Messages les plus consultés

mardi 22 avril 2014

Ces nouveaux influenceurs en entreprise qui ont la côte : le pour et le contre.

Un article récent de Courrier international reprenait un article provocateur de Rachel Feintzeig, publié dans le Wall street Journal, présentant la montée en puissance d'une nouvelle race de gagnant, les influenceurs en entreprise : "Office influencers are high in demand"

Après les leaders d'opinion en marketing — ces personnes que l'on juge plus compétentes que soi et mieux informées sur les produits et marques — bienvenue, donc, aux leaders d'opinion en entreprise !

Déjà des entreprises aux Etats-Unis, tels Procter & Gamble et Cisco, et France, telle Pernod Ricard, utilisent
Chatter, un réseau social privé, très proche de Twiter, et developpé par une entreprise californienne

Et tout comme Klout vise à mesurer l'influence des individus sur les différents réseaux sociaux publics (Twitter, Facebook, Google+,etc.), Salesforce a mis au point un algorithme pour identifier les personnes les plus influentes en entreprise, dénommées les “chatterati". Et en interne, cette entreprise a invité les 20 meilleurs chatterati de son groupe à sa convention annuelle qui réunit les 600 top leaders du groupe.

Que penser d'une politique des ressources humaines qui viserait à promouvoir les personnes les plus influentes et à se séparer de celles qui refuseraient de se lancer dans cette nouvelle course aux followers ? Faut-il s'en réjouir ? Quels sont les avantages et les risques pour une entreprise qui se focaliserait sur de tels individus ? 

Et finalement — question cruciale — peut-on vraiment identifier, sans risque de se tromper, les personnes qui sont véritablement influentes dans l'entreprise ?

J'ai été interviewé récemment sur cette question par Marie Mangioglou ; le sujet a fait l'objet d'une chronique dans Télématin de France 2. Vous trouverez quelques éléments de réponses à ces questions dans la video suivante. N'hésitez pas à réagir et à laisser un commentaire plus bas.


Mais au fait, qu'est-ce que fait vraiment Chatter ? Comment ce logiciel fonctionne-t-il ? Là encore, une brêve vidéo vaut mieux qu'on long post. 

Voici comment Salesforce France présente son produit.


vendredi 18 avril 2014

"Office influencer" : a new job?

Rachel Feintzeig has recently written a provocative paper in the Wall street Journal about the rise of the influencers (ie. opinion leaders) in the enterprise. "Office influencers are high in demand".  And companies like Cisco System, Procter & Gamble in the United States, Pernod Ricard in France, harness the clout of their well-connected employees. Towards a new social race, a new competition inside companies? Making friends at the office has never been rewarding by the management. But now, employees must sharing information via new private social networks, and followers are welcome.

Theorical roots of opinion leader influence in companies are drawn from a Rob Cross's (McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia) and Jon Katzenbach's (senior partner with Booz & Company) research. They observed a senior leadership committee that conducted a network assessment to improve its performance.The CEO assumed the bulk of improvement would come from within the committee, through the strengthening of committee structures and decision-making processes among those 14 senior leaders.

What are the characteristics of an influencer's social network?

Results show that "there was much more leverage for improvement in the links between the senior group and the rest of the company. That was because although members of the senior leadership committee held a disproportionate share of collaborative ties, those ties were not distributed evenly.  One executive (“Person 1”) was a highly networked individual, with more than 60 people claiming her as a key information source, whereas another (“Person 14”) maintained only four connections. The CEO — in the middle of the pack, labeled “Person 7” — was shocked by his own relative lack of influence. He was also surprised by the prominence of a few executives he had not realized were so important in enabling others.

What are the office influencer traits?

Rob Cross and Jon Katzenbach identify five distinctive leader traits :
    •    Outgoing: Extroverted and exuberant but also good self-monitors.
    •    Empathetic: Approachable and able to sympathize.
    •    Accessible: Fully present and welcoming.
    •    Energizing: Fellow employees feel invigorated by them.
    •    Optimistic: Focus on solutions, not what can't work.

