This blog entry is part of a series:

  1. WEF Davos 2019: Top 100 CEO bloggers (you are here)
  2. WEF Davos 2019: Die besten Chef Blogs (in German / auf Deutsch)
  3. WEF Davos: Cybersecurity and Blockchain
  4. WEF Davos: MCLago und Marketing (in German / auf Deutsch)

Summary: We published a #DrKPI WEF Davos blogger ranking for 20152016, and 2017.
This year we attended #WEF19 in Davos in person – a good reason to post another #DrKPI #BlogRank of the top 100 CEO blogs.
This post presents the 2019 rankings.

Being fashionable is transient, but public facing corporate blogs are here to stay. To illustrate,

53% of Fortune 500 and 55% of Inc 500 firms in the US have public facing blogs. Source: Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

53% of Fortune 500 and 55% of Inc 500 firms in the US have public facing blogs. Source: Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

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Every year the road to Davos is littered with companies that once appeared all-powerful, but later stumbled. For instance, former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was an avid blogger until recently, and she is no longer attending WEF Davos. New people are showing up and telling us that going public and sharing experiences is each company’s, and its managers’, responsibility.

By the way, as in past years, climate change was an issue at this year’s WEF – naturally. Although we did not attend any of those sessions, we did our part by having the team use public transit, including taking the train to and from Davos. In Davos itself, we took the WEF shuttle or walked from one venue to the next.

World Economic Forum: Authentic CEOs aplenty

This year part of our team scored an invite and had a chance to visit the World Economic Forum. We had a great time and met some famous CEOs, including Jamie Dimon and Satya Nadella. So, we thought we would share some of our thoughts right here, and publish an updated #DrKPI #BlogRank for #WEFdavos in 2019.

iVault at Davos 2019: Jamie Dimon and Vault Security Systems AG

iVault at Davos 2019: Jamie Dimon and Vault Security Systems AG

Is blogging easy? Depends on who you ask. Most people think it’s easy – you just write a little, and that’s all there is to it. Personally, I think it requires a lot of time, attention, and creativity. And like anything creative, it has its moments of difficulty. But if we look at those attending Davos, one wonders.

The Harvard Business Review rankings of the top CEOs suggest that one key skill of these high performers is their ability to get their message across very effectively. But what about blogging? If a growing number of Fortune 500 companies have public facing blogs, their CEOs must know the drill. Right?

Well actually, we get a mixed picture, and once again, it depends on who you ask. CEOs may talk the talk, but many – like Stephanie Buscemi (log in with your email first, then click on this again to get the numbers) – fail to walk the walk.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, Salesforce chief marketing officer Stephanie Buscemi said companies need to have a "point of view".

Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, Salesforce chief marketing officer Stephanie Buscemi said companies need to have a “point of view”.


While Salesforce may have a “point of view”, I certainly can’t figure out from her blog what Stephanie Buscemi stands for. Trumpeting her company’s products using marketing mumbo-jumbo isn’t exactly on topic, is it…
Does it present added value? I’m going to go with a big, fat, NO.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Apple CEO Tim Cook were pictured at dinner in Davos with Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro.

Whenever he has the opportunity, Satya Nadella talks about our need for a global GDPR, and privacy being a human right. He did so in interviews and also during his WEF speech this year – but he fails to outline his position on his Microsoft blog. Another missed opportunity.

This is a blog that cries out for care, attention, and authenticity. Of the latter, Nadella has a whole truckload, so why doesn’t anyone at Microsoft help him translate it onto his blog for readers’ – or customers’ – benefit?

Satya Nadella asserted that there needs to be a GDPR for the world.

Satya Nadella asserted that there needs to be a GDPR for the world.


Microsoft CEO wants a GDPR for the world. Maybe he should follow Stephanie Buscemi’s advice, and get a “point of view”.

Nadella surely has one. He also stands behind it. But a blog telling us a bit more about what he feels and how his company tackles this challenge would be helpful. What his PR staff is managing to spread is totally unauthentic statements… Another lost opportunity to hear from a CEO directly about such an important topic.

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Two years back we suggested:

    1. Staying on topic,
    2. Posting regularly,
    3. Answering reader comments, and
    4. Benchmarking your blog (seeing what works best for you).

This year we could maybe add

  • Being authentic,
  • Avoiding navel gazing or inward-looking entries… provide your audience with added value.

Incidentally, added value is unlikely to mean talking about your company’s product. Unfortuntely, Salesforce chief marketer Stephanie Buscemi does just that – about every 6 months or so.

As a marketing guru, your main job is to know what clients want. As well, you need to make sure that know-how flows into product development. But posts touting your company’s product do not cut the mustard.


Ranking CEO (top management) bloggers for WEF Davos 2019

CLICK on IMAGE - DrKPI - Top 100 CEO bloggers.We publish our DrKPI BlogRank: Top 100 CEO Bloggers every year (find more on the website).

These numbers can be at your fingertips! Just bookmark this entry – Top blogs of Davos 2019 | World Economic Forum from DrKPI® BlogRank, and you are all set.

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Important blog missing – yours! Please sign up right now, and get your blog’s numbers mailed to your inbox.

  1. Log in with your email at,
  2. Click on any link below, and you’ll see the charts and figures.

Here are the links you need:

  1. Overall list – WEF Davos 2019 Top 100 CEO bloggers – Christine Lagarde – IMF
  2. Details – Content Strategy – WEF Davos 2019 Top 100 CEO bloggers – Arman Sarhaddar – Vault Security Systems
  3. Details – Brand Image and Impact – WEF Davos 2019 Top 100 CEO Bloggers – Erna Solberg – Prime Minister of Norway
  4. Details – Conversation and Social Sharing – WEF Davos 2019 Top 100 CEO Bloggers – Ron Tolido – Capgemini

Check out the table below!

Erna Solbgerg does not link to other material on the web, her blog is about her opinions. Christine Lagarde has co-authors whom she publishes with, saves her time while ensuring high-quality content. Arman Sarhaddar has just started as a blogger, but does very well.

And another thing, why have a blog when you do not allow your readers to comment? Even if you do you will not get that many since it takes time and effort. Oh, and thought.

By the way, Mr. Edelman – successful blogger in previous years – no longer blogs and the website is a useability nightmare.


Here are some other things to consider.

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1. A Hashtag strategy is a must

The WEF has put out the #WEF19 hashtag, but most people cannot find it on its website. Many others are also being used, such as  #Davos2019. Whatever you do, use at least three hashtags to make your post easy to find.

Tweet about this post or share it on LinkedIn. Here’s an example of how this could work using hashtags:

#DrKPI’s annual #WEF #BlogRank with #metrics2watch:
for the Top 100 #CEO #Blogger at #WEFdavos #WEF19 #Davos2019

2. Blogging or sharing content in a high-walled garden is not smart. Really.

I appreciate all CEOs that share their thoughts and off the cuff remarks on, for instance, LinkedIn. But let us not forget, you are more likely to reach those that think like you do (fellow managers, CEOs, wannabes and so forth) in an echo chamber or a fenced yard like LinkedIn.

Is that really the target group of customers that you want to or must reach? Probably not. As if this is not reason enough, no search engine will index your entry on LinkedIn and within a day or two, people will be unable to find it on this platform.

So get your own blog and curate content that interests your target audience(s) by providing them added value.

3. Preventing the crawling of your site does not help

Some bloggers do a great job (e.g., Christine Lagarde). But please, make sure your robots.txt file is set up so search engines can crawl and index your blog. I’m looking at you, Christine.

Of course, George Colony: The Counterintuitive CEO may not care, since he is already famous. But for those of you who aren’t famous (yet), beware… Here is some help for non-geeks on how to set up your robots.txt file correctly.[/su_box]

Have your say –  join the conversation

Source: WEF Davos 2019: Top 100 CEO bloggers

What is your opinion?

– Who is your favorite top management, c-suite or CEO blogger?
– What would you recommend a CEO blogger such as Jean-Pascal Tricoire (CEO of Schneider Electric) do to get more reader comments (8,000 reads BUT 0 reader comments)?
– Since it takes Elon Musk six days to go from having an idea to its execution, what would you recommend he do to revive his stale blog?

More about DrKPI BlogRank – the Hit Parade

Declaration of Conflicting Interests

The author declares that he had no conflict of interest with respect to the content, authorship or publication of this blog entry.

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We did not just gather the over 100 CEO / c-suite blogs we liked best. Instead, our DrKPI® BlogRank picked those that feature the most informative, knowledgeable and experience-driven insights, using objective indicators.

We also analyse writing style and visual effects, as well as how much reader engagement, dialogue and ripple is generated by marketing content published on the blog.

100 is the highest possible grade for each indicator. The average within the group of blogs being ranked or all blogs (see table below) is 50.

Top 100 CEO blogs

Learn more about the table from the above blog entry below.

  1. Log in with your email at,
  2. Click this link and you’ll see the charts and figures below.

Register your own blog right here!

WEF Davos 2019 - the top CEO bloggers - the best of the corporate blogcrowd from DrKPI BlogRank.

WEF Davos 2019 – the top CEO bloggers – thebest of the corporate blogcrowd from DrKPI BlogRank.

See some Kodak moments from WEF 2019 below

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… or our impressions video for iVAULT, the brand by Vault Security Systems AG here:

Danyele Boland Co-founder of Vault Security Systems AG

In December, we gave you insights into the #iVAULT blockchain, the new brand by Vault Security Systems AG, and the DrKPI production of the first three videos for iVAULT.

Now, we are happy to provide you with an update, available on YouTube, which is an additional clip to introduce you to Danyele Boland. She is the co-founder of Vault Security Systems AG (VSSAG) and as passionate about her business as the rest of the team.

If you need to know more about iVault or the minds behind this idea, read more here:

To stay tuned and get the latest updates on Vault, sign up for our newsletter here. Or subscribe to the iVAULT Newsletter here.

