and patience to these tools over time.

Talking of “influencers“, here’s some very good questions about the use of “influencer” marketing in travel:

Out of curiosity I requested the international visitor numbers to Costa Brava on either side of the 2012 TBEX event in Girona. Arrivals the following year were virtually static: 2,953,097 in 2012 to 2,965,649 in 2013.

TBEX is the largest gathering of digital influencers in the travel space, which makes it (even if it’s not publicly billed as such) by far the biggest “blog trip”. Ready for those big numbers? The event generated 26,967 hashtagged tweets with just under 150,000,000 impressions on Twitter alone. (Google TBEX Girona for an entirely unscientific snapshot of its wider exposure.) So if not in visitor numbers how did Tourism Costa Brava gauge their returns?

How indeed? (Spoiler: “branding”.)

And what does this do for the bloggers and the brands involved?

I honestly wonder if we even know what “credibility” is anymore. Does plonking that standard disclaimer at the end of a post promising that “as ever all opinions are my own” really count? If so it’s a remarkable stroke of luck that bloggers never seem to have a shitty time when they’re travelling on someone else’s dime. Do we know what this is doing to the legitimacy of our messages, and therefore our potential to “influence” consumers in the first place?

The Telegraph takes a sceptical – if not quite cynical look – at the world of the online influencer, especially those with a Klout score of over 70:

John Stuart Mill once remarked that it doesn’t matter if you’re influential: what matters is that people think you are. Companies are willing to pay hand over fist for UYK insight. Some of these high Klouters get paid for speaking or advising companies about “doing social”. Thomas told me that he can earn £500 an hour by training top CEOs “how to use Twitter” and how to set up decent LinkedIn accounts. Seemed to me like an awful lot to pay for what is, fundamentally, very simple.

Online influence sometimes looks suspiciously like a pyramid scheme: those at the top get more influential by building legions of acolytes who also wish to have “influence”. But it’s influence in the abstract – not influence in any particular sphere of life or business. It’s an abstraction to the point of meaninglessness.

Put it this way: I had a link from an “online influencer” recently. I braced myself for the wave of traffic. It never came. I’ve had people with 150 followers send more traffic my way.

Given that I spent most of social media week hammering at the keyboard of my MacBook, bashing out liveblogs for the good people at Like Minds, I’m faintly surprised to discover that I was, in fact, one of the top 30 most influential tweeters during the event. This, at least, was the verdict of the Brass Agency, who were doing all sorts of clever social media monitoring and analysing things during the week. 

Here’s how they’ve showed the relationships amongst the top 30 (I’m at about 7 o’clock):
interconnectedness1.jpg
And here’s how they explain it:
In the spirograph [above], each bar is an individual person or organisation’s unique twitter handle. Bar height represents ‘influence’ (as calculated by the factors mentioned above) and the lines between the people represent who is following who (blue to pink indicates the direction of the link).
These sort of tools are clearly in their infancy, and separating the wheat from the chaff (or the influential from the plain noisy) is still a challenge – but it’s still interesting. The blue /pink division give you a visual indication of where people who are isolated from the main “bubble of influence” which is a quick way of starting to judge where the outliers – and thus the potential connectors between spheres of influence – are. And that’s worth publishing, I think. 
That, and I’m easily flattered into publishing graphics. 😉

Well. I’m back from my break in France, and feeling relaxed, refreshed and recharged. There’s much blogging I want to do, but I’ve been flat out with strategy and training and liaison and other exciting work things since I returned. My diary opens up a bit from tomorrow, so expect a bit more posting then.

In the meantime, my ego, pesky little thing that it is, won’t let me getting away without linking to this list of the UK’s most influential online journalists. At the moment I’m 18th, and probably the 2nd most influential B2B journalist after Patrick Smith:
top100ukonlinejournos.png
If you fancy helping demote me, they’re looking for suggestions for 50 more people to add to the list.

Andrew Lyons

Andrew Lyons – Ultraknowledge

The dataeconomy is about turning information into a usable asset – and an engaging experience. So, there’s a reason to develop new business models. Lyons invested £100 in a quiz at the beginning (the money was the rewards) – he might get contacts, a drink, anything out of it at the end – but he’s trying something new.

He’s showing off his Twitterwall product, which draws out user icons, tweets and stats. Which came up with a 404. Oops. OK – working again. Lots of data sifting about the people who have tweeted with the #media140 hashtag – can this be used to identify the most influential people at the events? The product can build a relationship wheel to show you who is connected to whom amongst a Twitter community – and its being demonstrated with my relationships… gulp

They also work with publishers. They have archives – but now they need to think about how to wrap it up in new visual stimulus. They can create news walls for every sub-section of a publisher’s website. They content’s already there – they’re just giving a new, enticing interface. Here’s an example. You can search visually for things you’re interested in. It’s more of a discovery engine than a search one, perhaps – it’s about finding things you don’t know you might be interested in.