A journalist goes thru the paces during an “Instagram influencer experiment” for Bloomberg

Feb. 19, 2017

bullshit non nuanced influencer marketing

At this point, the word “influencer” is overused and misused more than ever. What Bloomberg.com journalist Max Chafkin wrote about and made himself a guinea pig for revolves around the aesthetics-focused, Instagram-centric “influencer.”

60 Minutes also did a segment on influencers, focusing on the vlogger-Viner-type-of-influencer. You can watch that here.

Sadly, Bloomberg.com and 60 Minutes failed to delve into the subsets within the world of influence marketing, e.g., B2B experts, brand-builders and enterprise-level influencers outlined by Malcolm Gladwell, Brian Fanzo and Rachel Lou Miller.

Or perhaps both media outlets wanted to keep things tight by focusing on the glamour aspect, for impact, and to not confuse viewers.

(Hitting on all facets of the vast influencer ecosystem might have caused confusion.)

Regardless, Bloomberg.com and 60 Minutes failed to mention the many controversies within influencer marketing such as pay-to-play, inconsistent disclosure, native ads, expertise or “lack of expertise”, etc. Why the puzzled look on your face when I say “lack of expertise”? Did you foolishly assume that ALL influencers are experts? No, honey, many are far from experts. Many ARE experts, but many more are NOT. . . And that’s what this article is about. Fasten your seatbelts — a mega rant is coming.

If an influencer doesn’t have expertise, many times that’s FINE – yes, fine. You read that correctly. This is true when it comes to fashion, accessories and footwear influencers. Why? Because there’s visible proof that she (or he) tried on the clothes, shoes, bag or whatever.

On the other hand, a person who is supposedly influential in the world of tech gadgets MUST MUST MUST possess expertise or at least niche knowledge. Think about it. If you’re little more than “a big booming personality” and you don’t know shit from shinola, you really should stick to what’s tactile, and lean on aesthetics. Y’know, stuff which for the most part does not require expertise. THIS is where agencies drop the ball. Agencies, you’re free to send me hate mail, but deep down you know I’m right. You look at follower counts instead of assessing expertise. Shame on you. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of the shameful things you charge thousands for. Hate on. You know I’m telling the truth. I have friends in marketing and other disciplines — even yours. And we swap stories boo.

However: I must point out something salient: Surveys have shown that consumers don’t care about expertise when they clearly see an influencer looking great in clothes, etc. Let’s be clear: In a perfect world, influencers would always disclose, but, again, research has consistently shown: when a FASHION image on Instagram looks good and inspires, most Instagram users couldn’t care less if they see a disclaimer or not. . . There’s a reason for this kind of reaction, and once you understand it, it’ll be an a-ha moment. [ Scroll past the break below to see the answer. There’s a reason why I put FASHION in all-caps ]

(Shoutout to Ted and Meghan for the event invite!)

So, back to the question:

The reason is: If clothes look good, expertise isn’t NEEDED (in most cases). What looks good looks good, simple as that. But for the many verticals that AREN’T driven by looks (examples: smartphones, tablets, laptops), you almost always NEED AN EXPERT. One example: Consumers care about expertise when it comes to a new smartphone and what it can/can’t do for them. Many agencies think expertise doesn’t matter, and agencies are CORRECT in this thinking when it comes to fashion and, to some extent, foodie and travel influencers. Just three examples. BUT NOT FOR TECH. Let me repeat. NOT FOR TECH.

PR agencies of all sizes have dropped the ball – I’ve seen it first hand – inviting fashionistas to tech events. (I can hear the groans of “But that’s what the client wants! So we’re giving it to them!” Sigh) For the love of God, please tell me how this is a go-to strategy. It shouldn’t be. Here’s why: Anyone, pretty faces included, can plagiarize a tech review – I’ve seen it done. And if the blogger doesn’t add a video to prove expertise, deception can (and sadly, does) flourish and A CONSUMER HAS NO PROTECTION AGAINST IT.

