Category Archives for "SMM – Social Media Marketing"

Influence vs Power by Rebecca Murtagh @VirtualMarketer
Feb 01

The Difference Between Popularity and Influence

By Rebecca Murtagh | Brand Marketing , SMM - Social Media Marketing

Updated November, 2, 2016

Influence = power. While many seek to grow audiences, focusing on the aggregation of likes, followers, fans and friends; what really matters is influence that inspires audiences to take action.

Influence vs Power by Rebecca Murtagh @VirtualMarketer

One of the most powerful illustrations of popularity and influence is about to play out in the 2016 Presidential election.

Campaign events held by Republican Candidate Donald Trump in his bid for the office of the President of the United States have been attended by large enthusiastic crowds at events complimented by large social media followings. Hillary Clinton has attracted much smaller crowds, yet her decades in politics have provided her name recognition and connections few candidates in U.S. history have enjoyed. Which will win the 2016 Presidential Election?

The significant difference between Popularity and Influence should give us an indication. However, in politics things are not always what they may seem.

The good news is that those of us outside politics can be winners if we focus on the fundamentals of Influence.

10 Lessons In Influence

Lesson 1: Influence Is Not the Same as Popularity

In 2010, a study by Brian Solis revealed how differently audiences viewed popularity and influence.

A brand (whether it be a corporation or person) can become popular without being able to influence. Influence inspires action without direct control on that action…a vital tool to growing market share, and building a sustainable brand.

In the digital age where authority and influence being garnered by individuals and brands, influence yields more power than ever before.

Lesson 2: Popularity is Fleeting – Influence Lasts

This simple statement identifies how many believe the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign was won.

Many believed it was President Obama’s popularity that enabled him to win two presidential elections. Post-election analysis reveals that it was much more than popularity – it was influence, transferred through the hands of individual voters, that helped the candidate win two presidential elections.

Michael Slaby, former Chief Technology Officer, Obama for America 2008, and Chief Integration & Innovation Officer, Obama for America 2012, was kind enough to share with me highlights from a presentation he made explaining the campaign capitalized on the new digital landscape to build influence that would help the first-term senator win two Presidential elections.

Leveraging the influence of Barack Obama’s message on individuals, and empowering them to influence friends, family, co-workers, etc. in their personal lives, (what I describe as ‘Spheres of Influence’ in my upcoming book), amplifying the investment in one, to reach many.

Lesson 3: Influence Requires Trust

To inspire change, you must first inspire trust. It is absolutely imperative you have full mastery of who you are and what you stand for if you want to inspire others to trust. This is equally true for brands as it is for individuals.

Slaby offered the following equation to illustrate identity.

    Who you are
+  What you believe
=  Single sense of self

Because every organization is slightly unique, any brand can adapt this equation by being clear and firm about who they are, and consistently communicating core values and unique value proposition to carve a place in the world. This could offer explanation to why, despite being a self-proclaimed socialist, Bernie Sanders is attracting voters in the world’s most successful democracy, and why Donald Trump seems unscathed by unfiltered speech relating to his personal thoughts and opinions on individuals, policies and beliefs of others. Each of these candidates is unwavering in being true to their brand. They are UN-apologetically authentic. Conversely, authenticity and clear conviction of beliefs could be viewed as a reasons why Hillary Clinton has struggled with Trust (demonstrated by honest and trustworthy polls)

Honest and Trustoworthy Polls


The same may be said of people and brands outside the political spectrum. Steve Jobs, known for being driven and difficult to work for, was known to be brutally honest. He strongly believed in his vision, which won the hearts, minds and loyalty of customers for decades. He has influenced the brand, its customers and investors, long after his untimely death.

Lesson 4: Influence is The Product of Earned Media

Nothing has changed the dialogue and relationship between brands and their audiences like the Internet and Social Media. Unlike the mass-media, broadcast method of the pre-Internet communication, where messages where rarely personal; today’s digital landscape has created a rich, although complex, dynamic landscape to directly aggregate and activate audiences for just about any cause.

The shift from channels where messaging was disseminated to networks that contribute in the dissemination of messaging is illustrated very well in this simple graphic shared by Michael Slaby:The evolution from channels to networks.

