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We all know the power of moms and their ability to change the world we live in on a day-to-day basis, but did you know moms are now changing the world through social media?

A recent survey conducted by Burst Media sought to uncover deeper insights regarding audience interaction and uses with social media, as well as how blogs and bloggers can influence the purchasing decisions made by their readers.  The survey found that not only are moms highly active with social media; they also have the largest presence throughout the social web.

Three out of five moms visit their favorite social media sites at least a few times throughout any given day.  Moms are now engaging with family and friends through social media more than ever.

When it comes to “liking” or following their favorite content on social media, the survey showed that moms are the heaviest users of this feature with 70.6% frequently or occasionally liking a brand or product. So, what is the reason for such high numbers? Moms use this feature to gather and share content with their family and friends. They also want to be heard by the brand; therefore 33.3% say they follow brands on social media to share their opinions or comments towards the content.

With such strong statistics showing mom interaction with social media, it should come as no surprise to you that 3 out of 4 moms, or 74.4%, of moms who follow blogs say the mention or promotion of a brand within the context of a blog influences their purchasing decisions.

Moms and their opinions are now more valuable than ever to any given brand. This survey brings a new meaning to the saying, “Mom approved”.

Advertisements

Research continues to tell us we’re in the golden age of digital media. The brands that reap the benefits understand how to create knock-your-socks off content and stories, engage relevant influencers to share their stories, and nurture the fans they accrue.

However there are still a lot of questions around the right way for brands to approach and engage influencers, and what success looks like.

The tech industry has had some very valuable conversations throughout the last two decades about CRM [customer relationship management], but not about IRM [influencer relationship management].

Call us old fashioned but we believe there’s a right way and a wrong way to engage influencers, and we feel Emily Post is on our side here. Below are nine tips we feel will set you in the right direction on your influencer relationship management journey.

Nine tips to engage influencers:

 1. If you see Oprah at Starbucks, stay cool.

In the off chance that Oprah is hanging out at your neighborhood Starbucks in an intimate conversation with Stedman or Gayle, would you interrupt her latte to tell her about your new product that would just be perfect on the O’s favorite things list? We hope not because we fear you’d experience the wrath of Oprah, the most famous influencer in the world who values her privacy. While we might be eager to get in front of the right people, respecting the privacy of the right people is really important.

2. Engagements should be channel specific.

In light of tip number one, if you do approach Oprah in the right venue and she does like your product it is highly likely she will have a special channel in mind. She probably won’t want to share this on her personal Facebook page. Brands need to be mindful that influencers don’t necessarily want to share specific pieces of content in all channels. We need to respect their privacy and the channels that aren’t relevant to us.

3. When in Rome.

They say when in Rome, do as the Romans. If your influencers are brewery officionados, engage them at or about their favorite local brewery. Go where they hang out, and speak their language. Spend the time to do your homework, and show them you’ve done your research. Rather than doing 20 one size fits all letters, you’ll write one strong letter, or have one meeting and get some powerful results.

4. Take your time.

Relationships–solid ones–can take years to build. Create a rolodex of these influencers and don’t just learn their area of expertise, but understand who they are on a personal level. Today the first step to learning about your contact is some initial Googling. It’s very easy, and incredibly critical.

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5. Don’t only target the most popular influencers.

Many times the second tier of influencers will be just as or equally powerful as the first tier of influencers. They’ll also be more responsive to your request. Many times the most powerful influencers have the least amount of time, and won’t work as hard on your campaign as the mid-tier influencers who are grateful you reached out to them.

6. Make it about them.

If you’re writing an email or making a cold call, your first few sentences should focus on the influencer. Don’t spend the first portion of your outreach on what your brand sells. On that note, if you listen more than you talk, you’re different than everyone else.

7. Nurture your relationships with your influencers.

Your influence shouldn’t only consist of emails. Get to know influencers through phone calls, and even meals if you are in the same city. Go to meet ups, tweet ups and their events. Understand who they are on a variety of levels, not just how big their reach is and what they can do for you.

