The Nature of Situational Influence

In 1610 Galileo, now considered the father of modern science and observational astronomy, began to publicly support the belief that the sun, not the earth, was the center of our universe. His heliocentric beliefs met with bitter opposition from his peers and the church who condemned him as a heretic. It was no coincidence, as it has always been, that those who benefit most from the status quo prove to be the most resistant to any kind of opposing thought, no matter how much sense it makes.

After a year of exploring the nature of influence, I firmly believe I am now, and have always been, inconsequential. That being said I also believe, like Galileo did about the sun and earth, that our view of influence is strongly based on the beliefs of those that benefit from it the most. This current self-centered view of influence puts man/woman as the center of the influence universe – a view I do not share and believe to be the exact opposite of the truth; a truth many would consider heresy.

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The Twisted Reality of Influence Scoring

What compels us to believe in something even when we know deep down it is inherently flawed? What emotional need does it fulfill in us that we are willing to set aside our reason and embrace a vision of who we are that is not true or, at the very least, is a murky reflection of real life.

The current drive to measure influence reminds me very much of Plato’s Theory of Forms from The Republic in which he uses the “Allegory of The Cave”. Through “The Cave”  Plato theorizes the world we believe to be real is in fact illusion. Rather than subjecting you to Plato’s actual works (although I thoroughly encourage it on your own time), I will draw from that information wonder Wikipedia to help provide an understanding of the Allegory of the Cave

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Finding Inspiration to Write

Today I was part of a great Twitter chat #SOBcon. Lots of smart folks and a question came up that I found intriguing because of the dialogue it stirred in everyone.

“Where do you find your inspiration to blog or write”

The stir came when it was suggested that inspiration and having an editorial schedule could be polar opposites. Many agreed with this notion, some did not and sliced it down the middle.

The issue came down to this conundrum:

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Embracing Social Change in 2011

It seems predictive posts are all the rage right now so in my own mad style, I’ve taken a look at the tea leaves in order to share some “Sensei-riffic” (trademarking in the works) predictions for marketing, social, and the relationship between customers and brands. So rather than give you the usual obvious predictions, I am going to take a step towards the ledge and peer into the darkness. The signs I see  herald tremendous change that is just off the radar. 

So sit back, relax, and prepare to have your liberal marketing senses offended while enjoying or becoming outraged at this rum-nog fueled post! Cheers! 

Prediction 1: Social CRM will be a huge failure. 

Why? Because you cannot quantify an emotional human relationship no matter how hard you try. The quest to do so has begun anew with sCRM. To be clear its predecessor CRM is about numbers, not people. What other system does that to people? Right! The prison system! 

The same people who created CRM are now pushing sCRM. Same shit, different steaming pile. CRM completely dehumanized the customer by reducing the relationship to math. Next it is horribly lop-sided designed to deliver insight into how to get more money from a customer, not how to build a better, mutually beneficial relationship. Does it actually benefit the customer in any way? 

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Feeling Both Fear and Excitement about Facebook

On Thursday afternoon I was sitting in  Zoé’s Lounge waiting to meet another interesting tweep when all of a sudden Twitter began to erupt with tweets about Facebook being down. It was not dissimilar to the online reaction when a major natural disaster occurs, but of course this was only a virtual disaster. No doubt there was panic among those heavily invested and addicted to Facebook (see graphic below)  of which I am not one, but I thought this was a timely opportunity to share with you @JefftheSensei ‘s  post on his perceptions of Facebook which follows…

A rather smart chap I recently met by the name of Tommy ( @tommyismyname ) asked me for my opinion on a recent blog post of his regarding whether you love or hate facebook. This does require a name and email to download his FB report so be forewarned, but it is worth the read as Tommy is a very sharp knife in a drawer full of dull cutlery!

So do I hate or love Facebook? Neither answer works for me really. For what originally started out as a way to meet chicks for a couple horny college kids, its a smashing success. Whatever you believe, you absolutely have to respect what Facebook is – A Social Media Leviathan.

Personally I don’t use it, but I’m fascinated by its current power and future potential.

Why? Well, contrary to many other social platforms, Facebook has found one of the keys to success in B2C relationships – create an addictive positive experience. The constant flow of human drama from friends and friends of friends is reality TV served up in ADD fashion about your favorite people, your friends. It has taken gossip to a whole new level.  Add to this social games like Farmville and its ilk with the ability to compete and work with your friends delivers you addictive content of the highest order.

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Is Social Media Just a Channel?

I have been in some interesting debates recently on Twitter in chats such as #mmchat and #techchat on whether or not Social Media is just another channel. While I disagree with almost every word these particular people type, I wanted to make sure this topic was approached objectively… well, somewhat objectively.

Why not just share my intensely subjective perspective on this subject? Well, here are a couple reasons…

  • Its a burning question for many marketers (and now senior executives) that once answered provides perspective on strategy, integration, approach, internal/external policy, and execution of your social program.
  • I take my responsibility as a blogger and consultant very seriously when it comes to presenting and arguing issues. The last thing you want is a lop-sided diatribe for or against… unless that’s your bag.

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Engaging the Business Elite with Mobile

A week or so ago, I wrote an article for called ‘Want to Engage Senior Executives? Think Mobile“. Since this post, I have been speaking with some of my customers about advancing this notion.

