Posted on September 13, 2014 by appinions

Product Launch Results: Apple Watch

In the previous post we examined the reaction to Apple’s iPhone 6 launch, so now let’s look how the world is reaction to the wearable computing device formerly known as iWatch.

AppleWatchSmallPrior to Tuesday Sept 9th, the iWatch was holding relatively steady with a Net Influence Score of around 9,000. It had actually been trending down in conversation until just before the invitations for the 9/9 event went out, at which time it became open season on speculation.

The influence score rose from 9,786 when the postage was applied to the invitations, to 15,534 when butts finally hit seats in the Flint Center. That nearly 50% increase is amazing for the announcement of a product announcement (and in fact there wasn’t even confirmation that iWatch would be announced.) Our scoring algorithms take into account who held an opinion or reacted to it, where the opinion is published, and the total number of different people who react to any given opinion. By Friday Sept 12, the quantity and quality of influential discussion has exploded the influence score by 300% to 39,668 – and it’s still rising.

As we saw in the previous post, increasing the score by 30,000 is an impressive product launch, beyond what most companies can expect to achieve. Obviously the anticipation, coverage, and significance of the Apple Watch is unusual.

Moto360Just a week early, Motorola took the wraps of the Moto360 smart watch. Starting with a score of 2,973 the day before the launch, and hitting a score of 5,609 before the Apple Watch announce gave it another push to it’s current 6,370 (as this is written on 9/13). So in a week and a half the Moto360 managed a score increase of 1/10th of what the Apple Watch got in 3 days. Those are hard numbers that clearly rate the impact these two products have had in the marketplace of attention.

If we zoom out a bit and look at the entire market of Smart Watches, we see the iWatch effect even more clearly. This group includes all the generic terms for smart watch and most of the brand name products currently discussed or shipping. And we see that the entire market was relatively flat until the Apple announce invitations went out and then the actual launch event drove a huge spike that’s still ascending. With a 35,000 point increase and climbing it’s fair to say Apple has legitimized this marketplace – it’s unlikely those scores will drop back to the 15,000 level for a very long time, if ever.


More Smart Watch Influence Data Including Live Daily Updates

Appinions published an Smart Watch Industry Influence Study four months ago, which includes ranked lists of the most influential companies, executives, themes, and more. It’s available online for viewing or download.

We also maintain a full page of live smart watch data, updated every day, with tracking scores on industry influence, lists of the most influential people and organizations, a display of the top themes driving the current market conversation, and more. You can find it on our data journalism website.

Posted on September 13, 2014 by cdanuloff

Product Launch Results: iPhone 6

Announcing a new product is culmination of a huge investment of time, money, and energy. More importantly, the quality of that launch plays a big role in setting the course for the return on that investment; Does anyone pay attention? Does anyone react? Do they like it? Do the people who react spread the word?

SteveJobsIt’s fair to say that Steve Jobs set the modern standard for the product launch, turning Apple announcements into highly anticipated, broadly discussed, and widely covered events, with business and cultural footprints. Apple works hard to maintain the competitive advantage Steve created with these events, and this week held the most anticipated release since the passing of Mr. Jobs.

So how did they do?

Measuring Launch Results with Appinions

The Appinions Platform has a powerful and unique ability to measure the quantity and quality of attention captured by any topic or event. We process hundreds of millions of full text articles, identify opinions related to very specific topics, and algorithmically score the topic and the people holding and sharing these opinions. And our scores have an absolute value so not only can we show the change in influence/attention for a single brand or product, we can compare different brands or products and do so at different points in time.

This means we can measure the success of any product launch in both absolute and relative terms. So far, here’s what we’ve seen from the Apple iPhone 6 launch. (The Apple Watch is covered in a subsequent post.)

The iPhone 6 Launch

Here we see that after a period with relatively stable volume of discussion, influential attention to the iPhone 6 score grew by about about 6,400 (more than 50%) between July 20 and Sept 8 (with Net Influence Score rising from 10,114 to 16,500) and then spiked by 6,815 (above 40%) in two days to hit 23,315. From the steady base it had been at, the iPhone buildup and launch saw a rise of over 13,000.

Driving these scores during this timeframe, the volume of opinions we identified and scored grew 10X, from an average of about 1,000 per day up to nearly 10,000 on launch day, Sept 10th. Our scoring algorithms take into account who held an opinion or reacted to it, where the opinion is published, and the total number of different people who react to any given opinion. Apple launches such as this one show a company that has built a platform to get people talking and reacting, broadly and intensely.

If we extend our view beyond references specifically to the “iPhone 6″ and just look at the entire world of “iPhone” we see growth from about 50,000 to over 110,000 (a 55% increase) over a 3 day period. This is impressive in any case, and moreso for a topic that already has a high average daily score, which means there is already a large amount of conversation taking place.

