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Where storytelling meets social influence

August 12, 2013 1 comment

Experience may be the best teacher, but a compelling story is a close second. This is true as much in the workplace as it is in content marketing.

Let me explain with a story from my work life.

The meeting about meetings

In one of her first acts as the new manager, Sami called a staff meeting with one item on the agenda: meetings.

“We’re having a meeting about meetings? What’s that about?” several people wondered. I had my theory.

The weekly staff meetings were out of control. We never made it around the table for individual updates because each time the meeting would get hijacked by the same four people.

storytelling social influence

Storytelling at work.

They would consume the time with tirades about everything that was not working and how others in the organization were thwarting our efforts. Eventually others joined in:

“The sales reps are too lazy to pick up the phone and make a call.”

“I’m losing revenue because the plant is holding up production.”

“We can’t sell this product because the finance department priced it too high.”

The result was always the same: a rehash of the same issues every week with no solutions, but lots of hyperventilating. Mondays at 10:00 were my time of dread.

Sami had attended some of those meetings. My silent prayer was that she would bring change. That prayer was answered in a way I did not anticipate.

She opened the meeting that Monday morning with a statement that caught everybody by surprise. “I think we should discontinue the weekly meeting. I’m not sure anyone is getting any value from them. What do you think?”

The typically vocal group went silent.

Then one by one, people began to list reasons we needed to keep the meetings. This led to a discussion on how to make them more productive. Then the group came to agreement on new ground rules for interacting: offer solutions when voicing a problem; time limits to discussions; no sidebar discussions.

It turned into one of the most fruitful meetings we’d had in a long time.

At the end Sami added one last thing. “I’d like everybody to have a chance to lead the meetings. We’ll rotate each week and the leader is responsible for gathering agenda items, circulating the agenda beforehand and enforcing the ground rules. Everyone agree?”

They did. Enthusiastically.

The whole thing was handled brilliantly, especially that last part. It started a complete turnaround in the productivity of the meetings that spilled over into overall effectiveness of the group.

Related: The secret to bringing influence in any situation

From a management perspective, the lesson of this story could be about enabling teamwork or leading change. From an influence perspective, it is an example of the power of a narrative to motivate and inspire in the workplace.

But is it storytelling?

Lead with a story

Sami’s approach to tackling this management challenge follows a simple storytelling structure, with a beginning, middle and end. Paul Smith, author of Lead with a Story, describes this structure for business narratives with the acronym CAR: context, action, result.

Let’s look at the “meeting about meetings” and see how it fits into this model.

telling a business storyCONTEXT

The context sets the stage for the narrative. It is the who, what, when, where of the story. It also identifies the protagonist and antagonist in a conflict. On one side we have Sami, with a desire to improve productivity. On the other side we have the disruptors with a desire to vent.

ACTION

This tells what happened when the protagonist and antagonist come into conflict. Sami opened with an element of surprise to break the thought patterns of the disruptors. They were drawn into a debate defending the merits of weekly meetings.

RESULT

At the meeting the action shifted from negative fault-finding to problem solving. In hindsight, we can see the lessons learned: putting the audience into the story, team involvement in problem solving, leading and motivating change.

Stories at work

We often limit our thinking about storytelling to brand stories, case studies and marketing content or presentations. At least I do. But business narratives have the same power to inspire, educate, entertain and engage as brand stories in our content marketing. They can boost your influence in the workplace.

How do you put stories to work for you at work?

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Common words that suck emotional power out of your content

blog writing with emotional words

You can’t bore someone into reading or sharing your content.

Every word has an emotion attached to it.

Every reader, regardless of profession or IQ, has an emotional reaction to your words. It is hardwired into the brain.

So when you are writing a blog post or other content for online marketing, your choice of words is important. Need convincing?

Legendary copywriter John Caples made a life study of persuasive writing. Once, he changed the word “repair” to “fix” in an ad and achieved a 20% increase in response. One word!

Related: A word reduction plan for lean writing

That illustrates an important rule of word choice for writers: When emotion meets intellect, emotion always wins. Analytical words activate the reader’s analytical brain instead of triggering an emotional response. Here is an example.

How would you respond to getting this email?

YOUR NAME HAS BEEN SELECTED BY COMPUTER TO PARTICIPATE IN A PRIZE-AWARD PROGRAM IN WHICH PRIZES ALREADY HAVE BEEN ALLOCATED. TO RECEIVE YOUR AWARD YOU ARE REQUIRED TO PHONE FOR AN APPOINTMENT BEFORE THE EXPIRATION DATE ABOVE.