8. Less is more.

When you write an email, think about how much content you want to read. Do you like lengthy paragraphs, or do you prefer to read small chunks of information? Think about the fact that no one ever said, wow that speech, movie, blog or contract was too short. In a time-strapped society, influencers appreciate your brevity.

9. Collaborate, don’t preach.

Often, especially when it comes to content, the influencer knows better than the brand. Co-creating collateral or content will be more powerful than if the brand were to dictate this themselves. This comes back to the power of listening.

Your relationships are everything. If you nurture your relationships, over time they will be your most competitive advantage. Get started on your IRM [influencer relationship management] today!

Linqia matches brands with influential community leaders who share authentic digital content and meaningful stories among targeted groups of people. Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Google + and YouTube.

Have you ever gone on vacation and noticed your Klout score plummet? Does that mean you are less influential than you were before you went on vacation?

Brian Solis‘ new Altimeter Report “The Rise of Digital Influence” shares that current influencer metric platforms reward the individuals who are not necessarily the most influential.

Solis says that these influencer programs are not a true measure of influence because those who don’t game the system end up getting written out of it [eg taking a vacation]. Currently vendors are shaping the behaviors of the people who care about the score, rather than supporting the nature of influence and groups

Klout generates its influence number via twitter [retweets and mentions], Facebook [comments, wall-posts, likes], LinkedIn [comments, likes], Foursquare [tips, to-do’s, done] and Google + [comments, reshares].

Solis says that whilethese tools are sophisticated algorithms to calculate a corresponding number, theydo not take into account all of the complexities of influence and the nature of relationships between people in social networks.”

In the real world, influential people don’t attain influence by trying to be influential. Influence is built by passion, consistency and commitment. The individual is passionate about something and they talk about it, a lot. They spend countless hours in their community. And many of the communities where one would see real influence are not included in the vendor algorithms currently.

For example, there are over fifty million groups on Facebook, two million groups on LinkedIn, one hundred thousand communities on Ning, ten million groups on Yahoo! and that doesn’t include the thousands of other platforms hosting millions of niche groups. Out of these communities, there are five to ten percent that are active and thriving. Within this five to ten percent of active communities influencers (community leaders) hold a different kind of sway with their communities. Many of the strongest relationships exist in forums or niche communities where engagement levels are incredibly high. Much higher than you would find than on a brand’s Facebook page.

When the community leader says jump, the community jumps. It’s the trust established in these private forums that show deeply engaged community members, and deeply committed influencers (who don’t have a Klout score).

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Vendors who arrived first should be recognized and applauded for the path they’ve paved. In parallel, it’s a great time to examine where we are, and where we need to be to provide the most value to the entities that want to connect with their advocates in a different way.

Consider the comments of David Armano of Edelman Digital who said in the same report, “the idea that only large networks can cause effect is a myth.”

It might take us years to move away from the language of impressions. After all they don’t always translate into achieving a company’s specific end goals of leveraging social.

As technology providers, the more we can mirror real life, the more powerful our interactions, and our understanding of our interactions online. The systems currently support the people who work on social media and work at it–but not the other passionate community leaders who are truly influential among their cause.

Storytelling makes skeptics into believers. Storytelling makes sleepy oversaturated consumers into awake, alert and attentive listeners.

And storytelling is making its mainstream comeback.

Remember the 2012 Superbowl Chrysler commercial “it’s halftime in America?” I do too, because it told a story.

Chrysler conjures the Reagan campaign “it’s morning in America.

The auto industry struggles to get back on its feet and consumer confidence dives deeper due to steep oil prices. But the entertainment industry continues to climb (with a 12 percent increase in 2011 totaling 726 billion).

More evidence that people want to be enchanted, wowed, moved. The interruptive adverts aren’t sticking.

Noah King of the Barbarian Group talks about the increasingly compressed nature of consumer interest in a given campaign in his article Understanding Social Behavior: The Interest Graph.

king says:

At first interest climbs up and up until it reaches the top of the stairs; but then it peaks and slides down and down until it reaches the ground. This happens with every product launch, every promotion, and every new piece of content that spreads virally. The only thing that ever changes is how long the initial growth lasts, how high the overall interest grows, and how long it takes for interest to peter out to just about nothing.

