A New Year’s Resolution for Better and More Authentic Influencer Marketing

2020 Influencer-Marketing-01 Just before Christmas, marketing guru Seth Godin took aim at the “scam” of influencer marketing via Instagram and other social media platforms in a short but widely read blog post that resonated with me as someone who has spent many years advocating for the power of influencers, dating back to my 2003 book, The Influentials. Seth focused on the statistics involved with going viral: “part of the scam is that the pyramid scheme of attention will somehow pay off for a lot of people. It won’t. It can’t. The math doesn’t hold up. Someone is going to win a lottery, but it probably won’t be us.”  I agree, because influencer marketing has morphed from a focus on the influencer “next door” to a paid Instagram celebrity. Let’s not lose sight of what influencer marketing can and should be. As the calendar turns on a new year—and a new decade—I’d like to suggest marketers adopt the following New Year’s resolution for influencer marketing:
“From this day forward, I resolve to focus on connecting with everyday influencers, rather than celebrity influencers, as they are the surest pathway to achieving word-of-mouth impact at scale.”
By “everyday” influencers, I mean the 1 in 10 consumers with large real-world social networks and an affinity for making product recommendations to friends and family. They were the subject of my 2003 book, and their power is as great if not greater today. I’ve continued to describe the opportunity of reaching everyday influencers including a 2019 world advertising industry journal article, and in tools my firm, Engagement Labs, has created for reaching these valuable consumers. Everyday influencers have 131 brand-related conversations every week versus the national average of 73. By reaching these influencers, marketers enjoy almost twice the word-of-mouth reach than average consumers provide, and the impact of their recommendations is four times as great due to their credibility and perceived expertise. Weekly Consumer Conversations in the U.S. But don’t just take my word.  Leading academics have evaluated a variety of influencer marketing methods and settled on everyday influencers as highly valuable. Focusing on the impact of influencers on new production introductions, they find the power of influencers comes in two forms: 1) by expanding the market reached by a new product and 2) by accelerating the pace of product adoption, which confers major competitive advantages over rival products. None of these effects rely on social media for success, although social platforms are among the communications tools used by everyday influencers.  Increasingly, we’re learning that social media conversations are not representative of real life. In the decade ahead, I join with Seth Godin in recommending markers avoid the pyramid scheme of celebrating social media influencers in favor of the authentic and scalable power of everyday influencers.

Holiday Shopping Conversations Favor Big Mass Merchants Over Specialty Stores

BJ’s, Lush, Reebok, and Wayfair Are Key New Players in Holiday Season Talk

xmasshopping Walmart and Amazon continue to dominate the holiday season conversations both online and offline, according to Engagement Labs’ TotalSocial® data and analytics platform. Among more than 75 measured retail brands, several—including BJ’s, Lush, Reebok, and Wayfair—are rising fast in holiday season consumer conversations, while specialty stores—including Hot Topic, Michael Kors, and Pier 1 Imports—are declining rapidly. The new holiday consumer conversation analysis is based on conversations the first two weeks of the holiday season, beginning with Thanksgiving week, in contrast to our recent report covering a full year and a wider set of metrics. Walmart and Amazon remain nearly tied at the very top of the list for offline conversation, while Amazon stands almost alone at the top of social media conversations, with Walmart in a solid second place. After Walmart and Amazon, the offline runners-up are Nike and Home Depot, retailers that continue to get large volumes of conversations during the holidays.  In terms of online conversation, the runners-up are Nike, eBay, and Adidas.

GREATEST VOLUME OF OFFLINE CONVERSATION

019-12 EL06 HOLIDAY RANKS_Plain  

GREATEST VOLUME OF ONLINE CONVERSATION

019-12 EL06 HOLIDAY RANKS_Plain copy Ranking high on the TotalSocial list is important for brands because analytics have shown that 19% of all consumer purchases can be attributed to online and offline conversations.  Brands that are rising in terms of volume, sentiment, and other metrics are likely to see sales performance rise. Besides being among the fastest rising retail brands in terms of conversation volume, Lush cosmetics also scores among the most positive, with a net sentiment score of 91.5 on a scale of 0 to 100.  Three rising brands—BJ’s, Wayfair, and Footlocker—all get fairly average net sentiment scores, while Reebok is well below average at 19.7.

