Does Influencing People Still Matter? More Than Ever.

In a world dominated by algorithms and data, and a diminishing of traditional media’s reach and impact on the general public, does influencing people still matter? I recently had the pleasure of tackling this subject on stage at Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal with The Economist’s Gady Epstein. My answer: Yes. More than ever.

Here’s the video, along with a few of the moments from our discussion that I believe resonated with our audience most.

We don’t seek out the media anymore.
The media used to be a destination; something we sought out. The new definition of news: Something important enough to find me.

Information sharing is the most important currency.
Does influence and friends matter? According to Nielsen’s advertising credibility research, the No. 1 most credible source is a friend’s recommendation.

The new currency is the human channel.
The sharing economy feeds mainstream media. There is a huge future for real journalism, but it’s going to be shared with you by a friend.

Find your inner math geek.
The science of the industry has changed. Careers in analytics are quickly becoming a destination for the hottest jobs in the industry, and, it’s no coincidence, the next group of industry rock stars are the data geeks.

It’s not storytelling; it’s storymaking.
The story your consumer tells about your brand is far more powerful than the story you tell about yourself. Content co-created with your audience is becoming increasingly ubiquitous and netting increasingly powerful results.

The perils of algorithm-based marketing.
While an indispensable tool for any modern marketer concerned with data-driven results, there is no denying that, from a content perspective, algorithms are fueling polarization and group-think and are an engine of fake news. I predicted during our discussion that, within two years, a National Information Transparency Act will be enacted by legislatures around the world.

Rob Flaherty is Chairman of Ketchum, the global communications consultancy with 130 offices and affiliates worldwide. He is on the board of the Arthur W. Page Society, the Institute for Public Relations and the advisory board of Room to Read, which focuses on literacy and girls education in developing nations. Follow Rob on Twitter at @flahertyrob.