The New Influencers: A Marketer’s Guide to the New Social Media

by Paul Gillin
Publisher: Quill Driver Books/Word Dancer Press, Inc

Paul Gillin, former editor-in-chief of Computerworld, begins this book with the basics of blogging. He defines and explores the concept of blogging and the issues that surround it, addressing a wide spectrum of social media, including podcasting, vlogging (blogging with videos) and viral video. 

Bloggers have been accused of being in conflict with mainstream media, but Gillin points out that they are, in fact, quite complementary. He states, “If you think of mainstream media as the news section of the internet, then the blogosphere is like the op-ed page.” He referred to an example in 2005, where an accidental discovery of a backdoor security vulnerability called a rootkit in Sony BMG music CDs created a furore and spread from the blogosphere to mainstream media such as The New York Times, the Boston Globe, the BBC and BusinessWeek. 

According to Gillin, bloggers have become the “new influencers.” People now go online to seek information about products, companies, and news stories. Bloggers have “power” because they are heard by the masses. In fact, the internet is fast displacing traditional media as the most popular source of reliable news and information. A suggestion for corporations is to listen to bloggers and even partner with them as a new way to connect directly with their customers. Throughout the book, Gillin includes quotes and interviews with popular bloggers such as Adrants’ Steve Hall, Philipp Lenssen of Google Blogoscoped and Renee Blodgett of Down the Avenue. These bloggers shared interesting insights on how they have interacted with the various industries they blogged about. Gillin helps marketers understand how social media spawns and expands ideas, and how companies interested in the space can establish themselves. He offers descriptions of RSS and advice on tracking, monitoring and measuring corporate efforts to engage with social media. 

In his descriptions of the personal journeys of these new influencers, perspectives will begin to dawn for the reader – how a product or service today is publicized via social media, how these media have changed the rules of advertising and how the power of “new influencers” like celebrity bloggers has grown. This perspective makes the book more than just a primer on social media. 

There is also practical advice on engaging these new influencers for corporate purposes. Gillin suggests looking at the blogger’s tags. He writes, “For example, if you are marketing fruit juice for its taste but a lot of people are tagging it with health or nutritional descriptions, that’s a positioning opportunity. Tags can also give early warning of a problem. If people are tagging your home page with terms like ‘polluter’ or ‘sexist’ then you’ve got issues.” 

This book is a valuable tool for both people new to social media and those with prior knowledge. Amateurs will learn the best ways to blog and find content. Experienced bloggers will find new ideas and explanations of new technologies that are right around the corner. And businesses can understand the mechanics of blogging to aid marketing and public relations.