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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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:

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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.

ElonMusk

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.)

MarkZuckerberg

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.

Want to be the first to read part two? Sign up for our newsletter:





books
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

iOT_Wave_shutterstock_105656141
Posted on July 8, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Internet of Things Influence Study

Influence scores measure the reaction to statements, announcements, and actions of companies and people. Looking at influence allows us to see not only who’s saying the most, but also how effective they are at making others listen.

In a new report from the Data Journalism team at Appinions, we examine how influence is distributed among the many players in the diverse Internet of Things market. The Internet of Things refers to the concept of making more and more everyday objects “smart” and connecting them to the web and one another; examining the current Internet of Things market sheds light on a wide range of different companies, products, and technologies all vying to be the most influential in this innovative space. Our research found this influence was driven by a number of key themes, with conversations around security, privacy, big data, and thermostats garnering the biggest reactions.

themesTop Themes

As more and more devices become interconnected, security and privacy are paramount concerns. Whether or not a company appropriately addresses this can be make-or-break in the marketplace. Appinions’ research found Google and Nest (which Google acquired) to be 2 of the top 3 most influential companies, and this rise has much to do with security concerns. Given people’s lingering concerns about Google’s general lax attitude towards privacy, they’ve been listening closely, and reacting, to news of Google’s changes in data collection standards for their Nest and Dropcam subsidiaries.

Thermostats were another popular topic <include photo of smart thermostat>, as a once prosaic device becomes an early leader in the smarthome IoT category. Honeywell’s launch of Lyric showed that Nest can’t rest on their laurels, as they quickly shot up to being the second most popularly discussed IoT product.

A Volatile Leaderboard

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While Google and Apple ended our study in peak position, the four-month study window showed a lot of volatility. Given the nascent nature of the space, and the fact that there is no clear provider of a “most secure” solution, this is to be expected.  Throughout the past three months, Cisco, Intel, and Microsoft have all been neck and neck for the top spot, driven by competing announcements and product launches.

Executives Speak, The World Listens

When top tech executives spoke about topics consumers cared about, the world responded.

-        Privacy and cyber-security are big concerns as more and more of our lives and objects connect to the web. The second most influential executive, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith, got a big reaction discussing the importance of online privacy in the Internet of Things.

-        Oracle President Mark Hurd became the third most influential in the market when he announced his company’s intention to purchase Internet of Things software platform maker Micros Systems, representing Oracle’s first foray into the market and offering a new heavyweight to potentially champion privacy.

-        Blackberry’s CEO John Chen had a surprise top 10 showing, offering hope that his troubled company, once known for rock-solid mobile security, is generating dividends from embracing IoT.

Although the tech giants appear to be dominating the field, there are a lot of interesting developments going on in the periphery, such as the entire industrial Internet sector – dedicated to integrating web connectivity in industrial machinery. Other influential products include Belkin’s WeMo smart home system, Dropcam’s connected home security camera, and Kwikset’s smart lock and key.

Download the Full Study Now

Learn more about the exciting developments in the IoT sector by reading the Appinions Internet of Things Influence Report.

 

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Posted on July 2, 2014 by Brian Stuckey

GoPro’s IPO – an Impact Analysis

On June 27th, GoPro INC (NASDAQ:GPRO), the makers of rugged cameras beloved by BMX bikers and clumsy vacationers alike, sold its first shares to the public. The shares were priced at $24 and within a few days they were trading at more than double that. In an already frothy market, GoPro managed to draw the attention of both institutional investors and the general public.

A logical question to ask is “how big of a deal was this?” Answering this question correctly is surprisingly difficult. Most marketers revert to simplistic counts of mentions in newspaper, number of tweets, or some combination of one-dimensional metrics. What GoPro really needs is 1) a benchmark for comparison and 2) a way to normalize influential conversation across all media.

Let’s take a look at the graph below. In this plot, we can see the last two months of conversation about GoPro in general. We can ascertain that there has been a pretty steady build in influential discussion but it really seems to kick off around 5/20. That’s when their S-1 was filed; that really build up the discussion around GoPro. To reiterate, this is any discussion around GoPro, not just their IPO.

GoPro Net Influence

We can see that before the S-1 was filed, the discussion around the company had a score of less than 2,000. Today, it is about 6,000. In other words, the IPO nearly tripled the volume of influential discussion about the company as a whole. In other words, there wasn’t just more talk about the company, there were more meaningful reactions to talk about the company. Even though they have a rabid following, active social media channels, and probably millions of hours of video on YouTube, the discussion about their IPO swamped everything (in a good way.)