Putting the iPhone 6 Launch in Perspective

How does a Net Influence Score of 109,600 for iPhone compare to the volume of attention the news, blogs, and social media of the world pays to other products and issues? Let’s compare iPhone to other technical and social issues that people are discussing by using peak scores from within the past 90 days.


Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 Launch

Let’s compare the iPhone’s performance this week to last week’s Samsung announcement of their Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note Edge phones. Samsung phones had been holding in the 15,000 range for Net Influence Score (This includes all Samsung phones while the iPhone example above is only the iPhone 6) and after the Sept 2 announcement in 3 days the score rose almost 30%.

Clearly the launch got some attention, but in competitive terms we see over 5 times as much attention was paid to the iPhone launch than the launch from Samsung.

Since we have nearly simultaneous Apple and Samsung releases, it’s also interesting to compare these events in terms of where opinions originated. Below we see the 90-day summary of opinion sources, showing that Apple generated a lot more heat on social media (primarily Twitter) with over twice as much opinion by volume than Samsung.



Windows Phone / Nokia 930 Launch

Let’s look at what happened in terms of reaction when the latest Windows Phone, the Nokia 930 was unveiled on July 17 – we see a move from a 8,995 on July 15 to a peach of 13,804 on August 1st – a full two weeks later and a score increase of only about 4,000.

Recent Mobile Phone Launches

And for some perspective, below we look at the Net Influence Score, as measured by volume of influential opinions, for a few of the leading mobile phone manufacturer. We see not only has Apple a commanding lead over time, they created a much larger absolute and relative change via an extremely well orchestrated product launch.

What Happens Now?

Huge events get a lot of people talking and reacting, so we expect to see dramatic gains surrounding events like the Apple launch. But eventually attention turns to other matters. The time frame over which increased influence can be sustained, and the rate and level it falls back to, are parts of the measure of product launch success.

So it will be interesting to see how long the iPhone discussion lasts at these lofty levels or how quickly the huge buzz slows down . Given the built-in drama of the pre-order, shipping, unboxing, reviews, and out-of-stock situations that we’ll see in coming weeks, it seems fair to say that Apple has brilliantly engineered a system to keep their product at the center of a lot of conversation for much longer than most companies get out of a typical announcement. Time will tell.

Visit Our Full Apple & iPhone Live Tracking Page for More Details

If you’d like to follow the progress of Apple and their competitors in terms of the volume of influential conversation they’re generating in the market, visit our Apple iPhone page at where there are dynamic charts (updated daily) of Apple and iPhone influence scores, lists of top influencers and their key opinions, word clouds based on themes contained within these discussions and more.

Tracking and Improving Product Launch Performance with Appinions

Screenshot-TopicDetail-DPayments_150pxThe ability to track and score the quantity and quality of influential discussion surrounding any product introduction is only one way the Appinions platform helps marketers – in fact the scores and trend charts are only the beginning.

The platform lets marketers see exactly who is talking about or reacting to your product, what they said, and where they said it. This gives you the ability to see how different messages and events are performing, reach out to specific influencers or publications, manage resources and more. For a full demonstration and to discuss how your product launches can be more successful, please contact us.

Posted on September 3, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

3D Printing Goes Mainstream – New Influence Study

Appinions latest influence study, released today, looks at the 3D printing industry and finds a sector that’s rapidly maturing. A market that was only a year ago occupied by MIT whiz-kids and ambitious Kickstarters is now dominated by globally recognized brands like Autodesk, Amazon, Home Depot, and GE. They’re joined by industry stalwart Makerbot (recently acquired by Stratasys) to fill the “Ten Most Influential Companies” list.

Top Influencers

The biggest trend people are discussing is the rise of retail, or “print-on-demand,” whereby consumers can walk into a store to get their 3D creations printed, or do it via the internet and get their constructions shipped to them. This latter model, pioneered by Shapeways and Sculpteo, was validated by Amazon’s entry into the market. This made such an impact that Amazon’s Market Place Sales Director, Petra Schindler-Carter, was ranked as the #1 most influential executive in the report.

She was closely followed by Staples SVP Damien Leigh, who has worked to bring 3D printing to their own office supply stores. Taking a similar tack is Home Depot, whose partnership with Makerbot is bringing 3D printing to stores across the country, and secured them enough interest in the marketplace to secure the number 7 position.

Other major brands had an impact as well. Tech heavyweights GE and Intel scored well in the rankings, but Appinions’ research also showed notable influence for companies as varied as Best Buy, BMW, Airbus, Citibank, and more.


The new report is based on analysis of over 100 million news and blog articles as well as social media posts made between early May and late August. From this pool, Appinions identified over 25,000 opinions and reactions, and applied a proprietary scoring algorithm to generate influence scores. The scores take into account the history of the opinion holder, the location where the opinion or reaction was shared, and the volume of reactions a single opinion generates.

Read the full report, to learn more about the exciting trends affecting the 3D printing industry, here.

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.


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