Is this the Rise or Fall of Social Influence?

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Online business chats are the reason I love (and stay) with Twitter. Today, I have the pleasure of moderating #smchat on the topic of Influence.

#SMCHAT

Has social media (and we as its masters) stripped away the meaningful value of influence?

Over the last few weeks that thought has nagged me until at last I threw it at my friend Chris Jones (@sourcepov) for a sanity check.

DM with SourcePOV

If you know Chris, then his reply to my pondering will come as no surprise. “OMG, how awesome. This is a conversation made for #smchat.” So that’s how easily we arrived at the Thought Du Jour for the December 17 edition of our online chat.

Here’s a little contextual framework for our conversation

Influencers – and influence – mean different things to different people.  But let’s run with the description I snagged from TheNextWeb that says “Influencers are the power users and authorities. They lend credence to products or services and they elevate conversations. Influencers are experts; the trusted voices with social capital.”

Fair enough, influencers are people in the know.

But what’s…

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Women’s Online Communities Powerhouses of Trust (via )

It’s a smart businessman who aligns himself with the most powerful market demographic of all time: sisters with wifi. I couldn’t resist sharing this blog post. Cheers!

Women's Online Communities Powerhouses of Trust It’s becoming more and more clear that women’s online communities are the true powerhouses of trust.  Social networks have their place, but it’s the online communities that women trust the most for brand and product referrals. In a recent post at ForbesWoman, Jenna Goudreau reports on a new study: “Women were more likely to say that women’s communities better understand their needs and help them feel they are spending their time wisely. They are … Read More

I Love, Therefore I Recommend (a Net Promoter Love Story)

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The ultimate question: would you recommend us to a friend?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been studying the works and theory of loyalty expert Fred Reichheld. Founder of Bain & Company‘s loyalty practice, Reichheld pioneered the quantifiable connection between loyalty, profits, and growth (see Net Promoter Score).

Midway through Reichheld’s book The Ultimate Question, I tested my own consumer passion. What brands, products (or experiences) do I purchase and recommend to other people? I self-imposed a five minute time limit, and the following 13 faves emerged.

Here they are (in alphabetical) order along with at least one reason I’ve recommended them.  It shouldn’t take you long to figure out that I’m a multi-tasking career mom. At the end of the list you’ll find a handful of useful links about customer loyalty and NPS.

Amazon.com Prime I have a secret reason for really, really loving Amazon.com Prime. As someone who invariably puts off buying gifts, the two day delivery keeps my reputation in tact. Shhh. Don’t tell my mother.

Borders Borders’ Members Rewards program does what other bookstore program don’t. It draws me into the every week. Barnes & Noble will often run online-only promos, but I know my weekly Borders email will let me use the coupon in-store or otherwise.

Burts BeesI don’t love Burt’s Bees because it’s nearly 100% natural. Two of its hair care products work miracles on my fine-textured hair. When a girl finds something that her hair likes, there’s no breaking up that relationship.

CloroxClorox, I love you for very specific reasons.  #1, your packaging keeps the wipes from drying out. #2, you don’t leave my counters smeary. And #3, you’ve figured out how to make bleach smell good. Bravo.

CVS PharmacyLet’s face it — when you need a pharmacy, you aren’t in the mood to wait or jump through hoops. CVS does 3 things that other pharmacies (and discount retailers) haven’t mastered:  #1, simple prescription drop off, pick-up and payment; #2, quick turnaround; and #3, highly personable (engaged) pharmacy and store staff.

DiGiorno Shredded CheeseHere’s all you need to know: DiGiorno’s Shredded Cheese looks and tastes like shredded hard cheese is supposed to.  (Well done, Kraft, for segmenting your market’s tastes)

Hormel

Any pre-packaged chicken that can fool my mother-in-law into thinking I made it, is a product I recommend to all my working-mom friends.

Jarvis

In the words of a Yelp reviewer, “If Bruce Wayne became a winemaker instead of a crime-fighter, he would have created Jarvis.”  This small Napa winery gives tours by appointment only, and I rank it as a must-do.  The tour experience is like nothing you’ve ever seen, and the wines are dee-lish (albeit not cheap).

