Fact: Influence Drives Sales

Fact: Influence Drives Sales

By: Shelly Kramer
August 19, 2010

Sheep. Influence Matters.

Susan Weinschenck, Ph.D., wrote an interesting piece on influence, and how a common theme that researchers encounter is that we think that OTHERS are influenced by certain things, but that WE are not. We are wrong.

Regardless of what we think, we are very much influenced by the thoughts, actions, opinions and purchases of others. That’s why online reviews are so important. Face it, we’re a bunch of sheep. When we see what others think, what their experiences have been, what their thoughts on quality, price, functionality are, all of that factors into our ultimate buying decisions.

The same is true when it comes to Facebook, and that’s one of the reasons Facebook is growing in popularity – and in power. When we see that our friends “Like” a product, service, event or even a person, we are more inclined to explore and, in most cases, “Like” them or it, too. Familiarity, recommendations, either explicit or implied, lead to a comfort level that consumers seek.

Here’s an example. Susan (whom I would really like to stalk follow on Twitter and anywhere else she hangs, but she did not give me that opportunity by putting connectivity buttons on her blog, grrrr) roped me in with a simple blog post. I discovered Susan’s nifty post when her content was retweeted by Beth Harte, someone in the industry that I respect and admire. I not only enjoyed the blog post, which was implicitly “recommended” by Beth, I also retweeted it which, for the non-Twitterai, means sharing it with my pals on Twitter. Then, I posted it on my Facebook wall because I can’t resist sharing great stuff with MY friends, and now I’m off to Amazon to buy Susan’s book, Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click. All of this because my friend, Beth, recommended it. And without ever really realizing that she was doing so.

Let’s recap: She liked, I saw, I paid more attention because she liked, based on her “rec” I shared, which means I endorsed, I went back and bought something and then I told you about it. Get it?

Influence drives sales. Need I say more?

Two important things: This is a perfect example of the power of social media and how opting NOT to use it as an integrated part of your overall marketing efforts is, well, stupid.

Secondly, it illustrates the importance of listening in the social media space using monitoring tools. If you’re a brand, you should care what the sheep are saying about your product or service, and the only way to find that out is to monitor and gather business intelligence. Here at V3, we use Spiral16 (client) and that helps us stay on top of what’s being said that could potentially influence and impact our clients.

What are you doing to influence the people you want to buy your stuff? And how do you know whether or not it’s working?

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  • Shelly, I want to stalk Susan too! 😉 BTW, she's @TheBrainLady on Twitter.

    Let's start back at the beginning of the cycle… I actually found Susan's post in my Google Reader because someone shared it. Interestingly (or sadly), I don't remember who. I know it's someone I am connected with via Google, but someone I don't know really and perhaps why I can't remember their name. But apparently it really doesn’t matter who (according to Susan’s post). I was influenced by someone I do not know because of the “third person effect.”

    This little aspect of sharing from someone unknown to us both started a sales cycle (as I want to get her book too). Further to Susan’s point, I believe.

    So, I think we've just debunked all of the “influencer junkies” out there…

    How? Because no one ever once said “Read this post!” or “Buy her book!” or even “I am influential, hear me roar!”

    As Greg Verdino would say, this is microMarketing at the core. Before yesterday, I had no idea who Susan Weinschenck was. A little sharing caused a hot trigger and now she’s on both of our radars and we will buy her book. And just think… Who knows how many sales will occur because of online WOM! It’s like the old Breck commercial: She told two friends, who told two friends…

    I said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s the weakest links that are usually the strongest. And until people understand that, their “influential target marketing” will be in vain.

    Beth Harte
    Serengeti Communications

  • I've been subscribed to Susan's “What Makes Them Click” blog for some time now. If memory serves, which it may or may not, I believe Kim Krause Berg is the one who turned me on to her blog. It is, in fact, among the top RSS feeds I have set up in Apple Mail that actually reside in my inbox, rather than my woefully neglected RSS folder.

    Incredibly interesting insight into the world of Internet Marketing and psychology in general.

  • ShellyKramer

    Forgive my tardiness – it's been a day when work took second fiddle to the Twin Princesses. And demanding they were.

    Great analysis, Beth. And this is something I feel as if I blather on about, ad nauseum, to clients, prospective clients and basically anyone else who will listen. But most times, my words fall on deaf ears. People want the quickest way to make a buck, and if social media is the new “hot” thing, they want to spend their time in those arenas saying just those things you said above: “hey, look at me,” “buy my crap” “look at how cool we are” and never for a minute understand the importance of laying the breadcrumbs.

    We helped a client prep for a presentation today and talked about social media like this: traditional media – at least in today's world, is like buying plastic flowers. Social media, on the other hand, is like deciding to plant your own flowers. You work the soil, sow the seeds, compost and nourish the soil, tend the garden, pull the weeds and, ultimately, harvest the fruit or enjoy the flowers.

    But, if people don't understand the importance of creating content that is interesting and not ego-driven and sales-focused, making it easily sharable, making it easy for people to connect and engage with them, making it easy for people to FIND them, etc., then they run the risk of never being discovered at all.

    Susan didn't get it all right, but she creates great content, which is a big first step. Now she needs to use Google alerts, monitor her brand, use Twitter and tweak her blog design :)))

    Imagine how cool it would have been to have had HER comment here?

    Thanks for stopping by. I always enjoy your big brain.

  • ShellyKramer

    Of course you're a subscriber, Aly!!

    I, too, have a woefully neglected Google reader and I've found that if blogs I really care about don't make their way to my email inbox, I miss them. Sigh. So much great information, so little time. Damn this working for a living.

    Love her blog – so glad to have discovered it – and her. And always my pleasure to have you stop by, my friend.

  • Tekee

    I totally agree with this concept. Aside from buying into the several events which I would have otherwise not attended and the products I may have never heard of, I have bought into core ideas and lifestyles represented by the people I follow, yourself included Shelly. I think more highly of myself than I ever did, and I consider more deeply the things that can and will make me a better person in the years to come. All of these benefits I have taken for the price of communicating with people in the social media arena. Let's see, that amounts to… knot and knot is knot… carry the zero… $0! I'll take it!

    Have I been driven to buy on account of live, real, social media influences? Hell yes I Have, and I'll do it again!

  • Influence is more cowbell.

  • Sophielhoste

    I have found the same thing: I only make time to follow blogs that come to my inbox.

  • Characterizing people who aren’t as fanatically tuned-in to social media as you, even though you don’t know them, as “stupid”, just seems….

    Well, you figure it out.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Charleen,

    For the record, I didn’t call people stupid – which my 5 year olds would put me in time out for – and which I routinely endeavor to avoid. If you’ll revisit the paragraphs above, you’ll see I said that not opting to use social media as part of your integrated marketing strategy is stupid. Not people :))


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