Danyele Boland: “Why I am involved”

iVAULT is a global network for users to register assets, such as lost or stolen property, to search for and identify them on a blockchain. These items can be anything of value to the individual user of the iVAULT blockchain. Companies and businesses, on the other hand, can protect their supply chain against counterfeits and contraband.

Working with Danyele was a special treat. She is a charismatic and intelligent speaker, and it did not take us long to get some great shots, even though she had just arrived from the US.

With years of experience in international sales, human resource management, logistics, and much more, she is an irreplaceable part of the VSSAG team.

In her video, Danyele recalls when Arman Sarhaddar told her about his storage unit getting robbed. He lost some of his most valued belongings. This is how they got the idea to create a platform to secure physical assets such as luxury watches, pieces of art or jewellery, or anything else that is of some value to its owner.

Gain more insights on her perspective and what she tells us about blockchain technology here:

What’s your opinion?

iVAULT is the first global network to use blockchain technology for registering and identifying assets (such as lost items or stolen goods). It lets users register their items on the blockchain, search for, and identify them.

So, what do you think?

  • Have you ever used a blockchain?
  • Do you want to try iVAULT, or do you still have some concerns?
  • Have you ever had a problem iVAULT would have immediately solved? You lost something of great value or bought a fake product? It must have been very upsetting. Tell us about it, we’d like to hear your story.

Join in the discussion and leave a comment. We will respond soon.

The author declares that some of the companies mentioned herein are clients of CyTRAP Labs or subscribers of DrKPI® services.
Nadja Schnetzler from the digital newspaper Republic (crowdfunded start-up), and former CEO of Airtel Ghana Lucy Quest discussing matters during lunch break.

Recently, I attended the Campaigning Summit Switzerland 2018 (CSCH), which gave me a chance to reacquaint myself with familiar, and not-so-familiar people.

This post is the first one of three posts about this topic:

  1. Influencer marketing: Better do it right #CSCH18
  2. Influencer marketing: Smart metrics are key (by April 2 ! sign-up for Newsletter, get it first)
  3. Influencer marketing: A flash in the pan
P.S. – Download the slides (PDF file – 12.6 MB) – mostly in German – and click on the links to the resources I used for some REALLY interesting research articles.

Of course, we also exchanged our latest ideas, facts, and data about the best in social media marketing. Strategy and latest metrics for engagement, campaign success and influencers were topics as well. In influencer marketing, earned media and word of mouth also play an important role.

Naturally, the ROI (return on investment) matters when I launch, conduct and finish an influencer campaign. And yes we shared our experiences and the Campaigning Summit Switzerland using our hashtag #CSCH18.

In short, great people, great program, and here is my report.

I moderated a small session entitled, Campaigning und Influencer Marketing: Alter Wein in neuen Schläuchen? (Campaigning and influencer marketing: Old wine in new bottles?)

The most interesting small session I joined was the one by Sophie Chiquet: IQ+EQ+LQ=CQ for Corporate Quotient – Intelligence is sexy! Let’s wear fashion. At first, I was confused – I got there late. But Sophie helped us along, and participants did their share. Sustainability, transparency, reflecting personality, customisation, personalisation, link to function and to action, etc.

VAUDE, the leader in ecological outdoor clothing has learned that some are willing to pay for sustainability when they shop. In turn, their willingness makes it feasible to strive for reducing waste and water usage in the production process and supply chain.

But then there are still those that continue to go for the latest Zara or H&M outfit for the best price possible. These are unlikely to consider sustainability much when shopping.

I am convinced that using fewer materials, water, and avoiding chemicals is a good thing. As is having one classic suit for ten years instead of buying one trendy suit every year for the next ten. But not all of us will do as we say, and shop accordingly or drastically reduce our CO2 footprint. Because this would, for instance, mean not taking the plane or car to go on vacation.

What do you think, am I right or wrong?

Below the focus is on Instagram metrics and influencer campaigns – interesting if we consider where fashion might be going.

Send your colleagues the URL below that will get them directly to the section you think they are most interested to read:

  1. Influencer marketing done right is not marketing – wait, what?
  2. How should we measure influencer marketing?
  3. Your opinion counts

1. Influencer marketing done right is not marketing – wait, what?

The way we use influencer marketing disqualifies it from being called marketing.

Marketing focuses on the needs of the clients. Theodore Leavitt put it as follows:

Selling is preoccupied with the seller’s need to convert his product into cash; marketing with the idea of satisfying the needs of the customer by means of the product and the cluster of things associated with creating, delivering, and finally consuming it.” – Theodore Levitt (see

Thus, marketing requires learning what the customer’s needs are and how the company’s current products satisfy them.

In turn, brand strength plays an important role in marketing and has the following three parts, similar to a chest of drawers:

  1. Awareness of the brand, meaning our target audience knows about our brand – or not.
  2. Association and beliefs about the brand (e.g., associating the brand with sustainability).
  3. Attitude towards the brand (i.e. positive, negative or no opinion).

An influential blogger can raise awareness of a label with one’s target audience.

If it works, beliefs about a brand might be shifted or one’s attitude toward the brand may change for the better. To illustrate, they are trying hard to improve sustainability within their supply chain.

Brand beliefs, brand awareness, and brand attitudes make up a brand's strength.

Brand beliefs, brand awareness, and brand attitudes make up a brand’s strength.

2. So what is influencer marketing then?

As the above shows we need to define these things clearly. We want to work with influencers to accomplish our influencer objectives sooner, but what exactly is “influencer marketing”?

Some define it as a grey area between an official testimonial and a subtle product promotion – the latter is done almost in passing.

Others feel that it is a non-promotional approach whereby brands focus their efforts on opinion leaders. This is done instead of reaching out to consumers or industrial buyers directly.

So influencer marketing may be useful for raising brand awareness. However, it is unlikely to be more than a flash in the pan when it comes to increasing sales.

If the objective is to increase sales, then it’s a case of influencer promotions, not influencer marketing.

It makes more sense to use influencers to get closer to the client and find out what he or she needs, and likes about our product or a competitor.

In turn, this intelligence can be used smartly by marketers to deliver a better product. It’s that simple.

Brand-Influencer Fit: There are three types of influencers, we need to choose which category suits the brand best.

Brand-Influencer Fit: There are three types of influencers, we need to choose which category suits the brand best.

2. How should we measure influencer marketing?

I recently read a great opinion piece by Sven Hildebrandt in Horizont (2018-01-25, Issue4, p. Praxis 23), who wrote

Die zugrundeliegende Begriffsdefinition determiniert das Messinstrumentarium. (How we define a term determines what measuring options we can choose from.)

But this is not necessarily accurate. In fact, it seems that the crux of the matter lies elsewhere, namely:

Once we define a term such as influencer marketing, the most critical work begins. How do we operationalise the concept, so we can actually measure it?
Influence is a complex multifaceted concept that we cannot measure with one metric. Thus, we may need several metrics to get a fair approximation of what influence entails.

Only by doing this work properly can we empower ourselves to work with the best or most appropriate metrics to gain insights.

For example, an industry blogger may only have a readership of 5,000, but they are an interested audience that trust her. Or, she may have 5,000 people that read her blog who all have a large budget to spend on her topic (e.g., those for managing risks according to GDPR – are you ready for May 2018).

It is paramount that you select someone who not only has a large audience, but whose audience is comprised of your ideal market.

B2B Influencer Marketing: Sales is not an objective at all

If you are in the B2B (business to business) market, the intention is not to generate sales, but to raise brand awareness. This way, you position your brand to become part of the key decision-makers’ choice set – the set they will choose from when making a purchasing decision.

Here are a few key context elements that your influencer ranking system should be taking into account, and why:

  • Age: Michelle Phan may be an important fashion influencer, but will she be useful to reach out to the 50+ or “bestager” group of professional women?
  • Culture and Language: Where are your influencer’s readers located?. They may be in your local market and far away. In case of a restaurant located in a popular tourist region, getting readers from far away may be useful, since those may frequent the restaurant during their vacation nearby.
  • Time: Is the influencer currently active and playing a key role in the ongoing discussion on the topic? If she has not posted for 12 weeks (I have not posted for about eight weeks here :-) ), should we choose somebody else?
P.S. – Download the slides (PDF file – 12.6 MB) – mostly in German – and click on the links to the resources I used for some REALLY interesting research articles.

Stay tuned our next post on this topic by signing up for our Newsletter.

Last speaker, late Friday afternoon: Lucy Quest explains, campaigning means you are taking people on a journey. Remember, successful campaigns are run on the ground.

Last speaker, late Friday afternoon: Lucy Quest explains, campaigning means you are taking people on a journey. Remember, successful campaigns are run on the ground.

3. What is your opinion?

We have pointed out three trends here:

a) Influencer marketing is often done in a way that feels like sales or promotions. But successful influencer marketing focuses on getting a handle on customer needs and ideas to serve them better.
b) Measuring influencer marketing is not easy; in particular we need to define the term, and then find metrics that measure what we want and provide insights (actionable metrics).
c) Finding the right influencer that fits your brand is tough work. Do not let an agency intern do the job for you, stay involved.

But what do you think?

  • What was the last influencer project that you thought was really well done?
  • What measures do you use or recommend for assessing influencer campaigns?
  • What is a successful brand campaign that uses influencers or the CEO to reach out to customers and those that could be swayed?
  • What do you like most about campaigning or Instagram?

The author declares that some of the companies mentioned herein are clients of CyTRAP Labs or subscribers of DrKPI® services.

Interesting reads

By the way, it is not just about a hashtag – #DrKPI #ComMetrics – or spreading the message via social media. It is about getting people involved in the campaign: transform the mindset and achieve more.

Spheres of influence… is where it happens, even for influencers… get the people around you to join you on the journey.

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Jana Akyildiz and Urs E. Gattiker - Worblingen and Zurich - designing our new product - Brand Buzz Analytics

Summary: Communication by email, Skype or Google Talk is nothing new these days.
But a purposeful, structured face to face meeting in pleasant surroundings achieved the push we needed today.
A couple of thoughts about where communication strategy is going… and ideas for you, Reader.

