The quality of the audience is the heart of Future of Influence Summit

Throughout all our events, including among others Future of Media Summit, Enterprise 2.0 Executive Forum, and now Future of Influence Summit, our intention has been to have top-level participants who are themselves creating the future, and generating useful insights from interaction with their peers.

This is not supposed to be about the audience coming to hear wisdom from those on the platform. The person sitting next to you should often have as much to offer as the invited speakers.

As such, we always include “audience roundtables” and other approaches that help participants to have conversations, building their own insights from the ideas proposed by the speakers and panellists. At Future of Influence Summit, we will step up a few notches the video interaction between the audiences at the San Francisco and Sydney events to again create something unique in terms of participation.

As importantly, we have a quite extraordinary audience line-up in both locations. Without checking with everyone we can’t generate a list of star audience members, but be assured it matches the calibre of the invited speakers. At a highly participatory event like this, the quality of the audience is what makes it exceptional. Based on who we have coming, we can expect it to be spectacular.

I hope you can be part of the Future of Influence Summit experience!

Future of Influence Summit After Party: San Francisco – August 31

Once Future of Influence Summit finishes in San Francisco on August 31 at 6pm, we will go to the nearby 111 Minna bar for drinks and the After Party. The conversation on where influence is going will continue with a little lubrication :-)

See here for location and full info on 111 Minna

If you’re in San Francisco you really should go to the Future of Influence Summit itself – that’s where the REAL fun will be had :-) – but if for some reason you cannot make it in the day, be sure to come to the After Party!

There will be some other things on at 111 Minna – say you’re there for Future of Influence when you arrive and look for the Future of Influence Summit logo as above.

Five key trends in how influence is transforming society

I just got off an interview on the future of influence on 2SM radio which lasted almost 15 minutes – close to a record for my interviews on live AM radio, which tends to do 3-5 minute segments. The talk show host was clearly fascinated by the issues of how influence is shifting away from people like him, and towards the unwashed masses.

In the interview, done in the lead-up to Future of Influence Summit which is on next week in Sydney and San Francisco, I discussed the social transformation wrought by the changing influence landscape, and pointed to key five trends driving this change:

1. Influence is democratized

It used to be that people were influential by virtue of their position, such as CEO, journalist, or politician. In a world of blogging, Twitter, and social media anyone can become highly influential, shaping how we think, behave, and spend. Companies can ignore no-one. As many more become heard, a truer democracy will emerge.

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What are the business models for influence and reputation – today and in the future?

One of the most exciting topics of Future of Influence Summit next week is exploring the business models for influence and reputation.

This is an issue which is better addressed in San Francisco/ Silicon Valley than anywhere else, and we have an extraordinary panel lined up to address the topic of Business Models for Influence and Reputation at 2:20 – 3:10pm Pacific Time.

Some of the questions I see include:

* Will there be new mechanisms for individuals to monetize their influence?

* What products or services will advertisers and marketers spend money on in seeking to tap influence?

* Will advertising spending be driven primarily by influence?

* What are models for monetizing the measurement of influence and reputation?

* Who will take the bulk of the value? Will it be the influencers themselves, or intermediaries in the emerging ecosystem?

Let’s take a very quick glance at the people speaking on the panel and what they’re doing – absolutely a star-laden cast.

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Brian Solis at Future of Influence Summit: Putting the Public Back in Public Relations!

When we started organizing Future of Influence Summit, our minds turned immediately to Brian Solis, who is himself one of the most central influencers and thought leaders in this rapidly emerging space.

So it’s awesome that Brian is speaking at the Summit, providing his insights on Influence at the Center of Marketing and Advertising.

Brian’s blog PR 2.0 is essential reading on the topic, and he also often guest blogs for TechCrunch. Just a few of his prominent posts that are particularly relevant to the future of influence include:

Full Disclosure: Sponsored Conversations on Twitter Raise Concerns, Prompt Standards (Great post, will write more about later)

Identifying and Connecting with Influencers

Real-Time Conversations Gain in Influence, Hasten Social CRM

Unveiling the New Influencers

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Hashtag for Future of Influence Summit is #foi09

Belatedly launching the hashtag for Future of Influence Summit: #foi09

FOI is Freedom of Information as well as Future of Influence, so putting the year in will help us stand out…

I have been remiss in not using the hashtag in my Twittering yet, but now we have quite extraordinary cast of attendees as well as amazing speakers in both San Francisco and Sydney, it’s time to kick off the Twitter conversation on where influence is going.

Hope to speak soon on Twitter about the future of influence!

