Influencer Engagement Marketing

Influencer Engagement Marketing

The future of marketing involves creating and then distributing (brand) message-infused, engaging, native content via targeted and motivated influencers and experts.  This process is called Influencer Engagement Marketing (IEM).  IEM is a multi-step process that involves:

  1. Finding and understanding the influencers and experts that are most likely to be receptive and have the capacity to re-transmit your message.
  2. Infusing your message into something engaging (e.g.: a YouTube video or a slideshow) that can also be easily transmitted and shared natively (the delivery mechanism is ‘native’ to the distribution channel).
  3. Transparently and ethically motivating influencers and experts to expend time, energy and attention capital to evaluate, privately critique, publicly review, and to possibly endorse your message, product or service. 
  4. Measuring your influencer engagement marketing efforts via web, mobile and social analytics (tools and services).

This post focuses on quick, simple, inexpensive methods that may help you to locate influencers in your geographic area, or within specific niches.

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Minimally Viable Bullet Train

Glenn Kelman, the CEO of Redfin, wrote a great post on TechCrunch that questions the popular hit-driven, trend of rapidly building inexpensive products that only have the minimum features needed to succeed.  The Lean Startup / Minimally Viable Product thesis advocates failing fast (and often) and iterating quickly based upon customer feedback.

My thoughts on this subject can be summed up in one sentence: 'Sometimes you need to build a nuclear-powered bullet train.'

It seems to me that the narrower the value proposition is, the harder it is to build a minimally viable product.  I am not sure if the following analogy holds up everywhere, but try this:

  • If you want to provide reliable ground transportation, you could build a locomotive.
  • If you want to provide high-speed, ground transportation, you need to build a bullet train.
  • If you want to provide comfortable, high-speed, ground transportation, you need to build a bullet train with leather seats and beds.
  • If you want to provide non-stop, nationwide, comfortable, high-speed, ground transportation, you need to build a bullet train with leather seats, beds, and a nuclear reactor.  

A narrow value proposition does not equate to a narrow market opportunity, it's just harder to build.



The Fusion Reactor of Music Industry Revenue

By the end of the ‘Back To The Future’ trilogy, to travel to any point in time, Doc Brown’s DeLorean time machine no longer needed a plutonium power source to generate 1.21 gigawatts of power; instead, the ‘Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor’ powered the DeLorean using ordinary household waste. 

Right now, the music industry’s revenue plutonium is a rare combination of massive exposure, music sales, merch sales, touring revenue, publishing royalties, and brand sponsorships.  

Just over the horizon however, the fusion energy of music industry revenue - powered by the convergence of three Internet mega-trends - is about to arrive.

Here are how the three trends will combine to change the revenue landscape for the music industry:

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The Music Discovery Debate

Yesterday, barbs were traded on Hypebot about the value of music discovery.  My head goes directly to asking what's the problem?  What context?  Which user type?

I am memorializing my comments below:

I left this comment below on Kyle's post:

"Like a lot of casual music consumers, I have six analog buttons on my car radio. Depending on the interface, I would happily accept 100 more.  In the context of driving (most of us drive 13,000+miles a year), the (discovery) buttons solve the problem of preventing boredom. In this context, discovery is a great solution.

I think you have to individually examine the predominant situations where we consume music (in the car, at work, at the gym, etc.) and determine 1) what's the problem, and 2) if discovery is a total or partial solution to the problem.

I also think there's a consumption-to-a-need-to-discover graph that is in play here. The more you consume, the more you need to discover. If you listen to music a lot, you need to discover new music; if you listen minimally, you are not compelled to discover (you want familiar).

If you plot each context against this graph, you can quickly determine where music discovery is a killer solution, or not."

I left this comment below on Paul's post:

"If you are building a music service and your value proposition is to enable people to discover new music, then you are probably doomed to be a niche service provider.  Discovery is a low priority for most. 

If you are building a music service and your value proposition is to improve the listening experience via great programming, then you are probably on to something that's a high priority for music consumers. (Songza is on to something.) 

The capacity to OBTAIN great programming (it's subjective, I know) via numerous modes (machine, self, DJs,) has exploded.  You switch modes depending on context (self for the gym, machine at the desk, DJ in the car, etc).  

