Rise of influence marketing

Remember Conan O’Brien’s tour, and how he launched it with one Tweet? Think about how much commerce is initiated now through the recommendation of friends through social media. These are examples of Influence Marketing.

I recently had the opportunity to exchange a few emails with Azeem Azhar, the CEO of a startup called PeerIndex that is focused on “Influence Marketing”. Founded in 2009, the company provides a service that helps consumers benefit from their passions, interests and influence particularly with respect to the services they get from companies and for brands and agencies to better identify effective and interested word-of-mouth advocates, something they call “Influencers”. It’s a service similar to the other big player in the place, Klout, with a unique spin.

According to Azhar “Influence marketing is going to be huge – and will become an essential part of the marketing mix over the coming years. In essence, influence marketing recognises that buyers trust other buyers, their friends and experts they know. “

A recent McKinsey report shed light on the trend indicating that word-of-mouth recommendations may be the primary reason for purchases in 20-50% of buying decisions. Further adding to the buzz, Forrester stated that 80% of all B2C and B2B purchases there is some form of word-of-mouth recommendation at play during the purchase cycle. If venture funding is any indication of the success, Klout, with its more than $40 million, leads the pack of companies looking to capitalize on this fast growing trend. Yet Klout isn’t alone in this fast moving sector. Several other start-up companies are quickly adding their own unique approaches.

We’ll see of this particular startup does anything, but the idea of influence marketing through social media is something that every company needs to consider.


Facebook falls flat

Facebook’s IPO certainly netted a ton of money for Mark Zuckerberg and his fellow founders. Here’s a breakdown from the home page of CNBC.com.

What Are Their Shares Worth?


Mark Zuckerberg – $19,253,605,209
Dustin Moskovitz – $5,111,539,856
Sean Parker – $2,662,984,684

But the stop barely budged from its IPO price by the end of the day. It’s not exactly the home run some expected for day one of trading.


Cash mobs grow in popularity

Flash mobs have been popular for a while, and now we’re seeing the emergence of “cash mobs,” mostly targeting small local businesses.

Andrew Samtoy took part in the flash mob that invaded the West Side Market one day in December 2010 and serenaded stunned shoppers with the “Hallelujah” chorus from Handel’s Messiah, evoking an ovation.

That experience helped fuel his dismay when, in June of 2011, a flash mob of marauding youths shut down the Coventry Street Fair. While Cleveland Heights imposed a curfew, Samtoy and friends devised an ennobling counter attack.

On Saturday, a wholesome grocer in Lakewood will become the latest local business swarmed by a “cash mob,” a new and calculated kind of flash mob. Dozens and maybe hundreds of people will descend upon Nature’s Bin on Sloane Avenue to spend money, meet new friends, and maybe feel better about their capacity to boost a local business and shape their world.

It’s that local, can-do quality of the cash mob that accounts for its success, Samtoy believes. The ability to harness grassroots energy helped an impulsive idea become a national sensation.

While an in-the-know crowd mobs the Bin, similar scenes will unfold at businesses in cities across the country. The first National Cash Mob Day illustrates the rapid rise and intriguing popularity of a phenomenon orchestrated from Cleveland.
Since November, when the first local cash mob trooped into a Tremont bookstore, the free-spending teams have mustered in more than 150 U.S. cities. London, England, recently reported its first cash mob, and new versions and varieties arise almost weekly.

“Something about it caught on,” said Samtoy, as surprised as anyone. “I thought it was a good idea but, look, I have a lot of ideas.”

Not all of them crescendo, nor are they usually meant to.

Another example involved a hardware store in Chagrin Falls.

This past Saturday, cash mobs descended on businesses all around the country.

It’s a great tool to help businesses that anchor your community, and the impact will likely go well beyond one day of sales, as consumers rediscover places they would like to frequent on a consistent basis.


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