Jazzercise

I’ve tired a lot of exercise formats, gyms and trends over the last 20-ish years. Nothing has done more for my health, spirit, and gluteus maximus than Jazzercise. Ask my BFF @CaskeyChick, who is hooked thanks to yours truly.

Keen

I love my Keens so much that I photograph my own feet. Hey, we all do weird things. Seriously — Keens are groovy enough to stand out from a crowd, and if my summer pedicure isn’t just-painted fresh, you’ll never know (thanks to my Keens). It’s not just a girl thing either; my brother (an avid outdoorsman) won’t wear anything but Keen.

LancomeOne product keeps me coming back to the Lancome counter every other month: Lancome Definicils mascara. I’ve used it for years and, without exception, have found nothing that comes close.

Levenger

If you look at the Levenger catalog and only see paper, pens and leather — you’ll never understand what makes a Levenger customer tick. Every writer (and reader) deserves something from this cataloguer.

Go figure…after 7 years of trial and (all error), Tony Hawk Gummy Multivitamins are the only thing my son looks forward to taking. We’re so ga-ga about the sour HuckJam Gummies that I go out of my way to WalMart for them.

Yankee Candle Logo

In the words of Michael Scott (The Office): “candles are the number one fastest growing product in the scent-aroma market.”  That may be, but the only ones worth my money are Yankee. The scents are so realistic it’s creepy, and the burn time makes you forget that these things aren’t cheap.

Second Helpings and Good Resources:

Unlike that Buick, This IS Your Parents’ Social Network

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Skepticism is slow suicide. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

If Ralph were alive today, I’d buy him a Venti 7 Pump White Mocha no Whip to thank him for that quote. Alas, he’s long gone, but I’d lay down money that the American philosopher and poet would’ve been a social networking maniac.

You can walk away from my bet on Ralph, but don’t be so quick to dismiss social networking as merely a playground for teens, 20-somethings and the mega-brands who chase them.

For goodness sakes, don’t take my word for it. Pretty soon your own parents may have more online friends than you or your teenage nephew.

Do, however, heed my warning that you can’t afford to be naive (or pompous) about social networks and their inevitable relevance to your business.

The following 3 links will take you to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, one of seven projects at the Pew Research Center.

Seniors finding social networking exhilarating

The largest percentage increase in Internet use since 2005 has been in the 70-to-75 age group, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Adults and social network websites

While media coverage and policy attention focus heavily on how children and young adults use social network sites, adults still make up the bulk of the users of these websites.

Generations online in 2009

Over half of the adult internet population is between 18 and 44 years old. But larger percentages of older generations are online now than in the past.

Chock Full of Goodness: 10+ Article Faves

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Here are 10 share-worthy articles from 2009.  If you care about communication, collaboration or leadership, dedicate your next coffee break to reading them.

  1. The Value of Visual Thinking in Social Business – Slideshare (David Armano)
  2. A Selection of 2009 Collaboration Posts (collected by Oliver Marks)
  3. Stop, Collaborate and Listen: knowledge management has a brand new adventure (James Gurd)
  4. Advice for Saving the WorldOutside Magazine (Nicholas Kristof) FAVE
  5. Media Heroes and Villains of 2009 (Trevor Butterworth)

  6. Best of 2009: 24 social media experts interviewed (Graham Charlton)
  7. The Social Customer Manifesto (Christopher Carfi)
  8. PR Disasters That Aren’t (Shel Holtz)
  9. This I Believe: A Manifesto for Web Marketers and Analysts (Avinash Kaushik)
  10. Five Ugly Numbers You Can’t Ignore: It’s Time to Calculate Hiring Failures (John Sullivan)

It’d be a crime to leave these links out of my list of 2009 faves:

  1. Blogging Starter Checklist (Rajesh Setty)

13 Sites for Human Interest, Business, Innovation and Emerging News

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How are you keeping your company relevant in the midst of economic and social change? That’s not a theoretical question; in fact, it should be a component of your strategic plan.

Staying relevant takes observation, insight, and action.  It requires you to look beyond the issues that impact this month’s billings.  Ironically, it demands that you stay in the present, otherwise you may overlook the threats your customers face today.

