Impressions count. It's about word of mouth.
Now its quantified that people make more than 500 billion impressions on each other about products and services every year. A small group of mass influencers are responsible for 80% of those impressions.
This important research is the start of Peer Influence Analysis, according to Forrester Research's Josh Bernoff and co-author of the widely successful Groundswell.
Bernoff also reports that influence comes in two types:
1. Influence impressions come from people posting within social networks (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.) He estimates that US consumers create 256 billion influence impressionson each other in social networks annually. 62% of these impressions come from Facebook.
2. Influence posts are created by posts: blog posts, blog comments, discussion forum posts, ratings and reviews. Bernoff estimates that people in the US create 1.64 billion influence posts every year. Their research shows (conservatively) that 150 people view each post, creating another 250 billion + impressions. Blog posts and comments are 40% of those posts.
That's how he gets to 500 billion impressions. That's impressive, especially for social media fence sitters.
Here are a few important conclusions when analyzing this huge pool of influence:
o People's influence rivals online advertising. Nielsen Online estimates advertisers created almost 2 trillion online ad impressions (ending a year-period in September 2009), so impressions make up 25% of online ad impressions. Consider peer impressions can be more credible than ads because they come from trusted friends. You get impressions' value.
o A minority of people generate 80% of the impressions. Look at this graphic. 6.2% of online adults generate 80% of influence impressions. About 13.8% of online adults generate 80% of the influence posts. These are Mass Connectors and Mass Mavens, as originally dubbed by Malcolm Gladwell in Tipping Point. Advice? Get to know these people better to drive impressions and influence.
o Peer influence can be done for any type of product or service. Mass influencers in golf generally are concentrated in more affluent and more male players than general mass influencers. Building word of mouth for golf products and services? Start by gathering information on mass influencers in golf. National Golf Foundation (NGF) will be releasing a comprehensive study this week on golfers' media consumption. Start there and see the NGF 2009 preliminary report on golfers' use of social technologies. This week's report should be even more revealing.
So, again social media requires an evolving mindset, and it will be valuable to start analyzing and leveraging peer influence with the same effort applied to media. And as Bernoff says, it's time word-of-mouth has a budget reflecting the amount influence consumers have and who has it.
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