e-fluentials

Online public opinion leaders and viral marketers.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The E-fluentials Blog Has Moved!

Dear Readers,

Our new location is http://blog.efluentials.com. Please follow this link if you would like to read on about our thoughts on online public opinion leaders and viral marketing.

Thank you for your interest,

E-fluentials Team

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

E-FLUENTIALS ARE OPINION LEADERS, NOT STEALTH MARKETERS

There is a lot of energy in the industry to define and distinguish between terms such as word-of-mouth, viral, buzz and stealth marketing. This is a large task and will require plenty of discussion among marketers, organizations, companies. But in the meantime, we would like to clarify that e-fluentials, online influencers that Burson-Marsteller has been studying, are independent opinion leaders. As our research shows, e-fluentials check their facts from multiple sources before they pass a story along or make a recommendation. They are wary of marketers who pose as typical Internet users on discussion boards.

The only way e-fluentials are going to start spreading the word on a brand, company or product is if they have done the research on it and believe in the concept. Communicating with e-fluentials is essentially CRM - customer relationship management. Companies that respond to e-fluential audiences' queries in a transparent and candid fashion will earn these opinion leaders' trust.

Friday, January 07, 2005

CARTOONS FOR BUSINESS

Online games and cartoons have some of the most desired Web-content traits. They are memorable, they are easy to pass along and they are engaging. The city of Peterborough has been using an online cartoon episode to get online audiences to think about what it means to choose a location for a business. Online gamers who go to www.thinkcarefully.com can visit www.positivelypeterborough.org after finishing the game. Needless to say, they also have the option to send the cartoon's URL to their friends and colleagues. Good example of "infotainment."

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

VIRAL CAMPAIGN OF THE YEAR?

Numerous organizations are polling marketers to name the viral marketing campaign of the year. Any suggestions?


Tuesday, December 14, 2004

BLOGS ARE AGENTS OF TRANSPARENCY

Is it possible to turn blogs into marketing platforms with banner ads, corporate references and latest business updates? I don't think it's that straight-forward. Companies need to earn the respect of free-spirited blog writers who think, speak and write off-the-cuff. Blogs are not the typical push or pull media. They are the new stakeholder relations platform. Relations being the key term...

These days are reminiscent of the late 90s when marketers learned to transform their poster Web sites into interactive CRM and e-commerce channels. They listened to their customers and then delivered. Blogs work in the same fashion. They bring more of the consumer/business stakeholder conversation to the foreground. Outspoken Internet users voice their opinions on products, services, brands. Everything can be out in the open. Blogs bring us to the age of transparency.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Anyone who is interested in word-of-mouth marketing would enjoy reading about BzzAgents in this week's (12/04/04) New York Times magazine. The cover article is about a small Boston company that engages volunteer word-of-mouth agents in product evaluations. The "agents" profiled in the article give insights about the e-fluentials we've been talking about as well. These folks have an urge to be in the know and they feel they can change the world by speaking up. They are inclined to communicate with their peers to warn them or to inform them about new brands, products and companies. Most importanly, they do all this voluntarily. Spreading the word is simply part of who they are. Earning the respect of these consumers' would be a real feat!

Monday, November 22, 2004

AGENT-BASED MODELS - SET & WATCH WOM IN ACTION

Recently I had the pleasure of corresponding with Dr. Kerimcan Ozcan who is affiliated with the University of Michigan and has done quite a bit of work on how word-0f-mouth spreads through consumer networks. His Web site is a good place to start if you want to get familiar with basic social-networks terminology. Ozcan and his colleagues have run computer-generated models (i.e., agent-based models), comparing the outcomes of various consumer-to-consumer and consumer-to-business scenarios.

This academic solution can be a money saver for marketing practitioners. How many times have you invested in campaigns that didn't work out exactly as planned? Should you have thought about other ways in which your messages were going to diffuse across stakeholder groups? Were you prepared to manage all the interactions between your audience and the company/brand? Modelling and scenario-planning can significantly improve your chances of hitting the mark with word-of-mouth initiatives.