Lesson 5: Don’t Be Afraid of Change

The competitive landscape in which any brand operates changes every day. Those who innovate will succeed. Those who fail to keep up will fail. “Adapt or Die” is the cornerstone of brand sustainability.

Capitalization of the conflict between old and new ways of thinking can be very productive. It is not only the choice between old vs new. It is often the tension between who we are and who we want to be that brings an organization to life – and resonates with those needed to make it all happen. Internal and external audiences have equal voice when it comes to the evolution of a brand. Customers, employees, competitors, media, industry experts and investors all play a role in advancing, or destroying, the evolution of the brand.

Lesson 5: You Are Only In Control of Part of the Message

Influence is all about earning the relationship, and entrusting audiences to act on behalf of the brand. Influence cannot be bought, it must be earned. In 2013 Harvard Business Review Harvard Business Review evaluated the long-term value of influence in the context of the “iPhone affect”.

The value of an integrated marketing strategy that leverages peer-to-peer and traditional marketing campaigns throughout the product life cycle increased the impact of the message exponentially.

The iPhone effect illustrates the power of influence of users on their peers.

A video published by a brand is “owned media”. Yet, it is the “earned media” represented by shares, comments, likes, etc., that extends the message from broadcast channels to infiltrate personal networks.

Lesson 6: Build Influence From an Audience of One

One of the most overlooked facts by businesses and brands seeking to grow market share is that success is dependent upon the winning of each individual.

Only when a brand (whether it represents a corporation or one individual) understands the power of networks and ‘Spheres of Influence’, will they be successful in today’s digital, social economy. Earning the trust of one can create access to the many that each individual has influence over.

Marketing to individuals was a cornerstone of the Obama Presidential election campaigns. The successful cultivation and management of more than 300 million registered voters with a focus on distributing unique, personalized messages and a user experience would yield unprecedented results in the 2008 campaign, and subsequently adapted for the 2012 campaign.

Not every brand has millions to invest in such an undertaking. Fortunately, the abundance of simple tools and customer relationship management (CRM) programs making message personalization and engagement accessible to brands of any size.

Lesson 7: Winning Strategy is Never About You

Influence must be driven by vision with an intended outcome. When specific goals that resonate with audiences are articulated clearly, action comes naturally once trust and support have been won.

The 2008 Obama Presidential campaign was molded around principles of community organizing. Messaging was strategically focused to convey an “its about you” sentiment to voters, according to Slaby. The emphasis on connecting with voters on the issues that meant the most to them was the cornerstone of the political campaign that included millions of personal interactions. This had never been done before. And, may not have been done since at this level.

Today’s social landscape has created an environment inherently capable of supporting such an endeavor. Still, many brands still default to mass-communication and broadcasting that does little to connect with the needs and potential of each individual.

When the brand approaches the conversation from the perspective of its audiences, the context is more relevant.

Lesson 8: Listen Before You Speak

Successful entrepreneurs, salespeople and leaders understand the value of listening. One of the most powerful ways for communication to break through the clutter is to make it personal. This means much more than adding a recipient’s name to an email. It requires an investment at a personal level. Time invested is rewarded with a truly personal connection that will result in loyalty far faster than mass media messaging.

The Obama campaign did just that.

Each of 2.2 million volunteers were empowered to engage in 150 million conversations with individual voters. The campaign used technology to enable volunteers to “listen” to conversations to find out what was important to potential voters. They were then able to  customize communication and inspire action at an enormous scale with consistency and efficiency.

Slaby has explained how the campaign deliberately created a valuable experience for long-time supporters, empowering them to “teach” new members to the community, while addressing the motivating factors that inspired the very first interaction of each member uniquely appropriate to an introductory exchange. Slaby said we must “honor people’s experiences. … It is our job to connect the dots on the back end.” This is where technology makes all the difference.

Lesson 9: Technology Makes All the Difference

Technology is only as good as the results it delivers.

The NORWHAL platform was created by the Obama campaign to execute the integrated campaign strategy. Said to have been run more like a startup than a political campaign, the platform was designed to support each and every aspect of the strategic vision. In addition to collecting and leveraging mammoth amounts of data, the technology had to serve the needs of the users, without interfering with inspired action to influence others to vote. In other words, tools that work and are user-friendly is vital to any organization being able to win hearts and minds.