LARGEST INCREASE IN OFFLINE CONVERSATION

019-12 EL06 HOLIDAY RANKS_Plain copy 2 Among the five fastest declining brands for conversation volume, three also have poor net sentiment scores below 20, including Pier 1 Imports (16.5), Michael Kors (13.6) and Sears (2.9).  K-mart is at 31.7 and Hot Topics has strong net sentiment score of 65.6, despite the sharp decline in conversation volume.

LARGEST DECLINE IN OFFLINE CONVERSATION

019-12 EL06 HOLIDAY RANKS_Plain copy 3 “The top performing brands, and rising brands, are likely to be pleased with this year’s holiday season performance,” said Ed Keller of Engagement Labs. “It’s vital to engage consumers in conversations about your brands, because these lead to recommendations that will drive purchases.” Talkworthy advertising is one approach that is proven to drive conversation.  A newly released article in the Journal of Advertising Research finds that measuring ad campaigns that drive consumer conversations are more likely to be successful.

Democratic Voters Are Taking a Serious Look at Bloomberg – He Leads Buttigieg in Word of Mouth Ranking

Fully 15.5% of Democrats Talked About Bloomberg Last Week, versus 4.9% Who Say they Will Vote for Him

Bloomberg’s Word of Mouth Engagement Exceeds His Share of Polling Preference by the Biggest Margin of Any Candidate

  NEW YORK, NY (December 18, 2019) – More than half of Democrats (54%) are talking weekly about the candidates seeking their votes in the 2020 primaries, according to a new study released today. The new study, by Engagement Labs, reveals that Michael Bloomberg is getting a serious look by Democratic voters just three weeks after entering the race based on the fact that his word of mouth engagement exceeds his share of polling preference by the biggest margin of any candidate. Fully 15.5% of Democratic voters talked about Bloomberg last week, versus 4.9% who say they will vote for him according to the national polls.   The 10.6-point difference is the largest for any Democratic candidate, and Bloomberg’s word of mouth engagement exceeds that of Pete Buttigieg, putting him in the top four.  

WEEKLY CONVERSATION TOPICS AMONG REGISTERED DEMOCRATS

Word of Mouth Among Democrats vs. Polling

  “These results reveal that Bloomberg has quickly earned his way into the top consideration set as reflected by his #4 ranking ahead of Mayor Pete,” according to Ed Keller, CEO of Engagement Labs which conducted the study and one of the nation’s leading experts on word of mouth. “We have built many predictive analytics models that demonstrate word of mouth is a powerful and leading indicator of future decisions,” Mr. Keller added.   The study also found that 41% of Bloomberg’s conversation sentiment is mostly positive, and 37% is a mixture of some positive and some negative. “We often see that media is a driver of consumer word of mouth, and media awareness often drives more positive sentiment for brands,” says Keller. “The next month will be pivotal to see whether Bloomberg’s media-based strategy is successful in converting chatter into positive advocacy for his candidacy.”   This Democratic Nomination Word-of-Mouth study was conducted online among 1,956 registered Democrats between December 13 and 16, 2019 by Engagement Labs, using sample and data collection technology provided by Dynata, the world’s largest first-party data and insights platform. Respondents reported on candidate conversations they participated in during the past seven days.  A more detailed analysis is available here.   ###   About Engagement Labs   Engagement Labs (TSXV: EL) is an industry-leading data and analytics firm that provides social intelligence for Fortune 500 brands and companies. The Company’s TotalSocial® platform focuses on the entire social ecosystem by combining powerful online (social media) and offline (word of mouth) data with predictive analytics. Engagement Labs has a proprietary ten-year database of unique brand, industry and competitive intelligence, matched with its cutting-edge predictive analytics that use machine learning and artificial intelligence to reveal the social metrics that increase marketing ROI and top line revenue for its diverse group of clients.   To learn more visit www.engagementlabs.com / www.totalsocial.com.   For media inquiries please contact: Vanessa Lontoc, VP of Marketing Engagement Labs 732-846-6800 vanessa.lontoc@engagementlabs.com  

