Posted on August 26, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Smart Watches: Anticipation Runs High, But Product Launches Fizzle

Consumers have shown huge interest in the idea of a smart watch, but data shows that when a product actually comes on the market – it’s met with a tepid response.

In the Smart Watch Industry Influence Study Appinions released in May, we looked at the amount of attention generated by a number of smart watch product announcements and rumors. Since then, several of those products have shipped, so let’s use this opportunity to check back in and see what kind of impact these watches are having on the market.

As of May 9th, the ‘Net Influence Score’ for the smart watch market was just over 11,000 and declining. That score is calculated by summing the scores calculated for every individual influencer in the market by looking at the opinions they share, and reactions those opinions get, across news, blogs and social media.

Since then, the score rose dramatically to a high of just over 23,000 on July 4th, before falling back to it’s current position near 13,000.

To put that score into context, while smart watches was cresting around 23,000, the conversation surrounding another hot topic – digital payments – hit a nadir between 6,000 & 7,000, with people discussing bitcoins, crypto-currency, startups like Venmo, and more. Compare those numbers, and two other relevant topics, in our new influence comparison tool, below.

What’s Driving Influential Conversation in the Smart Watch Market?

So what drove a 100% increase in opinions and reaction about smart watches over the past 90 days? Our analysis shows that this growth is due more to influencers continued excitement about products that aren’t on the market (or are even mere speculation) and not the watches that Samsung and LG have since released for sale.

Smart watch net influence - with dot demarcating new data since the study's initial release

Smart watch net influence – with dot demarcating new data since the study’s initial release


Samsung & LG Swept Away

Back in March, Korean giants Samsung and LG both registered huge gains when they announced their latest watches; their scores increased by 326 and 307 points respectively. But following the actual product introductions in June, Samsung saw only an 83 point score increase, while LG registered a miniscule growth of 67. In other words, the actual products did not cause people to share significant opinions or generate widespread reactions.  That’s not to say that these product releases didn’t inspire any discussion. Following these announcements, Google, whose Android Wear software is powering both devices, saw a 1095-point increase.  While the individual devices didn’t garner that much attention, (other than negative reviews) influencers continue to buzz about the “potential” that remains in Google’s smart watch platform. In fact, the overall influence for the entire industry is actually up since May, driven largely by Google, Apple, and small increases by bit the more marginal players. comparison

Apple’s Time To Shine

Diving into Apple’s continued rise in influence is even more telling. At the time Appinions published its report, they were the #2 most influential company in the sector, but since then they’ve claimed the top spot. And yet, they haven’t put a single watch on the market. In fact, rumors of an iWatch are no less speculative than they were in the Spring, and yet excitement continues to build. In fact, the volume and quality of influential conversation around Apple’s smart watch has almost doubled since May – while Samsung and LG shipped products and saw their scores drop. apple

Will Moto Clean The Competition’s Clock? 

moto-360-smartwatch-580-90The next test case will be Motorola, expected to release their Moto 360 watch this September. With a distinctive circular face, this watch is perhaps the industry’s best chance to buck the trend of underwhelming product launches. When they announced the product in March they garnered a massive 864 point jump in their influence score, representing over a 300% gain from their previous standing. Will people talk about, react to, comment on, and share opinions and reactions about the Moto 360 when it’s actually in their hands (or on their wrists)? We’ll let you know.  Or keep track yourself with our new LIVE smart watch influence tracking page. In the meantime, read our full Smart Watch Influence Study for a deeper look at this exciting industry.

Posted on August 22, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Weekend Reads – Great Posts This Week – 8/22

Hopefully everyone out there in Internet-land had another great week! Let’s keep things short and sweet with the 3 best thought pieces that came out over the past few days.

Purpose-Driven Content Marketing – Ann Gynn, Content Marketing Institute

Some brands give and get, and others don’t. Read how certain companies infuse their content with a sense of purpose, and are all the better off for it.

The Hierarchy of Needs For Advocate Development – Dylan Foster, Influitive

This is a handy little infographic from our friends at Influitive that easily breaks down the steps into building brand advocates.

What Facebook Doesn’t Show You – Tim Herrera, Washington Post

Social media algorithms are the new gatekeepers. Tim Herra insightfully dives into the scary world of what Facebook decides to show us, and what they end up hiding.

Are there any great pieces we missed? Let us know by tweeting at us @Appinions

Posted on August 11, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Startups Are Hot, but Who’s Fueling the Fire?