Lesson 10: Data Makes Human Interaction Smarter

Data is how each and every aspect of a brand’s influence is measured. Every aspect of a campaign to grow market share, regardless of industry, depends on metrics that identify core audiences, target communications that are relevant, measure the reach each and every engagement and aggregate it all under one umbrella. Data is the most effective tool available to guide efforts, maximize on wins, and seize opportunities as they arise.

Scott VanDenPlas, head of the Obama technology team’s DevOps group, expressed the power of the technology built to sustain the campaign in a Twitter Update that outlined the system designed and deployed to support 10k requests per second, 2,000 nodes, 3 datacenters, 180TB and 8.5 billion requests.

Big Data generated from Obama 2008 Presidential Campaign

The data and reports created from this campaign would be any data scientist’s dream to explore.

The most important factor is to remember that behind every click, update, comment, like and share is a human.


Stand out from competition with Google+ Hangouts
Dec 30

How to Use Social Integration of Google Accounts to Google+ to Your Benefit

By Rebecca Murtagh | SMM - Social Media Marketing

How Google Social Integration of Google Accounts Impacts You and Your Business – And How to Take Advantage

Stand out from competition with Google+ Hangouts

Google has integrated all of its free services; Gmail, YouTube, Chat, Google Search, Google Now, Google Maps, Google Calendar, Google Local. etc. within the umbrella of Google+. This may not seem like a big deal – until you look at seizing these opportunities as a competitive advantage.

If you’ve ignored Google+ as a serious tool for your business, I encourage you to read this post to the end. There are indisputable benefits that you cannot ignore if you are serious about building your business or brand.

After all, Google+ has grown faster than any other social platform to date; including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.

Google+ has grown faster than Facebook Twitter or LinkedIn

Google Takes Full Benefit of Your Data to Generate Revenue

…Shouldn’t You Be Taking Full Benefit of Google to Support Your Goals?

Whether you use Google accounts for personal use, business or both, it is important for you to understand how Google uses your data. Once you log into any Google account, you are logged into all, making it easier than ever for Google to collect and leverage data to sell advertising. This does not have to be a one-sided relationship. Google’s actions have created an integrated landscape that you can take advantage of, when you understand and approach the connection of accounts with a strategic approach.

Google Search

When logged into ANY Google account, results on Google Search are personalized according to your history and profile. Users have some control over this within settings which include age, location and preference for how Google serves advertisements to each user. You will also see Google+ notifications in the top right corner of your browser when conducting a search, which Google hopes will keep you logged in throughout the day by integrating Gmail, Google+ notifications and more…

Google search engine results personalized when you are logged into any Google service.

Everything ‘Published’ is Now Collected Under Google Profile

Everything you do on Google (photos, videos, +1’s, posts and reviews. etc.) are now collected and displayed under the Google profile. Which means each and every one of those activities now link back to the Google+ profile. So, it is more important than ever that you be “publishing” content, commenting and that it all links back to a Google profile that is optimized to accurately represent you and your goals.

The Google+ Profile

Google+ Profiles collect all Google assets in one place.

Gmail and Google+

Everyone you have ever communicated with (to or from) via your Gmail account is considered a connection. These contacts are Google+ Hangouts Offer Unique Benefits to Businesses and Brands of All Sizes More Than Meets the Eye Benefits of Google+ are subjective. And, just as anything else, most benefit those willing to take advantage of them.  The most effective way to insure you enjoy full benefit of that new smartphone, television, tablet or automobile is to read the manual. Google+ Integration With Gmail Most people have a Gmail account – which has been automatically been transformed into a Google+ Profile by Google.

YouTube Videos

YouTube videos now appear on Google+ Profiles (refer to image above), and comments on videos, including those published by others, are more visibly connected to the Google+ Profile. This can be extremely beneficial in connecting with target audiences in new paths of engagement. Again, be sure to optimize video properly to enjoy full advantage of video integration in search engine results.


All Images shared or posted via a Google account are made public, unless opted out, making it easier than ever for images to appear in search engine results…especially when optimized properly.