Here is what we have come up with:

•The problem with direct engagement of Business Elite is that it is only possible once –
•You have successfully engaged gate keepers and influencers; or
•You already have existing relationships with them, i.e existing customers.
•It must be integrated with strategic sales and account executives, in fact, these folks are the best at leading the charge to engage senior execs
•It must be integrated with other marketing tactics such as executive events-seminars-round tables, blogs/newsletters, and sales material.
•All mobile content must be targeted at senior executives, which means really being brutal in terms of brevity, message and alignment to customer need.

The big thing we all agreed to was that it all had to be strategically planned and integrated into a long term demand generation program starting at first contact with potential influencers to working in support of sales.

The approaches and tactics we use to develop and maintain customer relationships are converging as quickly as technology is converging, but it doesn’t seem to be on the radar for most B2B marketing organizations.

The approach requires us to build programs that are horizontal in nature engaging mobile, experiential, social channels as well as seamlessly integrating sales teams and specialists; and ensuring that it meets the requirements of their busy lifestyle in and out of the office.

I’d be interested to understand what you think of this and how your organization is currently engaging senior executives.

Cheers and thanks!

Jeff – Sensei

The Struggle for Existence in Social Media Environments

The more I read Darwin’s Origin of the Species, the more I am amazed at how his work opens the mind to so many different perspectives on human nature, human society, human evolution and the environments we use to develop relationships. This is a man who had and still has a singularly unique perspective on the design of nature.

One of the more fascinating pieces of his work was how he viewed what he deems the struggle for existence, including “the dependence of one being on another, and including not only the life of the individual, but the success in leaving progeny”.

But how is this even remotely related to Social Media or farther still Large Enterprise in Social Media?

Well, try this out and see if you agree…

First, think of Social Media Environments like a living, breathing, ever changing ecosystem where millions of beings (of all shapes, sizes, and dispositions) co-exist and contribute to the ecosystem by consuming and creating food. Add to this another layer I’ll refer to as the food layer which is made of of ideas and conversations.

Second, let’s say that all beings within social media environments are dependent on one another; why else would we need followers? And that their progeny is their ideas and/or their brand; thus the need to attract followers who take on your idea and brand – metaphorically they become your offspring.

Here is where I’m going to throw a bit more Darwin at you.

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The Great Influence Debate

It seems every so often a major debate arises because someone uses some math to redefine an accepted belief. Not a bad thing to happen as long as it is to improve mankind and not just to make a name for yourself. In fact, challenging current beliefs should be a regular occurrence.

This time it is about influence and I must say I’m concerned.

The Grudge Match

In the blue trunks we have the challenger, Duncan Watts, proclaiming the super influencer dead and raising the common man up on the pedestal as the new super being – power to the people! “Nobodies are the new somebodies” his sycophants scream from their blogs and Twitter accounts. Witness this interesting transcript where @GuyKawasaki (a super influencer under Gladwell’s model) echoes Duncan’s musings to the mesmerized crowd. (Warning! The transcript is long and chaotic, but worth the read just to see comments from everyone)

Quick question, if @GuyKawasaki was a nobody, would anyone have come to #techchat or RTed his comments? Irony? Maybe.

And in the red trunks we have the current champion, Malcom Gladwell, the godfather of the super influencer via The Tipping Point and champion to the elitist perspective of the power of the few. In his corner are the thousands upon thousands of marketers and companies who based their marketing strategies on reaching specific individuals to spread the good word.

Now the problem here is our champ is fighting with one hand behind his back because of his own views on using Social Media, opting instead for more traditional means such as speaking, his books and PR. With Malcolm’s absence from Twitter – does the champ stand a chance while every minute his idea empire is being besieged by Duncan’s minions?

If you believe, like I do, that ideas struggle for existence; rising and falling as they gain strength or weaken to competing ideas then this could be an interesting fight indeed. Natural Selection at work.

But before we get into the color commentary of our title fight, let’s first understand what the fight is about.

Somebodies, Nobodies and the Nature of Influence

So is there room for a third idea here on influence? One that lands squarely in the great gray area in between these two polar opposites. After all, how can a complex human condition such as influence be explained in such a black and white perspective? How can math or even Chaos and Complexity Theory, for all its power, truly understand a highly evolved and mostly subconscious powerful emotional layer such as how we influence each other?

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The 5 Keys to Successful Online Demand Generation

It is good to hear senior marketing people beginning to talk turkey about online demand generation now that some of the luster and magic has worn off of social media. And while both customer behavior and online tactics have evolved, the essence of good online demand generation has stayed the same for the past decade; and really its boils down to 5 key factors to sustainable success online.

Before we get into the 5 keys, let’s first reach an understanding on what online demand generation really is.

First, this is well beyond generating a “lead” through a form or SEO/SEM tactics, although these may form a piece of the overall process. The way I like to describe it is this…

“From the point of first contact to the last time they (the customer) touches your online presence, you have created a defensible brand position in their mind for your product or service that leads directly or indirectly to self-qualified prospects for long term customer relationships and near term revenue.”

The art of generating demand, particularly in an ever increasing complex and noisy digital marketplace, requires an increasingly simple and targeted approach.

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