Startups are a perennially hot topic, and like anything popular it can be hard to separate the signal from the noise. Lots of people are talking about “startups,” and it seems just about any new business that launches today calls themselves one, even if their business has seemingly no technology behind it. With so much chatter going on, it can be hard to discern who is talking about real tech startups, as well as other important factors, such as which sectors are seeing lots of new business activity, as well as which cities are emerging as technology hubs. Thankfully, Appinions gives us unique insight into these vexing quandaries.

Startup Influencers

To start, let’s take a look at who’s influential on startups. A simple Google or Twitter search will generate an awful lot of noise, with a million people seemingly throwing the word “startup” (or worse, #startup) onto anything, whether it’s a new restaurant in Tucson or some vaguely positive “go for it!” truism.

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 11.32.40 AM

Using Appinions, we can get a much clearer picture, as you can tell from the list above. Breaking down the top individuals immediately shows something often glossed over in the tech press – the government’s ability to make or break a new business. Capping both ends with President Obama and the US Supreme Court, we’re reminded that the ability to sign laws carries more weight than the ability to type blogs.

Pres. Obama is constantly pushing for new businesses to succeed, and his campaigns across the country frequently include name dropping local businesses, such as this press-op at home in D.C., where he visited tech incubator 1776.

The Supreme Court has also been having a major impact on startups this summer, with a number of rulings dramatically affecting various tech businesses. Most notable was their ruling against Aereo, where they sided with broadcasters and ruled that Aereo’s product was infringing on their copyrights. This decision has reverberated far and wide in the startup ecosystem, with many pundits and VCs wondering aloud if the ruling could have unintended consequences for other cloud based services. Meanwhile, the court has also weighed in on important cases regarding patents, cell phones, and privacy.

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 11.36.45 AM

As you can see, the Supreme Court’s influence score on this subject has been very spikey, with jumps in influence coinciding with their major rulings.

Journalism’s Not Dead

Far less spikey is the influence of startup reporters, who are constantly surfacing and analyzing new companies and the groundbreaking technology behind them.

The majority of the other top influencers are tech journalists. Even more interesting is that most of those reporters worker for Business Insider, showing that they’re doing a great job pushing stories that resonate and get re-shared.

Diving into journalist Julie Bort’s profile, we can see that her influence on startups is remarkably consistent, as she constantly publishes on the topic, covering everything from women-led business, to robotics displacing workers, to the top startups emerging from the Middle East.

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 11.37.07 AM It looks like in a field with as much interests as startups and technology, covering a wide array of related happenings is the best way to ensure your own success.

Location, Location, Location

Now that we know who’s reporting on startups, let’s see where the startup action is really occurring. Using Appinions’ Themes / Entities tool, we can see which locations are buzzing with the tech crowd.

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 11.44.14 AM

At first glance, this data seems to confirm what most people know about the tech sector – most of the American action is concentrated in the SF Bay, Boston, NYC, and LA. Dig a little deeper, though, and we start finding some unexpected locales as well. Singapore is well regarded as a hub for finance, but is there a startup scene starting to bubble up as well? Is Australia transitioning its resource economy to be more tech-centric?

Drilling in to Singapore, we can immediately get a sense of where their startup community is headed.

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 4.17.12 PM

Clicking through to these articles you can see that there’s a lot of excitement about a new venture fund being launched – Rakuten Ventures. This seems like it’s really playing to Singapore’s strengths; they’re building off their world-renowned finance economy, while partnering with a Japanese ecommerce company to bring in some more technical chops.

Apps, Accelerators, and An IPO

Singapore may be excited about a new venture fund, but which startup concepts have the whole world talking?

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 11.46.47 AMApps and accelerators immediately jump out as big concepts, so let’s see exactly which programs influencers are discussing.

Some apps making waves:

  • MonkeyParking – This parking spot finder started a commotion when San Francisco told them to stop auctioning off public spaces.
  • Stylect – This new ecom app is making waves as the “Tinder for shoes.”
  • Socialist – iPhone users are excited about this new heavily integrated list-building program.
  • OnTrees –This British finance tracker (think Mint for the Pound-crowd) has reviewers worried about privacy.
  • Latin America – Bigger than a single app, the continent is flexing its muscles with a slew of new mobile-centric releases.