It is loaded with intellectual words like “selected,” “allocated,” “receive,” and “required.” I think anybody with a pulse would be left cold by this message.

What if we replaced the intellectual words with emotional words? We might get something like this:

We have great news for you. You’re already a winner.

Here’s how you claim your award …

It is essentially the same information. But the words are far more likely to trigger a response.

Weeding the content garden

Like weeds in a garden, intellectual words can creep into your copy, choking its emotional impact. It is so unnecessary. When you are on the lookout for them, it is easy to shift word choice in favor of emotion. Here is a reference guide to get you started, courtesy of my copywriting hero Herschell Gordon Lewis.

content marketing emotion words

Boring or persuasive? You choose

Every good piece of copy has an emotional outpouring of words. But there is a big difference between writing with emotion and dumbing down your message. It comes down to understanding people.

People make judgments about you, your ideas, or your brand based on emotion. Then they justify their response with logic. It happens in that order.

Your challenge as a blogger is to choose words that arouse their senses and lead them to their logical conclusion. Intellectual words don’t do that. They make you sound smarter. They also make you sound boring.

What would you add to the intellectual/emotional word list?

 

Make readers devour your content with these curiosity hooks

create curiosity in blog content

How to hook your blog readers into reading to the end.

On the night of April 14, the ocean liner Californian has progressed to within fifteen hundred miles of her destination, Boston Harbor.

Midnight.

Second Officer Herbert Stone is due for watch on the bridge.

Reporting for duty, Stone finds his apprentice seaman glued to a pair of binoculars, staring toward the black horizon.

He, the apprentice, has sighted a steamer in the distance.

He can make out the ship’s masthead light, her red light, and a glare of white lights on her afterdeck.

Stone asks the apprentice to try for communication by means of the Californian’s Morse lamp.

A bright beacon signal is flashed.

No answer from the steamer.

“Will that be all, sir?”

Stone nods; the apprentice leaves to make record in the patent log.

Now Second Officer Stone is alone on the bridge.

Glancing idly over the water, a white flash catches his eye—a white flash of light in the direction of the distant steamer.

Stone scratches his head, picks up the binoculars. Four more white flashes, like skyrockets burst in the heavens.

Stone notifies the ship’s captain.

Over the voice pipe, the captain asks if the flashes appeared to be company signals.

Stone cannot say for sure.

The captain then requests further communication attempt through the Morse lamp.

By now Stone’s apprentice has returned to the bridge. The beacon signal is employed once more.

Still no answer from the steamer.

Lifting the binoculars to his eyes once more, Stone observes three more flashes in the continuing light show, but now his attention is drawn to the steamer’s cabin lights.

They seem to be disappearing, as though the steamer were sailing away.

At 1:40 a.m., Stone sees the eighth and last white flash in the night sky.

In one hour, all the steamer’s lights have vanished into the blackness.

It is not until 4:00 a.m. that anyone on board the liner Californian learns the rest of the story.

The curiosity hook

paul harvey, master storyteller

Paul Harvey

So begins The Light Show, one of hundreds of stories told by radio personality Paul Harvey. One of the hallmarks of his storytelling was the ability to build curiosity that made you pay attention until the last word.

Listeners would eagerly sit through the commercial break just to hear the rest of the story. Isn’t that the desire of every blogger and content marketer, to hold readers’ attention through to the last word of your content?

It is one of the great challenges in content marketing today, and cause for concern. Here is why.

Recently Slate magazine did an online readership study that quantifies the problem:

The antidote is to build curiosity into your copy to keep readers reading. I learned a copywriting trick that works wonders for this. I call it the curiosity hook. Never heard of it?

Let me explain.

A curiosity hook is a short sentence that signals something important or surprising is ahead. It is a transitional phrase that links two paragraphs either at the end of one, the beginning of the next, or as its own one-line paragraph.

There is a simple reason it works.

It introduces a question in the mind of the reader that can only be answered by reading on. Let me give you some examples:

  • And that’s not all.
  • There’s one more thing.
  • Then I made a discovery.
  • Let me explain.
  • You won’t believe what happened next.
  • Here’s why.
  • That’s when things got weird.
  • So read on.
  • But there’s another reason.
  • Now here comes the good part.
  • Then it got interesting.
  • The story doesn’t end there.
  • Here’s the twist.
  • It gets better.
  • But I didn’t stop there.
  • Then she came to a decision.
  • I couldn’t stand it any longer.
  • And then inspiration struck.

