Influence on Twitter

Influence on Twitter is not necessarily tied to the number of followers one has, at least this is one of the conclusions in this report on Twitter influence which came to my notice by a @papadimitriou recent tweet. The core finding: it’s more influential to have an engaged audience that actively retweets and mentions the user, and one keeps this audience engaged by frequently interacting with this audience (see common sense paragraph below).

The dataset used in the report consisted of nearly 2 billion follow links among over 54 million users who produced over 1.7 billion tweets. Here’s a link to a website the report authors set up that further describes the dataset. The report compares three measures of influence: indegree (i.e., number of followers one has), retweets, and mentions. The most followed users were news sites, sports stars, and politicians. The most retweeted were content aggregation sites like @Mashable and @TwitterTips, @GuyKawasaki, and @TheOnion. The most mentioned individuals were mostly celebrities.

The report found that retweets are primarily content driven (including both the username and link to a source), whereas mentions are mostly identity driven. In looking at retweets and mentions, individuals who were both retweeted and mentioned the most showed the highest engagement metrics (i.e., conversing with their audience), as well as posting creative and interesting tweets.

Finally, the report focused on how much influence “ordinary users” can exert within the Twittersphere. In this case, the authors looked at how completely unknown users exerted tremendous influence (as measured by retweets and/or mentions) during serious news events. By limiting their tweets to a single news topic, users like @oxfordgirl quickly gained influence.

This report, I suppose, just reinforces common sense at some level. But it’s nice to see someone crunching the numbers to reinforce one’s intuition.

Photo: soundfromwayout

Satisfied customers are more loyal than delighted customers

This research paper focusing on the hotel industry indicates that although delighted customers have generally positively views of brands, a satisfied customer will more likely take action supportive of loyalty marketing constructs (i.e., actually book a return trip) because they have an emotional connection to the brand. Thus, the researchers suggest that marketers focus on loyalty programs that seek to instill positive emotional experiences with the brand. Such mechanics go beyond baseline experiences like prompt response times, meaningful communications, knowing where a customer is in the life-cycle of a transaction, and extend to activities that prompt a positive emotional response (like receiving a handwritten thank you card).

Influence of word of mouth on customer perception of service

This research paper focuses on the influence of word of mouth (WOM) on customers’ perception of service. It’s axiomatic that negative WOM can significantly impact brand reputation. Studying the effect of WOM on such perceptions, though, is another matter. And the research article delves into some interesting bits. First, customers’ perceived service value influences their revisit intention, which in turn influences positive or negative WOM. Second, gender influences WOM. The study points out that women trend more towards a relational aspect versus men who are more trial-and-error focused:

  • For female customers, relational service quality will have a stronger total influence on the WOM than core service quality.
  • For male customers, core service quality will have a stronger total influence on WOM than relational quality.
  • The total effect of relational quality on WOM will be stronger for female customers than the male.
  •  The total effect of core quality on WOM will be stronger for male than female.

The implications seem fairly obvious: focus on delivering superior relational and core experiences. The study suggests different methods of CRM (call scripts, greetings, etc) based on gender, especially where the CRM involves human-to-human interaction. In real estate, this could trickle down to agents’ initial interactions with cusomters too: for men, generally, get right to the point, whereas for women, generally, focus on establishing a relationship first and ease into the data as relationship-focused interactions mature.

Customer loyalty CRM and customer satisfaction

This research paper on CRM strategies used by RBC Royal Bank of Canada (Bahamas), analyzes whether the bank successfully applied the four P’s of CRM (planning, people, process, and platform). It’s well established that financial success is tied to a well executed CRM strategy which drives customer loyalty and customer satisfaction. What this research paper found was that although the bank lists CRM as a strategic initiative and policy, it has not integrated the CRM process at each customer touch point. The methodology used to correct the problem was instituting a wide-ranging customer satisfaction survey initiative to ascertain–from the customers’ viewpoints–where the service breakdowns and gaps actually occurred and to make changes accordingly at those points.

Small agile groups drive innovation

According to this MIT Technology Review article, agile groups with fluid ideation and development team dynamics routinely create more innovative products. Yet commercialization of an innovative product is another matter. Successful monetization of a product requires a disciplined approach towards continuous systems and process improvements. But herein resides a trap: once an innovative product becomes systemized, further innovation on that product can become frozen as profitability goals dictate less variance in the process. Companies like W.L. Gore & Associates seemed to have solved this dilemma.