Social Influence and Coffee

Today, I received a review copy of Social Media Marketing For Dummies by Shiv Singh. I had heard Shiv speak at Digiday Social and was very impressed, so when his publisher asked if I wanted to review his book, I jumped at the chance.

I’m only part way into the book right now, so I will save my review for later. Instead, I’ll reflect a little bit on what he writes about and apply it to an event in my own life today. Several years ago, we got a Senseo Single-Serve Coffee Machine . It served us well over the years, but has not survived the hard water at our house all that well, even when we’ve tried decalcifying it.

The problems we’ve had with the Senseo is that it is out of stock, and the pods, which are sort of like coffee filled teabags are also sometimes hard to get. So, Kim wondered about getting a Bosch Tassimo Single-Serve Coffee Brewer , similar to what her folks have. To relate this back to Mr. Singh’s book, Kim’s parents acted as referent influencers on Kim’s initial considerations about buying a new coffee machine.

However, the coffee for those machines comes in little plastic cups that get thrown out; not very eco-friendly. We talked back and forth and decided that the Keurig Single-Cup Home-Brewing System might be more to our liking. Especially since you can get a Pod Holster for the machine and a Reusable Coffee Filter

I read through some of the reviews on Amazon and they all sounded pretty good. However, I found that this is usually the case on Amazon. They only people who review are people that really like the product and a few that really hate the product. It is probably fair to consider these online referent influencers. However, I asked Kim to check some of the foodie sites she goes to and she reported a thumbs up from these sites. Referring back to Mr. Singh’s book, these would probably be considered by us the expert influencers, although, in my mind, the line between referent and expert influencers is a bit fuzzy online.

In his book, Mr. Singh references John R. P. French and Bertram Raven’s work on social power. People interested in Social Media Marketing for Academics, might want to start there.

All of this begs the question, how do you get a cadre of social influencers online to support your brand? I look forward to getting more of Mr. Singh’s views on this as I read more of his book.

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Random Updates, #DPAC4, Balloon Boy, Swine Flu, the Coast Guard, Google Wave

In case anyone didn’t notice, yesterday, I attended DPAC 4. I sent out about 140 tweets from the conference. I received around 30 replies, many of them retweets of what I had sent out. A lot of the people were old friends from other conferences, but I ended up following about a dozen new people. I had a net growth of five new followers, but that is a little misleading since there is always churn as old fake followers get deleted and new fake followers crop up. I reality I picked up at least a dozen new real followers. More importantly, I had a lot of great discussions and gathered a bunch of interesting new ideas to write about over the coming month. These days, I’m interested in the number of tweets and the changes to followers and those I’m following as a metric on how good a conference is. It actually can be used to analyze how interesting each panel is, as well.

During my train ride into New York, I mostly slept. I’m hoping to build up my defenses and avoid what is going around. My daughter Fiona stayed home sick yesterday and is sick again today. She does not have a fever and I do not believe it is swine flu, or if it is, it is very mild. About 10% of the students at her school are out. The local middle school has about 29% absent, and at least three school districts in Connecticut, in Guilford, Middletown and Burlington have closed because of the swine flu. Meanwhile, I continue read more blogs about how this is just another fake media frenzy driven by evil operatives in the Obama White House. I just want to let people know that tin foil hats has not been proven effective in preventing the spread of swine flu.

As I headed from the conference to the train station in the evening, I saw a heading proclaiming that the Coast Guard exercise on 9/11 this year was ill-advised but did not violate agency policies. I would suggest it was ill advised because, my friends wearing the tin hats to protect themselves against swine flu have a good reason to suspect that the media is driving frenzies and not providing news. The same media that brought you Balloon Boy is bound to bring sensationalized fictitious information about Coast Guard exercises. My tweet, “[Steven] Brill [of Journalism Online, LLC asks,] will you pay for someone to make sense out of all the raw content? Brill thinks so. I don't.” was frequently retweeted. The only surprise is that in this day of Balloon Boy, Mr. Brill thinks there are people that would actually pay for that sort of editorial efforts to make sense out of raw content.

On the way home, I spent more time getting to know the characters that I hope to appear in my National Novel Writing Month novel.

Today, Fiona is still at home, still sick. It will cut into my productivity at a time that I really can’t afford it. I have over 4000 unread emails in my inbox, and a couple computer consulting projects to make headway on, including some work in Joomla. No, I’m not abandoning Drupal, but there are times that I work with clients that use other content management systems.

I also finally received an invite to Google Wave. What looks most promising to me about it is the integration with Google Gadgets. I’ve looked at Google Gadgets before as part of my explorations into Shindig, so when I get some free time, I want to look at Drupal to Shindig to Google Gadgets to Google Wave connectivity. Then, when I finally get around to getting an Android, I can have some real fun. But now, time to start plowing through some of the tasks at hand.

#dpac4 - Cover It Live Stream

Today is DPAC 4. I am liveblogging using the hash tag #dpac4.

I've set up CoverItLive to pick up any tweets with that hashtag.

Note: My horoscope for today reads Today, while working in a team environment, you'll need to work a little bit harder to come up with new ideas. It seems that groupthink has taken over, and no one is able to think innovatively

I'll try to be extra snarky today.