I first heard the term ‘virtual organisation’ in the late nineties. We were working on a project with colleagues in Canada, Denmark, and Estonia. A tool like Skype was just the thing then, since it made communication easier.

These days, that’s all old hat. A lot has changed since then. Most organisations use different communication tools. Sometimes picking up the phone is still the easiest, saving us many emails and reducing the risk of misunderstandings.

Nevertheless, a face to face meeting is often most helpful – this time it only took me a short trip on public transport to Germany.

We wanted to meet and talk about the books and our project planning. Also up for discussion was how to improve our processes and working efficiency, etc.

Today’s work was crossborder – Zürich / Rielasingen-Worblingen. That is to say, I was at our branch in Rielasingen-Worblingen.

1. Brand Buzz Analytics

Our new product has been giving a good showing, but it still needs a good Web debut. In addition to the analytical possibilities, there are also creative ones that can be put to good use. Our preliminary comparisons and reports show that our data collection can be done even more efficiently.

Big Data is such a thing. Often, we have much more data than we actually need, but other times, one may be unaware of this fact.

In our case, we have the right data (the contents of thousands of websites), which we could put to even better use to show the manifestation of market forces.

2. Influencer Analytics


Here, our challenge is making the website even more user-friendly. Of course, we have to be sure to do that without sacrificing the visual aspect.

As usual, our colleagues at our Finnish branch take care of the technical implementation, but they were unable to attend today’s meeting. Still, they are hard at work and have assured us that the office’s fourth desk is close to completion in the garden.

Im finnischen Büro in Syöte ist der Werner am Zimmern.

Werner is hard at work – carpentry, that is – at our Finnish branch in Syöte.

Still, we decided to improve our influencer analytics and data processing. When it comes to usability there’s still quite a bit of room for improvement.

3. Content Marketing: DrKPI Hotel – Lite and Pro Versions

In tourism, New options are now possible for smaller hotels thanks to digital channels. But they must also be used, especially since, according to the latest national statistics, hotel stays are on the decline in Switzerland and Germany.

We are preparing DrKPI Hotel, both Lite and Pro versions, for independent-owned accommodations and vacation rentals.

But first, we need to clarify a couple of things, such as:

  • How can we include a booking system, such as WooCommerce, more efficiently in our solution?
  • How do we enable the end-user to choose between several price points (e.g. a room or a suite, high season or low, etc.)?

Not so easy, because e-commerce systems do not offer options specifically meant for independently-owned operations, nor for vacation rentals in general.

The usability leaves much to be desired, but this is where we must focus our attention, because the vacancy rate in Switzerland averages about 60%, which makes it impossible for many businesses to continue operating.

Digital marketing can certainly lend a hand there; our solutions are already in the testing stage and will soon be implemented by clients. Until then, we have a list of things to improve.

4. WordPress optimisation

Every WordPress user is familiar with this issue – the oppression of choice! There are numerous WordPress templates, and often no single one is exactly what we want, so customisation is key. The challenge is finding the time and the money.

No one wants to waste time, which would also incur unnecessary costs, cutting into the bottom line and certainly disappointing a client. This is where finding a compromise would be ideal for everyone involved. Our job is to narrow it down by figuring out which of the templates appeal to the client.

More importantly, though not easy to explain, is what will best serve one’s target audience. Which template, with appropriate customisations, is the best solution for the client’s target group? Can the end-user find the information they need quickly and easily?

This often requires persuasion, by showing the client how one template is better suited than the other, and achieves the larger objective. Direct contact with the target audience is often very helpful here, as it allows us to experience what works well, is easy to operate, gets used, and what doesn’t work, through the target group’s interaction with, and navigation of a website.

This a challenge that must be met, which is why we are currently optimising our procedures.

Susanne Mueller Zantop, Founder and Chairwoman, CEO Positions AG: Gattiker is a blog specialist, who comes across as a slightly dotty professor, but knows his subject matter intimately. He has even managed to make the Caritas blog an exciting, popular online destination – and it’s not as if their subject matter is particularly cheerful.


Email is a great communications tool, but it often requires a lot of back and forth to ensure everyone is on the same page. Skype or FaceTime can help with that, and so can the good old telephone.

When it comes to complexities, however, a face to face meeting still can’t be beat. The day of our meeting was highly productive, and we’re certain that it will provide our clients several new benefits. We also found that being prepared, directing our focus, and meeting in pleasant surroundings made our day even more productive.

Everyone knows exactly what needs to be done and we all have our assignments, which should be completed as quickly as possible, though no later than September 5.

Of course, what we’re particularly keen to learn about is your opinion:

  • How do you solve the usability/user-friendlisness challende for your product, such as a small appliance, machine, train, chair, etc.?
  • What do you consider to be the biggest challenge(s) when it comes to usefulness and usability for websites, e-commerce portals, etc.?
  • How do you increase the effectiveness of team meetings in your organisation?
WORD OF MOUTH MARKETING helps influence the public and hopefully strengthens the brand .... ideally resulting in a sale. WORD OF MOUTH MARKETING helps influence the public and hopefully strengthens the brand .... ideally resulting in a sale.WORD OF MOUTH MARKETING helps influence the public and hopefully strengthens the brand .... ideally resulting in a sale.| Fotolia #109130295

Summary: We all know the secret of real style is having the personality to match.
The key lessons from Donald Trump about style and influence are not what you think they are.

This is a series of posts that began with, Influence marketing experts’ top secrets. Today we focus on the ingredients that help one become an influencer.

Recently I had a talk with two friends in brand marketing and one in the hotel business. Here are some of the topics we covered.

1. Storytelling: Just ask Pension Guggenberger

If you are a Gaestehaus Guggenberger, you do not have a multi-million dollar budget like the Mandarin Oriental group to tell your story. Hence, a global advertising campaign “He’s a Fan / She’s a Fan” with award-winning French actress, Isabelle Huppert or Morgan Freeman is out of the question.

Nevertheless, you can focus on what some call “signature stories”. This is an intriguing, authentic, involving narrative with a strategic message. Stories have been shown to be superior to facts in getting attention, being remembered and getting people to change opinions.

The story should represent some form of strategic statement (see Karen Dietz) about the firm’s mission, values, brand or customer relationship. In turn, it can help achieve corporate strategy.

As a family business for more than 30 years, we need to find a story that helps people relate to the hotel, including “heroes” who have done great things for guests (i.e. family members and employees).

Bottom line: If famous people are part of your marketing campaign, some celebs will do your brand and sales efforts some good, and others will not.

If we lack the cash, we can touch customers and clarify our business values by creating a powerful narrative – storytelling at its best.

Donald always has a story to tell – on and off stage. We may not like it, but it is interesting if not outrageous, and it engages. Hillary doesn’t manage this very well, but Sanders is giving it his best shot.

Read: Aaker, David & Aaker, Jenifer (2016). California Management Review, Vol. 58 No. 3, Spring 2016; (pp. 49-65) DOI: 10.1525/cmr.2016.58.3.49 (short synposis Stanford U.).

2. Superstar economics works – ask JK Rowling

As the author of the Harry Potter novels you have shown yourself capable of telling a great story.

But besides the story, if you are famous like JK Rowling, that helps you sell books. She used the nom de plume Robert Galbraith for The Cuckoo’s Calling, supposedly his first novel.

Shortly after it was published in April 2013 it got a few reviews, but nothing spectacular. Over seven months and with plenty of marketing, it sold only about 450 hardback copies in the UK under Galbraith’s name. But somehow through word-of-mouth or gossip it was revealed that JK Rowling was the author of The Cuckoo’s Calling, at which point it surged to bestseller status on Amazon within a week.

Meanwhile, my book sold just under 1,000 copies in the first seven months even though the publisher had a hiccough. Such a number is great for a non-fiction, technical book. Nevertheless, without much marketing behind it, this illustrates that selling a lot of books is a tough job.

In this example superstar economics or brand recognition means your name is sufficient to cut through the increasing clutter of rivals and newcomers.

Bottom line: Name recognition makes things easier. For JK Rowling it means selling more books, for Hilary Clinton it won her a New York senate seat, and for Donald Trump it means… (see below).

3. Understanding influence: Ask style bloggers

You may not have the winning combination of a thought-provoking, interesting and possibly entertaining story to tell. Nor may the superstar economics or brand recognition of your name be good enough to get through the clutter of rivals and newcomers.

Authenticity is one more way to reach out. But for this Instagram fashion bloggers need to wear clothes that actually suit them. Furthermore, their style needs to express something of their personality, instead of the homogenous fairy dolls that typically populate the red carpet.

Some like Michèle seem to suggest that, “Real style is having the personality to match. I know it when I see it.”

As we discussed in the last blog entry, being female and young seems to help. Apparently, fashion labels believe that a 20-year-old blogger can sell a 50-year-old professional the brand’s latest creations.

Just because somebody has many followers or fans does not mean they can convince people to run out and buy their latest skirt from brand X. This even applies if you are making a living from brands, but actually are lost in a mess of peroxide and passionless fashionability.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3112″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”780px” height=”401px” Title=”Michèle knows what influence is, but cannot give us the numbers.” alt=”Michèle knows what influence is, but cannot give us the numbers.”]

See the above in action when you read, Hello, I’m Michèle, I’m a foolish, dumb, little blogger (so worth it – thoughful and sassy).

Bottom line: Influencer marketing is a great field where few can show anyone the numbers. It is not good enough to claim, “I know it when I see it.” Otherwise, why do brands fail to sponsor bloggers over 30? Do these people not need clothes, accessories or cosmetics?

4. Eyeballs matter: Just ask Donald Trump

So your story is authentic, with substance and intriguing. You are famous and your voice is being heard through the noise. But do you have the personality and style, if not substance to go with it?

This is what the US Presidential primaries illustrate. All candidates have or had a story to tell, but some are clearly better at being more authentic and engaging than others. One thing is clear, Trump was already considered the most visible of contenders in 2011 for November 2016’s possible GOP (Grand Old Party = Republican Party) presidential candidates in the US election.