Other then purpose-driven discovery, discovery is an artifact of 'great programing'.   It's not dead, it's not a lie, it's just not the best problem to solve."


As for my own discovery methods, I plow through the iTunes charts 2-3 times a year (purpose-driven), and I use Shazam everywhere (everywhere there's great programming). 

Rage Against The Wrong Machine

If you ask me, ending file sharing versus saving the 'open' Internet is a so-yesterday argument.  Unfortunately or fortunately (depending on your view of the world), the marketplace is obsoleting the debate.


Artists, labels and rightsholders, tell the nerds the Internet is already broken.  The web is balkanizing around huge ecosystems run by giant companies and paranoid governments.  Meanwhile techies might want to suggest to artists that they should stop hunting file-sharing-dinosaurs; extinction is coming.  


Music attracts and sells things that are far more profitable than…music.  From advertising to electronics to cloud computing services, the presence of your brand, images, lyrics, songs and soft endorsements generates far more traffic, goodwill and profit for the Apple's and the Google's of the world than your music revenue does. 

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Facebook as Attention Banking Infrastructure

So far, the analysis of Facebook's prospects for success or failure has centered on Facebook's capacity to monetize aggregate time spent on Facebook via some sort of Facebook-take-all advertising mechanism.  This analysis seems awfully shallow and unimaginative to me.

Facebook is positioned to become the world's attention banking infrastructure.  We live in an attention economy where the capacity to attract attention is given, sold, bought and traded daily…transparently and otherwise.

There are millions of humans on Facebook that are the thought, style, opinion and consumption leaders, and each on of them has a dynamic attention capital account.  In my opinion, the future of Facebook lies in enabling influencers to monetize their reputations and the downstream attention that flows from each and every (thin or thick) reputation.

On Facebook, every user has a private inbox and thus a queue for processing paid (and not) requests for attention; every user has a place, a timeline, where attention is proclaimed, consumed, liked and annotated; and most importantly, Facebook has the capacity to measure and convert attention into a currency…to be spent on Facebook and elsewhere.  

I wouldn't bet against Facebook yet.  Then again, execution is everything…


Caffeine Paves Over Bad Habits

Over the years, I have quit caffeine for years at a time.  I slip back into the habit when I forget how unnecessary it is to functioning at a high-level.

A big desert after lunch…coffee.

Too much booze the night before…coffee.

Not enough sleep…coffee.

Lots of time behind the desk and not enough time at the gym…coffee.

Staying out extra late…expresso martini.

Not making time to meditate…coffee.

Not enough fruit…coffee (beans).

Caffeine paves over bad habits, and conversely the absence of it make living well...essential.

Defining Property from @paulg - a Pro Copyright Perspective

Paul Graham, a Y-Combinator founder, just wrote a tidy anti-copyright essay titled Defining Property.  Unfortunately Paul convolutes the tactics of the RIAA and the MPPA with the practical / impractical debate over copyrights.

For rightsholders I have this to say:  copyrights enable you to scale via minimal increment investments.  Recorded music is an instantiation of your musical works; it's an instantiation of your software and your source code.  As the rightsholder of your source code you should expect respect of your copyright wishes.

To all the Y-Combinator startups:  release all of your source code tomorrow so anyone can freely profit from it.  Or enable anyone to freely embed (stream) your engineering - unencumbered by your terms of service - into any app or site that can freely profit from it.  After all, you can scale by selling t-shirts or by performing live on stage to pirated organ music; with small monkeys, on large tricycles, and whilst wearing little blue hats.

#Copyrights and the Scalability Argument

Every investor wants to invest in ventures where the incremental costs of scaling to infinity and beyond are minimal to zero.  In other words, $100 buys you the first 100 widgets, but the cost of producing the next 100 widgets is de minimis.  In fact, the competition for investment capital is often won or lost on a cost-to-scale analysis basis.


The problem with the "to hell with copyrights, you can make money from live performances" argument is that this thinking limits an artist's ability to scale to: his or her capacity to perform (live) on a consistent basis.  If music (for example) is consistently stolen borrowed or free, where does the capacity to scale through minimal additional investment come from?  T-shirts?

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