Each of these hooks creates curiosity by teasing the promise of new information. It pulls the reader into the next paragraph. The curiosity hook puts a question into their mind that needs closure: What? Why? How? Closure comes when they read on.

Done well, your reader can’t escape without reading to the end.

And now, the rest of the story

If you have read this far, you’re probably curious how the story ends. Here is what happened.

Neither the Captain nor the Second Officer aboard the Californian had interpreted the white skyrocket flashes as cause for alarm.

titanic storytelling

Drama just nine miles away.

It was a matter of coincidence that they had been seen in the first place. For earlier that night – the night of April 14 – the Californian had reversed engines and parked as a precautionary measure, halted in her course by an immense field of oceanic ice.

That unscheduled stop in the middle of the sea had provided the Californian a ringside seat to an unimaginable drama.

The distant steamer had intended those rocket flares as distress signals, and the Californian – only nine miles away – might have rushed to her aid.

Except for one thing. The steamer was sending other distress calls by radio. And the Californian was well within range of those messages.

But her radio operator was asleep.

The Californian’s fledgling radio operator – fresh from training school – was fast asleep in his cabin. And that night the ship’s Second Officer, from his vantage point on the bridge, unwittingly watched the sinking … of the Titanic.

As Paul Harvey famously said, now you know the rest of the story.

Now that your curiosity is satisfied, will you help satisfy mine? Let me know if you think curiosity hooks will help you engage your blog readers. Or, if you have others you’d add to the list. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like:

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Why good blogging is like ‘follow the leader’

6 writer’s tricks for grabbing attention in the first paragraph

What every blogger can learn from Frank Sinatra

How to be a first-rank wordsmith in the next 10 minutes

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To blog is human

to blog is human

Sometimes you have to unlearn the writing rules to find a more human blogging voice.

It’s been over a year since I wrote my first blog post and I’m just starting to get to the humanity of it.

I started with the goal of blogging as an extension of my job search. Creating a narrative that shows my marketing chops. That shoots steroids into my resume. That builds my online presence and personal brand. You know, all that marketing jazz.

Turns out, to get good at blogging I had to unlearn some of that marketing jazz.

A blog seemed the ideal platform for me. Much of my career has been devoted to direct marketing copywriting, brand strategy and business publishing. I’ve been an editor for many business newsletters, so why not wade into the blogosphere?

I learned blogging is different.

I had to set aside some of the journalistic tendencies of detached reporting and put more of myself into posts. I had to let go of the “brand guideline” approach to controlling the message and polishing each message to a fine sheen.

Related: Before you write your next post, remember just one thing

The polished, technically well-crafted posts were still missing something essential: a human connection with the reader. They were missing a unique perspective, a personal story and emotional oomph. So I looked for ways to add that to new posts. In reading other blogs, I asked myself some questions:

How were exceptional bloggers accomplishing this?

Do they have unique skills apart from other writers?

How can I figure this out more quickly?

born to blogBorn to blog

The answers came in the mail when I received my copy of Born to Blog, the new book by two of my favorite bloggers Stanford Smith and Mark Schaefer. They have written the essential handbook for personal and business blogging.

It covers the basics of setting up a blog, content planning, attracting readers and monetization. Most exciting for me are the sections that help you focus on your purpose and find your unique voice.

Related: What every blogger can learn from Frank Sinatra

One of the things I love about the book is its examples of blogging success by everyday people who share their personal stories. The stories range from battling weight loss, surviving cancer, reaching fitness goals and sharing their hobbies. They touch readers on a human level, and in the process build a community of followers.

These stories lead into a practical examination of successful blogging traits and essential skills that everyone has and can develop. At least half of the book goes deep into the “inner game” of blogging with action steps to develop the tenacity, focus, flexibility, consistency and courage to succeed.

The authors help you understand the reason why before the how to of blogging. Their stated purpose of the book is to explore “how blogging is changing people and businesses from the inside out.”

It doesn’t stop there.

Discovering your blogging skills

Another insightful section of the book identifies the core skills shared by successful bloggers. It is exciting because they are not unique talents, but skills everybody has to some degree. Through their research the authors discovered:

Blogging isn’t an elite marketing strategy. It’s a natural form of communication with skills preprogrammed into us all. You practice these skills every day. You just need to know how to summon them and put them to work.

What are those fundamental skills? In a nutshell:

  • Dreaming – Do you dream of making a difference?
  • Storytelling – Can you tell a story?
  • Persuading – Do you have passions and opinions?
  • Teaching – Can you answer readers’ questions?
  • Curating – Can you critique or categorize a subject?