Below is another chart. Using the Appinions platform, I separated out the IPO discussion from all other discussions. I used a very strict filter so only discussions that contained the words IPO or “Initial Public Offering” matched. The results are fascinating: here, we can see in much more detail exactly what drove the conversation around their IPO. The S-1 filing itself is very visible in the chart. What is more interesting is that this is roughly equal in magnitude to the discussion when they first began trading. In other words, simply filing did as much for the company’s influence as actually trading did.

GoPor IPO Only New InfluenceBelow is a third chart that only focuses on the raw counts of opinions from the IPO data set. We can see a spike of discussion around 6/11~6/12. A quick search through our data shows that this is all triggered by an amended S-1 that was filed. This is important because  the score increased only a small amount despite a large volume of actual opinions.

GoPro IPO Volume Of Opinions

This circumstance shows off the unique power of the Appinions platform. A tool that was simply counting opinion volume would say that the amended S-1 got much more attention than the original filing. But, Appinions is able to measure the size and impact of the reactions and that the amendment generated many more opinions, but the initial filing had a much larger impact on the brand.  We are able to show the impact on a market in a way that takes in to account who talks about your brand, where it was said, and how people reacted.

In the initial S-1 filing, a few opinions generated a huge reaction. In the amendment, a lot of people wrote about it but it did not generate nearly the same reaction as the initial filing. If you were using simple counting metrics, you would miss this hugely important distinction.

How Big of a Deal Was This?

Using only the data above, we can compare the initial S-1 filing, the amendment, and the first day of trading. We can also compare this to any other company, market, or pool of discussion. An important attribute of our influence scoring is that all numbers are directly comparable. A topic with double the score of another has twice the influential discussion.

GoPro’s entire IPO process added about 4,000 points to their influence score, brining the total to 6,000. Let’s compare that to a few other things that have been on-and-off in the news:

  • Today, the entire influential discussion around Fukushima is 2,933.
  • The topic of 3D Printing has an influence score of  8,297
  • All influential conversations around Arby’s? Less than 200. For a company is shopping for a new buyer, this is a shocking low number.

Inside The Conversation

Let’s go deeper into the discussion around GoPro and their IPO. Below are two theme maps that represent the major themes that people are talking about when they discuss GoPro. Two of the biggest themes are Debt Repayment and Loyal Securities.

Debt Repayment was actually one of the most talked about themes of their IPO. Retiring debt was one of their largest uses of funds. What is interesting is that of all of the things that generated opinions and reaction, this was a much more important theme than their implied valuation. A quick Google search shows that valuation was a common theme simply by frequency but we are able to show that of the most influential opinions, repaying debt was much more important.

GoPro Debt Repayment

The second theme was Loyal Securities aka Loyal3. Many opinions included a link to https://ipo.loyal3.com/gopro and this helped point us in the right direction. Loyal3 is a platform that allows small retail investors to have access to IPO shares as a way for issuers to reward their loyal customers.

GoPro Loyal3 loyal securities

I had been following some financial forums before the IPO and had only glanced at their S-1. What the Appinions platform allowed me to do was quickly discover the themes that were the most important and the ones that I missed doing my own research. It was an objective tool that had uncovered several aspects of the launch that otherwise would have been missed.

Final Thoughts

Looking at the GoPro IPO is an interesting example of what Appinions can reveal about any topic. As we’ve seen it’s possible to measure not only the volume of conversation but more importantly the magnitude and value of the reaction to conversations and events. And it lets us get inside those conversations and reactions to gain a much deeper understanding who mattered, what mattered, and why – now that’s true insight.

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Posted on June 25, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Influence In A Market That Doesn’t Quite Exist

Everyone’s talking about wearable technology, but it’s a market still in its infancy. There aren’t that many products you can actually buy, and the general public has not yet fully embraced smart watches as an essential piece of technology. Of course, that hasn’t stopped leading manufacturers from charging ahead, as innovation in the sector continues at a rapid pace. In the past couple months alone, 7 major players have made announcements or reveled in rumors of new smart watch products.

Themes In The Conversation

When analyzing the influential conversation surrounding any topic on the Appinions platform, we’re able to look at the common themes that frequently occur in the discussions. Themes are subjects around which influential conversations take place and are not specific to any one influencer. Influence scores let us see who’s getting reactions, but themes give us a window into what they’re talking about that’s garnering that attention.

With some of the more prolific influencers sharing hundreds of opinions, examining the prominent themes that gain reactions, gives us insight into which ones are most relevant to other popular conversations.