Accelerators and incubators that are making an impact:

  • Kaplan EdTech – A new education focused fund created by well-known accelerator 500 Startups and Kaplan, the makers of test-prep materials.
  • Level39 – This British accelerator is making news for partnering with both Intel and Microsoft.
  • Rock Health – This accelerator’s founder is telling her story and trying to motivate more people to shake-up healthcare.
  • Bit Factory – The Midwest is trying to shake-off its old-fashioned image with this new Akron-based incubator.
  • Microsoft Ventures – MS is returning to its roots with a fresh Redmond-based accelerator.

Key Insights

 Data is fantastic, because it lets you cut through common misconceptions and biases. By analyzing what’s really going on in the world of startups, we can see that there’s so much more than the old stereotype that the only things new tech launches are iPhone games coming out of San Francisco.

As we saw, the whole world is contributing to the next tech revolution, from the Midwest to the Middle East. There’s so much more going on than mere time-killing distractions, with people innovating on fields like education, healthcare, shopping, and finance. Now that’s a tech revolution worth getting excited about.

Posted on August 8, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Weekend Reads – Great Posts This Week – 8/8

Today is 8/8, so we’re going to give all you influence marketing followers eight interesting reads to cap off what was hopefully another great week.

New York Life Is a True Believer in Organic Content - Lauren Johnson, AdWeek

More great content marketing gospel, as marketers for this big insurance company share their sponsored content successes.

How I Raised My Klout Score From Less Than 18 to More Than 43 in Less Than 90 Days – Harmit Kamboe, Marketing Profs

The title of this article may be a bit of a mouthful, but it gets right to something we all know; some “influence” platforms are mere games, and aren’t usually that great to tell who’s truly a subject matter expert that people resonate with.

The Secret to JetBlue’s Awesome Social Engagement – Jason Keath, Socialfresh

Some companies are famous for their amazing social presences, and it’s hard to think of a better example than JetBlue. This helpful article breaks down how they’ve built the powerful team that’s the source of all their successes.

How Advertisers Used World War I to Sell, Sell, Sell - James Hughes, The Atlantic

This is a great photo-heavy article for any ad or history junkies out there. If you think ads are hammy now, just look at how bad they were a century ago.

The Top 14 Billion People You Should Definitely Do Something With List – Danny Brown, Danny Brown Blog

This is a bit tongue in cheek, but Danny Brown is right on the money as always. Some organizations are way too into making millions of lists of countless people for any given subject. Instead of looking at a list of the 100 loudest people on Twitter, your company needs to know exactly who’s the right fit for your brand. And chances are it’s not a nice even multiple of 50.

Resistance to Change and Surviving Content Shock – Mark Schaefer, Grow

This is some great, forward-thinking by Mark Schaefer. As more and more brands adopt content marketing, smart companies will need to think up strategies that differentiate themselves and keep them at the head of the pack.

Top 5 Companies for Autonomous Vehicle Technology – Bruce Kennedy, Benzinga

Bruce Kennedy provides a nice rundown of the top companies that came out of our recent Autonomous Cars Influence Report.

Appinions: The Who, What and Which of Influence Marketing – Douglas Karr, MarketingTechBlog

Doug Karr is always ahead of the curve with new marketing platforms, so we were thrilled to see that he likes all of Appinions’ new features. Give it a quick read to see the new tools that are letting our clients go even further.

Are there any great pieces we missed? Let us know by tweeting at us @Appinions

Posted on August 1, 2014 by Larry Levy

Influence Marketing: The Who, What & Where

When marketers talk about influence marketing, they naturally focus on identifying who their influencers are and then measuring their activity or potentially reaching out to build some type of relationship with them. Unfortunately, that’s jumping the gun, and can result in ineffective outreach efforts and disinterested, if not hostile, influencers. As soon as you’ve figured out who is influential, the next important questions are: what are the influencers talking about, and where are these influential conversations taking place?

Only once you’ve truly answered the who, what, and where questions can you really begin to apply the full power of influence marketing.

Who Are Your Influencers?

At Appinions, we have a very unique way of identifying influencers, using natural language processing to find reactions to opinions that appear in news publications, blogs, or on social media. By analyzing millions of full-text documents every day we’re able to know exactly who has demonstrated influence – by causing someone else to take action – in any specific category or on any particular topic.

By relying on full-text analysis and only counting reactions that contain specific keywords or phrases relating to a target segment, we provide much more accurate results than lists built from follower count contests or based on the words someone happens to have put in their social media profile.