Donald Trump has gotten more nightly network news coverage than the entire Democratic field combined (see report). Mrs Clinton has struggled to get the air time that Mr Trump has, a skill that helped him beat 16 rivals.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3567″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”780px” height=”731px” Title=”Social media metrics and US primary-election candidates: Trump tweets from his smartphone – not like others first checked by press officers.” alt=”Social media metrics and US primary-election candidates: Trump tweets from his smartphone – not like others first checked by press officers.”]
Above is from The Economist 2016-02-29: American presidential candidates and social media

Most of Donald Trump’s speeches or events tend to be carried live by US television networks. To illustrate, in week 21, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC chose to broadcast Mr Trump’s event in North Dakota, instead of an event by Mrs Clinton held in Las Vegas. This even though Mr Trump has essentially wrapped up the Republican nomination while the Democratic primary election battle rages on.

Mr Trump plays the media well and the media allows itself to be played with. It will be a tough fight for Mrs Clinton.

Interesting read: Does your marketing influence B2B decision-makers? Word-of-mouth is a winner – marketing, not so much. EMarketer. Retrieved, January 15, 2016 from

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3555″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”779px” height=”337px” Title=”Defining influence: There may be no “one size fits all”, but if we cannot agree on a definition, how are we supposed to measure it?” alt=”Defining influence: There may be no “one size fits all”, but if we cannot agree on a definition, how are we supposed to measure it?”]

Bottom line: If you get a lot of TV airtime and are often written about in online and traditional media, it helps – as Donald Trump knows. It makes you even more famous (see point 1 and #helpilayda crowdfunding campaign).

5. Influence is tough to measure, but Donald Trump appears to have some

As our discussion in the Xing Social Monitoring Group between Jan SedlacekAldo Gnocchi and myself illustrates, influence is a difficult concept to grasp and measure.

When you come across a statistic that suggests nearly two out of five managers are influenced by their peers and colleagues, you start to think.

How much do they listen to their colleagues?
Does it stop them from firing somebody?
Will it get them to stay at my hotel the next time they are in Munich?
Will they change their vote from Trump to Clinton?

Word-of-mouth influences somebody to consider a new product or another brand, hotel, etc, but thinking about or even considering buying a brand is one thing. Going out and buying the product is a big step further than that, and reading an influencer’s tweet or blog entry will not do the trick alone.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3553″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”780px” height=”335px” Title=”Measuring Klout almost makes sense, but not quite… Jaron Lanier” alt=”Measuring Klout almost makes sense, but not quite… Jaron Lanier”]

The above is from our Social Media Monitoring group on Xing – Jan Sedlacek posted an entry.

Influence is difficult to grasp and even more challenging to measure. For instance, for an outsider it is hard to understand that a tennis player such as Maria Sharapova, who does not rank in the top ten, garners the most lucrative sponsorship deals. Nike was served disappointing news in March 2016 when Sharapova was found to have failed a drugs test. In turn, the company dropped its sponsorship of the tennis star.

And while Roger Federer is no longer at the top of the rankings, his sponsorship deals outshine those of Novak Djokovic, the current number one.

Accordingly, we do not know if Roger Federer or Morgan Freeman bring more guests to the hotel that features them in advertising. They might put our brand in a better light. We hope so. Unfortunately, we cannot be certain.

[su_box title=”Table 1: JK Rowling, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton share their secrets” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff” radius=”5″ width=”px 780″ ]Here are the four factors to consider

1. Superstar economics works, but most of us ain’t superstars

So if you have a reputation in sports or as an actor, great. If not, most of us have to do without a Susan Sarandon or Julia Roberts as an ambassador to increase our occupancy rate at our small family hotel.

Hence, many small steps make the difference in selling enough product or services. Following tips 2 -3 below also helps a great deal.

2. Eyeballs matter, but you must tell me a great story

This year’s US primaries have demonstrated that getting free TV, print or digital media coverage helps a lot.

But are you outrageous, entertaining AND enough of a big mouth to get everybody’s attention? Do you mind getting the facts wrong? Donald Trump doesn’t care much about facts or people’s feelings (a somewhat scary combination if he becomes US president, I think).

Nevertheless, most of us might not want to be that rude. Nor do we come close to his skill at playing the media. Therefore, do not waste time trying.

Instead, be ready to tell an interesting story when given the chance. Hence, we need an:

inspiring and clarifying story that helps people relate to our label, brand or firm to get customers and media interested.
I still have to write mine – starting now. How about your story?

3. Setting goals helps, but focus on the top three tasks

How much money do you want to raise for a very sick child? In turn, what are the three most important things you need to do to raise these funds?

How high an occupancy rate do you wish to achieve for first and third quarter? What do you need to do today to raise your occupancy rate accordingly?

Your stories, content marketing, and social media use all have to help you make it happen.

Hence, a 0.25 percent click rate for Donald Trump on Twitter might be great (see image below). It could possibly bring him another few voters when every single one counts to win the US Presidency in November 2016.

But for you, going to a luncheon organised by the Chamber of Commerce might be more beneficial for landing a new B2B (business to business) client than wasting time on Facebook. Whatever you do, decide, because time and resources are limited.


Does the #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #Trump2016 campaign on social media like Twitter get people to change their vote come the election?

Does the #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #Trump2016 campaign on social media like Twitter get people to change their vote come the election?

Donald Trump’s 2016-05-22 tweet and its statistics.

The secret to real style is having the personality to match and doing things with some substance. Of course, our behaviour may influence our kids every day.

But just because I clear the breakfast table does not mean I influence my kids to help. In fact, unless I have a serious word with them tomorrow morning, they continue to leave a mess. The result is that I have to continue cleaning up after them every morning. NOT.

Some interesting reads

How useful is Google search data when predicting primary elections?
YouTube stars gain appeal

5. Have your say – join the conversation

Source: Real lessons Donald Trump can teach us

What is your opinion?

  • Do you know a small business person that is influential in your circles? How did it happen? Offline, online, or both?
  • Is social media just an instant signal or does it influence our decisions in what to purchase?
  • How do you decide which are next quarter’s top three activities to improve your bottom line?

The author declares that he had no conflict of interest with respect to the content, authorship or publication of this blog entry (i.e. I neither own any of these brands’ products nor are they our clients).

6. Just do it: Ask Renata Flores Rivera

Incidentally, you can be part of a minority, use a Michael Jackson song and sing it in your native tongue. That is what Renata Flores Rivera did (Quechua are a native minority in Peru). She was heard and became famous across her native country.

Nevertheless, most of us do not even manage to be heard and seen through the clutter in our industry or field of work. Just live with it.

And no, 15 minutes of fame (Nat Finkelstein and Andy Warhol saying) may not be in your cards – it’s that simple.

Social Media Influencers: Can we agree to disagree? | Urheber: pathdoc | Fotolia #97351679

Summary: Revlon chooses a social media influencer – nail ‘artist’ Chelsea King.
How did Revlon rank influencers in order to make their choice?
What ROI (return on investment) can Revlon expect?

Recently I read the following news:

In a shift from using traditional celebrities as brand ambassadors, Revlon has teamed up with social media influencer and nail artist Chelsea King to reach new consumers in an authentic way, says Tracy Rohrbaugh, vice president of global marketing for Revlon. King will create unique content for Revlon and promote the brand through her own accounts.

The above illustrates that Revlon did not have any precise measurement method to rank and select the most suitable social media influencer. This got me thinking… How do we develop metrics and apply these in order to choose the most suitable influence marketer for our brand?

Chlick and get to the 6-point checklist

Advertising 101: Neither Snapchat nor Instagram?

On average, Snapchat users watch 80 videos a day. I recently asked people which videos they remembered and the answer was:

  1. the funniest one this week, from a friend, or
  2. the last really gross video I got about three days ago… the rest I do not remember.

Of course, this is not a scientific study. But what content stands out that you remember, dear Instagram or Snapchat user?

Wait, it gets better! Now we also have the Pay Your Selfie app in the US. This is an app that pays people between 20 cents to 1 Dollar for their selfies made with certain products. These are then posted to the Internet, such as on Instagram, and help sell product – at least in theory.

And the most important thing for brands seems to be finding these influencers – not celebrities. Well, maybe they are celebrities in their own right through sharing their silly moments, touting product and so forth.

But do these influencers get us to purchase another coffee maker, lipstick, stiletto heels or pair of pants?

Here are some things we may want to keep in mind.

1.1 Broadcasting is not sales

People increasingly began using social media around 2005. By 2010 many used several Social Networks, such as Facebook or Twitter. Just about a decade ago it was clear that social media empowered the average user to:

1. create and share content (i.e. many share with many or a few people) easily, AND
2. foster dialogue and engagement – this was and continues to be important.

All this has meant that attention has shifted from simply trying to sell toward focusing on understanding the needs of the buyer.

Influencer marketers supposedly listen to their fans’ needs. In turn, they review and test products that interest their target audience  (e.g., lipstick, TV or software).

The idea is, of course, that this information will help sway viewers of a video and readers of a blog post to purchase the product. At least, the manufacturer or seller hopes their product will be considered when we are in the store or buying online.

What are influencers? (read blog entry)

There are certain factors that affect how many people you reach, such as the number of:

– fans on Facebook or Instagram, AND
– social shares of your content on social networks (i.e. whether it creates a ripple).

Nevertheless, what is the ultimate objective? Do we want influencers to help us with word-of-mouth marketing, do we hope for more sales, or what?

Is Chelsea King really authentic, social and an influencer? View the stats – survey says…!

Revlon's Chelsea King - DrKPI blog benchmark shows her influence seems very low.

Revlon’s Chelsea King – DrKPI blog benchmark shows her influence seems very low.

2. How did Revlon identify Chelsea King as an influencer?

It seems Revlon and its ad agency had a hard time measuring influence directly. Could we maybe measure influence by following generally accepted procedures?