Google reviews are now connected to the Google+ profile. This can be a plus, or a minus, depending on how you have used reviews in the past. When posting reviews in the future, keep in mind the visibility and connection to your brand as to not damage any good will established with audiences.


When you +1 a post using Google+, it is added to the Google+ profile – creating a visible path of what websites have been visited and what content you have liked and shared – to Google and other Google users. This can be highly beneficial when your audiences look to you for information – remember its perfectly OK (and HIGHLY recommended) to +1 your own posts and pages!

Google+ Communities

This is a great way to facilitate topic-specific engagement online. I created the Million Dollar Website Community on Google+ to support those who have purchased my book and book website with blog posts and hangouts with myself and guest experts I invite to address specific topics of interested in leveraging the website, SEO, social media, usability, conversion, etc. to achieve their goals.


You can promote online and offline (real-world) events on Google. This is a great way to create opportunities to engage specific audiences. You can open events to the public, or make them ‘invitation only’. Events are effective in promoting everything from webinars, hangouts, press announcements, fundraisers, parties or any other gathering – even if only virtual.

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts can be public, private, or conducted “On Air”, which will produce a video that automatically posts to your YouTube channel. You can modify access once published…and edit the video, adding branding, etc. However, you want to know ahead of time what kind of hangout you intend to have before creating an Event and sending invitations. Learn more about Google Hangouts.

Google Calendar

Your Google Calendar can be a useful tool in publicly displaying office hours, privately managing your daily schedule, or integrating with a commerce component to sell time (various WordPress plugins and other mechansims make this easier than ever) – it simply matters how you use it.

Google Chat

It is easier than ever to engage in chat with those in your network via chat. Chat is available from Gmail or Google+ profiles. You can manage how accessible you wish to be for chat in profile settings.

Integrating Google+ in Owned Assets to Promote Visibility in Search

Google+ has an advantage to other social platforms as it is now intensely integrated with Google Search – which generates over 2/3 of all searches in the United States, and a dominate player globally. As I stress to coaching clients, attendees to conference sessions and training programs, assets are valuable when they help new customers find your brand. This requires optimization of everything from website pages and posts to video, social media profiles, shares and all related assets. It has been proven, time and time again, how the +1 of a post can put that content in the Google index in minutes (or seconds) after posting. It may not always be the case, but it is now. I encourage you to fully integrate Google+ share buttons (and don’t be shy about being the first to +1 ) the content you publish (posts, pages and video especially).

How to add Google+ Badges and Buttons to your website. Hint: if you log into your Google account before you visit this page it will begin to generate the code for you – and provide you options as to which account (if you manage more than one) you want to create code for – then simply copy and paste into your site as directed.

Be Strategic For Maximum Return on Investment

As with any other social media platform, it is imperative that you approach the integrated Google universe with a plan. And, always remember, all roads must lead home (your website). The more effective you are in bringing audiences to the website as the ultimate destination for your brand, the greater the benefits in search, authority and engagement with audiences.

Visit my Search Engine Watch post for tips on How to Calculate Social Media ROI.

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Richard Branson promoted tweet on Twitter
Aug 13

Study Shows Most CEO’s Still Don’t ‘Get’ Social Media

By Rebecca Murtagh | SMM - Social Media Marketing

Richard Branson Blazes Trail in Social Media for CEO’s

For those CEO’s unsure about whether social media could be useful to them, or their brand, Virgin CEO Richard Branson is living proof that social media is exactly where CEO’s should be. With 3.4 million followers on Twitter, Branson doesn’t just engage, he encourages followers to engage him directly. This is one CEO that understands the power of winning hearts and minds in building a brand.

Branson uses a promoted tweet, highlighted below,  which appears above all recent tweets, to make his invitation ever-present, visible at the top of the conversation for anyone viewing his profile.

Richard Branson promoted tweet on Twitter

Study Reveals CEO Participation in Social Media

Social media has been recognized for its role in building brand, visibility, SEO, promotion and the coveted direct-connection to the customer. Despite this evidence, CEO’s have resisted the call to become more social in recent years. Has the tide begun to change?

How Many CEO’s Use Social Media?

A recent study conducted by and Domo reveals that CEO’s are beginning to embrace social media. However, if we look to the Fortune 500 as representative of CEOs, a shocking 68% have absolutely no presence on social media.