Once you’ve got your influencer “list”, what are you going to do with it? Our clients use this information to build relationships, enhance content marketing, track thought-leadership, plan events, and more. But we often see a lot more utility come from diving into and beyond the influencer list than from the list itself.

What Are Influencers Talking About?

That’s where “Themes” come in; themes reveal which topics were the focus of influencer opinions or the reactions to those opinions and statements. We use various natural language processing techniques to identify the concepts (subjects and ideas) and entities (people, places, and organizations) from within the opinions that powered our influencer scores.

Looking at a theme-cloud of the top concepts from the influencers in any given category, you can tell a lot about what’s important in that category right now. Below you can see today’s theme-cloud from a few topical subjects Appinions is tracking.

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 12.18.01 PM

Even more important than these clouds are prioritized lists of up to 160 individual themes (plus another 160 twitter hashtags and mentions). These provide a detailed view of what the influencers are focused on, and allow you to easily click to read the full opinions or even the complete articles from which they came.

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 12.19.33 PM

Studying these lists and then doing a little research into the context, tone, and specifics of the opinions that drive them delivers a rich and nuanced understanding of what influencers are saying. If you’re doing content marketing, that’s a lot of ideas to re-share, amplify or add your own take. If you’re working to understand why a competitive product is getting a larger reaction in your market, this is an incredible way to get inside the heads of their biggest advocates.

This gives you an endless source of details that no influencer list could ever tell you.

Where Is Influence Happening?

You have influencers, and you know what they’re talking about and even exactly what they’re saying. But where do you go to participate or shape these conversations? Without that, you’re all dressed up with nowhere to go!

The Appinions Sources tab addresses this issue. It includes up to 160 publications, named and ranked in the order of how many opinions or reactions have occurred within their pages or platforms. And just like themes with just a click you can read the full opinions or full-text documents.

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 12.21.18 PM

Now you know which publications cover which aspects of your subject, which authors tend to write most frequently, and those authors’ angles or biases in their coverage. It’s the perfect way to build a PR watchlist, craft press releases, decide where to target sponsored stories, and learn which publication and columns you need to add to your daily reading digest.

A Full Picture of Influence

Marketing without understanding the role of influence in your marketplace requires a lot of wasteful guessing. You have to speculate who is out there sharing opinions that are helping your brand, and who is out there pushing a competitor or even pushing directly against you. You have to guess what specific sub-topics of your product or marketplace are hot right now (and which will be hot tomorrow) to make smart decisions about your own content and contributions. And you have to stab wildly in the dark as to where you should put your attention and resources – of the thousands of publication which ones are interested in and covering the subjects that your marketplace is talking about.

Influence marketing is critical specifically because it takes all this guesswork out of your marketing strategy and tactics. There’s still plenty of work left when you know who matters, know what they’re saying, and know where they’re saying it – but it’s all the easier to get that done efficiently and to delivery the results you desire if you have the who, what, and where of influence at your fingertips. You’re now working smarter, towards measurable goals, and with a full picture of your results.

Posted on July 28, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

The 7 Habits of Highly Influential CEOs – Part Two

Executive influence has never been more important. As the marketing world continues to evolve faster and faster, business leaders with a voice will lead their companies further than those that don’t rise up above the crowd.

In part one of this series, we took a look at some of the top executives in the world, a list including such luminaries as Elon Musk of Tesla, Mary Barra of GM, Jeffery Immelt of GE, and more. We then analyzed the four initial factors that drives influence for CXOs like them: owning a topic, making the most of controversy, the finance corollary, and publish or perish.

Now, let’s round those out with the 3 remaining important habits of influential CEOs:

5. Know Your Audience

6. Be More Than A Brand Extension

7. Make Yourself Accessible

And to top that off, we’ll conclude with some very actionable next steps so you can get started right away.

5. Know Your Audience

If limiting your topics is rule number 1, consider knowing your audience the way to pick that initial topic. As an intelligent executive, you know that it makes sense to write about the markets and fields you and your company excel or wish to excel in, but as you’ll see, there’s more to it than that.

Who exactly is your intended audience and what do they want from your insight? Do you wish to keep your readership narrow and only go after your peers, or potential purchasers of your products? Do you want to be perceived as a thought leader? And if so, is that a wonky thought leader highly versed in the technical details of your field, or are you going for more of a “pop psychology” approach? There’s a lot to consider here, and once you pick an approach, consistency is key.

