Tag: ben mcconnell

Authority vs. Influence

Authority vs. Influence

Spurred on by a post from Mack Collier, Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell posted an interesting vlog post yesterday on the idea of authority.  I believe this concept of obsessively counting Twitter followers is the idea that touches off this debate.  For example, if you have 25.000, does that mean you are an authority?  I think Mack, Jackie, Ben and many other are all agreed that the answer is no.  Alone, Twitter followers doesn’t even necessarily mean you have great influence, it is only a  base brute measure of “reach” (you could also add in reach of the RTs for total reach) in the same way that media has measured reach for years.

There are some other interesting nuggets in the Ben/Jackie interplay in that video that piqued my interest.

Does a book indicate authority?: When Perez Hilton comes up, they reconsider whether or not he may be an “Authority” when the fact that he has a new book up gets mentioned.  Initially I chuckled at the idea of having a book giving you street cred in the church’s eyes, but then I reconsidered.  Writing a book usually indicates that the author has done a huge amount of research into a particular topic and (often) has some personal experience or connection to the topic that gives them further credibility.

Are authority and influence the same thing?: Jackie asks this as “Are the things that you say retweeted?” Ben by positing that “You are an authority if you have people who take your word and take action”.  I think both of these are less about authority and more about influence.   From the wikipedia entry on this authority: “What distinguishes authority, from coercion, force and power on the one hand and leadership, persuasion and influence on the other hand, is legitimacy.”  I do think that its possible for an authority to not have a large group of people listening to them.  Similarly many people can take action on what Britney Spears telegraphs, but I’m not sure this makes her an authority at anything other than influence.

Have online celebrities convinced themselves they are real celebrities? Ben and Jackie included some fun Twitterati mentions of folks that I really enjoy who really are caught up in their follower count.  Stay tuned for G4’s “Twitterati: Where are they now” series in 2014.

Thanks to Ben & Jackie for the inspiration this morning!

I came, I SWOM, I learned something

I came, I SWOM, I learned something

CoBrandit's Owen Mack as Pee Wee HermanSWOMFest was a blast from the 80’s themed preparty to Thriller dance recreation kickoff to the final case workshop.   Because of the extremely varied crowd that included authors, practitioners, and WOM newbies, my guess is that SWOMFest was a bit like a rorschach test with everyone taking away a little something different.

That being said, what follows are my takeaways from the event:

Six Sigma is the enemy of Word of Mouth. In Ben McConnell’s surprisingly practical kickoff presentation, he framed the reality that Word of Mouth is generated by radical value propositions – not incremental ones. Citing Zappos radical value proposition of removing any risk from purchasing shoes online, he noted that 10% cleaner, 50% faster, 20% cheaper, etc are value propositions that will never drive organic discussion or advocacy. For example, if someone were to now offer free OVERNIGHT shipping both ways on shoes instead of just free shipping, that incremental improvement would not be likely to drive a lot of WOM or out-Zappos Zappos. He did caveat that for manufacturing and surgery, Six Sigma is still a very important concept.

Storytelling may be the hardest element of WOM to master – I have to give screenwriter Yaphet Smith the prize for the best mindbending presentation of the day. I wasn’t sure why he would be on the agenda at such event, but he captivated newbies and crusty WOM pundits alike and challenged them to think about their stories in a structured way, while remembering that “seeking the Neat” is a part of that structure.

Even Credit Unions can be interesting. If you don’t believe me, check out TDECU’s Young & Free Texas competition here or Trey Reeme ongoing battle to Thwart Mediocrity.

WOM is in the small stuff. The setting (the Long Center in Austin, TX), the events, the food, the swag, the music (DJ Mel), and the audience were as important as the speakers. Some of my most interesting conversations was with a marketer whose mission is to bring young adults back to the catholic church.  Very different from my day to day work, but a fascinating challenge.

Everyone in Word of Mouth Marketing loves sharing ideas with entrepreneurs. I was a little grumpy at the idea of a case study breakout – sometimes they are frighteningly painful.  This one was amazing. The entrepreneur in question, Jacob Boone of local organic smoothie/frozen yogurt trailer Mamboberry, benefited from the enthusiasm of the crowd for his business.  Blue Avocado also traded their stylish, collapsible sustainable grocery bags for WOM ideas and a lot of Austin style love.

Click here for the rest of my pics from SWOMfest

Click here for all pics from SWOMfest

Click here for all of the Twitter coverage of the event