But there are wonderful, noteworthy influencers such as Marques Brownlee with a memorable aesthetic +  strong personality which lends itself nicely to video. But waaaay more germane to my point is Mr. Brownlee’s EXPERTISE (click here). Of all his positive traits, his expertise precedes them all. Put simply, he knows his techie shit inside and out as a real expert must.

There needs to be more Marques Brownlee’s in TECHNOLOGY INFLUENCER marketing. Agencies need to understand this – a pretty face or clown or big booming personality who LACKS expertise is, in several cases (such as tech), a disservice to clients and clients’ target consumers. It’s 2017 and PR agencies are sadly still more concerned with low turnout at client events (Click here for video rant) and other superficial bullshit such as follower counts, which are easily manipulated by nefarious people. And when you thought Klout was important (spoiler: it was never important) you looked at Klout. Again, shame on you. And if you say tech isn’t your forte, well why not begin with logical and simple tactics? ACTIONABLE EXAMPLE: Look at who Marques Brownlee follows, then look at the engagement of those people, and then invite them. 🙄 Note: Doing that is not the cure-all, it’s just ONE thing you can do as a good agency. Even that one tactic is better than what many agencies currently do, especially boutique ones in New York City. So, my eyes rolleth. 🙄

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the “big booming personalities” who are considered influencers (many of whom are signed with agencies) yet – let’s be real – they’re really “experts at nothing.” Let’s take a minute to consider the fans of those types of E.A.N. influencers (the “experts at nothing”).

Here’s the short analysis. [ Read past the CNN tweet below to get into the weeds ] Just because you have a large viewership doesn’t necessarily mean your viewers consider you an expert in anything. A percentage of your viewers will be competitors 😮😮 and/or people looking to COPY EVERYTHING you do. 😮😮 If you’re a vlogger or ‘grammer, you should’ve known this from day one, via your own instinct. If this is news to you (the fact that some people are looking at you only to copy you), well, uh, sorry? I can’t think of any other words for you other than “Are you that naïve?”

Many of the E.A.N.’s fans are very young “fanboys” and “fangirls” (we’re talking high school freshmen and often much younger!) so those fans are unlikely themselves to have expertise in anything. (Hey, maybe they relate to the E.A.N. influencer because of that common ground. Or maybe there’s an emotional bond? A spiritual bond? Who the hell knows?? The fans being children or very very young adults, it’s natural that most won’t be experts at anything. Experts who are still in junior high and high school are the exception, not the norm)

. . . And so 3 the questions are:

(1) Are those fanboys/fangirls simply watching and listening to “aspire to be like” that E.A.N. influencer? In many cases, yes.

(2) Are the kids analyzing the E.A.N. influencer’s mannerisms, cadence, enunciation, etc., etc.? In many cases, yes.

(3) Do they sit there watching the E.A.N. influencer with a credit card in hand, ready to buy whatever the E.A.N. influencer shills? Highly doubtful, but I could be wrong. And children shouldn’t use credit cards anyway. #JustSayin #JustMyOpinion

(Or worse, are the kids looking to emulate E.A.N. influencers as a career!?!? GOD HELP US! [Side rant: If the overwhelming majority of 16-year-olds today are grooming themselves to be professional influencers on social media, then I hate to say it but we’re fucked as a society and the future’s not bright. Let’s hope this ISN’T the case. I strongly doubt the U.S. Department of Labor puts “influencer” high on the priority list of what America needs.])

I’m sure I’ll receive hate mail from agents who stand to gain via the flawed narrative that says influencer marketing “works better than anything else”, never mind that it’s overcaffeine-ated with hype, bad actors, pimps, etc. To be crass, I’m pointing my finger at the agents who stand to gain by aggressively face-fucking us with a bastardized flavor of wholesale influencer koolaid. This type of koolaid does not respect very crucial nuances.