If you can answer yes, you can blog. The good news is there are ways to summon these skills and the book shows you how. Chapter nine provides a simple evaluation tool to help you identify your strengths so you can focus on your dominant blogging skills.

Born to Blog is a perfect example of the maxim “good things come in small packages.” In 165 pages it gets to the guts and glory of blogging. Whether you are a blogger or part of a social media marketing team, it will help you connect with your audience on a human level. I wish I’d had it when I started a year ago.

[Disclosure: I have met Mark and guest-posted on his blog.]

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Make your digital profile stand out with a personal video

November 20, 2012 7 comments
video for personal branding

Creating a video resume gives you a dynamic way to make your personal brand stand out and to leverage word-of-mouth across social networks.

Have you considered creating a video introduction  for your personal brand? It could be a difference-maker in your career advancement or job search.

Anyone who has had the experience of seeking a job in the past four years already knows it is tough terrain.

Aside from the difficult economic times, the job search game has changed dramatically. Applications are only accepted online, where they are deposited into a database of potentially thousands of candidates.

Another reality of the modern job search is most jobs – as many as 80 percent – are never posted. Advertising open positions on websites and job boards is the last resort for recruiters looking to fill a position. Their preference is to search candidates from within their network before looking outside it. In this environment, getting on the radar of recruiters and hiring managers requires a new approach.

We are all marketers now

The cold-blooded irony of today’s job market is that the most-prized candidates aren’t actively searching for a new job. They are pursued. Job seekers need to become the pursued. They need to think like a marketer, specifically like an inbound marketer in the digital world.

The inbound marketer focuses on creating content that is found and valued by desired customers. For job seekers, I would break it down to two imperatives: be found and be awesome. Develop a personal brand identity that distinguishes you from the masses and build a digital footprint that demonstrates your value. Here is how I have built my digital footprint:

My blog is the content hub for sharing information and showing my expertise and thinking about marketing strategy.

My weekly e-news digest extends my digital publishing profile and demonstrates knowledge of business technology trends affecting the marketing industry.

My personal website is where I have dedicated pages focused on accomplishments that reinforce my personal brand identity.

My LinkedIn profile is search optimized to be found by recruiters for the skills I want to be known for. It is also the primary platform I have for sharing content and engaging with my network of influencers.

My Twitter account is exclusively used for engaging with professionals in my industry. I approach tweeting as a publishing platform, with consistent topics balanced with regular engagement. Anyone looking at my Twitter stream will get a good idea how I use social media as a marketing channel.

My Facebook profile is primarily for personal use. But it is open for the public to see and many of my friends are past colleagues. I consider it a part of my professional digital footprint.

Most recently I have added YouTube video to my footprint. Here is my video resume.

What video can do for your personal brand

Inbound marketers know the power video and images have to persuade and engage users. Ninety percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. When you are found by a recruiter, a video can break through the clutter and quickly convey your personal brand message. Here are the primary objectives for my video.

BRINGING THE BRAND TO LIFE

It tells my story in a unique, engaging way. In it, I can include aspects of my life experiences and work history that a hiring manager cannot discern from a resume. The use of images humanizes the storyline of my career path and reinforces the unique traits I have that comprise my personal brand:

  • Learning. My lifelong passion for continuous learning, inside and outside my profession
  • Creating. My creativity in developing strategy and producing marketing communications
  • Leading. My history of effective teamwork and serving as a leader
  • Achieving. My record of accomplishing objectives and striving for improvement

ENGAGEMENT

According to flip.net, videos have a 400 percent higher engagement than static content. My objective is to get attention, build interest and push recruiters deeper into my digital footprint to learn more. The call-to-action is to discover the details of my accomplishments and contact me to talk further.

BEING FOUND

Uploading video to YouTube with the proper tags and keywords increases the likelihood of being found on search engines. According to MarketingWeek, video results appear in 70 percent of the top 100 search listings. YouTube is the second-most used search engine after Google.

WORD-OF-MOUTH

A video gives me one more way to spread the word through social sharing. Besides embedding it in my LinkedIn profile, the video can be shared via this blog post, on Facebook, Google+ and other social networks like Twitter. YouTube reports that 700 videos are shared on Twitter every minute. With some luck, mine – and yours – will be one of them!

Technology has enabled video creation to be within reach of anybody with a laptop, smartphone or digital camera. Content marketers and brand managers leverage its power to engage, enchant and influence customers online. Job seekers can do the same.

