Influence, Popularity and Profits: Which One Begats the Other?

It’s good to be popular. It means people like you. They want to hang with you and they’re interested in what you have to say. On Facebook, that means a lot of people want to be your friend. If you’re a brand, they like your page.

Popular means you have a great deal of influence over those that follow you. Or does it?

Brian Solis talks about the difference between popularity and influence in an article on PaidContent.org. He states that influence is a combination of three factors. One is reach. Popular people have that due to the large number of followers on Facebook or Twitter.

Second is Relevance. Justin Bieber has great reach, but that doesn’t mean he’s the best person to Tweet about life insurance or pharmaceuticals.

The Art of the Social Referral

Word of Mouth marketing has been around since the town crier stood on the street corner hawking the day’s news. But with the dawn of the internet and social media specifically, the concept has expanded. We’ve gone beyond what one housewife tells another during their weekly bridge game. Now, we have one person broadcasting their opinions to hundreds, even thousands with a single Tweet or Facebook post.

These social referrals are extremely valuable to a marketer. So much so, that it’s often worth rewarding customers for spreading the word among their friends. But managing and tracking such a program can be overwhelming so I asked Angela Bandlow, VP of Marketing for Extole to offer some tips for making the most out of social referrals.

Inspiration Alley: Miracle-Gro Meets FarmVille

Miracle-Gro is the latest brand to add their logo to Zynga’s FarmVille and it’s probably the most natural tie-in we’ve ever seen (McDonalds?!?).

When you visit the Miracle-Gro farm, you’re prompted to visit their Facebook page. That action delivers a free, branded tomato plant and a bottle of Miracle-Gro Insta-Gro. It also makes you eligible for discounts and real-world rewards.

According to Zynga, 8 out of 10 FarmVille players enjoy actual gardening. Like the kind you do outdoors with real dirt and seeds. A very interesting stat and it makes me wonder about the people who enjoy games like Grand Theft Auto or Mafia Wars. But that’s another story.

Xbox Proves the Power of the Multi-Function Machine

Xbox has reached a milestone that speaks volumes about how we process digital entertainment. They reached the point where people spend more time watching video or listening to music on their Xbox than actually playing games.

The LA Times says that households now spend an average of 84 hours a month on the Xbox Live online service. Of that time, a little over half is devoted to entertainment options other than games. They say the average household spends 150 hours a month watching television so Xbox still has ground to cover but the strides they’ve made are huge.

Execs say that being an all-in-one entertainment portal was always the end goal. Now,  technology advances and Hollywood’s new found interest in digital presentation has helped them make it so.

LinkedIn Up, Twitter Down for Small Business Owners

How do you promote your business?

79% of small business owners told AT&T they rely on word-of-mouth. 63% said they use a company website and only 39% said they used social media.

The numbers come from the new 2012 AT&T* Small Business Technology Poll. Overall, the poll shows that small business owners are slowly moving into social media and mobile marketing. But mobile is becoming a big part of how they run their business.

Social

None of the social media networks saw a big rise in usage, but LinkedIn still came out on top going from 25% in 2010 to 31% in 2011. Facebook usage was at 44% up from 41% the prior year.

The losers? Twitter was at 19% usage to start and dropped to 18% in 2011. Location-based networks like Foursquare came in at only 9%.

Retailers Choose Low Prices Over Discount Days and Coupons

There’s a shocking, new trend sweeping across the nation’s retailers — it’s called low prices every day.

JC Penney is the current king with their new campaign that makes fun of holiday discounts and short-term pricing.

In one TV ad, Ellen DeGeneres wakes up at 6 a.m. in the middle of fifties sitcom, wondering why you have to get up early just to shop. The “audience” laughs because they know that if a sale starts at 6:00, the good stuff will be gone by 8:00. Just ask those Black Friday extreme couponers.

In other ads, Ellen makes fun of the .99 pricing concept and then stirs up trouble in the old West when she goes for her coupons. It’s a simple concept. Retailers should offer the best possible price all the time. That’s just good business.

Coca-Cola, Subway and Hallmark Are Still Number One

It’s tough enough to make it to the top of your field, but staying there for eight years in a row is near impossible. Still, fifteen brands managed to do just that.

The numbers come from the 23rd Annual Harris Poll EquiTrend Study. They surveyed nearly 40,000 US consumers and asked them to rank a random collection of forty brands and the cream rose to the top.

Every brand on this list is immediately recognizable. Each evokes a feeling of stability, of excellence. They also mean more than just the product they represent.

Hallmark makes cards and Christmas ornaments. But the brand brings to mind visions of loving families, heart-felt gifting and a lifetime of memories.