If you want to be known as your industry’s data wonk, it’ll confuse your audience if every once in a while you push out a piece with nothing but market-friendly platitudes. Similarly, if you’re trying to make your insights accessible to a broad readership, you’ll scare people away if they see you tweet a jargon-laced tech manual.

Let’s take a look at a counter-example: Micky Arison is the Chairman of Carnival Cruises and the owner of the Miami Heat, and he’s also nowhere on our list of thought leaders. A quick perusal of his very public Instagram reveals why. Photos of your shoes followed by shots of Brooklyn may be amusing, but they don’t exactly say “thought leader.” If Mr. Arison instead stuck to a humanizing, behind the scenes look at how his cruise ships work, he would have a much more engaging presence.

Mr. Arison’s Instagram – Doesn’t Exactly Shout “Thought Leader”

6. Be More Than A Brand Extension

The reason executives achieve prestige is because they are more than the brands they represent. If people want to just hear mindless fun facts about your latest product, they’ll follow your brand’s twitter. If you want them to follow you personally, you need to give them something more – a behind the scenes look at what’s really going on, something that will really make people think.

Let’s take Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, as an example. He’s in our top 20, so he’s clearly resonating with his audience; but what is he saying? You won’t find him going on about the tech specs of the latest MacBook Air, or crowing about the iPhone’s market share. Instead, he’s a voice for inclusion and thoughtfulness in the tech industry.

Take a look at some of his recent tweets:


That’s a potent mix of heart-warming social inclusiveness, as well as just enough behind-the-scenes fodder to keep the fan-boys happy – a smart recipe that shows both he and Apple have brains and heart. It also keeps nicely with our previous rules, as Mr. Cook hews closely to a few topics. He may appear casual, but his thoughts are very calculated; don’t expect him to start tweeting photos of his kids’ softball practice any time soon. All in all, consider this a superlatively run internet presence.

7. Make Yourself Accessible

T-Mobile USA’s CEO John Legere

Often the very upper echelons of executives can seemingly isolate themselves and not respond to others reaching out to them, the result of busy schedules and conflicting deadlines. A savvy executive rising the ranks must avoid those habits, and acknowledge that taking the time to respond to questions and comments is an important part of their schedule.

After all, if you want people to listen to you, you need them to know that you’ll listen to them as well. So make the most of your platforms, and embrace the dialogue that’s inherently available in your blog’s comments, twitter replies, publicly accessible email address, and more.

If someone asks you a question, answer it. Not only are you providing obvious value, but by showing that you care about the community, you’ve just secured yourself an advocate that will tell people that you and your brand really do think about their market.

John Legere, the CEO of T-Mobile USA, has shown he isn’t afraid to say and do whatever he’s thinking – even if it’s as outlandish as crashing a party held by rival AT&T. With actions as bold as his, he’s bound to rile up a few people. But when he’s done that, he’s also shown the tact to respond to his questioners, displaying a self-effacing wit that would benefit most members of C-suites worldwide.

Imagine how much more influential the rest of our list could be if they actually listened to their customers. The world would love a banking CEO who actually seemed to “get” his or her customer’s complaints. Now harness that same power for yourself, and make sure you’re not ignoring a client that’s begging to spend money with you.

Next Steps

That may seem like a slightly daunting list, but when you take each step on its own, getting started shouldn’t be too hard.

Take a pen and some paper and think about what you like talking about, what your company sells, what your colleagues seem to most enjoy hearing from you, etc. Do you notice any recurring answers between each category? That could be your topic to own. Now take some time to think about what’s the most appropriate angle and tone you should use when addressing the topic, as we discussed previously. Find something that comes naturally to you – there’s no sake in forcing out formality if you’re a naturally bubbly communicator. With all these in mind, dash off your first draft of a blog post.

There’s literally no reason not to get started today; you’ll improve and refine your technique with each subsequent attempt. Once you have a good stream of content going, each piece will be exponentially more valuable, as it’s now part of a collection of wise and inter-related thoughts. Expand your content from your personal or company blog to Medium, or perhaps LinkedIn. Once you’ve shown you can put good thoughts on paper (or screens) you’ll be more appealing to speak at events and tradeshows. And after you’re a familiar face on those circuits, expect the press and general audiences to get all the more comfortable referring to you, quoting you, and asking advice from you frequently. It’s a virtuous cycle, and with a little hard work you and your company will really start reaping benefits.


selfdrive short
Posted on July 23, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Autonomous Cars Turn the Corner