Cover PR, an agency that negotiates deals for bloggers with large brands might help here. It attempts to ‘measure’ the concept of influencer as follows:

Influencers can be identified by choosing faces not just because of their reach but also based on quality, authenticity and professionalism (“… ausgewählte Gesichter, die nicht nur nach Reichweite, sondern auch nach Qualität, Authentizität und Professionalität ausgesucht wurden.

Easy, right? The result is you get mostly young women and a few guys (not pictured here). That is superb. NOT.

Some agencies are vague about how they define influence: Is it really just having reach, producing quality, being authentic and professional? | Copyright: CoverPR |

Some agencies are vague about how they define influence: Is it really just having reach, producing quality, being authentic and professional? | Copyright: CoverPR |

Hold on, not so fast. How were these women selected?

Martha Lane Fox (founder of is attributed as having said, instinct or gut feeling should be ditched in business. This applies for our task of finding influencers as well.

Just using a few buzzwords to describe these influencers such as aesthete (Schöngeist) or real free spirit will not do, will it?

Compliance for beginners

If a blogger is an influencer and works with brands, is the blogger compliant to local advertising and content regulations?

For instance, a sponsored post must be marked as such at the top of the entry. If it is not, but has a little footnote to that effect, this might not satisfy the regulator, as Buzzfeed learned and paid for in the UK.

Compliance mistakes, such as failing to label native advertising as required, occur frequently. Of course, as a brand marketer we would hope that the agency prevents its client from making such beginner faux pas.

2.1 Does the content make a difference to our bottom line?

Influence goes beyond getting eyeballs to view your blog content. Nonetheless, is being authentic or professional part of how we define and measure influence?

Yes, maybe – because it is likely to manifest itself as many reader comments. Thoughtful comments do give other readers added value. And of course, we mean better comments than a simple feel-good note, such as, “Great post, thanks for sharing.”

But this still leaves out engagement and dialogue. How do we know people care about what we do and are influenced?

To illustrate, it might be that with 427,000 Twitter followers, one of your tweets gets 18 likes, 5 retweets. Is this a satisfactory ROI? 

Put differently, will this tweet influence your followers to purchase the product in the near future?

Rachel Roy tweets for a donation drive - resonance poor.

Rachel Roy tweets for a donation drive – resonance poor.

Guy Avigdor, COO of Klear, a software company that sells services to calculate your influence, attempts to identify influencers. For instance, Guy identifies Tory Burch as a very influential fashion blogger on Twitter. Unfortunately, once again the person gets very low resonance for her tweets.

If the dialogue ratio is rarely more than 0.001 percent, who cares if you have a few thousand or even hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers or Facebook fans?

2.2 Do fans engage with your content?

Let us agree, if your stuff gets shared on various social networks such as Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest, you are probably influential.

But besides more traffic or views of your content, does it really influence people in what they intend to buy or will purchase tomorrow?

As illustrated above and repeated by many who are deemed to be influencers, the resonance from fans and followers is very small in the social media space.

3. Influence: How to move MORE product

So you are a blogger and have influence. Let us cover the basics first.

We want influence to help us strengthen our brand and, hopefully, result in more product being sold. This chest of drawers will help us clarify further.

Antique chest of drawers: 3 drawers explain concept of market strength | 1 Awareness OF | 2. Belief about AND |3. Attitudes toward brand.

Antique chest of drawers: 3 drawers explain concept of market strength | 1 Awareness OF | 2. Belief about AND |3. Attitudes toward brand.| Copyright: Fotasia |

Brand Strength could be described as a little chest of drawers (see above image).

According to David A. Aaker this chest then has three drawers with the following contents:

1. Awareness of the brand, meaning our target audience knows about our brand – or not.
2. Association and beliefs about the brand (e.g., associating the brand with sustainability).
3. Attitude towards the brand (i.e. positive, negative or no opinion).

An influential blogger can raise awareness of a label with the target audience. If it works, beliefs about a brand might be shifted or one’s attitude toward a brand changes for the better (e.g., they are trying hard to improve sustainability of their supply chain – see book from David A. Aaker).

Of course, we want to improve the reach of content that talks about the product with the help of the influencer. As well, we hope this will increase trust in our brand and product (see also guest blog post by Meike Leopold).

6 secrets we need to master for successful influencer marketing

[su_box title=”Top 6 secrets for measuring influence marketing: Questions you want answers for” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff”]

Unless you get satisfactory answers to the questions below, you may not really know how your influencer was identified.

Check this carefully or pay through the nose for little, if anything.

1. What criteria were used to identify influencers for your purpose?

If the answer makes sense, go to question 2. If not, skip the rest.

2. How was influence defined?

There is no shared definition of influence. Nevertheless, if your agency wants to get you to work with influencers, let them explain what they mean by the term. The result will be discussion about your desired final outcome, achieved with the help of the influencer’s work.

3. How was influence measured?

Once we define something (point 2 above), we need to come up with criteria to measure it.

If not, the list of influencers shown to you is basically random. Don’t expect to be happy with the results of collaborating with people on this list.

4. Are we being snowed by savvy impression management?

Explicit impression management is externally oriented self-presentation (Gattiker, 2004). Sometimes “influencers” just do a great job presenting themselves as influential at conferences, special events and so forth.

Of course, getting others to believe you know what you’re talking about is the first step on the way to being labelled an expert.

Nonetheless, does that give someone the necessary credibility with our target audience, our customers?

5. Are we falling victim to reputation bias?

Reputation is what is generally said or believed about a person’s character or standing. Conference organisers may fall victim and book speakers whose expert status or reputation is primarily based on savvy impression management.

Hence, checking if reputation is based on facts or fluff matters if we want to get a satisfactory ROI out of blogger relations and working with influencers.

6. Are we reinforcing age, gender and / or race discrimination?

As parents we know, once the kids become teens our influence with them wanes. Similarly, a 50-year-old consumer working in the city is unlikely to follow a 20-something’s advice on which stilettos to buy.

Working with influencers in a certain age, gender or race group may be great. But if they fail to reflect our mix of customers, we may have fallen victim to discriminating against certain groups of individuals.

Bottom line

We need answers to these six questions. In this process, we can either understand the metrics used or develop a measurement method for our purposes. Our measurement method must meet the requirement for repeatability and reproducibility.

The influence marketing ranking is repeatable, if others can re-run the analysis using the same method and reproduce the same results.

Black boxes or algorithms that are kept secret do not permit this. Does it seem advisable to base business decisions on methods we fail to comprehend?[/su_box]

3.1 Useful resources and tools

– Why your social traffic looks low in analytics tools

– Easy-to-use Google tool for campaign tracking. Whenever we work with influencers, we should manage our URLs systematically. This helps improve our SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). To illustrate, a link I share on this blog to another post in our blog could be made up like this one: – meaning the visitor came from the blog, from a post about Instagram and influencer marketing…

– As a SaaS (Software as a Service) provider that claims to “Generate Qualified Leads on Social Media space” you should be social in order to influence your target audience. Turning off commenting is not the right strategy.

– More on word-of-mouth marketing that influencers can help make happen – if we do it right, of course.

– Influence marketing und compliance (German)

4. Ranking influencers: Fact versus fiction

Many social influence metric tools are intransparent and work like a black box. Nonetheless, algorithms represent choices made by the engineers that designed them. Hence, algorithms are not neutral. Unless the method is made transparent, buyer beware.

Some influence measures multiply ranking with mentions on Twitter. This ignores the fact that people automatically retweet, often without having read content first.

Others calculate influence for bloggers using the Alexa ranking. The latter counts your traffic only if you have their plugin installed with your PC browser and ignores mobile traffic.

You can measure influence with the help of engagement, using proxy measures, such as number of tweets, number of retweets, number of replies, favourited tweets. But claiming to measure engagement with such metrics is an inexact science at best and voodoo at worst.

Tomoson surveyed 125 marketers during March 2015, and now claims that based on its survey replies, companies gain $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. However, such studies are not representative, so these numbers are dubious at best.

Repeatability and reproducibility of such data and findings lie at the heart of sensible decision-making.

Using blog metrics from the DrKPI BlogRank we found that most ‘influential’ European style bloggers fail to make the top 10. A blogger was considered influential if their name was included in a list, such as those published by Vogue, Annabelle and so forth.

Just one influential blogger makes the top 10, as shown below.

Ranking blogs using DrKPI software reveals what Vogue, Annabelle, etc. identify as influentials fail to make the cut.

Ranking blogs using DrKPI software reveals what Vogue, Annabelle, etc. identify as influentials fail to make the cut.

Check out the best fashion and style bloggers in Europe and how the DrKPI BlogRank works.

Incidentally, as a style blogger real style also means you have the personality to match. Unless the blogger expresses something of their personality, it could be lost in a mess of peroxide and passionless fashionability.

Great style blogs are all about substance. And that ain’t easy to measure :-)

4.1 Narcissism versus self-esteem

Self-esteem can be defined as a subjective sense of one’s self worth and being competent. It correlates with good things such as emotional well-being and being persistent when doing a task. Narcissism means the person feels superior (I know best – I should decide). Such individuals crave admiration and adulation.

When we talk about social media influencers, narcissism plays a role. Narcissists seek attention and admiration and lash out at anyone criticising them. Donald Trump is probably the best known example of a narcissist. But if your personality is mostly about yourself and how to put yourself in the spotlight, we might have no more.

Incidentally, research with children indicates that parental overvaluation nurtures narcissism, and parental warmth nurtures self-esteem.

Myers, David G. (March 2016). Is Narcissism Extreme Self-Esteem? (written for general audience, refers to some great research articles on the topic). Retrieved, May 25, 2016 from
Also interesting is

For the brand marketer this means that finding the best social media influencer is a tricky thing. A certain degree of narcissism might be okay and come with the territory. However, for a productive long term collaboration, plenty of self-esteem is preferable to loads of narcissism.

Narcissists tend to focus on materialism, have inflated expectations and show less relationship commitment than others. Such individuals are not easy to work with as a brand ambassador. Again, the secret to real style is having the personality to go with it. Nevertheless, narcissists need not apply, unless we have the patience and energy to deal with temper tantrums, tears and anger in spades.

