Do We Need to Differentiate “Influencer” Marketing…To be Good Influence Marketers?


Influencers can all too easily be identified, and socially dismissed, as paid shills. At the very least they’re seen as offering sponsored content, with a clear motivation to sell or at least promote. The trouble is, for most people though, as soon as we smell a pitch, kickback, or a sales commission, our trust plummets!

Advocates on the other hand, offer us messages from an entirely different place.

So if social marketing is going to evolve past the current state of using paid influencers to try and sway us with poorly veiled endorsements, do we really need to draw lines between this and genuine Advocate marketing?  Do we need to see and share these crucial differences, in order to avoid confusion or unflattering comparisons?

The easy answer is…We don’t!

Because good Advocates are already doing this for us.

Let’s see how well this natural process already works…

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Goodbye Influencers, Hello Advocates!

Influencer Marketing vs Advocacy Marketing

It’s almost unconscious knowledge, that the best forms of marketing involve a ‘word-of-mouth’ approach, that comes from trusted and recognized sources. But a popular trend among marketers, to use “Influencers” is now wearing the shine off an entire field of marketing. Mostly because the public is showing an increasing disdain for the types of not-so-cleverly embedded advertising that some so-called Influencers are pedalling.

While ‘Influence Marketing’ is a very sophisticated and effective strategy, it’s the current (and unfortunately self-named) tactic that is actually the growing problem. So rather than worry that an entire class of marketing will get dragged down by just a few bad and artificial scores, we can trust in a more natural process, where such environmental stressors are actually good for spurring new evolution. Ultimately, offering us all a much more responsive, authentic and even participative form of marketing than these lofty Influencers ever could.

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Rise of the Consumer Society

Toronto may not want to talk about its “world-class” status so soon after being globally shamed by its own mayor, or having its long-outdated subway system turned into a political football and public spectacle during our municipal elections. Some of us might already be cringing at what fate might await our creaking infrastructure and congested roadways during the 2015 Pan-Am Games. But despite the worrisome trends, we still all know how much Toronto has going for it, because we’re among all the most media-literate, tech-savvy and inter-networked people on Earth. Of course, that’s a HUGE non-exclusive club that already has many other global urbanites as members, so what could actually make us special?

Toronto the Good

In our case, we might be feeling a bit outclassed by other great cities right now, and looking for ways to get back into the game with a few good lead-off hits, and maybe get people talking about the post-season again. Something to trigger discussions in our social channels, get the attention of local businesses and politicians, and even get ideas into the mainstream media so that they can spread further afield. So in our case, we could use our social-savvy and technology-culture to actually improve our society as a whole, if not our city itself.

The key to making a good name for ourselves might be to find genuinely inspiring ways of integrating more ‘social’ into our media, and more ‘culture’ into technology. The obvious question then, is what can make Toronto’s citizens stand out among the teeming crowds of faces out there in global social-media, while also defining our place among the clouds of commercial services within the more productive spaces on the Net as well?

If Torontonians don’t have a collective online identity today, then could now be be the time to start defining a Future for ourselves instead? Surely nobody needs to remind us that we already have all the resources required to build the future, right here on our doorsteps today.

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Building Blocks for a Consumer Society

Data Marketing Universe

Most people have no real appreciation for just how automated and integrated the world of marketing has become. We generate so much data about ourselves in our daily lives, and simply presume that all the organizations that we deal with are keeping our info secure.

Yet almost nobody reads privacy statements, and realizes that there are all sorts of 3rd parties involved in the marketing of goods and services. These service providers are applying tools and techniques that will either turn us into well-defined consuming puppets, or we can inform ourselves as Consumers, to learn how to turn these tools and marketing techniques to our advantage.

In order to become better-informed Consumers, and secure ourselves against possible abuses of our identity and the the data that we generate, these are the basic building blocks for a prosperous, vital, and more resilient Consumer Society.

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Drivers of Social Consumerism

Social Consumer

So what are the primary drivers of social progress?

Aside from our maintaining our basic health (which is dependant on the the health of the environment around us), the drivers of just about everything else that we need are time and money.

If we can playfully work smarter (not harder) and productively commute faster (not longer), then we are already saving huge amounts collective time. Our spending choices are also taking on a democratic strength, that’s never existed before. If Consumers can become savvy about the tools and methods used by marketers to engage us in commerce, then we can approach the table with a better prepared hand, and learn how to turn the deals in our favour!

