Monthly Archives: July 2011

Why I’d Rather Be a Social Media Rock Star than a Supermodel

Future brand endorsements belong to Social Media rock stars.  Forget athletes and pop stars.  Websites like Klout are breeding a whole new type of celebrity – Influencers.  When Influencers tweet, people pay attention.  Brands are already finding ways to tap into this advertising goldmine by capitalizing on their follower cache.  This monumental shift is changing the world of Marketing and determining who is worth a company’s advertising dollars.  Celebrities will slowly be edged out by those who are leading the Social Media movement.

Klout looks at your Social Media profiles and scores you based on both the number and quality of the people you associate with online.  A high score reflects two things: 1) You are interesting enough that people not only care about what you say but they spread the word when you speak and 2) your following is vast and desirable enough that your message can influence.  Major brands are quickly taking notice of Influencers and moving endorsement dollars in their direction.

Imagine planning a trip to Vegas.  The hotel concierge notices that you’re a Social Media pro and upgrades your room.  Throughout your trip, you tweet about living it up like a Vegas god and post pictures of yourself in the Hugh Hefner Suite on Facebook.  Your hotel just earned advertising that comes across as both genuine and convincing.  Not a bad trade considering what the cost of a billboard on the Vegas strip goes for.  It’s not as far-fetched as you think considering The Palms Hotel has been reviewing guests’ Klout scores and handing out upgrades and free Cirque du Soleil tickets for almost a year now.

Unlike a Vegas billboard, Klout allows companies to evaluate specific Influencers, analyze their following and direct their message to a very targeted group.  Why would Coors Light want to give an incentive to just anyone with a high score when they can instead target the top 10 Influencers on Beer (Yeah.  That’s a real category).  Whether they’re offering to let you test drive a new Audi or handing out a free Frappuccino, the bottom line is that they want you talking about their brand and they will give you a reason to give a glowing review.

The Influencer’s emergence in brand marketing is still in its infancy, but you don’t have to look too far back to see history repeating itself.  Almost any American Vogue cover through the 90s featured the likes of Cindy, Naomi, Kate and Giselle.  Fashion covers were reserved for supermodels.  But when editors took notice that readers were more interested in what their favorite actresses had to say, they were quick to make a change.   The most recent Vogue coves to date showcase singer Rihanna and actresses Reese Witherspoon, Penelope Cruz, and Emma Watson.   Not a supermodel in sight.  The shift reflected a fundamental change what type of celebrities had influence.

Social Media has created an entirely new type of celebrity and their endorsement is a lot cheaper than that of Tiger Woods (pre scandal) or some Hollywood starlet.  Of course, today they might be getting a free hotel upgrade and tomorrow they might be signing an official ad deal with a six figure paycheck.  Either way, there’s no denying that life as Social Media superstar certainly comes with its benefits.

Google Plus You Minus Facebook

It doesn’t matter how good your Social Network is if you can’t build a hardcore fan base.  Google+ has yet to open to the public but has already mobilized an army of dedicated users offering rave reviews about its awesomeness.  So long as Google+ Beta is an invite only club, they continue to create a pool of Early Adopters who will commit their undying support for this new venture and create a buzz more valuable than any purchased advertising.  Google has cleverly found a way to grow their army of Early Adopters exponentially before ever officially launching their new network to the public.

Being an Early Adopter is a badge of pride and a difficult bond to break.  My husband STILL brags about the fact that he joined Facebook when it was called THE Facebook and required a college email address to sign up.  Twitter’s initial launch fell flat until they followed their small fan base to SXSW.  They didn’t just offer the tech savvy audience a sneak peak at the new network but the elite experience of giving it a spin at a once in a lifetime event. In both instances, the networks created Early Adopters who became their most diehard fans and biggest cheerleaders.

Google+ Beta is no different.  Everyone seems to be in agreement: It’s a polished, super simplified version of Facebook… and people LOVE it!  I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve fallen prey to the Early Adopter Syndrome.   I know I’m not a hotshot, but when my Google+ invite finally arrived, I became a trendsetter (at least in my own mind).  I imagine this must be what motivates Apple fanatics to sleep outside an Apple store before a big launch just to be the first to have the new iWhatever.  Especially when they know full well that everyone and their mom will have one of their own in a couple days.

There is one more thing worth mentioning about the much coveted Google+ invite.  It doesn’t have to come from Google, just someone who has a Google+ account.  In fact anywhere you go online you can find someone willing to spread the invite love around.  So an invite is not just an invite, it’s the keys to the city.  It allows you to invite as many people (with gmail accounts) as you want.  Now you’re not only an Early Adopter but you get to allow other people to claim the same title.  While in Beta, it may not be open to the public, but it’s very much open to the public.  Even I’m guilty of sending invites to online strangers anxious to be the first of their friends to try it out.

It’s a brilliant move on Google’s part.  As invites spread like wildfire, it still maintains its exclusive feel making every new user feel like a trendsetter and thus developing a solid bond with the new network.  Being an Early Adopter means you get to be part of something big before it becomes big.  You feel invested and loyal.  My hat is off to the marketing geniuses behind Google.  Their Early Adopter plan is simple but genius – exactly how the first users describe Google+.