Relevancy hangs out at the intersection of today’s problems and tomorrow’s opportunities.  Elite communicators know how to place your company right in the middle.

Here are 13 websites that I rely on for fresh perspectives, ideas, and emerging news.  Feel free to share your opinions of establishing relevancy and suggest other places that readers can look for inspiration.

Reuters AlertNet

News, information, and analysis for everyone interested in emergency relief. Run by Reuters Foundation.

Reuters AlertNet

Reuters AlertNet

EurekAlert.org

Searchable database of science-related press releases from research institutions, universities, government agencies and corporations. Calendar, resources and links. From the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

EurekAlert! - Breaking Science News

EurekAlert! - Breaking Science News

The Economist

Authoritative weekly newspaper from the U.K. focusing on international politics and business news and opinion.

The Economist

The Economist

Benton.org

Works with other groups such as National Urban League, AOL, National Endowment for the Arts to help provide solutions for bridging the digital divide. Links to various foundations including Ford, Kellogg. Offers free on-line versions of reports dealing with technology and access.

Benton Foundation

Benton Foundation

Gapminder.org

Non-profit venture promoting sustainable global development and achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by increased use and understanding of stats and other data about social, economic and environmental development.

Gapminder.org

Gapminder.org

Journalism.org

An initiative by journalists to clarify and raise the standards of American journalism through research and education. (Project for Excellence in Journalism)

Journalism.org

Journalism.org

Pew Global Attitudes

Unique, comprehensive, internationally comparable series of surveys that encompasses the current state of the world and important issues of the day.

Pew Global Attitudes Project

Pew Global Attitudes Project

Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

Independent, non-partisan public opinion research organization that studies attitudes toward politics, the press and public policy issues. One of seven projects that make up the Pew Research Center.

Pew Research

Pew Research

Gallup

Statistics, news and insights across all (national and global) aspects of management, economics, psychology, and sociology.

Gallup.com

Gallup.com

Springwise.com

News portal whose content is fed by a network of 8,000 spotters who scan the globe for new business ideas and inspiration for entrepreneurial minds.

Springwise.com

Springwise.com

Trendwatching.com

Online content from the Amsterdam-based independent trend firm (by the same name). Global round-up of the most promising consumer trends, insights and related hands-on business ideas.

Trendwatching.com

Trendwatching.com

Salon.com

Original reporting and commentary on news and politics, business and entertainment, culture, and life.

Salon.com

Salon.com

Ted.com

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is an invitation-only event where the world’s leading thinkers and doers gather to find inspiration.

TED

TED

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Should you be a Com, Net, Org or Me?

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A flash of creative entrepreneurial brilliance nearly knocked me off my feet this morning, resulting in a rush to GoDaddy.com to search for a matching URL. I could have gnawed my nails off in anticipation as GoDaddy’s database churned through 110,173,702* active domain names (I know, because I’m a freak).

Yeah, baby! That sweet, magical word “Available!” appeared before my eyes, and I nearly wet myself.

(Author’s note: this story is part True Confession, part Business, and if you’ve ever tried to buy a domain name, you know it’ll make you more jumpy then a spot at the big wheel on The Price is Right.  Give me the latitude to reference a biological function this once).

Looking over my shoulder, as if some cyber-criminal might be ready to steal my domain name masterpiece, I clicked “Add to Cart” with credit card in hand.

“That’s a nice .com you’ve got there, but wouldn’t you like to have that URL in all of theeeeeese other flavors?

GoDaddy, ever the crafty purveyor of internet possibilities, stopped me long enough to ask, “That’s a nice .com you’ve got there, but wouldn’t you like to have that URL in all of theeeeeese other flavors? .net, .info, .org, .mobi, .me and .us” (Yes, I swear that’s what I think it said).

Here’s a little about me: I am a spontaneous, high energy, go-get-em type of person. I’m decisive when I want to be, and (above all) I’m curious.  I’d say I’m four parts curious to one part decisive (a trait my husband swears I concealed from him before marriage).

This morning, I REALLY wanted to be decisive…until GoDaddy started to upsell me. I made the mistake of reading ‘why you need multiple domains‘ which triggered a whole cascade of curious questions about a topic that I rarely discuss before 3 pm: Top Level Domain. Continue reading