Ultimately, if we can combine these pursuits with a socialized approach for achieving health (not simply paying half our taxes for the institutional healthcare), then we could be well on our way to using the tools to build a prosperous social economy.

In the end, whether it’s what we make, or what someone takes, commerce is what drives the creation of prosperity.

So let’s consider some ways of getting right down to brass-taxes, by figuring out the ways that the ideals of social consciousness and democracy can be applied to commerce. While still maintaining the free-market economies that can encourage sustainable growth and innovation, while limiting the effects of any parasitic influences.

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ISIS — The Payments Consortium, not the Jihadists Group — Rebrands its mobile wallet as Softcard

ISIS WalletSo what’s in a name? The only time that anyone should use an acronym to describe a name is if it’s already well-accepted (FBI, CIA, IRS, etc), or if they are speaking to people who already understand their jargon (The DOD states that the NCO was abducted by UFOs and is now MIA). Or there’s always those obscure names that are so horribly long and complex that anything is better than trying to remember what it is, let alone trying to explain what it means so that others can adopt it. ISIS was one of those acronyms that almost nobody knew the meaning of to begin with.

We knew that it was a competitor to Google’s wallet, and everyone who liked NFC solutions was hoping that it would finally put mobile payments on the map of Consumer consciousness. But then along come ISIS, the infamous Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and suddenly ISIS becomes a dirty word, that only the Ancient Egyptian goddess of fertility would find sexy. So now we have something called SoftCard. Same idea, same obscurity in the public consciousness, just a different name.

To be clear, Softcard (née ISIS) still represents a joint venture between AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon in the mobile payment space, that was announced back on November 16, 2010. The system is based on near field communication (NFC) and allows users to pay by tapping their mobile device to a payment terminal. 4 years later, we’re all still waiting for NFC to finally take off as a boon to online payments systems…Despite the lingering public public fears, confusion and even ongoing paranoia about anything that relates to RFID.

Hopefully a much better name, that doesn’t sound like a cabal of Big Bankers and Telco companies, will do better than ISIS has. Because we’re all still waiting for the future to arrive, and it’s already been quite awhile…


The Isis mobile wallet just got a new name: Softcard. For those of you that haven’t been keeping up with global affairs, another organization called ISIS — English shorthand for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria — has been dominating the headlines, known for its acts of terror rather than smartphone payments.

Given the horrible coincidence, Isis announced in July it would rebrand. Today we’re getting a preview of that strategy.

Isis Softcard

The consortium, which is made up of carriers Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, will excise the Isis name from its app, service and all marketing (technically Isis operates under the name JVL Ventures), and in a few weeks it will replace its existing mobile wallet app in the iTunes and Google Play stores with a new Softcard-branded versions. As existing Isis customers update their wallets the Isis name will disappear from their phones.

Isis is also getting…

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CASL – Are Canadian Feds Creating Lasting Legacies? Or Just More Legislation?

keep-calm-dont-spamThis year’s Canada Day may have seemed like any other, but it also marked a significant shift in how Canadians communicate and do business online.  All law-abiding Canadians will change the way they use email thanks to Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL).  Aside from creating a sudden flurry of confirmation messages sent to us from the most compliant businesses and organizations, one might ask how this new regulation has really changed anything, when it comes to reducing spam. Because everyone knows that it’s not the people who follow the rules who were the problem in the first place. In fact, CASL puts some pretty onerous requirements on legitimate businesses, without even scratching the underlying sources of spam.

What CASL does do though, is force people to establish legitimate relationships in order to send out commercial messages via email. So perhaps we could turn this regulation inside out as the recipeints of all this commercial electronic messaging (CEM), and see this as an opportunity to become more engaged as Consumers. Perhaps even spurring on some new innovations as a result of any market demands we can generate.

So the key question is, just how can Consumers drive innovation in the market anyhow?

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Where’s Our ‘Data’ Coming From Anyways?

You know…The ‘Data’ that we’ve been generating here, there and everywhere.
Mostly from our mobile devices. Which generate a lot more data than we might realize

It’s the stuff that we might presume is ‘private’ or ‘personal’ data, but actually isn’t.
It’s being stored and cross-indexed, and aggregated, all within the bounds of the terms of service that we all agree to…

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Consumers Creed

How can we start defining a Consumer’s Creed?
Let’s start by saying…

The Consumer will be securely identified, and served beyond expectations. Assured their privacy, and free to exist, transact, and grow online without harm to others. The Consumer is free to roam in perfectly safe harmony with all inalienable rights of their physical lives. With liberty and justice for all…etc…etc