Appinions has just released a new Influence Study, looking at the autonomous cars market. Google leapt forth to lead the discussion when they released a test drive video of their first completely autonomous vehicle: passengers rode in the back, as if in a cab, while the car chauffeured them to their destination all on its own. Not to be outdone, traditional car manufacturers saw Google’s announcement as an opportunity to publicize their own autonomous vehicle technologies. The “10 Most Influential Autonomous Cars Companies” features a mix of tech companies and automobile manufacturers. Tech seems to have an edge on traditional auto, with Google and Intel claiming the #1 and #2 spots, although that doesn’t mean automakers aren’t keen to get in the game.  With car manufacturers comprising about six of the top ten spots, it’s clear the auto industry is here to play and stay. selfdrive-preview Conversations coming from the automotive industry in the past few months have dramatically changed the perspective on driverless cars. With six automakers announcing a commitment to having self-driving vehicle on the market in the next several years, autonomous driving is finally turning the corner from a futuristic possibility to a concrete reality. GM, Nissan, Audi, Mercedes, and BMW have all pledged self-driving models by 2020, while Volvo has stated they can have one on the road as early as 2017. Ford has also made public statements indicating that an autonomous car is in the works, although they have yet to announce an expected release date. The automaker recently announced partnerships with MIT and Stanford to develop driverless technologies.


Google’s Autonomous Car

But not everyone was equally eager to jump on the driverless trend: Chrysler, the final member of the Detroit “Big Three,” was noticeably silent on the topic, as was Toyota, the third leading car manufacturer in US sales behind GM and Ford. Only in the last couple of days has Toyota come forward with an explanation for their wariness: they believe driverless cars have the potential to increase pollution and encourage urban sprawl. For this reason, they have stated that although not against automated certain mechanisms in their vehicles, they are not working towards a completely self-driving model.

GM’s EN-V Prototype

The environmental and safety implications of driverless cars have generated attention from a number of politicians and public officials, which is unusual for a tech related topic. Unlike Toyota, however, most public officials seem to be optimistic about the public benefits of driverless cars, and are working to build regulatory infrastructure ensure everyone’s safety while getting this technology on the road. Bernard Soriano, head of the California DMV, expressed multiple opinions about the urgency with which government is working to keep up with this new technology: “The DMV had thought that reality was several years away, so it would have time to perfect the rules. That clock just sped up … Because of what is potentially out there soon, we need to make sure that the regulations are in place that would keep the public safe but would not impede progress,” Soriano said.

Chrysler's Dodge Ram - Human Driver Still Required

Chrysler’s Dodge Ram – Human Driver Still Required

Appinions identified and analyzed over 200 million opinions gathered from over 2 billion documents and social media posts in order to make this report. Each opinion was then ranked using a proprietary scoring algorithm that considers the people or entities that reacted to these opinions, the credibility of the outlet where the reaction was published, and the overall volume of reactions to each opinion.

Read the full Autonomous Cars Influence Study here.

Posted on July 18, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Weekend Reads – Internet of Things Edition

For this installment of Weekend Reads, we’ll be covering something a bit different: the Internet of Things. If you’re not already familiar with it, the Internet of Things, or IoT, is the collection of hardware and software that’s allowing new gadgets to communicate with one another, free of human intervention. It’s powering everything from smart thermostats to self-monitoring jet engines, and Appinions recently released a new influence study tracking the top players in the sector.

Whether or not you’ve already read the full report, let’s take a look at some of the additional details and great coverage provided by the media:

Apple and Google Dominate “Internet of Things” Influence with Home Automation Efforts – Bruce Rogers, Forbes

Rogers succinctly sums up the findings of Appinions IoT study; consider this a great starting point for anyone who hasn’t yet read the full report.

Can You Name the Top 10 IoT Companies? – David Roe, CMSWire

CMSWire offers great insight for the technically minded. In this interview, they really drill down to some of the factors that affected the rankings, going a level of detail further than some other publications.

IoT and IT’s ability to foresee unintended consequences – Charlie Bess, HP

This is a very interesting little piece by Charlie Bess, who as a technologist at Hewlett Packard, was named in our report as one of the top individual influencers in the IoT. Here he breaks down some of HP’s historic and recent developments to further the field.

Which Companies Dominate the “Internet of Things?” – Jacob Morgan, CloudAve.

CloudAve succinctly breaks the report down, and does a good job looking at the trends in the industrial side of IoT.