5. Have your say – join the conversation

Source: Influence marketing experts’ top secrets

What is your opinion?

  • How do you choose the best social media influencers for your brand?
  • When were you so glad you had a social media influencer on board?
  • How do you budget for social media influencers?

The author declares that he had no conflict of interest with respect to the content, authorship or publication of this blog entry (i.e. I neither own any of these brands’ products nor are they our clients).

VW BP Daimler Toyota Mitsubishi Why do companies risk their reputation?

Please read Updates about Mitsubishi, Opel, GM, VW in the comments below.

Summary: VW intends to repurchase 480,000 vehicles in the US. Estimates put the final bill in excess of €45 billion. But how much damage will this cause to their:

– brand
– image (e.g., the image of the VW or Audi brands), AND
– reputation (e.g., reputation of the brand or company)?

Volkswagen has an interesting portfolio consisting of luxury brands as well as truck and low-cost car brands, as shown below.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3719″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”780px” height=”449px” Title=”Volkswagen brands read like a who’s who – how much will the emission scandal damage the value of their brands?” alt=”Volkswagen brands read like a who’s who – how much will the emission scandal damage the value of their brands?”]

1. Defining the terms

In daily life we may talk about brand, image and reputation interchangeably, without drawing a line between them.

But we cannot truly appreciate the value of something, if we do not unterstand what it is we are examining. And Jeff Bezos may have thought he was talking about brand, when he was actually talking about the reputation of the Amazon brand with its clients:

Your brand reputation is what people say about you after you have left the room.

We need to define brand, brand image and brand reputation. Only then can we be sure that we share the same vocabulary, which is the basis for understanding each other.

You need a great product. Your image of offering great design or R & D does not hurt the company either (for example, Apple). Crowned with a reputation for offering great client services (e.g., your neighbourhood grocer), you should do well in the market place.

[su_box title=”Table 1. Defining brand” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff”]
The word brand originated with the practice of putting a hot stamp on the bodies of young livestock to indicate ownership (i.e. branding calves). In the corporate world, a company’s logo or the lettering used for write its name may similarly serve as a stamp. It brands the firm.

The cattle brand helps one separate stock from Ranch A and Ranch B. In turn, the company’s brand or its logo help us recognize the product on the shelf.

The brand symbolizes what we stand for in the minds of people that we are trying to reach, influence and move to action (see Deborah Maue, 2015).

Brand is what the corporation tells the public or its investors, the news it shares about itself or the product, and most importantly, what it wants and aspires to be.

This gives the brand manager some control over the brand.

A brand helps reduce uncertainty for a client. The customer knows what they get, such as a hotel chain’s rooms offering the same features (make-up mirror, good hair dryer) as standard around the globe.


But these days, mistakes can damage a brand’s image and consumer trust in the brand may evaporate as well.

For instance, in a 2016-04-20 media briefing Mitsubishi Motors president Tetsuro Aikawa tried to take responsibility for the manipulated fuel-economy test data. It affects 4 mini-car models sold in Japan, about 625,000 vehicles since 2013.

In just three trading days, the fuel-economy scandal has destroyed 42 percent of Mitsubishi Motors’ market value.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3711″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”780px” height=”339px” Title=”With the increasing complexity of the marketplace, CONSUMERS focus on select dimensions of products such as price, not quality.” alt=”With the increasing complexity of the marketplace, CONSUMERS focus on select dimensions of products such as price, not quality.”]

As the above research illustrates, with increasing market complexity, consumers may fall back on such factors as price, instead of focusing on quality.

Hence, as BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster suggests, Mitsubishi Motors can hope that people will forget that the company abused customer trust by falsifying fuel economy test data.

If that happens, customers may no longer focus on this disaster. Instead price or options offered with its cars may be most important in the decision-process to buy or not to buy a Mitsubishi Product.

[su_box title=”Table 2. Defining brand image” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff”]

A brand’s image tells us the qualities of the company or its products. Image is based on how much effort a company spends on getting its message across and its target audience to believe it (e.g., just do it – Nike).

Advertising is about image.

For instance, green advertising helped BP recover from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This means the visual, the look, the controlled viewpoint about an issue the company cares about, such as the environment, makes up the corporate or brand image.

As the video clip below shows, with the help of TV spots Volkswagen was trying to portray itself as producing cars running on “clean” diesel engines. Until September 2015 when the fuel emission scandal began, consumers believed this story.

Advertising can be used to improve a corporate image or try to portray a greener image than one might otherwise have in the public’s eyes.

Watch this humorous VW commercial aired in the US.

[su_box title=”Defining brand or corporate reputation: An experience-centric concept.” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff”]

Attitude denotes the subjective, emotional, and cognitive based mindset (see Schwaiger, 2004, p. 49), which implies splitting the construct of reputation into affective and cognitive components.

The cognitive component of the construct can be described as the rational outcomes of high reputation. Examples include high performance, global reach and one’s perception of the company (e.g., great employer, wonderful customer service).

The affective component of reputation is the emotions that respondents have towards a company. Thus, people talk about these things with friends (word-of-mouth). Media coverage can also influence how we feel toward a company.

Reputation is hard-earned and generally long-standing. Nevertheless, it can be harmed by a new product that is shabbily put together or a big product recall as Toyota experienced with Prius in 2010 in the US and elsewhere.

Reputation is temporal, meaning for example that bad customer service will result in bad customer testimonials on webpages or blogs (what is called earned and social media).

Reputation is primarily based on my experience (i.e. cognitive) and what my friends say (affective). Hence, a bad experience may get me to write a bad product review or a post on Facebook. Good and bad press about a brand is also shared with one’s friends…


Interesting: Fiske, Rosanna (2011-01-26). Image vs. Reputation: Which Reigns Supreme? Advertising Week, retrieved April 24, 2016 from

General Motors learned the temporal nature of reputation in 2014, after managing to deflect most of the blame for a 30 million vehicle recall on the habits of the old guard of the company, prior to a massive government bail-out. Never mind that GM knew all along about the ignition switch issue that caused up to 169 preventable deaths.

On February 1, 2010, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak claimed that he had experienced a ‘software-related acceleration problem’ with his Prius, that causes the car to go wild under certain conditions when cruise control is engaged.

This and his comment that, “This is software. It’s not a bad accelerator pedal. It’s very scary, but luckily for me I can hit the brakes,” spread like wildfire via newswire, Twitter and others.

In early 2010 I wrote:

“We all remember when Audi (Volkswagen) faced unintended acceleration problems with its 5000 model in the US in the mid-1980s. Its initial response was to run advertisements of its top executives talking about its vehicles’ mechanics.

Audi was vindicated eventually but its effort to regain customers’ trust flopped amid perceptions that it built bad cars and was not taking the problem seriously. It took Audi 10 years to recover from this public relations debacle…”

Of course, one can only hope that #dieselgate will not hurt Volkswagen and its brands for another 10 years. But the share price drop as well as the compensations to be paid to US car owners whose models are affected suggest that it will be worse (see chart below for more information).

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3710″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”780px” height=”456px” Title=”-15.4 percent yer-on-year fall in VW brand car sales in the US, 1 in 20 German jobs depends on the sector.” alt=”-15.4 percent yer-on-year fall in VW brand car sales in the US, 1 in 20 German jobs depends on the sector.”]

2. Bottom line

Arguing which has greater influence — image or reputation — is likely a moot point.

Nevertheless, the two are linked, as the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill suggests. At the time, many Americans called for BP boycotts and sales took a hit despite the fact that BP was still selling the same fuel it was selling before the crisis.

In essence, BP’s negative reputation caused consumers to perceive BP’s brand differently.

Reputation, then, is best used as a way for companies to differentiate themselves from other organizations with the same brand.

It takes plenty of money and effort to build a great image. But one mistake can cost a company dearly. For instance, Nike and TAG Heuer ditched Maria Sharapova, the world’s highest paid female athlete, after she revealed she had failed a drugs test at the Australian Open in January 2016. Both brands felt it was too risky to continue sponsorship.

Although the two brands avoided a fall out from Maria Sharapova’s problems, the athlete’s marketability as an image ambassador was severely damaged.

Two intangibles VW and Mitsubishi Motors and competitors have to face.

  1. The effect on sales over the next couple of years, AND
  2. The effect of tighter regulations on future margins of car manufacturers.

How do VW car owners feel about the option of being offered a buy back or going for the fix and getting paid for it? We do not know if they will prefer getting $5,000 on top of the $1,000 they already have, or returning their car at market value. However, how owners perceive these options (positive or negative) and how VW handles European regulators and customers will affect its reputation.

As far as Volkswagen’s image is concerned? The damage may pass. However, regulator fines, compensating customers and losing sales will continue affecting the firm’s bottom line for a while yet.

Nevertheless, both VW and Mitsubishi have not had their last chance to hurt their reputation. How they handle their respective scandals from here, and whether they reform their corporate culture, will matter. Moreover, the possibility, not yet addressed, of the scale of lawsuits from aggrieved U.S. dealers and individual U.S. states for VW’s possible fraudulent advertising should worry shareholders.

What VW’s #dieselgate and Mitsubishi Motors’ falsified test results says about these companies’ internal procedures and ethics is another chapter in this saga.

3. Have your say – join the conversation

Source: Brand image and reputation: VW pays dearly for #Dieselgate

What is your opinion?

  • What do you advise a company to do when a public relations disaster is in the making?
  • Will people forget Volkswagen #dieselgate as they did the BP Horizon Deepwater disaster?
  • Did UK and French regulators do the right thing, waiting until US regulators set the stage (e.g., how much compensation per car, fines, etc.)?

The author declares that he had no conflict of interest with respect to the content, authorship or publication of this blog entry (i.e. I neither own any of these brands’ products nor are they our clients).

Check the original research first, before you re-tweet the URL

Summary: 4 tips for using storytelling to create great fact-based content.
Martha Lane Fox (founder of is right in suggesting instinct should be ditched.

