“If you engage customers,” says V. Kumar, “they go and they get their friends” to try out a product, too. Kumar, of the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University, explains how companies can find their most influential online customers and enlist them to help promote their brands.
Dr. V. Kumar, the Richard and Susan Lenny distinguished chair in marketing and director of the Ph.D. Program in Marketing at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business Georgia State University. Kumar recently wrote an article for MIT SMR about working with India-based ice cream retailer Hokey Pokey to discover its most influential social media fans and then work with them to publicize the brand and increase the firm’s sales. In this interview with MIT SMR contributing editor Robert Berkman, Kumar explains in detail exactly how those key influencers were defined and located using a proprietary customer influence effect (CIE) that measures how far messages are spread, as well as a “stickiness” index that determines if those postings and tweeting are being done for the desired product service/category. He also outlines how firms can engage these key people to assist in promoting actual brand growth and sales, what sorts of incentives to offer and not offer these brand enthusiasts, and shred the other methods that were used to successfully find a leverage a firm’s most influential consumers.