To be clear, I’m not against influencer marketing. Quite the contrary: I’m a proponent of influencer marketing. Or perhaps I have a bias for expertencers (“influencers who have expertise”, the opposite of E.A.N.’s)

. . . I’ll tell you what I’m against: I’m specifically against willy-nilly influencer vetting and pairings, and agencies are the most culpable because they exploit uninformed clients.

P.S.: No one should call himself or herself an influencer. A third party needs to do that. Self-proclaimed influencers must be taken with a grain of salt. (Honestly, it’s best to totally avoid this type of fauxfluencer. They tend to be unpleasant to even be in the same room with.) Finally, there are influencer lists compiled by humans and there are influencer lists compiled by algorithms. The latter is usually the real deal; the former is fleeting and subject to all sorts of immature favoritism, cliques, etc. When someone asks me what I “did” to get onto the Cision Top 50 influencer list, I shrug and say “I honestly don’t know. You’d need to ask the algorithm as to how I got onto that list.” (That specific list was compiled by an algorithm, not by a person.)

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Who is the Hangout Queen? An interview with Deborah Anderson


Alex Yong: Who’s the Hangout Queen? Who is Deborah? I consider you a modern-day Renaissance woman so I figure I’ll start with a toughie!

Deborah Anderson: Wow. That is a tough one to answer. Like I tell many people, “Deborah wears many hats.” I used to keep all of the different facets of Deborah separate, to prevent confusion, but these days, I pretty much combine all of the business, internet, social media, technology, video producer side of me into the “Deborah Anderson” profile and the musician, humanitarian, and even my psychology degree into the “Deborah E” profile. Fortunately, more and more people are learning that the two people really are one person with a lot of experience in many areas. The HangoutQueen idea came from the fact that my husband and I own a sound and video studio.

The sound studio is where the “Deborah E Albumette” album was mastered in Los Angeles. My husband is also a trained, experienced, professional photographer, so adding the video studio, with all of the green screens, backdrops, lighting, etc. was a piece of cake for us. I was hosting and running and coaching at least three hangouts a week, back when many people hadn’t even heard of Google+ hangouts. I became the “go to” person, behind the scenes, for many people and decided to create the brand for training people who want to take their hangouts to “the next level.” Hence, HangoutQueen was born.

Alex Yong: Nice, but I know you gave the abridged answer of who you are and your talents. Anyhoo, it was cool meeting you in person in New York City at #AWXI. Would you tell the readers about your stint in New York?

Deborah Anderson: My HangoutQueen training and coaching took off and was booming in 2013 and I decided to take that experience and contribute it to Internet Marketing Ninjas, in New York. My entire 2014 was spent there, in upstate New

York. In fact, in a couple of the podcasts (and accompanying videos) of the iHeart Radio Marketing Momentum show, you can hear me talk about how much Internet Marketing Ninjas would benefit by having their own show, recording from Google Hangouts.

[Alex interrupts] And did they? Occasionally I’ll see Internet Marketing Ninjas’ G+ posts on my firehose feed, but other than that, I’m not super familiar with any of their experiments on YouTube or whatever.

I really thought that Jim Boykin, from Internet Marketing Ninjas, hired me to start what I had challenged him to do. I had suggested the “Internet Marketing Ninjas Show” on those two iHeart Radio MM episodes. I thought that was what caught his attention to hire me. Instead, there was a gap in project management at IMN and I started the Project Management Office for the ninjas and did not actually contribute my Hangout Queen skills to them at all. See what I mean about those many hats sometimes getting confusing?

[Alex interrupts] Yes, it’s always tricky for a multi-faceted person. There’s a saying that the greatest distance between two people is misunderstanding. Or something to that effect. I saw that on Instagram and I think it’s even “more true” for multi-talented people.

Alex Yong: So you know I’m familiar with most of the faces around G+. I’d love for you to talk about what’s different and what sets you apart, y’know, compared to other G+ experts.