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Adgitizing's Price Increase

Today, I received the latest eMarketer Daily which had an article, Ad Pricing Down Across the Board. It made me think of a blog post that the Blogster wrote last week, Adgitize: One Step Forward / Two Steps Back. The Blogster was talking about the recent sharp increase in the cost of ads at Adgitize and pondered whether or not to continue advertising there. He presented several different scenarios about what the change could mean for advertising revenue and traffic.

While the world of large corporate advertising that eMarketer tracks seems galaxies apart from the petty in fights of small blog advertising, I believe that systems like Adgitize, EntreCard and CMF Forums provide an interesting test bed to explore the innovations in advertising.

In terms of Adgitize, Corneyman weighed in with his own hypothesized scenarios. I haven’t really thought that closely about the scenarios other than to say that I expect that I will probably continue to make money off of Adgitize advertisements.

So, I thought I would take a look at the traffic numbers on my site. Comparing the first two weeks of September with the first two weeks of October, I found that my traffic from EntreCard advertisements was down 16%. That is pretty close to the 15% paid advertisements and wasn’t too surprising. However, my traffic from Adgitize was down 8% and my traffic from BlogExplosion was down 12%.

What was even more surprising was that people visiting my site from the category browser on EntreCard was up 43%. Perhaps people are browsing more now that advertising is less effective on EntreCard. Traffic from people returning drops from their Inbox stayed about the same. It seems like EntreCard is moving from being an advertising platform to be more of a traffic exchange. While traffic exchanges might be useful for small blogs, they are generally frowned upon as bringing much lower quality traffic and inflating traffic numbers.

Another thing to note is that Ken Brown from Adgitize stopped by and added his comments on the blog post. All of the comments were friendly and Ken’s comments provided a stark contrast the discussions around EntreCard’s strategies.

His analysis concurred with Corneyman’s as well as with my own thinking about the price increase. However, I’m not sure that price inelasticity is completely figured in and that the original post danced around this idea without explicitly naming it. Will the price increase drive away so many people that the total revenues decrease? We will have to wait and see. Yet, anyway you look at it, if you are a regular blogger advertising on Adgitize continues to be a way of getting traffic and earning money at the same time, and at least for me, with active advertising on both Adgitize and EntreCard, I’m getting 60% more traffic from Adgitize than I do from EntreCard.

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#CTTU “I get my brand views on Twitter”

On December 1st and 2nd, the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will hold Public Workshops and Roundtables: From Town Crier to Bloggers: How Will Journalism Survive the Internet Age?. I am thinking of attending and wearing my shirt which says, “I get my news on Twitter”. This shirt always seems to give old newspaper editors palpitations and the recent news coming out of Puerto Rico, which I got primarily via Twitter reinforces my views.

The workshops and conferences are going to ask questions like “How is the Internet changing advertising expenditures? What further changes are forecast?” It is popular to blame at least part of the decline in advertising revenue for newspapers on sites like Craigslist. Craigslist is siphoning off the classified advertisements. But what about the business advertisers? I didn’t have any clear information on this, but a discussion I was part of last night changed some of my thinking.

I attended a “Tweet Crawl”. This is an event where people who communicate with one another via Twitter get together to talk face to face. In the old days, these sorts of meetings were dominated by geeks like myself talking APIs and interfaces. Last night, the meeting seemed dominated by business people and marketing executives. It took place at Lisa Davenport’s Home Gallery. Ms. Davenport supplied the food and drinks for the attendees and by agreeing to be the host of the event had over fifty influentials pack her space. It is too early to tell how much sales and buzz this will generate for her, but it is fair to guess that it will generate a lot more bang for the buck than the spreads she had been buying in local papers.

In one conversation, Ms. Davenport commented about the lack of effectiveness she had seen from print advertising. Kara Parlin commented about similar experiences she’s seen with her husband’s company, Sonny Parlin Photography print advertising campaigns. Ms. Davenport related a story of the one time that the newspaper had driven traffic to her store. She took questions from readers for a series on interior design and gave recommendations in return. Her phone rang off the hook, but the newspaper pulled the series claiming that it was giving her unfair advantage over other interior designers. It seemed like the one opportunity that the newspaper had to make advertizing effective they abandoned.

The discussion drifted to how Ms. Davenport might be able to use social marketing in collaboration with a realtor that was attending the gathering to boost sales for both parties. Standing in the background, Suzi Craig of Fathom who helped organize the event smilingly nodded her head in agreement with the discussion and made herself available to anyone else that wanted to know more about social marketing.

As I headed home, I thought about the shirt I had been wearing. If the shirt “I get my news on Twitter” causes palpitations for old newspaper editors, a new shirt may send them into cardiac arrest: “I get my brand views on Twitter”.

Yet newspapers don’t need to be left out of the equation. A good newspaper is always part of a local social community and if they started incorporating social marketing into the advertising packages they sell, they could increase revenues and provide a greater service to local businesses. Will local papers find a way of doing this? Perhaps we can talk about this in Washington.

(Originally published at DigiDayDaily.)

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