How to indentify an office influencer ?

To find these people, some companies conduct surveys, asking questions like, "Who do you go to when you're having a bad day at work?" or "Who do you go to when you have a question that seems obvious?". But others could be fascinated by new web algorithms, like Klout. In marketing now it's well-known that consumers have been talking about brands on social media; and because 92% of people trust their peers, this had a major impact on sales. And moreover, opinion leaders also provide four times more retweets about brands than other folks...

From Twitter to Chatter, the new private social network: has buit an internal platform called Chatter: it's closed to Twitter, the company defines it as "an enterprise social network". And, as Klout does with its algorithm, Salesforce elevated those who post and comment a lot to an elite class called “chatterati", term for its highest influencers.

The novelty is not found in the idea that in every office there are always one or two people who are great at engaging, knowing and influencing behavior, sharing ideas and thoughts. "What is new is the effort to identify and engage these people for the benefit of the company." And last, but not least, "the top 20 "chatterati," are invited to attend the company's global senior management meeting, which occurs twice a year and was formerly open only to Salesforce's top 600 leaders. Moreover, some managers also take employees' Chatter scores into account when determining promotions and compensation, though the company declined to provide specifics."

And here it is the wrong idea.

We largely agree with Mary Marshall's  (a CEO coach) arguments. She tells us : "I have no problem with doing this because it identifies a person’s “gift” or “talent” and helps them to become better at it. Essentially, it’s like placing a professional sports player in the right role and in the zone. Nirvana. What I do have a problem with is saying that all employees should do this, as some companies have done. It’s like asking a musician to become an IT specialist. One size does not fit all".
We also agree with Jerry Davis, a management professor at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, says companies could be "rewarding the wrong thing" if they put too much stock in the hubs in their social networks. "When it comes to promotions or layoffs, that's when it starts to get hairy," he adds. "Wait a minute, I thought I was doing my work really well, and because I didn't spend my time networking, I'm going to be fired?" he imagines an employee saying."

And finally, it's always the same song: "What does an influential person and influence mean at work?". A power to affect persons  based on prestige or a hierarchical position? Or  causing something without any direct or apparent effort? And what does Chatterati's or Klout exactly measure? Friendship? Expertise? Talkativeness? Gossiping?

mardi 14 janvier 2014

Upstream and downstream co-creation : two marketing perspectives

Co-creating products and services with customers and/or consumers is now a major challenge for marketing managers.

The massive use of Internet, the development of online communities, interactive platforms and toolkits offer the potential to co-create with a large number of customers or consumers. Co-creation presupposes that customers accept to get engaged and interact with the company. 

Creating a brand community or launching a call for co-creation are not enough to ensure consumers’ participation. Value co-creation in a virtual environment depends on the benefits perceived by those participating. Such benefits may be cognitive, hedonic, social integrative and personal integrative. If these benefits are perceived to be insubstantial, participation will decrease accordingly.  

This strategy of value co-creation may take place upstream and/or downstream of the new product/service’s launch on the market.

Upstream co-creation 

With upstream  co-creation the consumer can participate from the product idea to its conception, through its test phases and even as far as the advertising campaign. it comprises programs such as DELL’s “Idea Storm”. Toolkits integrated into interactive platforms make it possible to conceive new designs or even to create truly new products. 

This co-creation is relevant to the search for new product or service ideas with customers (at the front end stages of the innovation process), but also at the final stages, by creating messages or advertising videos.

Brands and companies like Nivea, Orange, SFR, Microsoft and Proctor & Gamble have invested in such upstream co-creation. Specialized marketing institutes such as Innocentive, e-Yeka or Hyve manage and organize these companies’ calls for contributions also called “challenges”.

