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 Meet my friend Calvin.  He’s a simple guy.  Quiet.  Reserved.  Works for his local government designing and managing websites for the Mayor’s Office, City Council, and City Departments.  He’s a graphic designer at heart and an avid twitter user (You can follow him @mayhemstudios) .  He tweets so much that he has amassed a lot of friends.  62,740 to be exact.  This following, coupled with Calvin’s kind and transparent online personality, has earned him a Klout score of 75 and a lot of perks.  Suddenly he’s a marketer’s dream.  Brands such as Audi, HP, LG, Toyota, Virgin America, and many others have been sending Calvin to conferences (both domestic and abroad),  providing test drives of cars and tech gadgets, all in the hopes that his followers will be influenced by his tweets and pictures. He was even featured on Forbes.com as a “Twitter Marketing Phenomenon”.

What is happening here?  Why Calvin?  Sure he’s popular on Twitter and a nice guy in real life too but he’s not in a luxury buying demographic.  He’s not the CEO of a sexy start-up in San Francisco either.  He can’t even afford most the products he’s been asked to test. Why all this focus on consumers who may never be a customer? What is it about having a large Twitter following that creates a feeding frenzy for marketers? … It’s their voice.

Back in September of 2010, I had the pleasure of attending Alterian’s Engaging Times Summit in Chicago.  Barry Peppers, of Peppers & Rogers Group ( @BarryPeppers) gave the closing Keynote.  He shared with the crowd a story about how for one of their clients they studied the differences between customers who had the highest Total Customer Value and those customers who talked the most about the brand positively.  They discovered that these two groups of customers were mutually exclusive.  Allow me to repeat this for full effect: The customers who evangelized the brand and the customers who spent the most with the brand were mutually exclusive. Once that surprise marinated and they looked closer they concluded that the customers with the biggest voices were actually MORE valuable than those who spent the most money with the brand over a lifetime.  Yes, your predictive models and traditional definitions for Most Valuable Customer have just been turned upside down and inside out.

Social Media has not only caused a collision between Public Relations, Marketing, and Customer Service it has redefined how and to whom we market.  What are you doing about this shift?  Have you thought about how this impacts your customer segmentation and lifetime value scores?  Will you treat online socialgraphics differently than offline demographics? Have you begun to consider updating your models to include these elements?  Have you even begun to market to online voices and evangelists?

I’m looking forward to seeing my friend Calvin next month at SXSWi.  


This post was originally published on 2/25/11 on fifthgearanaytics.com

All photos courtesy of Calvin Lee.