Tapping the Emerging Celebrity Power of Online Influentials

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by: David Wigder

Today, online influentials are emerging as "celebrities" of sort, based not only on their domain knowledge but on their ability to attract and engage audiences online.

Marketing Green contends that this celebrity status is likely to increase with time: as content continues to proliferate, consumers will look to those they know and trust to help them cut through the cutter.

Today, many online influentials are building a following of their own. Some sites understand this and are now actively recruiting participation by influentials on their site, and promoting this association directly to consumers.

As such, Marketing Green believes that marketers should continue to seek new ways to leverage the celebrity status of online activists in support of or as an extension of their marketing efforts. There are several ways that marketers can do so including:

Contribute content. Marketers can ask influentials to help create or edit content for a site or even for syndication. For example, The Element Agency frequently posts articles from guest writers in its blog, My Green Element.  Another smart site is the recently launched Inside Sustainability which features audio reports with green personalities*.

Host chat sessions. Social news site Propeller (AOL) offers peer-to-peer chat functionality to facilitate discussions about its top ranked articles. While interesting, marketers may want to take this one step further: extend site functionality to enable chat sessions with users that are hosted by online celebrities (or "Contributors", "Scouts" or "Anchors" that submit content and/or moderate content on the Propeller site).  


In many ways, hosted chat seems like a natural extension of Propeller’s current strategy to promote content purveyors as quasi-celebrities. Today, this is done through the prominent placement of their photos or avatars online, as well as detailed profiles on the site.


   Top Propeller Contributors on "Climate Change"



Facilitate a dialogue. Marketers can tap influentials to facilitate a dialogue with users. For example, ooVoo, a leading multi-person online video chat provider, launched a pilot this week in which 20+ influentials – "bloggers, podcasters and community leaders" – will converse with online audiences using its technology.

Today, marketers have the opportunity to leverage and cultivate the celebrity status of online influentials. Emerging online platforms – audio, video and chat – are increasingly being used by marketers to harness this celebrity power in order to create more compelling and engaging experiences for their consumers. Such opportunities have the potential to not only attract new audiences but deepen relationships with their existing consumers today.

Original Post: http://marketinggreen.wordpress.com/2008/02/09/tapping-the-emerging-celebrity-power-of-online-influentials/