From Upstream to Downstream Co-creation

Downstream co-creation

This strategy concentrates on the consumer’s personal consumption (product or service) experience. One characteristic of services compared to products, is that the former require a more or less strong degree of customer participation if consumption is to be perceived as a source of value. The company co-produces the service through its personnel and through a degree of customer participation. For example, clients of fitness centers co-produce their experience through their coaches and the physical effort they are prepared to make. Vargo and Lusch (2004; 2008) extend this logic to product consumption, arguing that S-D (Service-Dominant) has replaced G-D (Good-Dominant). 

In a nutshell, the product or the service is only a « value proposition »

An increasing number of firms are getting consumers to participate in downstream co-creation that is, after the product launch, to have better feedback on consumption experiences. One example is Lego’s LUGNET site that takes consumers beyond the product by offering them a highly personalized experience thanks to co-creation tools.

Customers assess whether this potential value satisfies their own needs and if they have the specific knowledge and skills to commit to co-creation. In the same perspective, Prahalad and Ramaswamy (2000; 2004) see product (or service) consumption as an opportunity for privileged interaction: the consumer co-creates a personalized experience with the brand throughout the product’s lifetime. For example, Starbuck’s program “The red cups are here - Share your story” set up a continuous dialogue about personal stories experienced while consuming the products during the summer holidays. 

This downstream co-creation relies on customers’ observations in their everyday consumption cycle, that is, the way they use the product on an everyday basis « to get the job done » (Christensen et al. 2005). 

Nike + I Pod

The manager may also concentrate on extraordinary experiences to discover unforeseen or extreme uses of the product. It is a matter of determining what makes sense in the consumption of the product or service. Interactive platforms on Internet and on-line communities offer the potential to discover new uses and future consumption trends. Such sites offer a formidable stock of raw material for observing, testing and developing new value propositions with customers. For example the Nike + platform makes it possible for customers to co-create services which add value to Nike’s product offer (Ramaswamy & Gouillart 2010). With this approach the company keeps control of the product upstream and co-creation with the customer only takes place downstream.

More readings
Christensen, C.M., Cook, S. & Hall, T. (2005) Marketing malpractice: the cause and the cure. Harvard Business Review, December, 83, 12, pp. 74–83.

Prahalad, C.K. & Ramaswamy, V. (2000) Co-opting customer competence. Harvard Business Review, jan-feb, 78, 1, pp. 79–87.

Prahalad, C.K. & Ramaswamy, V. (2004) Co-creation experiences: the next practice in value creation. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 18, 3, pp. 5–14.

Ramaswamy, V. & Gouillart, F. (2010) The power of co-creation. Free Press, Simon & Schuster, Inc: NewYork. 
Vargo, S.L. & Lusch, R. F. (2008) Service-dominant logic: continuing the evolution. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 36, pp. 1–10
Vernette, E et Hamdi-Kidar L. (2013), Co-creation with consumers : who has the competence and wants to cooperate, International Journal of Market Research, 55, 4, 539-561. 


samedi 11 janvier 2014

The perfect marketing pitch

"If Apple sold you water, you had probably buy it !"

An old joke from Scoopertino, but a real lesson for marketers: tomorrow Apple will blast into supermarkets with revolutionary Apple Water: "Today Apple announced Apple Water — a cool refreshment made for those willing to suspend all logic and pay the price for Apple’s lavish attention to quality and design".

The perfect marketing pitch !

Short, clear, simple, with the strengths of Apple brand equity: design, emotion, ergonomy.
Mind the gap. It's not a simple bottle of water, it's a kind of magic, an Apple Water,  Steve Jobs' memory.

Clean, Simple Wet.

The marketing target

Very large: “If you’ve been drinking the juice, you’re ready to drink the Apple water. "

The product's keys innovation

First of all, the main innovation :a  temperature sensitive logo that shifts from red to blue when the temperature is in Steve Jobs’ acceptable limit...Always Steve Jobs' memory.

