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With a median audience age of about 22 and the appearance of more than one glittered mini skirt, this session felt more like a concert than an industry event... and that might be a good thing.
Coltrane Curtis, CEO of Team Epiphany and self-appointed digital Jedi, led a killer panel about the new consumer engagement model that energized a standing-room-only crowd.
Celebrity has always been an integral part of marketing to young adults (known as Millennials these days), but the proliferation of new platforms and spheres of influence is making the conventional celebrity Q Score metric somewhat obsolete. Just because a celeb has a million followers, doesn’t mean he or she has built a true community. There’s a new crowd of influencers—and a lot of them are regular people.
From mommy bloggers to niche subject matter experts, companies are jumping at the chance to figure out how to leverage influentials—and how to measure their real influence.
Marc Ecko, Founder of Complex Magazine and Marc Ecko Clothing, said that while the proliferation of devices and ‘widgets’ clearly answers consumer needs, marketers need to dig in and use them the right way. “It’s not what you make, “he said, “it’s how you make people feel.’
One emerging trend is based on the premise of doing something good—and having all your employees be accountable to that goal. Bonin Bough, Director of Digital and Social Media at PepsiCo, reminded the crowd that the social media revolution goes way beyond advertising. “What’s transformational is how much society has changed as a result of social media,” he said. He provided some inspiring examples from the Pepsi Refresh project.
Stephanie Agresta, EVP, Global Director of Digital Strategy and Social Media at Porter Novelli, agreed and emphasized that just because it’s a digital world doesn’t mean we should ignore ‘in real life.’“How does a brand become human? You have to meet your customers and give them real-life interaction,” she said. She emphasized that integration is now more important than ever. “PR cannot exist in a vacuum anymore,” she said. “PR, advertising, marketing … the power comes from all these things working in tandem.”
But how do you back up even the most innovative social media concept with real numbers? Garth Holsinger, Global Sales & Business Director of social measurement company Klout.com has set out to “empower the cool” by providing the science behind it. Holsinger’s company measures social media influencers beyond follower lists and focuses on actual interaction. As a result, digital media is starting to democratize influence, and marketers can start to believe in the quality of the people they’re reaching.
So how should you partner with influencers to drive digital sales without losing your brand’s credibility? Everyone agreed that it’s about authenticity. Are there ways to align everyone’s needs without comprising integrity? Holsinger asserted that paying people to tweet or blog is a dead end. Bough disagreed.
What do you think? Pay for shill? Or get into the mix and trust your influencers to share your message on their own? Share your thoughts below (and be sure to check these guys out; they were fantastic).
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What a sharing of authentic insights by people who are in the fray. Coltrane sucked the meaty juices out of an apt panel. Thank you all.