Of course, not every platform is right for the executive, or the brand. Most will gravitate toward one platform or another. The top social media platforms have emerged as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. In a one-year period, CEO participation on each of the top four social platforms has increased, even if nominally.

Top Social Networks for CEOs

A mere 6% of Fortune 500 CEO’s are on Twitter.

How many CEOs on Twitter

Many CEO’s with enormous followings may remain cautious, or unconvinced of the power of the social space. One of these personalities is Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet who follows no one, has posted only three tweets and has over 500,000 followers who apparently hope for more from the executive.

LinkedIn attracts more CEO’s.

CEO participation on LinkedIn

28 percent (140) of Fortune 500 CEO’s have a LinkedIn Profile. The LinkedIn “Influencer” program has created followings for voices of CEO’s without the requirement of personal connections. On LinkedIn, Richard Branson attracts 2.2 million followers. Warren Buffet, who is not active in the program does not have followers. This differentiation defines how the reach of a brand can be greatly influenced by social conversation from the top.

5 Questions to Ask Before Your CEO Goes Social

Because the stakes are high, many CEO’s are intimidated by the social media space. After all, what is posted is permanently out there. However, with proper strategic perspective, social media can be a powerful tool for the CEO and the brand.

  1. Does the CEO have a strong identity, or individual voice?
  2. Can the CEO communicate effectively?
  3. Will the CEO dedicate some level of time to engage in social media?
  4. Is there a clear reason for the CEO to invest in customer relationships?
  5. Does the CEO love the audiences (customers, media, employees, shareholders, etc.) he or she serves?

If the answer is yes to all five questions, your CEO should seriously consider social media as an additional channel to exercise their leadership in expanding the reach of the brand, one customer at a time.

If the answer is no, it is still important for a CEO to establish a presence. Rather than publishing, the focus may be to listen and learn from what is saying about the brand.

Oct 19

New LinkedIn Profile ‘Circles’ Display Connections and How You Are Found

By Rebecca Murtagh | SMM - Social Media Marketing

LinkedIn New Profiles Create “Circles” For You

This week LinkedIn announced “New Profiles” to their 175 million professional users worldwide. The new profiles have been designed to encourage engagement.

The sample profile posted by LinkedIn reveals much more, including circles that represent how people “find” you. meet the neew LinkedIn user profile

New Profiles Deliver Greater Insight

As social platforms race to aggregate and leverage as much data possible of users to serve advertisers and other revenue streams, users will also benefit from the new interface which includes:

  • Bolder interface that makes updates (and sharing) a greater focal point.
  • Profile Strength which tells you whether you are an “All Star” , or something else (yet to be revealed), based on how complete your profile is.
  • Faces of your Connections are now displayed visually on the profile.
  • Endorsements are very visible, demonstrating who thinks you’re good at what skills you possess. Education and Employment history of course are included.
  • Linkedin is creating a circle to represent your network and how connections have “found” you, presumably via search or by way of connections with common groups, employers, skill sets, etc. It appears they will be creating ‘circles’ for users based on user relationships and affiliations with connections, or what I call “Spheres of Influence”. This is quite different than Google+ which allows users to create their own circles. What remains to be seen is whether those circles will be click-able to display who is in those circles.

Linkedin Circles

No RSS on New LinkedIn Profiles?

Interestingly, what appears to be absent is the RSS feed for blog posts to feed into profiles. And, it remains to be seen what, if any integration will be made with Company profiles, which also recently went under a bit of a face lift.

The LinkedIn team is clearly busy trying to heighten the level of insight and engagement with the new profile. See what a fully completed profile looks like in the new format.

So, what do you think? Are these changes likely to increase, decrease or not change your use of the platform?

Aug 31

New Advertiser Option Inserts Facebook Into Relationship Between Brands and Customers

By Rebecca Murtagh | Brand Marketing , Rebecca's Thoughts on . . . , SMM - Social Media Marketing

Facebook To Allow Advertisers to Target Customers by Email, Phone Using Data Owned by Brands

Facebook has confirmed that it is preparing a new option that will enable advertisers to target individual customers using personally identifying information. This will appeal to brands who wish to target customers who have not yet “liked” the brand on Facebook.