Democrats Taking Serious Look at Bloomberg: He Leads Buttigieg in Word of Mouth Ranking

Fully 15.5% of Democrats Talked About Bloomberg Last Week, versus 4.9% Who Say they Will Vote for Him

Bloomberg’s Word of Mouth Engagement Exceeds His Share of Polling Preference by the Biggest Margin of Any Candidate

Booker Among Seven Most Talked about, Despite Missing Debate

  bloomberg-raw-img More than half of Democrats (54%) are talking weekly about the candidates seeking their votes in the 2020 primaries, according to a new study released today, with former Vice President Joe Biden and Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren leading the way, as they are in the national polls. Importantly, however, the new study, by Engagement Labs, reveals that Michael Bloomberg is getting a serious look by Democratic voters just three weeks after entering the race based on the fact that his word of mouth engagement exceeds his share of polling preference by the biggest margin of any candidate. Fully 15.5% of Democratic voters talked about Bloomberg last week, versus 4.9% who say they will vote for him according to the Real Clear Politics Polling Average. The 10.6-point difference is the largest for any Democratic candidate, and his word of mouth engagement exceeds that of Pete Buttigieg, putting him in the top four. “These results reveal that Bloomberg has quickly earned his way into the top consideration set as reflected by his #4 ranking ahead of Mayor Pete,” according to Ed Keller, CEO of Engagement Labs which conducted the study and one of the nation’s leading experts on word of mouth. “We have built many predictive analytics models that demonstrate word of mouth is a powerful and leading indicator of future decisions,” Mr. Keller added.  

WEEKLY CONVERSATION TOPICS AMONG REGISTERED DEMOCRATS

WEEKLY CONVERSATION TOPICS AMONG REGISTERED DEMOCRATS - Word of Mouth Among Democrats vs. Polling

Biden Is the Most Talked About Candidate

The study finds that a third of Democrats nationally talked with others in the past week about Biden, making him the most talked about Democratic candidate, followed by Bernie Sanders at 27% and Elizabeth Warren at 21%. This rank order is in line with national polls of Democrats’ preferences. Bloomberg (15%) and Buttigieg (13%) round out the top five most talked about candidates. Remaining candidates are being talked about by fewer than 10% of Democrats, although Booker’s word-of-mouth rank exceeds his polling rank and is in the word-of-mouth top seven, talked about by 6.8%, ahead of Amy Klobuchar at 4.7%, who qualified for the December 18th Democratic debate.  

Conversation Sentiment Favors Sanders, Klobuchar, Buttigieg

When conversation sentiment is factored in, a more nuanced picture emerges. Rarely is conversation about any of the candidates negative, but for some it is strongly positive while for others the outright positive talk turns to a mix of positive and negative. More than two-thirds of conversations about Sanders are positive, the highest for any candidate. He is followed closely by Klobuchar (66% mostly positive) and Buttegieg (65%). When conversations containing both positive and negative aspects are included, these candidates’ conversations are 80-89% either purely or partly positive. This is followed by a group of candidates with positive sentiment at close to 60%, including Warren (60%), Yang (56%), and Biden (55%). For Bloomberg, only 41% of the talk is positive, while almost as much as 37% is a mixture of positive and negative. “We often see that media is a driver of consumer word of mouth, and media awareness also drives more positive sentiment for brands,” says Keller. “The next month will be pivotal to see whether Bloomberg’s media-based strategy is successful in converting chatter into positive advocacy for his candidacy.”  

WHO DEMOCRATS TALK ABOUT POSITIVELY

WHO DEMOCRATS TALK ABOUT POSITIVELY Added Keller, “Corey Booker’s talk level also exceeds his polling rank. Understanding who Democrats are talking about is an important indicator of their deliberative process, and is a sign to the DNC that maybe a different way of determining who’s on the debate stage is in order.” This Democratic Nomination Word-of-Mouth study was conducted online among 1,956 registered Democrats between December 13 and 16, 2019 by Engagement Labs, using sample and data collection technology provided by Dynata, the world’s largest first-party data and insights platform. Respondents reported on candidate conversations they participated in during the past seven days.

