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The next new thing: digital influencers | Fin Review

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW Marketing & Media column: October.

Many smart companies have finally ditched the old-school formalities and are having uncontrived conversations with their consumers through their social networks.
It’s all very promising, but it’s not a time to get comfortable: the digital landscape continues to evolve. What’s next on the brand marketing agenda? The trend would suggest “digital influencer” marketing is where it’s at.
While recruitment of digital influencers for product endorsements is nothing new or revolutionary, the way in which it is evolving will inevitably impact us all, as consumers, in the near future.
In fact, if you’re planning to stay at The Palms Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, the “near future” may be just around the corner. According to Advertising Age , the Palms Hotel and Casino is planning to review its guests’ “digital influence scores” before assigning rooms and other discretionary privileges.
The hotel is reportedly even going as far as to introduce The Klout Klub to “allow high-ranking digital influencers to experience Palms’ impressive set of amenities” in the hope that these influencers will share their experiences with their social networks online.
The naming of The Klout Klub comes from the partnership with online influence measurement company, which assigns an influence – or “klout” – score to digital consumers. To determine this score, uses the assumption that influence is the ability to drive people to action, and examines the scale of activity that occurs in response to a user’s digital posts, and the level of influence that its subscribers have.
It’s an interesting concept, one that sees “celebrity” being created from the digital world, with ordinary people and independence from traditional media, but with similar perks that a traditional celebrity might receive, in recognition of their influence.
But using a klout score alone may be a little short-sighted. For example, based on The Palms’ approach to influence identification, it is very possible that the hotel would hand the keys to the penthouse suite to active Australian tweeter and research and development manager Derek Jenkins (@ozdj) based on his klout score of 58, while Hugh Jackman (@realhughjackman) would be relegated to the back room because of his klout score of 39.
Although I’m sure Derek would be a happy man, and is more likely to tweet about his hotel experiences than Hugh, he doesn’t have the paparazzi following to raise credibility and awareness of the hotel, nor I suspect, the financial ability to pay for repeat visits to the hotel.
While influence is undeniably an important metric to consider, it is far more powerful in a business sense to look at it within the context of your target market (who they are, who they are influenced by, and who they influence) rather than taking a generalist view.
So what’s next on the savvy brand marketer’s agenda? Introducing digital influence scores of prospective and existing customers to the calculation of customer lifetime value and the marketing plans that surround it. After all, the lifetime value of a highly influential customer who actively and positively supports your brand within their networks is surely worth more than the same customer with no influence?
And while we wait for that to take effect, I’m off to build my klout score…
Jennie Bewes is director of social media and new business at digital marketing agency Amnesia Razorfish.

As published in The Australian Financial Review, 7 Oct 2010

Jennie Bewes
Jennie Bewes
Former Australian Financial Review columnist, speaker and founder/MD of REDSQ innovation & consulting, Jennie Bewes has been a driving force of innovation within global brands for the past 20 years blending strategic marketing, design and development with cultural change for optimal results from the inside out.

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