Panel discussion: Business models for influence and reputation

September 1st, 2009 / 05:09 by Ross Dawson

See What are the business models for influence and reputation – today and in the future? for introduction to the panellists.

Below are my notes on what panellists and audience members were saying – hope they’re correct but may not be 100% accurate.

Todd: the market pushed them towards the advertiser space. In 2004 companies were not ready for it, but now Buzzlogic is 100% focused on the advertising space related to influencers. Still a few years before seeing $100 million revenue level.

Auren: Companies think about total customer value, so will treat you differently if they think you’ll spend more in the future. Now they understand that your value includes the customers they will refer to you. Sometimes called the ‘customer network value’. The total market now is probably $100 million, but spread across several companies.

Louis: Brands look at who is interacting with them, and who has influence within communities. The influencer’s dilemma is working out which niche you can have influence within. Traffic is not a good measure of a blogger’s influence – engagement and participation goes beyond the numbers.

Joe: The social graph is a key component, but you are not limited by it.

Auren: If someone buys a pair of jeans, you can assess how many of their friends buy the same pair of jeans in the next few months, and work out whether they have influenced people, and will influence in the future.

Tara: But anyone can become a very powerful influencer.

Todd: We are still talking about a traditional advertising model. There is a convergence of earned and paid media. Traditional marketing spend is shifting.

Auren: One of our clients is a cosmetics company which has fanatic fans – they get exceptional treatment from the company. You have to know who they are first.

Louis: When I write a ‘Top 10 suggestions’ blog post for say LinkedIn or Google Reader, it enters the conversation and frequently gets a swift response.

Tom Schigel of ShareThis: Now that influence is democratized and we can service everyone better, shouldn’t we take care of everyone, the 80% who matter?

Scott: We each have to make our own decisions about how much we should focus on influencers to the exclusion of others.

Shannon: If we look only at numbers we can lose sight of the fact of how influential some people can be in a particular area.

Joe: We have a metric called ‘True Reach’ – we can work out how influential. Customer service doesn’t have to start when people are unhappy. If you reach out to influential customers as soon as they engage with you, they have a channel to speak to you.

John Wolpert: How do countries and cultures differ in their attitudes to public and private reputation? Being able to talk negatively about people differs across countries.