With some extra bonuses : a built-in display, a molecular perfection, top resistance, cool ergonomy.

Product line extension

Don't forget to buy the special Apple-designed cup, with a real good value for money at the promotional price $29.99.
Enjoy it!

samedi 14 septembre 2013

E-WOM and Social Influence: Beware of on-line comments

The impact of electronic word-of-mouth (e-WOM) is huge. We know that. A recent article published in Science by Lev Muchnik, Sinan Aral and Sean Taylor confirms that our opinions are largely influenced by on-line comments. This also raises the issue of fake reviews.

A randomized experiment with more than 300,000 ratings over five months.

Key results
Prior ratings from others (here 'write comments in response to posted articles') create significant bias in its own individual rating behavior. More specifically:
  • If the first comment was positive, this comment significantly increases the immediate likelihood of positive ratings by 32%, and leads to a 25% increase in the mean rating over the five months.
  • If the first comment was negative, there was a higher probability that subsequent comments would be negative, relative to the control.  However, over the five months, this was offset by a larger “correction effect” so that the negative effect was neutralized.
Managerial implications
"Because the negative feedback doesn’t  snowball, but the positive feedback does,  increased turnout for providing UGC or ratings only seems to help  on net. So yes, soliciting feedback would prove to be on average universally good for these companies"

Ethical implications
“For businesses there is clearly an incentive to manipulate the ratings,  especially early on. Because you get this 25% increase in the mean rating of the item with a single positive up vote of the item. And that is a big marginal change in a final score from a single action at the beginning.”

dimanche 28 avril 2013

Do you know the emotional oracle effect ?


"Will it rain tomorrow? Who will win American Idol? How high will the Dow Jones be next week? Who will be our next president?"

A recent american research from Pham, Lee & Stephen shows some surprising results. If you have some basic knowledge in a field, plus a high confidence in your own feelings, you will be able to predict better than others in this area.


"Eight studies reveal an intriguing phenomenon: individuals who have higher trust in their feelings can predict the outcomes of future events better than individuals with lower trust in their feelings. This emotional oracle effect was found across a variety of prediction domains, including (a) the 2008 US Democratic presidential nomination, (b) movie box-office success, (c ) the winner of American Idol, (d) the stock market, (e) college football, and even (f ) the weather. (see table below)

Why and how it works ?

"It is mostly high trust in feelings that improves prediction accuracy rather than low trust in feelings that impairs it. However, the effect occurs only among individuals who possess sufficient background knowledge about the prediction domain, and it dissipates when the prediction criterion becomes inherently unpredictable. The authors hypothesize that the effect arises because trusting one’s feelings encourages access to a “privileged window” into the vast amount of predictive information that people learn, often unconsciously, about their environments."

Michel Tuan Pham, Leonard Lee, and Andrew T. Stephen (2012), "Feeling the Future: The Emotional Oracle Effect", Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 39, No. 3, pp. 461-477.

For more results and full pdf

samedi 29 décembre 2012

What is interpersonal communication worth?


Word-of-mouth in marketing context

Word-of-mouth is the most frequently used source of information for choosing a product (31%), well ahead of advertisements (14%), in 23 product categories (East, Hammond and Lomax, 2005). The average impact of word-of-mouth on the change in purchase intentions is about 20% (East, Hammond and Lomax, 2008). An anecdote about a product is more persuasive if transmitted by word-of-mouth than if it is written (Herr, Kardes and Kim, 1991). 

But nothing guarantees that such interpersonal flows of information, subject to little control by companies, are based on sound knowledge: they may be incomplete, inaccurate and in some cases dangerous. Nevertheless, they contribute to the formation of brand image and influence consumer choices.

To choose a product, consumers often ask the advice of people around them. In seeking information, consumers must select the sources from whom to ask advice, that is to say, those people who are likely to have sufficient knowledge to provide credible recommendations. 

