Category: Deep Thoughts

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!

Online Resolutions, 2009 ed.

Online Resolutions, 2009 ed.

I am rounding out a truly amazing 2 weeks off.  And yes, I may have done a few hours of work during that time, but physically and psychologically, I have truly been present with family and friends in a new way.   With the reality that work is gearing back up, my mind is now on how best to spend my 2009 online time – to squeeze the most value, quality and fun out of every moment of the day.  Here is my very unscientific list of changes for 2009:

1) CHECK RSS TWICE A DAY.  Not 100x/ day, not 0x/ day.   I have a tendency to either get totally engrossed in other work and forget about the outside world, or to obsessively look for each incoming update.   Moderation in all things.

2) TWEET MEANINGFULLY.  This is hard.  While I believe slice-of-life entries are a great enhancement to your Twitter profile, it is important to keep the “signal to noise ratio” (in the words of Jeremy Epstein) high.  These last two weeks off have been primarily noise – beautiful noise, but noise nonetheless – but 2009 is going to be all about signal!

3) ENJOY CONNECTIONS; NOT COMMERCE.  Pre-Christmas browsing started me down the road to acquisition obsession.  Every luxury e-tailer having unheard of sales was more fuel on the fire.  It’s over. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twit2Fit, and SWOM provide shared value for me and my network and are about connections, not commercialism.

4) NO CASUAL GAMES.  These are the online equivalent of the junk food french fries that I vowed to kick in 2008 (and 2007, 2006, etc).  My current poison, having graduated from Bejeweled, is a little something that I like to call Big Money. (Warning: Click link at your own time-sucking risk).  Similar to Wesleyan Tetris that came within a hair of preventing me from completing my Junior year independent study in college, I need to go cold turkey.

5) MAKE BLOGGING A ROUTINE PRIORITY.  I am fairly regimented and take great joy in going to the the gym.  Because of that, I make time for it.  I plan to do the same for blogging in 2009.

6) REFOCUS. I also plan to return to the core purpose of this blog – highlighting the great work of specific brands in connecting with their customers.  This is the true meaning of “Marketing Environmentalism” and will be particularly important in these tough economic times.

My biggest offline resolution of 2009 is to have more fun.  I believe that trying to cut some of my “junk” online time – focusing on strengthening my knowlege, skills, and interpersonal connections – will help create the time to do what’s important offline: going to the playground with my son, to a restaurant with my husband, or outside to enjoy friends and DC.

Recipe Comparison WOM Advice?

Recipe Comparison WOM Advice?

A friend and former colleague of mine has started a night and weekend passion project called RecipeComparison.

Recipe Comparison Header

In a nutshell, the site allows you to “search for, compare, and share recipes” from popular recipe clearinghouse sites.  The comparison is unique.  It is a side by side look – allowing you to compare amounts and varieties by type of ingredient – like you would comparison shop for appliances or cars.

Close up comparison

So…what audience is going to find this feature the most valuable?  As a non-foodie, it is very easy for me to see the value beyond folks who spend hours trying to make sure they are optimizing their pumpkin pie recipes (in all honesty, I actually HAVE gone through this process to find the ultimate macaroni & cheese recipe and it was pretty painful without this tool).   What about people trying to lose weight and find lighter versions of their favorites?  Or heads of household who are cooking for families with food allergies who need to make substitutes?

What would your advice be to the founders of on how to get the word out about the site and its unique features (others include being able to keep a record of searches cross-recipe sites)?  Where would you start?

On Wednesday, I’ll post the advice that I gave to the founders, but in the meantime, I know they would appreciate collecting ALL the best practices and suggestions they can.  Bring it on!

Missing Tim

Missing Tim

Since my last post 2 weeks ago, the world has changed dramatically.  The financial world is collapsing, the presidential campaign has turned a very ugly page and I have no idea where to turn to learn each critical fact as it unfurls.  Such an uncertain time has changed what had receded into a casual awareness of the lack of Tim Russert on the media landscape and cranked it up to an active longing.

Evidently I am not alone.  Maybe it was seeing poor ancient Tom Brokaw attempting to wring value from the final presidential debate, maybe it was running into Tim’s son Luke on the streets of my neighborhood, but I started poking around to see if there are others who feel the same.  Tim left us almost 4 months ago now, but the loss to the nation seems heightened because of this nasty election +economy one-two punch.

Tim Russert TweetScan

If you feel the same, check out the official MySpace tribute page featuring a greeting from Luke or 1 of the 187 tribute groups on Facebook.  There have been a few new comments on these tributes in these last 48 hours since the debate.  But for an immediate pulse on the emotion of the country, there’s nothing like Twitter.

The image above is just a snippet of the interesting Tim related tweets from the last few hours – you can check out the most up to date Russert tweets here – Maybe this is yet an additional use for Twitter – a tool to host a collective, primal scream for what we lost on June 13, 2008.

RIP.  Elections and Sunday mornings will never be the same.

Where’s your brand AT?

Where’s your brand AT?

I am a huge, dorky, proud Bruce Hornsby fan.  You may say “as in THE RANGE?” and I will just sniff and bore you with Bruce’s phenomenal career milestones since the Range went to pasture nearly 20 years ago.  I had plans to go see Bruce a few weeks ago, but the show was canceled due to Hurricane Hanna.  While checking his site yesterday in hopes of identifying another date I can make this year, I found this:

Bruce's tour map locator

I’m sorry – what?  “WHERE ARE THE LOCATIONS BRUCE IS PLAYING AT?”  Did the webmaster need to go this far out of his way to ruin the construction of this sentence?  How about the simple “Where is Bruce playing?” There’s no need to bring locations into this and certainly no need to abuse a perfectly good “at” by forcing it to dangle at the end of the question.

But, does it matter?  Does your brand suffer for using incorrect or inappropriate language to communicate with your core audience?

While I was mildly perturbed about the situation, I decided to reach out to a true grammar authority – Jennifer Goff, formerly “Grammar Police” at Brains on Fire – and ask her if she thinks good grammar matters.  In fitting style, she put it better than I ever could:

How you say something can be as powerful as what you say. Good grammar/spelling/language,

however you want to look at it, it’s the lowest common denominator of communication. And when I come across a person or a company or a brand that hasn’t taken that minimal time to just proofread, it makes me wonder what other details they’ll miss in my relationship.
Bruce, your music sounds just as sweet.  I will still follow you all over tarnation.  But please, remind your communications team that they should be vituosos in their own right and live up to the high standard set by you and the Noisemakers.
***AMENDED*** Please see below for an awesome comment from the Bruce Hornsby webmaster.  What better quality is there for a brand than the willingness to listen to your customers and make changes?  Come to think of it, didn’t Bruce write:
gonna be some changes, changes made
can’t keep on doing what i’ve been doing these days
look in the mirror I see a clown’s face
gotta take it off, gotta get myself straight