Over the 14 years I was in broadcasting, there were numerous times I was approached to endorse a product. In theory, it’s a pretty straight forward concept: Try the product. Broadcast about what I liked. Increase sales of product.
I’d like to think it works. I know it does for Oprah and her book club. (Thump that tub, Oprah. Thump it.) But of course, I’m no Oprah. Now whether any money exchanged hands to enable a client access to myself and other broadcasters doing the same is unknown to me, but nothing but the product ever landed in my hands. But it begs the question, what is it worth for a company to “hire” thought leaders and trendsetters to speak on behalf of their products?
Actually, that question is becoming somewhat obsolete. Recent Nielsen studies show that 90% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family. TV ads? 62% Radio ads? 55%. Facebook understands that. Thus, the “LIKE” button. (More on that later)
Thought leaders and trendsetters are now everywhere. They are everyone. When you’ve got as many people interacting with each other through a single channel, there is less need for one source at the top of a pyramid scheme of decision making. Group enough of us together and you’ve got what I call the “Collective Endorsement“.
Facebook understood very early that not only would we be much more likely to sample a product if it was referred to us by a known and trusted source, we would be much more likely to BUY that product. The new question is: What is it worth for a company to have access to the Collective Endorsers (Facebook and Twitter users)?
If you believe the speeches at the recent F8, Facebook’s annual chest-beating conference, the access will be warranted through the merit of a compelling app/product. In layman’s terms, everyone gets access to the Collective and if you’re product/service doesn’t suck, it’ll succeed. Very serendipitous. But the cynic in me knows that when that kind of money is available, (imagine a 1% click through per 800,000,000 users currently on Facebook), there’s an inevitable payoff waiting to happen. Some will get through on merit, others are gonna buy Facebook off the same way they buy off every celebrity hawking ProActiv. (Are you listening Katy Perry, Avril Lavigne, etc?) And yes, Oprah does have a Facebook page, so the standard endorsement model will still carry some weight (no Oprah joke, I promise). But it will carry less. The word endorsement carries a negative connotation. Someone has been paid to say what they’re saying. More importance will be placed on what the Collective is actually doing, eating, reading, watching…
Reach them with your viable product and you can make a fortune.
And with the new changes to Facebook, where a collective of 1 billion people isn’t very far away, it has become an entirely different algorithm. Say goodbye to the “LIKE” button. On my next blog, it isn’t the product…it’s the action. Owning the verb. It’s what’s next.