 Unfortunately, when a consumer needs advices, this means that he or she is novice in a product category or unfamiliar with that category. How to select the best source ?

What sources of advice?

Consumers choose between their friends (ie. "strong ties"), opinion leaders, expert consumers or even individuals combining these characteristics.

Generally, consumers prefer to seek advice from people they feel close to or are similar to, because these are viewed as more likely to understand their requirements, like their friends. 

Besides this, experts are attractive sources. But we can wonder whether a novice would be able to distinguish in his entourage a consumer who only claims to be an expert from another who really is. Identification of experts could take place through “proxies”. Indeed, the tendency to initiate conversations (“talkativeness”) with one’s entourage in one’s area of competence is a good predictor of the perception of expertise. But academic research shows that the number of conversations initiated is not correlated with real expertise, but with other variables, such as self-confidence or dominance. 

On the other hand, unlike experts, opinion leaders tend to communicate a great deal of information about products and brands to those around them, through conversations or by making recommendations. Their opinions are credible because they are perceived as experts by their entourage. Consumers can easily identify and consider the opinion leader as an effective source of recommendations.


Estimating knowledge source

This evaluation involves an interpersonal calibration of knowledge, defined by the match between knowledge attributed to the source of information and their degree of objective knowledge. 
Sources whose knowledge is overestimated may well give risky advice. False information from people mistakenly regarded as experts can adversely affect brand image and harm or even endanger consumers, as when the decisions concern household equipment, self-medication or vaccination against certain diseases. Based on a review of academic literature, we formulate four hypotheses:


7 populations of second-year students at technical colleges and business schools were surveyed. A first data collection identified each respondent’s strong ties, level of objective and subjective knowledge, and degree of opinion leadership in the product category. Experts were identified through an objective knowledge scale, determined by a series of questions on the technical aspects, terminology, brands, product lines, prices and distribution of laptops. Opinion leaders were identified using the Ben-Miled and Le Louarn (1994) self-determination designation scale. In all, 634 questionnaires were completed. In a second collection, each respondent had to choose a laptop from a list of eight models, with a budget of 1300 euros. To this end, we suggested the name of an initial person in his entourage, and then a second, telling him that he could seek advice from these two friends for choosing a computer from the list.



Advice of friends and opinion leaders is most sought after and that their knowledge, moreover, is overestimated. Experts are called upon less, and their knowledge is underestimated.

Recognizing the benefits of seeking advice from strong ties, the consumer rationalizes the choice of this strategy by unconsciously overestimating his friends’ knowledge. 

Advice from opinion leaders is sought, but their knowledge of products and brands tend to be overestimated by their entourage. But this is no longer true if opinion leaders correctly calibrate their own knowledge. In fact, only opinion leaders who overestimate their personal knowledge risk misleading other people.

These errors of interpersonal judgment decrease if the source correctly assesses his own knowledge and they increase in the opposite case.

Another major finding of this research is the difficulty, if not the inability, of opinion seekers to identify sources capable of providing them with information with high added value. Counter-intuitively, experts provide a fund of knowledge that remains largely untapped by consumers looking for word-of-mouth information.

Learn more


Ben Miled H. and Le Louarn P. (1994), Analyse comparative de deux échelles de mesure du leadership d’opinion : validité et interprétation, Recherche et Applications en Marketing, 9, 4, 23-51.
East R., Hammond K. and Lomax W. (2005), What is the effect of a recommendation?, The Marketing Review, 5, 2, 145-157.
East R., Hammond K. and Lomax W. (2008), Measuring the impact of positive and negative word of mouth on brand purchase probability, International Journal of Research in Marketing, 25, 215-224.
Herr P. M., Kardes F. R. and Kim J. (1991), Effects of word-of-mouth and product-attribute information of persuasion: an accessibility-diagnosticity perspective, Journal of Consumer Research, 17, 4, 454-462.