Why There Should Be An Investigation of Bias at the FBI

    Washington Monthly     by Nancy LeTourneau December 12, 2019 … I was concerned that there appeared to be in the media a number of stories that might have been based on communications reporters or nonreporters like Rudy Giuliani were having with people in the New York field office. In particular, in I want to say mid October, maybe a little bit later, Mr. Giuliani was making statements that appeared to be based on his knowledge of workings inside the FBI New York. And then my recollection is there were other stories that were in the same ballpark that gave me a general concern that we may have a leak problem — unauthorized disclosure problem out of New York, and so I asked that it be investigated. The rogue agents in the FBI’s New York field office were leaking information to Giuliani (and Devin Nunes as well), so Comey’s announcement was an effort to get out ahead of that story. Engagement Labs documented the impact of that on the election. Most decisively, there was a sudden change in the net sentiment results that followed immediately after FBI Director James Comey released his Oct. 28 letter to Congress about a renewed investigation of Clinton emails. Immediately afterwards, there was a 17-point drop in net sentiment for Clinton, and an 11-point rise for Trump, enough for the two candidates to switch places in the rankings, with Clinton in more negative territory than Trump. At a time when opinion polling showed perhaps a 2-point decline in the margin for Clinton, this conversation data suggests a 28-point change in the word of mouth “standings.” The change in word of mouth favorability metric was stunning, and much greater than the traditional opinion polling revealed. If we had an attorney general who was actually concerned about how the FBI acted in “bad faith” to influence the outcome of the 2016 election, this is what he would be investigating. He would also be concerned that Giuliani is at it again as we head into the 2020 election—this time with corrupt Ukrainians in place of rogue FBI agents. Instead, the man who currently holds the office is chasing conspiracy theories in defense of Trump. That’s simply another reason why Eric Holder is right: William Barr is unfit to serve as attorney general.     Read the full Washington Monthly article, here.
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Social influence leadership ignites buzz for retailers—which brands are capitalizing?

Agility PR   by Richard Carufel | Dec 11, 2019 | Public Relations Retailers are having huge success with social and influencer marketing—in large part because retail is a highly social category, with many brands performing above average in driving online and offline consumer conversations—and a handful taking their social influence to great heights.   Engagement Labs, a data and analytics firm that provides social intelligence for Fortune 500 companies, has released its TotalSocial® ranking of the top retail brands in the U.S. based on social influence—examining what these brands are doing to excel in the social age.   The continued dominance of Amazon and Nike in the U.S. marketplace is certainly impressive. Amazon retains the first place spot with a score of 67.1, while Nike remains in second place at 65, despite a turbulent year that saw sharp drops in the brand’s “net sentiment” in social media, as a result of two controversies related to former NFL player Colin Kaepernick.   Amazon dominates consumer conversations and is the focus of more consumer talk than any other retail brand. Amazon has consistently performed better than average both online and offline, earning the “Conversation Commander” status. In a landmark study, Engagement Labs proved that conversations about brands, on average, drive 19 percent of U.S. consumer purchases.   Meanwhile, Kohl’s has moved up to fourth place from seventh, at 60.8, and Costco and Old Navy have joined the list at ninth and 10th, respectively. Victoria’s Secret had the most precipitous drop, falling to 12th from fifth just one year ago, consistent with widespread reports of business difficulties, as we and others have reported recently.   Read the full Agility PR – Bulldog Reporter article, here.
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About TotalSocial® Want a better understanding of the online and offline conversations around your brand? Are you a journalist who wants to use real data to measure the brands you’re reporting on? Are you a company who wants to gain further insights into your brand’s marketing strategies to develop effective campaigns to reach your audiences?    