Recently I came across a LinkedIn Update from my colleague Karen Dietz that made it clear that if I started my blog post with a story, I would get:

  1. 300 percent more visitors, And
  2. 68.5 percent more reader engagement beyond the first mobile phone screen.

Who would not want to achieve such results? I was intrigued.

Then my colleague Sandra turned around and said:

“Urs, show me the numbers.”

I answered:

“Sure Sandra, no problem. I just need to dig for them first.”

So I shared my insights with Sandra, but also thought that my experience hunting for these numbers is definitely worth sharing with you!

Learn about 4 things great bloggers do better.

This post is part of our series on business analytics and big data.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3581″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”780px” height=”309px” Title=”Karen Dietz Update on LinkedIn: Is this maybe too good to be true?” alt=”Karen Dietz Update on LinkedIn: Is this maybe too good to be true?”]

Permanent Link to the above Status Update from Karen, found on my LinkedIn Update list 2016-03-27.

1. Storytelling is what it takes

So I clicked on the LinkedIn post that got me to Karen’s page with the story (2016-03-28). There I clicked a link again. This brought me to 5 Storytelling Methods to Captivate Your Audience (2016-02-28), published in the Search Engine Journal.

Here the author outlines that somebody else did an A/B test. One of the blog entries had a story at the beginning and the other started with the topic of the blog entry right away. Sure enough, the former supposedly got 300 percent more readers than the one without a story at the beginning.

The Search Engine Journal’s entry referred me to a Buffer blog entry by Alex Thompson entitled, The power of storytelling: How we got 300% more people to read our content, from 2014-04-22. Here, he supposedly unravels the mystery by going into detail as far as this case study is concerned.

After some digging, I learned that the A/B test was really sending two types of emails containing the blog entry. One began with a story and the other dove right in.

Okay, is testing whether a blog entry attracts readers versus what works better in an emailed newsletter the same? Personally, I think those are two vastly different things.

Plus, Alex never gets around to telling us exactly how many people participated in the A/B test and how the sample was selected (e.g., clients, webpage visitors, combination thereof, etc.).

But the example below does not suggest this kind of storytelling works, does it?

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3675″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”780px” height=”563px” Title=”Nemu Chu at Kissmetrics Blog – telling me a crazy story in 173 words before you get to the beef I want to read is not effective use of the story metaphor ” alt=”Nemu Chu at Kissmetrics Blog – telling me a crazy story in 173 words before you get to the beef I want to read is not effective use of the story metaphor”]

2. Gut feelings are out, science is in

The fact is that science tells us that a person decides whether or not to read your story within the first five to ten seconds. If just your title is 12 words long, you have five seconds left to get the person’s attention – at most.

Using a story about driving a Porsche blindfolded is cute… but will it get your target audience’s attention? Of course, we are all smart and at least one of us will point out:

What is the target audience? Are these geeks doing social media monitoring, managers or housemen/housewives?

This is an important question. Research with over 400,000 page visitors to some of the biggest websites in the US provides the answer. It points out regardless of your target audience, they want a headline that is relevant to them. As well, if the first three lines of text fail to convey anything important, 60 percent will already be gone by line four.

Hence, striving for high quality content means short introductory stories at the beginning might work very well. Long-winded intros are less likely to encourage your reader to go beyond the second mobile screen.

3. Facebook or Twitter: Check before sharing

Getting 300 percent more readers thanks to starting a blog entry with a story is a wonderful result. But I hope you do not mind me asking:

– What type of story are we talking about (e.g., length, relevance, etc.)?
– What type of story will work with my audience?

I was unable to get an answer to these questions in those blog entries as mentioned above.

So I took the trouble to dig a bit deeper in the subject matter. For instance, in the Search Engine Journal’s entry the author had used a model from a study on mice (see below).

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3598″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”781px” height=”472px” Title=”Nice graphic – that is the proposed model, but what about the one confirmed by Lisrel analysis? That looks a bit different!” alt=”Nice graphic – that is the proposed model, but what about the one confirmed by Lisrel analysis? That looks a bit different!”]

I then found the original paper from which the above graphic was taken. Read it here (sign up free to view and download the paper): The Customer loyalty to content-based Web sites: The case of an online health-care service. Journal of Services Marketing, Vol 18(3):175-186, May 2004

The paper yielded some interesting new facts that we should ponder.

For instance, on page 179 of the paper, the reader is told that the study is based on 421 usable responses on a health site. Where the site is located and in which language content is written is not clear.

We are also told that the online survey was responded to by 6 percent of those that were asked to fill it out while visiting the website. Moreover, 93 percent of these respondents are women (see page 180).

Just looking at this information tells us that the study does not allow us to generalise from its findings due to sample selection and so forth.

Also, “Need fulfillment” is set to equal content quality by the Search Engine Journal’s author Razvan Gavrilas. However, as the study clarifies, need fulfillment was measured using four items. We are not given their exact wording except one: Net Clinic meets my personal needs (page 179). For all I know, this could mean finding the doctor’s address I am looking for. That does not measure content quality, does it?

Put differently, the study does not address quality content. Hence, the Search Engine Journal’s author simply misconstrued the study’s findings, then wrote a great story about it. But storytelling based on misinterpreting research findings does not help us gain and maintain our readers’ trust.

4. Checklist

This story perfectly illustrates that one best check one’s sources carefully. Unless you prefer to have metaphorical egg on your face as a blogger?

Here are four science-based tips that will help you use storytelling effectively while building trust and reputation for your publication.

[su_box title=”The no bullshit guide to better blogging” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff”]
1. Mobile readers want you to get to the point – fast.
First, tell me why you think I should read this, and what I will get out of it (20 words max).

Second, don’t give me a 170-word story about the blindfolded Porsche driver. Start your blog entry with a great story but keep it to about 30 to 50 words maximum.

By the time they hit 60 to 100 words (including the headline), readers want to be convinced that reading onward is worth their time.

2. Remember your favourite librarian’s advice.
I remember a librarian telling students in her workshop for new library users: “When doing your semester paper, do not cite an article you found in some paper’s reference list before checking the original. It could be that the author misquoted it or misinterpreted the original paper’s findings.”

Of course, for some of us the clincher was that she stated: “If your professor knows the author or has read the original study, they will know if you misquoted or misinterpreted something. That could not only be embarrassing, but as importantly, lower your grade.”

Just checking a URL in a LInkedIn news update leading to a blog will not do. Go to the original study the blogger refers to and make sure they got it right.

3. Great science is a start.
As a blogger, check your sources. Does the article or white paper from Adobe represent science or a poorly-veiled sales pitch, though nicely packaged?

A first danger sign is a report that contains superfluous content or lacks a method section. Another sign could be that a lot of color and ink has been wasted to make things look pretty, but the report lacks any depth or detail.

4. Instinct and gut feelings have no place here.
Some examples:

10 Qualities of People With High Emotional Intelligence
These Are the 30 Most Motivational Books Ever Written
9 Affirmations the Most Successful People Repeat Each and Every Day
The Top 8 Skills Wealthy People Have Mastered

The headlines above are great link bait. And yes, unless our headline stirs the reader’s interest, they will never read anything beyond it.

Nevertheless, claiming something or suggesting a checklist based on your opinion will not do. Martha Lane Fox is right, ditch your instinct and opinions, but back your choices up with data and facts.

Of course, some master the art of an attention grabbing headline and then really deliver the bacon in their blog entries, such as: WordStream: 5 Lazy Tips to Cut Your PPC Budget in Half


5.  Bottom line

CLICK - Starting with best science is a good start, but it must also lead to a better life.Asked what advice she wished she had received at 25, Martha Lane Fox, co-founder of led with hiring. Instinct should be ditched, she told the BBC, in favour of a slower-burn audition of candidates (as mentioned by Emma De Vita 2016-03-28, FT p. 8).

Believing a person’s CV or LinkedIn Update (with a link to an article) is fine. Better yet is to go and check the original article, including research, to see if the claims made can be trusted.

In the case of hiring, encourage many staff to talk to the person. If possible, ask the candidate to spend a day or two at your office.

Headlines such as “6 things successful people do every morning” are great teasers. Inc. Wire is a master at this. However, besides some opinions from the authors of such entries, science does not play any role.

Instead, reading tea leaves or misinterpreting research if some is used is most likely the case. In turn, the suggestions should be taken with a grain of salt.

Would you rather trust a therapy to save your life based on somebody’s opinion or the best science and tests?
Are you willing to invest your hard earned cash in something somebody just believes in?
Would you not sleep better tonight if the numbers tell the story?

Let us focus more on observation of behaviour, instead of claims or accounts of people’s behaviour (e.g., as stipulated by authors of a blog or magazine article).

6. Have your say – join the conversation

I have decided to follow Sandra’s advice: “Urs, show me the numbers!”

  • What do you advise corporate bloggers to do to write high quality content?
  • Do you like reading a made-up kind of story at the beginning of a corporate blog entry?
  • Do you prefer the author cutting to the chase straight away in a blog entry?
  • Does any news you get from corporate blogs affect your decision-making at work?

The author declares that he had no conflict of interest with respect to the content, authorship or publication of this blog entry.

Final thoughts

The sad fact is that in a world where BuzzFeed, Gawker, Vice, Vox and others increasingly chase advertising dollars, fewer and fewer resources are left over to check original sources. Instead, storytelling or headlines use click bait, sensationalism and so forth to get the clicks needed to gain the most pageviews.

The only option we have is to not waste our time on such content. If many of us stop, it will result in fewer clicks and advertising dollars for such sites. I have therefore decided to no longer visit Inc. Wire’s content. Nor do I care about Gawker or BuzzFeed. But I will not hold my breath that things will improve soon… Of course, quality content is not free – somebody pays. In the case of this blog, it’s my company :-)

Pray for Ilayda Yildiz #helpilayda

Help for cancer patients: FIND the right treatment and hospital.