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Why is consistency hard?

November 14, 2012 6 comments
consistency and context marketing

Old Town Cozumel

For marketers, consistency has been a simple rule to follow for communicating across channels and optimizing customer experience.

However, it’s not always easy to achieve consistency. Let me illustrate with a story.

One of my favorite vacation spots is Mexico. Years ago I discovered Cozumel, and became infatuated by its charm. It offers all the things I enjoy in a getaway: tropical weather, beautiful beaches, authentic food and interesting tourist attractions like Mayan ruins.

Wandering around the port district is an escape into old town Mexico, where roving Mariachi bands and bazaar merchants are framed by colorful, historic architecture. It is an atmosphere that takes you into a different world.

One year I planned a return trip, but all the hotels were booked solid. The alternative was to go to Cancun instead. It was nice, but not the same experience I had in Cozumel. In particular, the shops did not have the same native charm. In fact, they weren’t shops at all. They were strip malls with all the slick stores and merchandise you’d find in any city in the U.S.

The contrast was striking. It set my marketing brain to reeling. Logically it makes sense for retail chains to create a consistent shopping experience for customers wherever in the world they may be. But the context didn’t fit my expectations. This consistency seemed, well, inconsistent. Does consistency matter as much as we have assumed?

The case for marketing consistency

Consistency is a key ingredient for social influence, brand loyalty, customer satisfaction and integrated marketing communications success. Consistent actions and messages deliver many positive benefits.

Consistency builds trust and integrity. In Return on Influence, Mark Schaefer’s book on influence marketing, he notes “a high degree of consistency is normally associated with intellectual strength, logic, rationality and honesty.”

Consistency establishes authority. This year Altimeter Group published a report on digital influence identifying topical relevance as a pillar of influence. When an individual or brand invests in a topic of interest, they earn authority and expertise from a community of focus.

Consistency builds confidence. Successful relationships thrive on predictable actions and messages. When others know what to expect of you, they are comfortable in knowing you will deliver on promises.

Consistency strengthens your message. “People cannot focus on two conversations at once,” says Harry Beckwith in Selling the Invisible. A focused message repeated over time has power to influence and persuade.

Consistency sells. “Would you like fries with that?” There is a reason fast food cashiers are trained to ask you that. Joseph Sugarman, author of Triggers, says once a purchase commitment is made, a buyer tends to act consistently with the decision and is more agreeable to buy more.

consistency and context marketing cancun shopping mall

Cancun shopping mall

Challenges to consistent messaging

The “always-on” nature of new media puts demands on business communications that make it difficult to maintain marketing consistency. In an environment of rapid change, it can even render consistency moot. Consider:

Information overload. With the sheer volume of information on the Web, social media messages can evaporate soon after they are published. One recent study found the median lifespan of a tweet to be 18 minutes. You have to question the real impact of consistent messaging in that environment.

Real-time communications. Being able to respond to events as they unfold on social media is a powerful marketing opportunity. In the heat of real-time marketing it is also an opportunity to veer off-message and off-brand.

The attention economy. Because of information overload, we are increasingly challenged to find ways to make ideas stick. In Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath note one characteristic of a sticky idea is that it is unexpected. One way to get someone’s attention is to break a pattern. They explain, “Humans adapt incredibly quickly to consistent patterns. Consistent sensory stimulation makes us tune out.”

Putting it in context

Are we witnessing the end of consistency as a marketing maxim?  I don’t think so. It’s more of an evolution pushing content marketing toward a higher degree of context. It’s a call to a deeper understanding of customer and prospect personas to reach them where and how they are consuming our message. And of course, this has a shiny new name: context marketing. One of the better explanations I’ve seen describes it as using known qualities of prospects to present content in a frame of reference that is natural or noteworthy.

I’d like to hear your thoughts. Has marketing consistency become irrelevant?

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Measuring Klout: Love it or hate it, influence marketing is here

November 6, 2012 6 comments
Influence marketing is here

Social scoring has touched a nerve with some consumers, but it is a revolutionary business opportunity for marketers to reach influencers.

The Klout phenomenon escaped me for a while. It seemed to divide people into two camps: those who object to the principle of saddling individuals with a rating score; and those who obsess over gaming social media activity to elevate their score and lead them to glory. Much of the dialog felt like the jocks versus the nerds during homecoming week.