Content that’s captivating and hits viewers on an emotional level will not die. These stories will continue to live in active thriving communities across the web. Stories have a much longer lifespan than an interruptive message. Stories have the potential to live in communities for months, and continue to be shared among intimate groups of people.

Image source Party USA

As Noah’s article points out, “the time part of the graph is getting more and more compressed, while simultaneously the height of the peak is getting higher and higher.”

Marketing in today’s environment demands we slow down and create meaningful content. If we do this we will find the peak portion of the time graph expand.

Brand Storytellers at SXSW 2012.

A few brands this year at SXSW took a clever approach to engaging the community at South by, and those watching on the web. One example is the AMEX Jay-Z Sync Show that generated a ton of attention via twitter, in addition to interest after the event (with almost 221,000 views to date).

A second example from SXSW was Virgin Mobile who launched a new program called “What the App!?” In an effort to gain social media credibility with the developer community via buzz, Virgin Mobile launched this contest to help up and coming young developers. The brand shows a commitment to building stories with and about its advocates.

These two brands are building new human-centric paths to community adoration, and reaping the benefits.

Fluid Enough to Adapt

Modern digital media “demands a way of storytelling that’s fluid enough to adapt to whatever medium best serves the user,” said Frank Rose, author of The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories.

Rose said, “People have always wanted to involve themselves in great stories. With industrial-age media you could only involve yourself in a limited way – you could read Charles Dickens or Scott Fitzgerald and imagine yourself in the worlds they described.”

While many of us still have a soft place in our heart for Dickens and Fitzgerald, stories need to be communicated with transmedia, in a way that considers an audience on the go.

Good marketing should mean good content. It should Inspire, Inform, Educate, and Entertain. If you do your job as storyteller, you will find your campaigns much more impactful—your efforts alive for a much longer amount of time than with traditional marketing efforts.


I go to Facebook for a few things.

1. To see what my friends are doing.
2. To make sure no one has posted a picture of me from 15 years ago.
3. To share a piece of inspiring content, a song from Spotify, or a Ted Talk.
4. To post pictures of my dog Athena.
5. To go to my running community on Facebook.

While I am a Facebook user, I’m also a marketer and a “content person.”

Sometimes as marketers, we have an “us” and “them” mentality when it comes to marketing. And while the word “user” is usually shelved for discussions about drug-addicts, this word “user” is representative of the way we treat our Facebook fans with a one-size fits all approach. Recent studies show it’s backfiring.

A recent Ad Age study—using the “People Talking About This” metric—based on likes, posts, comments, tags, and shares, reported that only 1% of Facebook fans engage with brands on Facebook. Further proof of what Karen Nelson-Field, senior research associate for Ehrenberg-Bass Institute said in the Ad Age piece.

“Facebook doesn’t really differ from mass media,” said Nelson-Field.

For all that we talk about the end of megaphone marketing, it appears we are still doing it, but with content on our brand’s Facebook pages. But it makes perfect sense to me why the same Ad Age article reported the average Facebook engagement rate from fans for brands is .36%.

Niche Communities Who Congregate Around Content

Today an article was released “How Content Is Really Shared: Close Friends, Not ‘Influencers: The Best Way to ‘Go Viral’ is Engage Millions who Share in Small Networks.”

The article says that online sharing takes place through many small groups, not via the single status post or tweet of a few influencers.

The team at BuzzFeed, a platform that captures the most viral content on the web, looked at 50 stories that had received the most Facebook traffic since mid-2007. What they found was the largest stories on Facebook were the “product of lots of intimate sharing — not one person sharing and hundreds of thousands of people clicking.” People share information when it’s relevant to the people in their own community, among their friends.

If I want to talk about running, I go to my closed running community. I trained for the SF Women’s Nike marathon last fall. I belonged to a private Facebook Group with the other East Bay Team in Training members. If I wanted to talk about anything related to marathon training, I would only post content about it in this particular closed Facebook group.

I wouldn’t burden all of my Facebook friends with these intricate details about marathon training, because they simply wouldn’t be interested.

Picture of my offline Facebook group, my coach Al (see Do the Damn Thing shirt), and me at the actual SF marathon.



