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Sony Finds Influencers Among Friends, Not Social Celebrities


Pursways, a new influence targeting software firm, has announced that Sony is now testing its new platform, which transforms a brand’s existing customer and prospect database into a customized social graph. It identifies actual relationships between people and empowers marketers with the knowledge they need to motivate action.

People buy what their friends buy but how can you target those friends?

Over the last three years, social scoring platforms like Klout, Kred, and PeerIndex have been making news in marketing circles with claims that they can identify the most influential people in various categories on the Internet.  Today the power of social influencers to sway actual purchase decisions has been largely debunked and replaced by newer theories and platforms such as Traackr and Appinions. These tools have stripped away the ego-centric and gamified public scoring system in favor of multi-point data analysis that determines who drives real and measurable action for brands.

People buy what their friends buy

When Danny Brown and I wrote Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage, and Measure Brand Influencers,  we created a new model that changed the focus of influence marketing. We demonstrated that the key to swaying purchase decisions was based on the context of the personal relationship between consumers and those they connect to via social channels, not the socially active and popular “celebrities” they follow.

Sony and Pursways have tapped into that concept by connecting the communications occurring between friends in social conversations, direct mail, and email communications.  Sony’s vice president of marketing has confirmed that the program has aided in converting more customers by better identifying and targeting real-life relationships among their target audience.

In short, the system studies the conversations of 150 million US consumers to identify communication patterns and keywords that connect people based on their shopping-specific dialogue.  Those conversations help identify target customers in the buying cycle for specific products and services, and leverages that knowledge to offer targeted marketing messages.

The Influential Power of Real Relationships

Within a large online community,  many people may be engaged in a group conversation, yet the net result of that mass engagement is vastly different than that of the exchanges between two people with a defined relationship at a particular moment in time.

Group conversations serve to highlight issues, publicly debate commonly held beliefs, or make the larger community aware of trending topics. The net result is almost always “awareness.”  When two people within a defined relationship (such as co-workers, family members, etc.) speak to each other about a specific product (eg. smart phone, groceries, autos, etc.) and at a specific time in the consumer buying cycle (awareness, consideration, decision), the result is often behavioral change.

There’s a fundamental difference in the trust attributed to the collective voice of our social community than that given to individuals with whom we share personal experiences. The collective voice of our community may agree that Geico has the best auto insurance program, but we often choose an auto insurance company based on the experiences of our parents and siblings.

Influence Marketing and Customer Relationship Management

According to Jeremy Lyons, Senior Manager, Email and CRM Programs at Sony Electronics, after struggling to monetize Facebook and influence scoring platforms such as Klout, Sony found success with this new focus.

By connecting social behavior and social connections with purchases, Sony Electronics has been able to increase various revenue and profit-driving metrics, including the number of responses generated by the campaign, the number of referrals generated, the number of conversions earned, an increase in repeat purchases, and the number of inactive customers who purchased again.

If you wish to analyze the success of your influence marketing campaigns, these are the metrics that contribute to actual measurement: Revenue; profit; and customer lifetime value.   “The ability to understand the impact on the bottom line” is critical to understand marketing success added Lyons.  Sony set its influence marketing benchmark as the “ability to understand the influence on [its] financials…of customers who are social, and really understanding who are the people that can influence their family and friends….that drive new sales.”

The fact that Sony has tasked its CRM manager with an influence marketing campaign is a positive sign of things to come in this industry.

Sensei Debates

Should influence marketing campaigns be adopted by CRM/email marketing professions and software?

Sam Fiorella
Feed Your Community, Not Your Ego

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Join the Conversation

AmyMccTobin 5pts

Love it Sam - THIS is exactly how smart brands target Millennials. If you caught our last Millennial Hangout you would have heard about friends sharing 'research' on brands and rewarding and punishing them as a group. I wrote about it in the recap - you should check it out.

Content & IN REAL LIFE influence. THAT is what matters.

samfiorella moderator 5pts

@AmyMccTobin No doubt that Millennials are big crowdsourcers. We also know they distrust corporate mouthpieces be they shills or the advertising published. So yes, this is a good lead acquisition strategy for Millennials; however, I've seen this be as effective with other cohorts as well. 

AmyMccTobin 5pts

@samfiorella @AmyMccTobin Yep... it's why we're starting a Gen X and Boomer Think Tank as well. We're not really all that different, especially Gen X and Millennials.


  1. […] Pursways, a new influence targeting software firm, has announced that Sony is now testing its new platform, which transforms a brand’s existing customer and prospect database into a customized social graph.  […]

  2. […] compañía Sony está realizando un estudio sobre el asunto. Lo que quiere es descubrir a los influencers entre los amigos de sus usuarios y no entre los […]

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