Finally, we have one last great piece of reading for the weekend. If you haven’t already seen our latest piece of in-depth analysis, make sure to read The 7 Habits of Highly Influential CEOs. We analyzed hundreds of executives viewed as thought leaders and distilled their best habits into some easy to follow steps.

Posted on July 17, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

The 7 Habits of Highly Influential CEOs

As executive influence becomes more important, C-suite executives really do need to “be their brand.” To that end, being seen as an influential thought leader or opinion maker is vital for any CXO hoping to lead a competitive company in today’s world.

But how do you do that? We decided to look at people who are doing it successfully today, and reverse-engineer their secrets. We identified 7 important habits, the first 4 of which we’ll cover in today’s article. They are:

  1. Own A Topic
  2. Make The Most of Controversy
  3. Corollary – Don’t Work in Finance
  4. Tweet Early, Tweet Often aka Publish or Perish
  5. Know Your Audience
  6. Be More Than A Brand Extension
  7. Make Yourself Accessible

So let’s see exactly who these influential leaders are.

Executives Who Lead

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 12.59.03 PM

To begin, we used the Appinions influence management platform to identify and rank business executives who are viewed as “thought leaders”. We looked for people who had been identified as Founders, CEOs, CMOs, COOs, CTOs, CIOs, etc., and also included terms such as “thought leader,” “visionary,” “genius,” and others.

The result is a “Most Influential Executives” list that has some leaders you’d expect, and some that aren’t yet quite household names.

The top 10 are:

  1. Elon Musk: Founder, CEO, CTO – SpaceX; Founder, CEO – Tesla
  2. Mary Barra: CEO – General Motors
  3. Jean-Laurent Bonnafe: CEO – BNP Paribas
  4. Jamie Dimon: CEO – JPMorgan Chase
  5. Bob Dudley: CEO – BP
  6. Dov Charney: Founder, CEO – American Apparel
  7. Richard Gonzalez: CEO – AbbVie
  8. Chet Kanojia: Founder, CEO – Aereo
  9. Jeffery Immelt: CEO – General Electric
  10. Omar Ishrak: CEO – Medtronic

Slightly trailing down the list are a number of other well-known execs: leaders at AT&T, Apple, Blackberry, Amazon and more. So how did these leaders earn their influence?

1. Own A Topic

Appinions has found that influence is inherently specific to an individual topic. As an example, you might think that one person’s recommendations about technology are worth considering, while you’d never listen to their restaurant reviews. For  executives we’ve found that it’s most effective to stick to one or two key topics and builds influence around that; once you are influential in one topic, you can expand out from there, but it’s important to not get ahead of oneself as you get started. Tweeting haphazardly about dozens of topics may be fun, and showing off some personality is important, but there’s a risk of going too far and putting off or confusing your would-be followers.

Of course, each exec should choose a topic where they have genuine expertise and insight to add, and that is clearly related to his or her company’s field. That said, you’ll grow your audience by making sure your topic isn’t 100% focused on just your company or that you’re not simply acting as a PR mouthpiece, shooting out links to your latest press release. Rather, use your expertise in your company’s field to serve as a lens for a slightly broader topic and make sure you’re really educating your readers with information they would not otherwise come across.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon is a great example. As the Founder and CEO, he’s shown that he’s an extremely long-term planner; Amazon is famous for eschewing meaningful profits for years, all in the name of its long-term march towards dominating all forms of retail. But Bezos also applies that very strategic, profitability-be-damned thinking to a number of other ventures: he’s purchased the Washington Post and become known in the art world for his 10,000 year clock, which will only move once a century. Now his tenaciousness has even been recognized by the US government, who he’s consulting on recent plans to return humans to space.

Our data shows executives speak about an amazing array of themes and topics:

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 4.06.42 PM

Let this be a lesson – there is no one right topic. Pick something you know about and start contributing to the conversation today.

2. Make The Most of Controversy

Sometimes you work hard to earn influence, and sometimes it comes to you – and not necessarily for the reason you’d hope. When something goes wrong at a company, their executives are at the forefront of that controversy. This is well exemplified by Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors.

image.imgWhile she’s been a newsmaker for the entirety of her tenure as GM’s leader, her influence really spiked once GM’s massive recalls got everyone talking – from harried journalists down to worried customers on twitter. The beauty of this is that she’s managed to capitalize on the press, rising above the storm, and hopefully eventually leading her company to do the same.