Now I realize both sides are missing the big picture. I finally got it when I read Mark Schaefer’s book Return on Influence. It was an eye-opener, which I can only describe in two words. Awe. Some. I knew I was in for an interesting read when I came across this passage in the introduction:

We are at the dawn of the creation of a new social media caste system determined by how and when you tweet, connect, share and comment. The haves may score better jobs, higher social status, even better luck on the dating scene. The rules of personal power in our world have been changed forever. And there’s no turning back.

The new rules of online influence

The book lays a solid foundation for understanding online influence from its historical applications in marketing, to its basic elements, its role in content marketing, scoring processes, and current and future applications. It covers a lot of ground and is a compelling read for today’s online marketer.

In the first section he talks about the evolution of earned authority on the Internet. The glut of information available to users renders choice irrelevant. So we have a natural inclination to seek out authorities as a filter. Authorities earn trust by an online presence characterized by consistency, commitment and affinity.

Scarcity also plays a role for online influencers. While content is free, the real commodity is time, attention and reach. Influencers serve as brokers or gatekeepers to move content. The real power on the social Web is in reciprocity, the subtle indebtedness of exchanging favors for the distribution of ideas and content. These new rules are a dramatic change from traditional marketing. And they are being incorporated by marketers in new ways.

Influence marketing in practice

In another section, Schaefer outlines several case studies of companies using social scoring as a driver of marketing strategy. It is a powerful testimony of the potential for leveraging influencers to create buzz that achieves business objectives.

APPLYING SOCIAL PROOF TO TRADITIONAL MARKETING

An online merchant that matches buyers with trustworthy sellers added Klout scores to seller listings and saw likelihood of sales increase by 500 percent. Social proof gave juice to the purchase decision. The scores gave buyers added comfort in purchasing when they could see how long sellers have been online and how active they were.

ENGAGING INFLUENTIAL FANS

Auto manufacturer Audi used Klout to engage technology influencers outside of traditional trade press to nurture brand advocates on the social Web. They also used Klout scores to interact with millions of Facebook fans, employing targeted content. It enabled a more meaningful engagement. The outreach resulted in the buzz and reach they were seeking over and above traditional marketing.

Return on Influence coverINTEGRATED INCENTIVE PROGRAMS

A consumer packaged goods marketer devised a conquest strategy by combining social listening and Klout data to identify unhappy competitor customers and targeting them with coupon promotions. It is part of an overall strategy to move from expensive coupon blasts inserted in newspapers to more organic advocacy and pass-along activity online.

MANAGING ONLINE SENTIMENT

One company CEO interviewed is integrating influence scores into customer service to craft rapid responses to customers with the most potential for spreading negative word-of-mouth online.

PUBLIC RELATIONS AND CRISIS MANAGEMENT

A corporate director shared how he used social scoring to manage a potential PR disaster that could have affected company stock prices. A blogger posted that a key client might be going bankrupt, an assertion based on faulty data. After reviewing the influence scores of tweeters sharing the information, he concluded the misinformation was unlikely to spread enough to have an impact. The data gave the management team confidence to watch and wait. The meme quickly died.

These are a few brief examples of how businesses are currently using social scoring outlined in Schaefer’s  book. Beyond the applications of early adopters, he concludes with a look to the not-to-distant future.

The future of social scoring

In researching the book, Schaefer interviewed 70 prominent thought leaders on social scoring and influence. Here are some of the developments they foresee for influence marketing.

1. The social scoring trend will help people reclaim their data and the value of that data.

2. Scoring algorithms will advance to measuring the dollar value of probable referral sales from the individual.

3. Technology will enable the understanding of network structures and influence of interactions in the network. Scores will be more about subjects of influence and the impact on the network.

4. Social scores will integrate into other key business metrics such as customer loyalty, satisfaction, retention, attrition, CRM.

5. Marketers will look to combine influence scores with location-based data.

6. Technology will seek to connect online conversations with offline behaviors.

7. Social scores will evolve into a form of social currency, where services are customized to individual levels of influence.

In this video, Mark Schaefer talks about the ideas behind influence and social media marketing discussed in his book.

‘We are numbers now’

It should come as no surprise we have arrived at a time when we can put a score to our individual influence. Google and Facebook keep track of massive amounts of data about our activities, habits and preferences. We are scored for our creditworthiness. Database marketers score us for propensity to buy. The natural progression leads to scoring our influence on social media. It has gone mainstream and has led us to new opportunities.

For those who struggle with the humanity of being rated for social influence, Schaefer offers this concluding thought: “Yes, we are numbers now. Unavoidably, we will be known for our Klout scores and followers and badges of social proof. But the smartest marketers will always remember that we are people too.”

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