Here are links to a few conversation starters:

The changing nature of influentials and the role of the social graph

You (or your favorite charity) can make money from your tweets! Participate in an experiment on making money from influence

Influence research: what are the real influence networks within Twitter and social media?

Influence research: Duncan Watts and the debate on whether “influentials” really matter

Launch of the Influence Landscape framework

Selected quotations for our times

In finding the quote from Marshall McLuhan on professionals and amateurs I used in my last post, I dug up a file I created a dozen years go with some quotes I was collecting. Here are just a few that are still worth bearing in mind today:

“The empires of the future are the empires of the mind”

– Winston Churchill

“It is hardly possible to overrate the value… of placing human beings in contact dissimilar to themselves, and with modes of thought and action unlike those with which they are familiar… Such communication has always been, and is peculiar in the present age, one of the primary sources of progress.”

– John Stuart Mills in 1848

“Computer games don’t affect kids; I mean, if Pac-Man affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in darkened rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic music”.

– Kristian Wilson of Nintendo Inc in 1989

“Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.”

– Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

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Marshall McLuhan’s view on the “social media expert”

I was just asked “what is a social media expert”?

Marshall McLuhan is still the oracle. Here is one of my favorite quotes from the master.

“Professionalism merges the individual into patterns of total environment. Amateurism seeks the development of the total awareness of the individual and the critical awareness of the groundrules of society. The amateur can afford to lose. The professional tends to classify and specialise, to accept uncritically the groundrules of the environment. The groundrules provided by the mass response of his colleagues serve as a pervasive environment of which he is contentedly unaware. The ‘expert’ is the man who stays put.”

– Marshall McLuhan

In other words, a “social media expert” is an oxymoron – it cannot exist. The true trailblazers who forge new paths for the rest are the amateurs, the ones who are continually trying new things because they do NOT know. Anyone who truly understands social media would never pretend otherwise.

I wrote down this quote a dozen years ago because it so accurately reflected the way I felt about ‘professionals’ and ‘amateurs’. Amidst today’s extraordinary pace of change this outlook is in fact far more relevant than it ever has been before.

Celebrate the amateur!

The changing nature of influentials and the role of the social graph

We weren’t the first to use the phrase ‘Future of Influence’. Most prominently Nate Elliott of Forrester wrote a report ‘The Future of Influence‘ (though you’re better off going to Future of Influence Summit than buying the report :-) ) and has done a number of presentations on the theme.

Nate summarizes the topic:

* As Users Become More Active in Recommending Products and Services, New Influence Challenges Volume of Classic Influence

* The Growth of New Influence Will Overwhelm Some Users, Reinforcing the Value of Personal Recommendations from Known Sources

* Marketers Should Focus on Classic Influentials to Drive Direct Action, Encourage Them to Make Off-line Recommendations

Nate’s presentation below describes the difference between what he calls ‘Classic Influentials‘ (who exert passive influence by responding to requests for information) and ‘New Influentials‘ (who exert influence by proactively giving advice).

A key focus in this analysis is user reviews. As we get a critical mass of reviews of products and content, this becomes a better source of information to consumers. However simple recommendation behaviors, for example in Twitter, are also being aggregated to provide information that guides decisions and behaviors.

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You (or your favorite charity) can make money from your tweets! Participate in an experiment on making money from influence

You (or your favorite charity) can benefit from your influence! To find out how, read on…

One of the key themes of Future of Influence Summit, on next week in San Francisco and Sydney, is ‘business models for influence and reputation’.

There are many angles to this particular topic, including:

* Will it be possible for individuals to effectively monetize their influence and reputation?

* What new mechanisms will allow people to make money from the influence?

* How will influence intersect with spending on advertising? (some of the leading players in this space will be speaking at the Summit)

* What are business models for the measurement of influence and reputation?

I recently wrote about Sponsored Tweets, which is one of a number of platforms for people to make money by tweeting sponsored messages and links. There has been extensive discussion on this concept, with a high level of polarization in the community as to whether or not this is a good idea (see for example the comments on Mashable, and thoughts from David Risley, White Hat Crew, and AdWeek).

In the spirit of experimentation and learning how paid influence may work, we are introducing a rewarded tweeting system for promoting Future of Influence Summit. Here is how it works:

1. People using an approved discount code get 25% off the full price of registration (US$199 in San Francisco, A$600 in Sydney). For any registrations with that code, an additional 5% of the registration fee (US$10 for US, A$30 for Australia) is paid to you (or your favourite charity).

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