Thursday, April 14, 2011

Nobodies: The New Somebodies

Josh McHugh

Secret Sauce

I recently interviewed Guy Kawasaki at an event hosted by INFORUM at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club.

I’d heard from an entrepreneur the previous week at South by Southwest that Kawasaki is an absolute terror when you’re pitching him, so I was pleasantly surprised when he turned out to be as genial a guy as you could hope to interview.

Kawasaki’s new book, Enchantment, contains a lot of wonderfully anti-Machiavellian advice not just for entrepreneurs, but for nonprofits and pretty much anyone hoping to get the kinds of things done in life that require the cooperation of others. The pearl of wisdom underlying the entire book: “Be a mensch.”
But the section of the book that had me underlining, circling, and festooning its margins with post-it notes comes where Kawasaki deftly unhorses a marketing orthodoxy that has launched a million PowerPoint decks, a thousand marketing plans, and scores of recent startups: “Engage the Influencers.
Kawasaki’s counterpunch: “Nobodies Are The New Somebodies.

This is not likely to be a welcome message to the marketers and would-be audience-builders currently scrambling to throw enticements at Twitter users with high influence scores.

Social Media Influence Scores: Return of the Velvet Rope

One big problem with an approach that focuses disproportionately on established online influencers: there may have been 5 minutes at the dawn of Web 2.0 when you stood a solid chance of Robert Scoble or Ashton Kutcher replying to one of your tweets. But that moment has passed. You can ask Ben Stiller. Just don’t bother asking him over Twitter.

Want to know how to engage an “influencer” who has a PeerIndex or Klout score of 85? Have your manager call his agent. Don’t have a manager? Child, please.

Hanging your marketing strategy on getting retweeted by the likes of Kanye and Rainn Wilson is like pasting a Powerball ticket to the first page of your business plan. Because guess what? Those influencers are busy – converting the hard-earned attention of their thousands or millions of followers into cold hard cash.

Egalitarianism Pays - 

“You still have to pay someone to suck up to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal,” Kawasaki said. “But you should also be sucking up to Lonelyguy15.” That’s because you never know who will end up becoming your project’s most impassioned and effective cheerleaders. Indeed – to cover his bases, Kawasaki sent advance copies of his book not just to the 100 or so usual traditional media gatekeepers, but also to 1,500 bloggers, Tweeters, and other assorted “nobodies.”

Heresy, perhaps, to a generation of marketers steeped in the sociological topology frequently ascribed to Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point.It may be unfair to Gladwell, but for better or worse his book popularized the notion that success in marketing depends on identifying a relatively tiny group of key influencers in any given sphere and winning them over.

Past Results Do Not Guarantee Future Performance - Read the rest of the Forbes article

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