Need this in German?
– Crowdfunding Kampagne: Rettet Ilayda

Ilayda’s Blog
Facebook Page
Donate now please – it makes a REAL difference

We have raised about €550,000 and we thank all those that keep donations coming in.

This blog entry is part of our series on viral marketing and word-of-mouth marketing – WOMMA

The 2016 Campaigning Summit Switzerland (CSCH) was held about ten days ago. This year’s event was great, just like in 2015. We met some very interesting people during #CSCH16 and we look forward to #CSCH17.

This year we made a real effort to get input from campaigning experts at the event. We wanted their input regarding our strategy and what needed to be done. We wanted help to further improve our chances for a successful project that crowdsourced people to help our crowdfunding campaign succeed, which would make it possible for a young girl to receive life-saving cancer treatment.

The support we got was amazing. People contacted their virtual as well as offline networks to reach out to the crowd for support. Of course, our hashtag #helpilayda seemed to help as well.

At the center of this story is Ilayda Yildiz. She was born December 17, 2005 in Singen, Germany, a community on the Swiss border. On February 27, 2012, shortly after turning six, Ilayda’s parents were informed that preliminary tests suggested their child had leukemia. Additional tests revealed it to be acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), also known as acute lymphoid leukemia or acute lymphoblastic leukemia. About 75 percent of all childhood leukemias are ALL (see New York Times – Leukemia In-Depth Report very nicely structured, plenty of facts, numbers and diagrams).

For 20 percent of those suffering from ALL, chemotherapy will not help. This is what happened to Ilyada Yildiz, who is now 10 years old, and has been fighting her disease for four years. Estimates suggest:

6,000 people in the US (National Cancer Institute),
1,500 in Germany, and
150 in Switzerland die annually because they suffer from a chemotherapy-resistant type of leukemia.

But thanks to a new therapy called T cell therapy, 92 percent of 39 kids treated using CAR T-Cell therapy showed no evidence of cancer one month after treatment (see Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia).

Various tests have found that the “CAR T-cell therapy can help patients that suffer under acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL),” (see ASH 2014, Abstract of study 382).

Unfortunately, this therapy is not covered by German or Swiss health insurance. The result is that those patients – primarily kids – die.

Just imagine what might happen if the treatment were covered:

Every year up to 1350 of 1500 patients in Germany, 130 of 150 patients in Switzerland and thousands more in France, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands could be cured!

To help save Ilayda Yildiz’s life, we launched the #helpilayda #crowdfunding #campaign.

We recently spoke with Ilayda’s dad, Nuhaci Yildiz and asked him some questions. Here is the extended interview, translated into English. The shortened German version was also distributed to the press.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3545″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”780px” height=”410px” Title=”Nuhhaci Yildiz, Ilayda’s dad – #helpilayda” alt=”Nuhhaci Yildiz, Ilayda’s dad – #helpilayda”]

Your donation will help save Ilayda’s life – donate now to the campaign trust account

1. Did you ever imagine you would get the funds you need?

All we knew was that we had to do everything we could to raise the necessary money. So many people have helped with that, and to this day, some of the most important wish to remain anonymous. They helped us with strategy, went out on their own and made amazing contacts, who in turn have supported our efforts and still do.

Thanks to social networks like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, as well as YouTubers, bloggers, and print media, the campaign has gained enormous momentum since the end of February.

2. How much money have you raised so far?

We’ve raised over €500,000, and new donations come in every day. Even those funds will be put to good use, as the costs of follow-up and any additional treatments could easily reach another several hundred thousand, according to the doctors.

3. How do you feel about celebrities joining your cause?

We’re grateful, of course, but that was really just the beginning. The original idea behind having people like like Manuel Neuer, Cristiano Ronaldo, Sally and Bülent Ceylan take selfies was actually to cheer Ilayda up. Later, those selfies were shared among people’s social networks.

The major work of the ‘helpilayda’ campaign has only been going for about 10 days. We’re not quite sure where and how the donations are coming from. A lot is coming in through social media, but associations, private citizens, and corporations are also donating, among others. Plus a lot of supporters have done mass mailings and telephone campaigns on their own.

It is equally important that our situation is seen as an example of how amazing it is when people from across Europe and beyond help one another. Differences, whether race, religion, creed, or origin do not matter, and that fact is deeply moving.

4. Has Ilayda become a symbol for the fight against childhood cancers, and does that inspire pride, in spite of all your worry?

I don’t think I would use the word pride here. But I am convinced that many readers of this blog have been affected by similar situations in their lives, either directly or indirectly.

For example, someone in your immediate or extended family has a serious illness, which causes the family as a whole much pain, sorrow, and worry. Fear, loss of security (such as losing your job, as I did), etc., are all things that make a difficult situation even harder.

Our family is only one example. I am in awe of all the families I have had the privilege of meeting in the last five years. Many were brave and tried to make the best of very difficult situations, both medical and emotional. Each family suffers greatly when one of their children is so ill for so long.

5. When will Ilayda fly to the US and which clinic will she be treated at?

That’s an excellent question that we don’t know the answer to because it depends on so many factors.
Dr Rupert Handgretinger and his team in Tübingen are working to figure out when exactly Ilayda will be ready for such a long trip. We’re hoping that we’ll be able to leave within a couple of weeks, at the latest, because whatever we do, time is a critical factor. I’m sure the results of the next bone marrow biopsy will also play a part.

The clinic that will provide the treatment is also not yet clear, partly because we don’t know how soon Ilayda can fly to the US (i.e. a US travel visa), and which clinic can provide the best care as soon as possible. Of course, we hope to be on our way very soon. Even we still have several questions and this uncertainty is difficult to cope with.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 3546″ limit=”7″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”780px” height=”410px” Title=”Ilayda Yildiz having a good time” alt=”Ilayda Yildiz having a good time”]

6. What kind of therapy does Ilayda need?

Ilayda needs Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, which requires gene manipulation. Basically, the patient’s own T-cells are removed and modified in the lab so they recognize other cells with a specific protein and attack them. The CD19 protein, which is found on the surface of almost all Type B cells (both normal and cancerous) can be used for this type of therapy. These modified T-cells are known in the medical field at “CD19-chimeric antigen receptor T-cells” or “CD19-CAR T-cells” for short (more information from the US National Cancer Institute).

7. Once the treatment is successful, what, besides good health, is your greatest wish for your family?

My fondest wish is that we will be able to live a completely normal life again. For us, that means the children go back to school in Singen and play with others their age and enjoy their youth. My wife will have a little more time to do the things she enjoys. And hopefully, I’ll quickly find another job. Those are our most important wishes. A simple life that unfolds predictably.

8. What has been your experience of your fellow human beings during all your years of struggle? How has Ilayda managed to touch so many people so profoundly?

Many people have helped, both near and far; in Germany and neighbouring Switzerland. Most surprising has been the support from lands far from Singen, like the Netherlands and the US. We haven’t been able to meet many of these people in person yet. But they have all helped us with administration, communications, and much more.

The medical personnel has also been absolutely amazing in treating our daughter and their support has been huge. We would like to thank all of them for their care.

9. How is Ilayda’s sister?

Given the situation, she’s doing quite well. Of course, her school work is suffering, no question. But her life philosophy and way of being are often pillars of strength for us. I admire her strength and optimism.

10. Should people keep donating? Surely, you’ll need funds to live on after all these years of caring so devotedly for your daughter. Where should the donations be sent?

Our donation campaign is only about Ilayda. What we’re concerned about is the cost of follow-up care and check-ups. Just last week, we learned that this will be equally expensive. The cost is a question we are often asked, but unfortunately, we ourselves don’t know the answer yet. If only we did.

At the moment, none of the doctors has an exact figure, but we know that our health insurance certainly will not cover it. But thanks to the many donors and helpful people, we hope to be able to manage this as well. Still, the first step is Ilayda’s treatment in the US, so she can finally go back to leading a normal life.

Her strength and sheer will to live inspire me every day, and often bring me to tears. Despite everything, my wife and I are hopeful for a happy future.

Your donation will help save Ilayda’s life – donate now to the campaign trust account

Please help Ilayda.

Register yourself to get our April post about the 6 best monitoring tools we used for this crowdfunding campaign via email.

The authors declare that they had no conflict of interest with respect to the content, authorship or publication of this blog entry.

[su_box title=”Table 1: Creating a Foundation: Help Ilayda – The tear of an angel” box_color=”#86bac5″ title_color=”#ffffff” radius=”5″ width=”px 700″ ]At the moment we are trying to decide whether we should start a non-profit foundation, and if so, how. A foundation would enable full tansparency of when and how the donated funds are used, which is extremely important to the family.

Here is a summary:

  1. The mission of the Foundation is the advancement of science, research, medical care, and youth aid, as well as the support of people whose physical, mental or spiritual situation requires help from others.
  1. Fulfillment of this mission will be achieved through eight specific areas of focus:
  • Public education regarding rare diseases and how we can help through conferences, publications, and lectures;
  • Support for research and development;
  • Education for children, youth, and adults dealing with illness regarding their situation;
  • Assistance with or complete assumption of treatment costs, including but not limited to travel, housing, follow-up care, and check-ups, as well as delayed costs such as care assistance, and education, which are not covered by public health schemes, insurance companies and / or public institutions;
  • Day-to-day assistance for affected parents and children, such as housekeeping assistance, childcare, transportation, physical maintenance, and stress management;
  • Safeguarding the livelihood of parents and children in order to maintain an adequate quality of life;
  • Supporting children of affected adult patients or siblings of affected juvenile patients through activity programs, field trips or individual gifts;
  • Sponsorhsip of projects, organisations, people or establishments (i.e. pediatric cancer wards), with a mission and vision that aligns with our own.


How can you help?

We want this story to go viral and hope that through this crowdsourcing effort we can secure the funds needed to save Ilayda’s life, BUT after reading Ilayda’s blog entry, we need your help:

– What skills, talents, know-how, contacts can you offer to help save Ilayda’s life?

– Any other suggestions or ideas you have about the guidelines for our non-profit foundation?