Deborah Anderson: The key things that set Michael (my husband and partner) and I apart from other experts is our sound experience and Michael’s lighting experience. One of the key things for our hangouts is the quality. We also started a trend of having set-up calls for all of our interviews and shows (and casual hangouts) by giving advice to the Hangout participants on what they could do to improve their sound and lighting quality. Michael has a gift of being able to find household tips to help our participants so they don’t need to go out and spend money. Of course, when our participants do ask for tips on what they could purchase, he is always ready with an answer that fits their budget. Obviously, for the hangouts that involve a come-as-you-are feel, where people just show up, the set-up portion is not always an option. However, even with those, we open our hangouts 15-30 minutes early and invite people to come in and get free advice from Michael, before we go live. I don’t think they realize what a value that is!

But, that is okay, because it is about helping people and not tooting our own horn. This also helps people feel at ease as Michael also provides help on how to use the Google platform. He acts as the “answer man” during that time in what we call the “green room.” People have been so impressed by how we do this that they actually have been known to copy, verbatim, the verbiage on our green room page, to use for their own hangouts.

[Alex interrupts] And how did you feel about that?

Well, I contacted the person and asked her about it and she told me she assumed it was “fair game.” In a way, I was very flattered, but it also bothered me quite a bit because of the creativity and original ideas in that post. I get that copying saves time, and it tempts our weaker side, but bottom line, it’s still unethical and can hurt people. Anyway, it’s history. It’s just one of those things. I learned to be a bit more communicative about that type of thing and I also used it as an opportunity to demonstrate where imitation is a form of flattery.

Alex Yong: What challenges have you found, with being the “Hangout Queen”?

Deborah Anderson: The biggest challenge I have found is that I am not technically a “bragger.” In other words, our quality for our products and services are actually so much higher than the web norm, that many people do not realize it, and because I do not go around bragging about it, it goes unnoticed. Those that have experienced it generally see that difference. As with all things, there are many experts out there and it is a “fake it until you make it” world in social media marketing. That isn’t necessarily all bad, either. However, for our brand, we really are the real thing.

[Alex interrupts] Well, considering your brand and the nature of video, it totally has to be the real thing.

True, true, but the authenticity discussion is beyond over-used, already. To me, we keep offering the quality and those who want to stop and smell the roses will see that; while those that are rushing through life too quickly will find what their minds are open to. Most of these people will choose the quick, but not necessarily quality route, and that is okay.

Alex Yong: Let’s talk about niches. I feel if I didn’t have my niches, I’d probably just bow out of social altogether. As saturated as social is, I guess a lack of niche could be one reason we see “Twitter quitters” and such. What advice could you give to people wanting to find their niche (or one of their niches)?

Deborah Anderson: My advice is to stick with it. Find what makes you feel good about yourself. Even though it is not about you, it is still good to feel good about what you do. If basket-weaving is what makes you feel good, by all means, go do that! Then, find your little corner of the world, and if basket-weaving is something you want to share with others, share it!

short wide break utility

Thanks Deborah!

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Social media sites that pay you for posting

bubblewsClick below to see the original July 23, 2014 cbsnews.com article.

I gotta ask though: What’s up with the name Bubblews? It sounds foreign and doesn’t tell me anything about the company right off the bat. To the eye, the name can seem like “Bubble News” if you’re not careful. Pictured below: Gerry Kelly, founder of clothing brand Sonas Denim and a Bubblews user.

Manlio Mannozzi

CBS News Social media sites that pay you for posting CBS News “I just feel like everyone on social networks has been taken advantage of for long enough,” says Michael Nusbaum, a New Jersey surgeon who created Bonzo Me.

Source: www.cbsnews.com

See on Scoop.itNews from the MARKET!!!!