Recently we wrote about how the theme of fashion is a major driver of influence in the smart watch market. While fashion (or lack thereof) was a major driver, in this burgeoning market we found product announcements to be even more impactful.

Major Announcements

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March 19th was an enormously impactful day for many smart watch players. Google revealed a new operating platform, Android Wear, designed to function specifically for smart watches. Coinciding with that, Motorola and LG unveiled their first Android Wear powered watches, the Moto 360 and LG G, both of which are expected to be available this summer. All three companies saw significant bumps in their influence scores as a result of the big reveal, with Google briefly overtaking Samsung, who is consistently the most established influencer.

Having multiple smart watches already on the market as part of their Galaxy Gear line clearly wasn’t enough to keep Samsung on top, as they went many months without a major announcement. Samsung only saw their score trend upward after the April 7th announcement of a new watch, the Gear Solo, which will be their first to function independently from a smart phone.

Tier Two Influencers

watchWhile Google, Motorola, Samsung, and LG might be the “Big Four” when it comes to smart watch announcements, they weren’t the only companies with big news in the past 3 months. Sony, Acer, and Microsoft also made announcements that caused major stirs in the market, although the size of each of their influence bumps varied considerably. While Google’s announcements got a lot of reactions and increased their influence score by nearly 5X, Microsoft’s announcement regarding new smart watch patents barely garnered any reactions at all.

In general, announcements of new products generated larger boosts than announcements of new technologies, and the more influential a company was prior to making an announcement, the larger the influence boost following the announcement.

Once there are more products in the marketplace, and more consumers using them on a daily basis, we’ll see a whole new range of themes emerge in the Smart Watches discussions. For now, it’s almost all promises and predictions.

Check out the free Appinions Smart Watch Influence Study for more findings on the emerging wearable technologies space.

books
Posted on June 20, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Weekend Reads – Great Posts This Week

Ready for the weekend? Well, kick back and relax with a few informative and fun pieces that came out this past week. With some interesting marketing insights, you’ll come roaring back sharper than ever next Monday.

Why The CMO Seat Is So Hot – Christine Crandell, Forbes

Crandell offers some fascinating insight into the continued rise of the CMO. As influence marketing gets more and more important, the CMOs that can harness that power will truly thrive.

STUDY: 90% of Content Marketers Lack Confidence in Their Data – Patrick Coffee, Media Bistro

There’s no point in making good content if you can’t measure its impact and simple metrics like social shares just don’t cut it. 90% of marketers now realize this, and are starting to look for solutions.

How to Make Your “Boring” Business Blog Interesting – Dan Selter, RonSela.com

So you’re blogging, that’s great. But if you’re just putting out nothing but boring self-promotion and industry jargon, you could actually be driving people away. Dan Selter breaks down some easy dos and don’ts.

The Stanley Cup of Influence – Appinions

Did you miss our fun piece analyzing the impact of the recent NHL finals? Take a look at which players and coaches are dominating the conversation, and which outsiders have some unexpected influence as well.

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

hockey
Posted on June 18, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

The Stanley Cup of Influence

With the recent, thrilling conclusion to the NHL’s playoffs, we thought it’d be fascinating to look at who is influential in the world of hockey. Even non-sports fans should take heed, as some of the insights here are just as applicable off the ice.

As one would imagine, the overall influence of those talking about L.A. and New York hockey has been drastically on the rise. As those teams cruised towards the playoffs, the buzz about them got bigger, louder, and more influential. Suddenly people who had been talking about a Rangers or Kings player for months were getting listened to, and their opinions were being re-shared.

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 6.25.12 PM

Who’s Influential?

So let’s take a dive into who some of the individual influencers are, and use the power of Appinions’ platform to find some fun, and perhaps unexpected, individuals.

Darryl Sutter – Coach of the Los Angeles Kings

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At first, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Darryl Sutter is the coach of the kings, and obviously has a huge impact not just on the perception and media coverage of the Kings, but their actual on ice performance as well. However, Darryl Sutter doesn’t tweet, he doesn’t blog; even the parody twitter account in his name is pretty quiet. So, while a simpler tool might not register a true influencer like this, Appinions recognizes that an awful lot of sources are quoting Mr. Sutter.

Ranger’s Number Two – Henrik Lundqvist

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 2.12.28 PM

Henrik Lundqvist may have been the Ranger’s number one weapon on the ice, but he’s number two as far as influencers for New York hockey go. This influence was driven not just by his quotes, but people analyzing his in game performance.

