Influence is traditionally defined as the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something. Do you have influence? A good friend of mine (I met during my tenure in Texas) Donovan Plummer, recently introduced me to a new concept of influence that promises to engage and connect the “who’s who” of the urban social scene across the globe!
Established and founded by Blair Jones, urbanWOM SOCIAL is a social community of young (ages 18-40) urban influencers. The UrbanWOM community connects brands with urban influencers. “Influencers” provide consumer insights on products and brands, attend or co-host branded nightlife events, and most importantly spread relevant information on campaigns and events online and offline by word of mouth. Urban Insights, Consumer Engagement Events, and WOM (word-of-mouth) Power are the three main components of urbanWOM.
urbanWOM was created by Blair after she realized there was a gap in urban marketing. With this insight, Blair set forth to establish a marketing brainchild that would connect young influencers across the globe. Blair has a impressive background in consumer engagement, urban marketing, and night life marketing.
Along with the experience and vision for urbanWOm, Blair also has the education to back her. With a master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Virginia, there is not much that can serve as barriers to her carrying out her vision.
Here at Fligher Education, we had the pleasure to speak with Donovan as well as the founder of urbanWOM Blair Jones about the new network of urban influencers!
Fligher Education (FE) In your own words tell us about urbanWOM?
Blair Jones (Blair): urbanWOM is a socio-cultural phenomenon, it’s when urban consumers adapt brands and products into their lifestyle without a marketing push. The best example of this organic word-of-mouth can be seen in hip-hop. For over 20 years, marketers ignored an entire segment of consumers who over-indexed on their products. Luxury marketers like LVMH group, (portfolio includes Louis Vuitton, Moet, Hennessy) just recently (in the 2000′s) started marketing to this segment. Biggie was never paid any royalties for showing Moet bottles in his video or rapping about the brand. The brand became iconically a part of hip-hop culture and LVMH group had nothing to do with this. Essentially that’s urban word-of-mouth.
Donovan Plummer (Donovan): Urbanwom is word-of-mouth marketing, online. Word of mouth is the most influential way that consumers are influenced and connected to brands, ranging from household items such as toothpaste, to luxury products such as jewelry and cars. We are looking to build a community of influencers where people have conversations and interactions with not only other influencers, but the brands themselves as if they were in a face to face dialogue!
(FE) How did the concept and vision of urbanWOM come about?
Blair: Six years ago, I started assisting my promoter friends in obtaining marketing sponsorship for national urban events like Howard Homecoming, CBC Weekend, and All-Star Weekend. Huge companies were paying over 100k to be apart of parties that celebrities were hosting. I always felt like the companies were more interested in the quality not the quantity of attendees. For instance, 10 influencers are more powerful than a room full of people. That insight kept with me over the years and the concept just evolved with social media and word-of-mouth marketing. Last year, I had my first “aha moment” to solely focus on urban influencers who are active on social networks and on the nightlife scene. Now, we have urbanWOM Social.
(Donovan): I am the VP of sales and marketing. I will be the liason between brands and our influencers, cultivating relationships and also gathering support for our product from influencers nation-wide as well as brands looking to UrbanWom Social as another agency to promote their product.
(FE) In our society, social networking is a major aspect of people’s daily lives. Facebook and Twitter appear to hold the social networking throne with no clear competition in sight. How does urbanWOM Social expect to compete with these and many other popular social networks?
Blair: urbanWOM Social is not a social network, it’s an online proprietary community of urban influencers who participate in conversations about products, brands, and trends. Our premise is to connect marketers to influencers and to create engaging dialogues. We leverage and utilize Facebook, Twitter and now Google+ on our community.
(Donovan): We don’t expect to compete with these established social networks at all. In fact, we have every intention of using these social networks to help us track and record our impressions and dialogues once we begin our marketing campaigns. Our goal is not to detract from these networks or encourage users away from them, that would be foolish. We want a mixed, urban crowd of influencers who are the movers and shakers in every major social scene ranging from music, sports, fashion, and whatever else encapsulates the urban crowd. Any and everybody is on Facebook and Twitter. Anybody who is somebody will be on UrbanWom social.
Blair: I see urbanWOM SOCIAL growing into a hub where marketers and influencers can connect with one another. Marketers will have the opportunity to gain unfiltered insights on their products and will be able utilize the network to market to influencers.
(Donovan): UrbanWom is going to be the pioneer in word of mouth marketing over the coming years. The concept and business model are both innovative and ingenious! As our influencers grow and brands see more of how they will be able to utilize us to directly reach their target market, we will be THE most utilized marketing agency in this arena. Our website for influencers will continue to grow and adapt to this ever progressing viral environment, and our brand image will be a household name among urban influencers across the nation.
(FE) Why should people care about urbanWOM Social? Any final Thoughts?
Blair: They get to be rewarded for being themselves. They have the opportunity to receive samples and products in exchange for their opinion. They will receive exclusive invitations to branded parties and have an opportunity to co-host parties. What’s not to love about that…:)
(Donovan): urbanWom Social is unique in that this is the only online community where those involved can be rewarded in some form, all by just being plugged in. We will use OUR network, meaning our influencers, those actually signed up and active on our sight, to run marketing campaigns with us. Let’s face it: The people in our community already live active, social lifestyles and are involved in word of mouth marketing everyday whether it’s telling a friend about a new shoe, or an album that just dropped, or giving a co-worker a recommendation for a restaurant or a good wine. So what we do is get all these people in one place to have these same conversations which could eventually get them rewarded! So the trickle down of resources will allow us to reward our members for their involvement in the conversations and campaigns as well as deliver proven and documented results to brands who use our community for growth.