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O Tech Canada! Snapshots of 3 tech-heavy companies born north of the border


Let’s talk about the coolness happening north of the border – And it has nothing to do with temperatures. Canadians are no slouches when it comes to creating innovative or popular technologies. Below are quick profiles of three Canadian companies helping the world with useful tech.
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Sniply – URL shortener for social media marketing

Toronto-based Sniply isn’t “just another link shortener”. Have you ever seen a cool and great webpage but you can’t remember how you landed there, nor who shared it with you? If you tap into your natural memory to try to remember, it might be easy if the “cool and great” content was shared by someone you know well. But if one of your 12,000 Twitter followers shared it, and you two hardly interact, then chances are you’d need a reminder of some sort, assuming you want to thank or engage. The technology offered by Sniply helps to boost engagement and recognition by placing a small overlay on top of a webpage with a note from you – and it can even include a CTA and show your face pic too if you’d like.

Sniply also provides a standard retweet icon to encourage people to retweet the page with your custom note. There’s nothing to download, and you can customize the appearance of the overlay for extra impact, or to tie into your branding. CEO Michael Cheng said “Sniply falls under the umbrella of online marketing tools, but it’s in a hybrid genre because it involves social media too.” If you share often and utilize Sniply consistently, you can boost your brand and even be “top of mind” because your face pic can be easily overlayed on top of pages. For an example of that, click here to see my Sniply’ed author page on SmallBizTrends.com.

A few weeks ago, Sniply reached agreements to acquire Denver-based Hoverpost and Paris-based Headshare.



Lightspeed Retail – Inventory and POS software

Founded in 2005 around the time of Apple’s resurgence, Lightspeed Retail offers affordable solutions for retailers. Brick and mortar stores can use it to sync inventory with their e-commerce site, and store employees complete transactions from any device, even off-site at a conference or pop-up store. It can also manage a full POS front counter that works with cash drawers, scanners and printers. Reporting functions are also available so best-selling items can be identified and ordered ahead of demand, or to see which employees are top performers.

CEO Dax Dasilva noticed stores and boutiques lacked modern serious solutions. Existing tools were only handling one element at a time, e.g. payment or inventory. The company believes it’s important for commerce platforms to use a single database, especially when new stores are opened.

Now backed by Accel Partners and iNovia Capital, Lightspeed actually operated without backing from 2005-2012. Dasilva said there was some help from Canadian government programs, but credits much of the early success to bootstrapping. Last year’s introduction of “Lightspeed Cloud” was significant to its growth. Today, the Montreal-based company employs more than 200 people. More than 19,000 stores in 30 countries use Lightspeed to process 7.3 billion in annual sales. For years, this kind of enterprise-level tech was accessible only to big box stores. Now any retailer can have the same type of management software for under $100 a month. Lightspeed helps clients manage and sell products like clothes, wine, toys, ski equipment, and pet items. There’s even a whole street in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood where nearly every store uses Lightspeed, and a marquee client is the Kardashian-owned boutique known as DASH.



Predictive Success – Workforce acquisition analytics and consulting

The cost of a bad hire can hurt a business even after the employee is long gone. Interviews often don’t tell the whole story. Predictive Success, based in Toronto, offers secure tools to help companies design jobs, attract the right candidates, onboard new hires, measure progress, develop experts and succession planning, and more. According to their website, 8,000 clients (including 80 in the Fortune 500) and 28 percent of Canada’s best managed companies use their systems.

President and CEO Dave Lahey said “If you’ve seen the movie Moneyball, you’ll understand the importance of a data-centric philosophy. Using data, companies are able to reduce uncertainty for the frontline leader and increase efficiency, proving that evidence beats opinion.” Predictive Success provides clients with ongoing training and is part of a network of over 300 associates including academic leaders. Tools, workshops and webinars are available in multiple languages.

The company’s “Connect” enhancement integrates their staple Predictive Index (“PI”) with 20 web-based solutions such as Oracle/Taleo Business and Enterprise Editions. The Predictive Index assessment was developed and validated in compliance with EEOC Guidelines, as well as standards set by the American Psychological Association and the Society of Industrial & Organizational Psychology.

Disclaimer re: compensation received: None. Unrelated gift received at a later time via a special unrelated promotion, i.e., gift was not pre-arranged and not given quid pro quo.