Flight of the social bumblebee

In this edition of Michael Carney’s Marketing Week, how pollinators differ from influencers, social media’s skeleton is dug up, Sky future-proofs itself by looking at use-by dates for recorded content, short and sweet marketing snippets and an event for marketers hoping to prosper from the Rugby World Cup. 

Pollinators vs. Influencers

In today’s seriously social environment, where consumers turn to each other for advice on virtually everything, far too many people qualify as influencers, at least within their (usually narrowly-defined) areas of competence. We need a new definition if we’re going to identify those who can help us spread the word about hot new products and services.

Martini Media and WPP’s Added Value Group to the rescue, with a just-released study that separates the merely influencers (now 45 percent of the online population) from the über-influencers (20 percent of us), henceforth dubbed the Pollinators.

Pollinators, it seems, differ from their semi-influential peers because they frequently or sometimes do ALL these actions:

  • Talk about/share their opinions on a specific category
  • Make recommendations to others before they make a purchase
  • Are the first to try new products/services within their category
  • Share opinions about their category in online forums (Facebook updates or Likes/Twitter/message boards/online reviews etc.)
  • Blog about their category

In comparison, those passé individuals who merely qualify to be called influentials may manage two or more of the above actions but are too lethargic to do them all.

The new study (available here) finds that:

  • Pollinators are more likely to seek out information on brands, pay attention to ads, buy online and advocate for brands
  • Pollinators are willing to buy premium brands, but they take steps to ensure they’re getting their money’s worth
  • They are substantially more likely to use social tools to connect with their large networks

The most significant finding of the research, however, is this:

  • Pollinators are twice as likely (83 percent) to visit niche sites as any other group. Niche sites offer them more informed opinion and product evaluations, all from an enthusiast’s point of view. They tweet, share, post, purchase and recommend based on what they find there.

Yes, Environment is alive and well and living on the internet.

Niche sites are defined thus:

Niche sites focus on a single area or topic (e.g., tennis, sports cars, wine). They draw aficionados because they cover the subject exclusively, continuously and in depth. This stands in stark contrast to general sites that cover more topics at a more superficial level. For example, ESPN.com is a general site while Tennis.com is a niche site.

One caveat: Martini Media (co-sponsors of the research) do have a vested interest in the survey findings as they operate a publisher network of 1000 niche websites. Still, even noting that concern, we can draw some useful conclusions about Pollinators and their influencer behaviour.


  • The most passionate consumers of niche websites (or, for that matter, niche magazines) are indeed likely to be pollinators, assimilating very focused information and then sharing the key soundbites with their friends and followers.
  • Passionate Pollinators are unlikely to find much new information about their specialist niches in the mass media. By the time such info goes mainstream, Pollinators are already onto the Next Big Thing.
  • It makes sense that the most effective influencers are truly passionate and prepared to evangelise their passions to all and sundry, across whatever platforms are available.
  • Pollinators are precisely the sorts of target consumers/prosumers sought by marketers, for the obvious reason that such influencers will spread news within their niche far more effectively than the merely influential.

So how do you lure a Pollinator? Niche website publishers would naturally like you to advertise on their site, arguing that their visitors are much more likely to be pollinators. It’s a valid notion but of course (to flog the metaphor mercilessly) Pollinators will avoid all but the prettiest marketing-laced flowers. Your pollen must be worth carrying if you want the buzz to be heard everywhere.

Nothing New Under The Sun?

One of the more interesting stories of the month comes courtesy of the Harvard Business Review, which reveals that many of today’s oh-so-awesome social media insights actually track their provenance back to a 1966 study on word of mouth by Ernest Dichter, who HBR describes as “the father of motivation research”.

A major Dichter finding, very relevant today, was the identification of four motivations for a person to communicate about brands:

  • The first (about 33 percent of the cases) is because of product-involvement. The experience is so novel and pleasurable that it must be shared.
  • The second (about 24 percent) is self-involvement. Sharing knowledge or opinions is a way to gain attention, show connoisseurship, feel like a pioneer, have inside information, seek confirmation of a person’s own judgment, or assert superiority.
  • The third (around 20 percent) is other-involvement. The speaker wants to reach out and help to express neighborliness, caring, and friendship.
  • The fourth (around 20 percent) is message-involvement. The message is so humorous or informative that it deserves sharing.

We can’t say we’re surprised that these insights were coined so long ago. Human nature doesn’t change all that much. If we made the effort, we daresay we’d find similar threads woven through essays by classical Greek and Roman philosophers as well.

Use By

The July launch of MySky +, which offers four times the storage capacity of the My Sky HDi box, introduces an interesting new condition in the fine print: an expiry date for content. The actual words: “My Sky + is intended for timeshifting your viewing and not for permanent storage. Programme suppliers may require Sky to set a retention limit on some recorded content.”

The idea of expiring content certainly isn’t new: Pay Per View Movies are the most conspicuous example of pay television material with a limited lifespan. But for those of us who love to hoard there’s something a little unsettling about the thought that recorded content may just up and disappear.

We’re assured that this is just future-proofing, and there are no Sky programme suppliers currently requiring expiration dates to be applied to any content and, to be fair, these sorts of conditions are being imposed around the world, as PVR storage capabilities expand and could threaten the future revenues of filmmakers and broadcasters alike. If you have enough space to record (and store more or less permanently) all your favourite shows, when would you watch reruns?