How Measuring Consumer Conversations Can Reveal Advertising Performance

          Brad Fay, Ed Keller, Rick Larkin DOI: 10.2501/JAR-2019-043 Published 1 December 2019   ABSTRACT Generating “buzz” is a marketing objective for many Super Bowl advertisers, but “buzz” as a campaign objective should not be limited to big tent-pole events like the Super Bowl. It should be a key objective for all advertising. Fifteen years ago, researchers estimated word-of-mouth (WOM) could triple the value of advertising through a “ripple effect” (Hogan, Lemon, and Libai, 2004). The current study confirms the theory that there is a close and valuable relationship between WOM and advertising success, and it further examines that relationship as a reason to make it a campaign objective and a key part of the measurement of advertisement performance.
  • Received September 5, 2019.
  • Received (in revised form) October 2, 2019.
  • Accepted October 10, 2019.
  • Copyright© 2019 ARF. All rights reserved.
  Read the full Journal of Advertising Research article, here.
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For more information on TotalSocial®  or to request a demo, visit www.engagementlabs.com For sales contact us at: sales@engagementlabs.com For media inquires contact us at: media@engagementlabs.com
About TotalSocial® Want a better understanding of the online and offline conversations around your brand? Are you a journalist who wants to use real data to measure the brands you’re reporting on? Are you a company who wants to gain further insights into your brand’s marketing strategies to develop effective campaigns to reach your audiences?    

Will 2020 Super Bowl Advertisers Settle for Field Goals?

Scoring a Touchdown Requires Success both Online & Offline

super-bowl-54 The 2020 Super Bowl LIV is such a hot ticket for advertisers that before Thanksgiving, Fox Sports reported it sold out all advertising slots, the earliest such an announcement has been made in at least a decade. Prices for a 30-second spot are reportedly between $5 million and $5.6 million. What will eager advertisers get for that size of investment? If past is prologue, many will walk away with field goals, while failing to score touchdowns instead. By that, we mean they’ll enjoy a nice bump in YouTube views for their brands, and possibly social chatter, but the high performers get more far more than that for their investment.  Super Bowl advertisers ought to be driving for touchdowns. Brands seeking to score a touchdown need to drive up multiple metrics—including offline conversations about the advertised brand. Research shows that online and offline conversation, together, drive about 19% of purchases.  But online conversation by itself drives less than half as much, just as a field goal produces only half the points of a touchdown. In our recently published article in the Journal of Advertising Research, an analysis by executives of Engagement Labs compares before-and-after metrics for 23 Super Bowl advertisers, finding that 78% of them enjoyed 10% or more improvement in their YouTube views immediately after the Super Bowl, versus the month prior, and 61% enjoyed a similar uplift in social media conversations. 019-12 SUPER BOWL GRAPH-01 (1) But fewer than half—39%—saw an uplift of in offline conversations, the same as the percentage gaining in Google search volume.  And merely 30% scored an advertisers’ touchdown by driving up both online and offline conversation.  Who were those brands? In 2019, brands scoring a Super Bowl touchdown with both online and offline conversation rising by at least 10% are listed in the table below.  The biggest winner was Bud Light, which drove up nearly every metric we tracked, including online and offline conversations, as well as Google Search. 019-12 SUPER BOWL GRAPH-02 (1) What makes the difference between Super Bowl ads that drive conversation and those that don’t?  As we wrote earlier this year, popularity is not a factor.  Brands that perform well in USA Today’s Ad Meter system for the most likable Super Bowl ads didn’t do well in driving conversation, while some of the “creepy,” even unpopular ads, enjoyed spikes in consumer conversation. Many of the success factors are marketing fundamentals—brands have a better chance at gaining conversation if the advertisement is strongly branded and includes a message that’s easy to remember and talk about. Beyond the fundamentals, successful use of popular culture is highly effective.  Bud Light’s strategy was to leverage the most talked about television program in over a decade, Game of Thrones. Doritos put together the unlikely musical pairing of Chance the Rapper and the Backstreet Boys. Pepsi went all out with actor Steve Carrell, and hip-hop artists Cardi B, and Lil Jon. Talent and production costs may be high when producing a winning Super Bowl commercial, but sometimes that’s the cost of victory. The last five Super Bowl winning teams are all playing with total payrolls well over $200 million.