Going Negative – Sidney Crosby

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 2.07.24 PM

Is Sidney Crosby, Captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins, a sore loser? Appinions lets you sort influencers and opinions by sentiment, and when you look at negative influencers on the Rangers, Crosby shoots towards the top. You can’t fault the guy for feeling a bit miffed after the Rangers eliminated his team in the Metropolitan Division Finals, so it’s obvious his words and actions against the Rangers are going to be on the not-so-nice side of things.

Influential on Both Teams

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One great feature of Appinions is Gap Analysis; this lets you take two topics and see who is influential in just one, the other, or both. Obviously someone passionate about the Kings might not garner a lot of clout in Rangers-world, and vice versa. But then there are some obvious characters that do.

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 2.07.59 PM

Enter SportsCenter, ESPN’s uber-popular sports show. As an unbiased source on all things sports, it makes sense that they would be influential on both hockey teams, as well as many other sporting subjects.

There are many less expected influencers too. Steve Ballmer jumps up the list, as his recent purchase of the LA Clippers makes him a force to be reckoned with anywhere in the sports world. Or if we set the platform to only look at “Long Tail Influencers” we can see people who’ve been garnering reactions about these teams for a long time, before all the recent excitement about their playoff runs. That generates thoughtful sports commentators like Lisa Dillman and Perry Pearn.

In a popular category like sports, there can be an awful lot of people making noise out there. That makes being able to decipher the real influencers all the more important.

WatchWorks
Posted on June 13, 2014 by Jonah Bliss

Smart Watch Update: Driving Influence through Fashion

In our recent Wearable Technology – Smart Watch report, Appinions took an in-depth look at the trends driving influence in the nascent smart watch space. As an early-adopter product, much of the influence in the smart watch market is being driven by technical news: product announcements, rumors of new releases, and software launches.

But we also noticed that unlike other “geeky” product categories we’ve reported on, the discussion wasn’t entirely centered on features and specifications. In Smart Watches we observed a fair amount of attention has been placed on the issue of aesthetics. That isn’t necessarily surprising given a smart watch is prominently displayed on the user’s body – so manufacturers have decided that a focus on fashion will likely be an important element of success.

Themes

When analyzing any topic on the Appinions platform, we’re able to look at the common themes – which include people, places, and concepts – that more frequently occur in the discussions. Themes are subjects around which influential conversations take place and are not specific to any one influencer. Influence scores let us see who’s getting reactions, but themes give us a window into what they’re talking about that’s garnering so much attention. With some of the more prolific influencers making hundreds of opinions, examining the prominent themes gives insight into which ones are most relevant to other popular conversations.

While working on our Smart Watches report, we found that fashion, app development, battery life, and the iWatch were very frequently discussed in the context of these new wearable computing devices.

Fashion and Top Smart Watch Players

Many of the firms that ranked highest in overall Smart Watch influence have made a large point of the ‘fashion-related’ goals for their products.

samsung

Samsung, for example, is the most influential company in our study by a wide margin, and has taken multiple opportunities to stress the opinion that they see their technology and fashion as “deeply intertwined”. They’ve designed their Gear line of watches with colorful interchangeable bands specifically so that consumers “don’t have to choose form over function with these fashion-forward devices”.

Motorola’s has been clear that the marketing strategy for its new Moto 360 watch has largely centered around promoting it as the most fashionable smart watch on the market. Motorola design chief Mark Wicks became one of the only non-CEOs to claim a spot among the top 10 most influential executives by discussing the Moto 360’s innovative new design. With its round face, Motorola’s new watch looks much more like a traditional wristwatch than Samsung’s square-faced Gear series. As the 4th most influential company with two executives making the top 10, the message is clearly resonating with the market. In addition, Motorola executive Mark Randall, the only other non-CEO besides Wicks to make the top 10, even went as far as to call out existing designs as “pretty crappy” and embarrassing to be seen in, a daring statement that shot him up to the #6 spot in our Top 10 Most Influential Executives list.

Might an iWatch look like this?

Might an iWatch look like this?

Apple was notable in the study for their huge influence despite not having shipped or even announced a product yet. But the rumors are hot-and-heavy, and the company has been mining retail executives from some of the world’s premier fashion houses to add to their own executive team. They hired Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts to serve as Head of Retail and Yves St. Laurent CEO Paul Devene to work on “special projects”, reporting directly to CEO Tim Cook – is currently the most #1 most influential executive in the market.

So, when it comes to smart watches, don’t forget to make a fashion statement! We’ll be analyzing other important themes in posts to come. In the meantime, read our full Wearable Technologies – Smart Watch report for even more insight.

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