She’s owned up to GM’s mistakes, and is emerging as a voice of reform in a stodgy industry. By showing that she’s not afraid to fire wrongdoers, make public her company’s big internal changes, and highlight a path forward, Barra is emerging as a respected thought leader on automotive safety. Already, the tides are shifting and Barra is being recognized as a leader.

Other CEOs took controversy in stride as well. American Apparel founder Dov Charney is currently battling his company over who will lead them in the future; by getting his name and his side of the story out in public, Charney has assured that no matter what his next move is, people will be watching. The approach already seems to be paying dividends – much of the discussion about him has now moved on to his redeeming qualities and whether he’ll be able to wrestle back control of the company.

3. Corollary – Don’t Work in Finance

Or do, but expect to have an uphill battle against negative sentiment. While a number of top banking and finance executives topped our chart, they were mostly on the defensive side of things: backpedaling and defending their (and their company’s) actions against a world angry about their perceived excesses.Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 2.24.16 PM

Our sentiment analysis reveals things are not a pretty picture for the faces of finance. While Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, seems to scrape by with a neutral rating, the world is absolutely livid with Jean Laurent Bonnafe and Antony Jenkins, leaders of BNP Paribas and Barclays respectively. In fact, those two executives come up as the most influential executives with negative sentiment.

That said, when life gives you influential lemons, you can sell an awful lot of lemonade. Despite public opinion, these finance leaders haven’t slowed down – continuing to speak out for in ways that help their companies. Jenkins, a ruthless cost cutter, has gotten known as an advocate for automation in the workplace. His view are already resonating outside of the business sphere, with publications like Computer World quoting him on the topic.

So while the public might not agree with bankers, they definitely appear to be paying attention.

4. Tweet Early, Tweet Often aka Publish or Perish

It’s hard to build a following if a decade seems to pass between your prognostications. Our top influencers showed a proclivity for getting their name out in the news, whether in their own writing, or in giving quotes to journalists, or simply by doing things that guaranteed their names would be in the media.


Take a look at Elon Musk’s opinion volume chart, above. As you can see, he’s consistently part of the conversation, weighing in on all sorts of transportation topics: space ships, electric cars, even hyperloops! He’s making sure that he and his companies are being talked about, and if they aren’t, he goes and makes his own news (see – releasing patents to the public.)


Now look at Mark Zuckerberg. While a household name, he’s not exactly a big talker. Famously shy, he tends to keep himself out of the news, and he suffers for that – he’s only number 54 on our list. Because of this, when he does have to talk, he’s usually on the defensive side – apologizing for some privacy lapse at Facebook or seemingly making excuses about an ill-received feature change.

Imagine how much better off Zuckerberg could be if he got ahead of the news. If he were a more active blogger, or was consistently writing a column for a major news or tech publisher (and they’d all be happy to have him), Zuckerberg could be perceived as a thought leader on the future of privacy, and not simply the scapegoat / stereotype the media trots out whenever they need to talk about the erosion of privacy.

Know Your Audience, Be More Than A Brand Extension, & Make Yourself Accessible

With those first four rules, you’re already off to a powerful start. Next week we’ll analyze the other 3 factors that drive executive influence, as well as give you some actionable next steps to start applying these yourself.

Read part two now.

Posted on July 11, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Weekend Reads – Great Posts This Week – 7/11

Happy 7/11 everyone! While the world is out there enjoying free Slurpees, we’ve rounded up some great posts for you. So read on for the best of the web from this week.

The Content Marketing Revolution – Alexander Jutkowitz, Harvard Business Review

Sure, “Content Marketing” is the buzz-word of the decade. But what does it mean, and how is it changing marketing? HBR breaks it down succinctly.

Key Findings on How Marketers Optimize Social Content – Douglas Karr, Marketing Tech Blog

This post features some great and easily digestible charts about how best-in-class marketers use social media to promote their content

The Myth of the Lone Genius – Ilan Mochari, Slate

This post isn’t purely marketing related, but offers some interesting insight that can be applied to the business world. We often think of the “lone genius” who has some “eureka!” moment in their garage, communing with nature, at 2 AM in a lab, etc. But it’s important not to overlook the team that helped get them there behind the scenes.

Internet of Things – Influence Study – Appinions

Have you seen our latest Influence Study yet? We took an in-depth look at the trends and influencers driving the exciting Internet of Things sector.

Are there any great pieces we missed? Let us know by tweeting at us @Appinions

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