Inside Facebook was the first to report this feature after it appeared in Facebook advertiser options.

As a marketer, I totally get how desirable this feature would be. However, as a consumer myself, I am always sensitive to respecting the customer, ever-mindful that the integrity of the relationship between the brand and customers is paramount for loyalty and sustainability.

Facebook Hash-up of Personally Identifying Customer Data

Facebook will leverage brand data to target customers on the social media platform. All the advertiser has to have is the email address, phone number or user ID of the customer in order to target individual customers with ads. Data that Facebook may not currently have access to will now be uploaded to Facebook by the brand. This “hashup” inserts Facebook in the middle of the relationship between the brand and customers the brand has already acquired.

Could Transfer of Personally Identifying Customer Data to Facebook Backfire?

How will customers feel about brands uploading personally identifying customer data that consumers have elected not to provide to Facebook in order to target them with advertising? After all, when they subscribed to an RSS feed, made a purchase or created a profile on an independent application they were not told that their data would be uploaded to Facebook. Hash-up or not, how comfortable will customers be with Facebook becoming an uninvited guest in a relationship they created directly with a brand?

This mode of personal targeting is unprecedented. The connection of data not provided to Facebook to enable advertisers to reach customers on the social media platform has even seasoned marketers and advertisers a little uneasy.

Facebook Creates Voyeuristic View of Customer Relationships By Creating a Threesome

From a brand perspective, the goal must always be to earn and cultivate loyal customers. The most effective way to sustain a relationship is through direct communication achieved through one-to-one communication built on trust. This move puts Facebook in the middle of that relationship, enabling a voyeuristic vantage point of the relationship between the brand and its customers. Good for Facebook, not so good for brands.

For brands that have not been able to win Facebook “likes” of customers, this “product” created by Facebook puts Facebook in the middle of the relationship between the brand and its audiences. I’ve always had trouble with this from a brand management perspective. I encourage brands to use social media to build brand awareness and cultivate relationships. Facebook gains more than the brand when the relationship resides on a Facebook page or Facebook store rather than on the playing field of the brand within owned media such as the website or blog.

Do Brands Need Facebook to Earn Likes From Customers They’ve Already Won?

If the brand has earned the trust from the customer to provide phone number or email address why wouldn’t they simply send an email or SMS text message directly to the customer to invite the connection? Doing so will put all related data generated by the user in the hand of the brand. With this new move by Facebook, Facebook stands to gain much more.

Facebook Says it Won’t Access Customer Data

Facebook presents that the hash-up will prevent Facebook from having access to that data. Let’s face it. Facebook does not have the best reputation when it comes to privacy.

Social Media Access to Brands Who Have Not Earned Relationships

Another perspective on this is that brands can use data they have collected from customers, such as email and phone numbers collected in 3rd party API enrollment, email list opt-in, purchase, or any other online transaction in which they provided that data. For whatever reason, these customers may have elected not to engage this brand on social media. Should customers have the ability to control their interaction with brands? And, should brands insert themselves into customer behavior, with or without their permission? Is it implied that the moment a customer provides a phone number or email address that they are no longer in control of  who can reach them, wherever they are active on the web.

Privacy Goes Out the Window

I see this as a slippery slope that could be fine in many contexts. However, if a consumer has purchased a pharmaceutical, or done research on a medical condition that they have wished to keep private, do they really want Facebook to become part of their interaction with that topic, without invitation?
Is there anything in your life that you do not want Facebook to be inserting itself into? How might Mark Zuckerberg feel about his bride’s phone number being used by the drugstore he or his bride have used to fill prescriptions to communicate about related topics? Do consumers that provide their phone number to a real estate company really want Facebook playing an active role in their activity when they never intended to reveal to anyone (let alone Facebook) that they were thinking about selling their home, or buying a bigger home.

No Data Needed

Hash-up or not, Facebook will be compelled to deliver reports to advertisers that will inevitably reveal detail that Facebook has not earned permission to collect about users. And, because Facebook is only releasing this product to “managed” advertisers, you can bet they will glean as much information as possible without enraging privacy advocates.

Who Wins?
So, what do you think…is this a home run for brands and Facebook?
How will consumers react?


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