Engagement Labs Reports a 26% Growth of TotalSocial Revenue in Q3 2019 and Provides Strategic Review Process Update

MONTREAL, Quebec — November 27, 2019 – Engagement Labs Inc. (TSXV: EL) released results for its third quarter ended September 30, 2019 and provides Financial advisor update. Condensed interim consolidated Financial Statements and Management Report are available on SEDAR’s website at www.sedar.com.   Strategic Review Process Update As disclosed in a Press Release on August 2, 2019, the Company engaged a New York-based investment bank to work with the Board of Directors to consider its strategic alternatives which may include taking on a strategic investor, the sale of the Company and/or some or all of its assets. The process is continuing. As indicated previously, there is no assurance that any material decisions will be made as a consequence of this process. Third Quarter Financial Highlights
  • Total company revenue was $1,042,909 for Q3 2019, which all were TotalSocial® revenue, representing a 26% increase in TotalSocial revenue vs Q3 2018 ($829,739), and a 18% increase in Total company revenue vs Q3 2018 ($883,342).
  • Gross margin increased to 52% in Q3 2019, from 40% in Q3 2018.
  • The operating expenses have increased to $1,906,986 in Q3 2019, up 30% or $434,654 from $1,472,332 in Q3 2018.
  • Net loss before income taxes has increased to -$1,367,046 in Q3 2019, up 1% or -$17,494 from -$1,349,552 in Q3 2018.
  • EBITDA(1) loss of -$1,203,021 for Q3 2019, representing an increase of $218,672, from -$984,349 for Q3 2018.
  • Non-GAAP Adjusted EBITDA(1) loss of -$919,345 for Q3 2019, representing an increase of $169,413 from -$749,932 for Q3 2018.
  • Basic and diluted income per share was ($0.01) for Q3 2019 compared to ($0.01) for Q3 2018.
  • As at September 30, 2019, the Company had cash of $1,128,549, compared to $906,455 as of December 31, 2018.
(1) EBITDA is defined as earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization. Number for comparative periods were revised to exclude SRED credit tax, variation on exchange, and bank charges in EBITDA calculation. Adjusted EBITDA is a non-GAAP financial measure defined as EBITDA to which the Company adds stock-based compensation including the grant of stock options, restricted shares units, and restricted share awards as these expenses do not result in any use of operating cash flows by the Company, severance payments, impairment loss on goodwill, write-off of intangible assets, change in fair value of investment in shares, expenses related to acquisition or disposal of business, and loss on extinction of debt and equity components of convertible debentures, which are extraordinary and non-recurrent expenses, and Board remuneration, which is paid in shares units. EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA are provided as a supplementary earning measure to assist readers in determining the ability of ENGAGEMENT LABS INC. to generate cash from operations and to cover financial charges. They are also widely used for business valuation purposes. These measures do not have a standardized meaning prescribed by IFRS and may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other companies.   “We are very happy with our growth of TotalSocial revenue, and we continue to bring in new Fortune 500 companies and new sectors. This combined with our focus on cost control continue to move us in the right direction as a Company,” said Ed Keller, CEO.   ###     About Engagement Labs Engagement Labs (TSXV: EL) is an industry-leading data and analytics firm that provides social intelligence for Fortune 500 brands and companies.   To learn more visit www.engagementlabs.com   Disclaimer in regard to Forward-looking Statements Certain statements included herein constitute “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of applicable securities laws. Forward-looking statements are necessarily based upon a number of estimates and assumptions that, while considered reasonable by management at this time, are inherently subject to significant business, economic and competitive uncertainties and contingencies. Investors are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Except as required by law, Engagement Labs does not intend, and undertakes no obligation, to update any forward-looking statements to reflect, in particular, new information or future events. Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release. For media inquiries please contact: Vanessa Lontoc / Ed Keller, CEO Engagement Labs vanessa.lontoc@engagementlabs.com / ed.keller@engagementlabs.com