The Buzzfeed team says “content goes viral when it spreads beyond a particular sphere of influence and spreads across the social web via ordinarily people sharing with their friends.”

We know this makes sense when we think of how we use Facebook, so why do we continue to throw content at the wall and hope it sticks?

Houston we have a problem.

What do you think?

Did you know that 54% of women try on at least ten pairs of jeans to find even one pair that fits?

Shopping is an emotional activity for people—and shopping for that perfect pair of jeans can be a difficult task, especially for moms who want to feel comfortable in their clothes without losing their sense of style.

Levi’s took note that one jean size in no way fits all—especially for new moms—and came up with Curve ID, a way for women to build their own jeans according to their shape, a friendlier measurement to the traditional size metric.

What is Curve ID?

Meet Sarah James, a mother of two who has an engaged community who follow her blog Whoorl where she talks about everything from beauty, to food, to raising children, and more.

Sarah’s story is relevant for a few reasons.

One of them is the fact that Sarah is a mom blogger. More and more moms are building a life for themselves from their home office—where they can keep one eye on their children while pursuing their passion and earning income.

Brands like Levi’s know they need to earn trust with the Sarahs of the world through relevant individualized products, and messaging that’s pure and honest.

If you’re like me you DVR most of your favorite shows because you hate advertising. But, this piece of content that focuses on Sarah’s story I really enjoyed watching. In fact I’ve watched a few of these different Curve ID short stories.

“Content Marketing”

What Levi’s created is the opposite of what has been termed “content marketing” as defined by David Spark of Spark Media Solutions. Spark wrote in article “Why we should stop using the term ‘content marketing.”

Spark says, “There is no “marketing.” When you create content to inform and educate, you’re providing answers that may fulfill a step in the sales process, and you may be strengthening trust of your brand, but that’s true of all content…. The name ‘content marketing’ assumes a sales pitch within the content. If there was a sales pitch in the content it would be called ‘advertising.’”

Spark has a solid point. Brands need to inform, engage, entertain and inspire. All brands make themselves attractive to the community by listening and serving its community [based on the needs of the community].

When we say “community” we don’t just mean one general group. Just like the women who shop for jeans, a one size fits all approach will not work. There are hundreds of thousands of variations on community shape. Just as Levi’s did with Curve ID, content and approach should be curved according to the needs of that particular community.

“As I was rocking my daughter Tahlia to sleep, I felt an overwhelming sadness that brought me to tears. I thought of all the Haitian mothers who were in chaos and darkness,” said Janine Cuthbertson, founder of the Moms for Moms Communities after the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January of 2010.

A ten year Colorado resident, she once lived in Miami and worked with Haitian students.
She was one of many moms in her community who felt disconnected to what was happening abroad and frustrated that she could not immediately offer help to these Haitian families.

Janine decided to take action by organizing a local relief effort. She needed a way to organize with her local community, and leveraged a local email distribution list.

As she carried out relief effort she grew frustrated with the limitations of email. After the Haiti relief effort was over Janine was inspired to find a better way to accommodate communication across the mom community.

Eventually Janine launched the Carbondale Moms for Moms community. This central hub became the go to place for discussion, community awareness and family support.


Janine working with the community to organize a relief effort

Janine’s story shows the power of passionate communities. Janine–the community organizer–provides a truly local experience for her members.

Janine’s community is bursting with user-generated content by moms for moms. She is the guardian of the community and cares about the user experience of each member and the overall integrity of the site.

The original Carbondale Moms for Moms community made traction so fast Janine was inspired to create more communities, and now the Carbondale Moms for Moms community is one of 9 thriving communities. All of these communities are run by moms local to the area of the community.

Janine’s story is a familiar one.

Gatekeepers of communities all over the web don’t want to inundate their community members with advertising. They are concerned with protecting the group. The community must always be a safe space where people can openly congregate around their passion without the interruptions of advertising.

At Linqia we feel influential community organizers like Janine are the future of the web.

We believe brands can earn entree into these communities only through meaningful, authentic content and experiences.

Only then will brands engage communities like Janine’s in the far corners of the social web.