Buying Influence

Read this and found it really provocative.

Despite this data, many marketers are on a seemingly relentless quest to beef up their own social network profiles and reach users with lots of friends and followers. In the Vocus-Solis study, 57% of respondents said they’d be willing to pay for an influencer to help them “drive actions or outcomes.”

We are in the early days of companies figuring out how to maximize the value of social networks in their marketing and advertising strategies. It doesn’t surprise me that companies are basically trying to buy popularity as in driving as much traffic to their profiles and fan pages as possible in an effort to garner as many “likes” as they can capture. However, as the article states, popularity is not influence and you really can’t buy it.

In day to day interactions with brands I have found that they too are aware of the superficial nature of these activities but at the same time they are quickly acquiring IQ on social media strategies for marketing and promotion, as well as investing heavily in building out teams capabilities. The largest of brands are able to tap into creative and thought leadership, for a price, and from those efforts will trickle down meaningful strategies that brands with lesser budgets can take advantage of.

For better or worse the social stats are a meaningful measurement for brands to capture in their quest to master this new medium and the virtuous cycle is further amplified through the efforts of networks to offer services that appeal to brand marketers and social media marketing managers.

Fire Larry Ellison?

This post appeared on HuffPo suggesting that Larry Ellison should be fired, along with the entire Oracle board of directors.

Larry Ellison is definitely the best paid CEO of America: he pocketed $ 1.84 billion dollars over the last 10 years according to the Wall Street Journal. His shareholders lost 12 % over the same period. I thought incentive compensation to CEOs was deemed to recompense performance: Oracle is a perfect example of what is wrong with Corporate America. Compensation of CEOs has long been the subject of arguments and generally deemed outrageous. It is what makes the face of U.S. corporations the synonym of greed. But what is now at stake, is that, while the amounts themselves are outrageous, their correlation to performance has become questionable.

Now I have no love for Larry Ellison but I think Ugeux’s argument is absurd. First and foremost, Ellison is the single largest shareholder of Oracle stock so his incentives are perfectly aligned with every other shareholder… more so that the vast majority of public companies.

Ugeux’s argument is hollow if for no other reason than he picked a 10 year timeline to base it on… if you looked at any major enterprise tech company over the same period of time you would see a similar pattern of stock performance. The fact that Oracle has achieved pre-eminent status in the enterprise sector, is putting up some good ratios, and lastly, created the shareholder wealth that they have is enough for me to say that Larry Ellison shouldn’t go anywhere.

We can have a debate about executive compensation but let’s not suggest that Ellison hasn’t delivered the goods for Oracle shareholders, 1/5 of which is his own holdings.