Moviemakers have long had an uneasy relationship with home recording technology and in 1976 (at the dawn of the home video revolution) a couple of studios even went so far as to sue technology creator Sony and its distributors, alleging that because Sony was manufacturing a home video device that could potentially be used for copyright infringement, the company was thus liable for any infringement that was committed by its purchasers. Thankfully, we’ve moved on a bit since then.

From a marketing perspective, there could be some interesting opportunities ahead, if for example sponsors are prepared to offer content extension in return for exposure to advertising measures. Of course, you would need to pick your shows. Some recorded content should be allowed to expire in peace.

Short & Sweet Snippets

ANTI-SPAM: The Department of Internal Affairs’ Anti-Spam Compliance Unit is conducting a Spam Survey, open to all New Zealand organisations and individuals, to identify (a) consumer and business perceptions of the impact of the 2007 Anti-Spam legislation; and (b) the impact of incoming spam. Read all about it here and then follow the link to take the survey. Deadline: 14 August.

SOCIAL: Google has yet another go at social with its new Google + offering (we suppose it’s all the fault of the artist formerly known as Prince, who decided that a symbol was a perfectly good substitution for a name. Thanks mate). You’ll find the details here. Our first reaction to the Google + effort? Um, it feels all a bit too complex and try-hard. Sorry.

SOCIAL COMMERCE: Veteran daily deal site 1-day closed its group buying site 1-dayout this month. Meanwhile TradeMe’s entry, Treat Me, has this week expanded from Auckland, Wellington and the Waikato, launching in Christchurch and Dunedin. Most noteworthy Treat Me deals so far:

  • Most vouchers sold: Parakai Springs, $4 entry (value up to $17) where 11,755 vouchers sold in 24 hours
  • Fastest selling vouchers: Burger Fuel Auckland launch deal where 300 vouchers sold every minute the deal was live (i.e. 1,800 burger vouchers per hour)
  • Unusual deal that worked: Baby Loves Disco (dancing for little kids at Wellington bar Estadio), all sold out by 12 noon

MOBILE 1: Domino’s Pizza Enterprises in Australia has just hit a major milestone, with more than A$1 million in sales via mobile phone recorded in a single week. Over on our side of the ditch, MasterCard Worldwide and ANZ recently announced they’re conducting a trial in NZ of near field communication (NFC) contactless payment technology, enabling retail payments with a mobile phone. To make it happen, ANZ will have MasterCard PayPass enabled terminals available at major merchant locations from July which include Hell Pizza, St Pierre’s Sushi and Corporate Cabs. Looks like that mobile stuff just might catch on.

MOBILE 2: Speaking of mobile, kudos to Tesco for recognising South Korea’s widespread adoption of mobile technology and enabling virtual shopping in the subway via smartphone. The idea, which has just won marketing agency Cheil Worldwide the Grand Prix in Media at Cannes 2011, involved posters of supermarket shelves posted to subway station walls. South Korean subway travellers could then buy products simply by scanning the QR codes of desired products. Those products would then be packaged up and delivered to commuters’ doors later that evening. Check out the whole story here.

Brainy Brekkie: Digital Rugby

As you may know, I’m chairman of the eMarketing Network (eMN), the digital special interest group of the Marketing Association.

Amongst its duties, the eMN organises a series of Brainy Breakfasts during the year. The next event, in Auckland on Thursday July 7, has rugby as its theme and is of particular interest to marketers playing in the digital space.

At this Brainy Breakfast you’ll hear:

1) What Telecom and the Sportscafe team found out about online viewer and social media behaviour when they created the online-only BackingBlack Sportscafe show.


  • Caroline Booth, sponsorship sanager, Telecom Retail
  • Ric Salizzo / Abbylee Childs, Leftfield Productions

Telecom brought to life BackingBlack, the All Blacks fan club, as their way of leveraging their All Blacks sponsorship and connecting fans to the team. Their latest venture with Leftfield Productions created BackingBlack Sportscafe, an online version of the popular TV show (something they believe has not been done in NZ before). Hear first-hand the challenges and successes of this project.

2. Why MasterCard decided that they should be a key part of the 2011 Rugby World Cup—and how that translates into smart digital marketing lessons for us all.

Speaker: Albert Naffah, country manager, New Zealand, MasterCard

Rugby World Cup 2011 (RWC 2011) starts in less than three months. Albert will share why MasterCard chose to be a part of this event on a global scale; discuss their plans to engage New Zealanders; and explain their methods to ensure off and online campaign integration with a multifaceted approach. What does success mean for them from their digital marketing activity?

3. How, despite all the coverage and all the advice, Kiwi companies are still breaking the law with their digital marketing efforts around the Rugby World Cup and what we need to know to avoid falling into the same trap.

Speaker: Rob Rendle, senior solicitor, Ministry of Economic Development

Rob will share vital information on how to get to grips with the Major Events Management Act; what areas of the Act need to be considered when contemplating digital marketing activity; and talk about some specific examples of RWC 2011 digital marketing activities that have been in breach of the Act

For more information and to register, click here.

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