Influence Up for Grabs on the Social Web, Says Author Mark Schaefer

Mark Schaefer

The approaching marketing and communications revolution is being led by you. Yes, you. Mark Schaefer, marketing faculty member of Rutgers University, blogger, consultant and author, literally wrote the book on the revolution in social influence marketing, and as the keynote speaker at PR News' Social Media Measurement Conference on Oct. 2 in New York, he'll be discussing social scoring, influence marketing and how your organization can put simple measures to use.

PR News: How did your passion for social media originate and how has it evolved over the years?

Mark Schaefer: I started immersing myself on the social Web about 2008 because I realized that as an educator, I had to learn this stuff by doing if I was going to teach it to others. I spent most of my career in what I would call classic marketing roles in large corporations so I approached social media quite skeptically at first. Today, I find the field endlessly fascinating. It's a great time to be in marketing.

PR News: What’s the most common mistake you see brands make when it comes to using social media in their PR and marketing plans?

Schaefer: There are a number of common mistakes that are usually driven by fear and an urgency to get on a platform like Facebook quickly instead of thoughtfully integrating these new channels with traditional marketing know-how. It can be very difficult and expensive to create successful social media campaigns, and I think many still underestimate this.

PR News: What was the inspiration for your latest book, Return on Influence: The Revolutionary Power of Klout, Social Scoring and Influence Marketing?

Schaefer: I became fascinated with how people become powerful on the Interneta place that has no rules, no bosses, no hierarchy. In fact, the Web hates those things. And yet, previously unknown people are becoming very powerful and influential through this channel. So I began to study this, interview experts and survey the academic research to figure out what was different now. The first half of the book examines this issue: How is power and influence different in the online world versus the offline world that we are so familiar with? Then I look at how companies like Klout are attempting to measure this and create an entirely new marketing channel.  

PR News: Companies like Klout have come under a lot of attack. Why are some people so resistant about adopting social influence marketing?

Schaefer: It's emotional. People don't like to be publicly ranked and rated. And Klout made some early PR blunders and legitimate privacy mistakes that hurt their credibility. Still, I think the smart marketers are looking past this and seeing the incredible opportunity here. The social Web has democratized influence. Anybody can publish and create buzz about our products, so we better understand what's going on.

PR News: Looking back on your 30 years of professional experience, what’s the one thing that’s surprised you about the advancement of social media? 

Schaefer: I don't think I could have predicted that so many people would willingly sacrifice their privacy for the opportunity to post funny cat pictures. It surprises me that people have so completely turned over their private lives to "the machine."

PR News: What’s one key concept you want to leave with attendees at PR News' Social Media Measurement Conference?

Schaefer: I think there are two main themes: First, the social Web provides an empowering opportunity for all of us, all of our companies, to have a voice, to find our own return on influence. Second, companies need to be aware of these emerging attempts at influence measurement to know enough to determine what is useful and appropriate for their own brands.

Attend PR News' Social Media Measurement Conference on Oct. 2 in NYC and learn more from social media, PR and marketing experts like Mark Schaefer.

Follow Jamar Hudson: @jamarhudson