Okay, this will be a complex blog post. Here’s an issue that I’ve been discussing with a number of people over the last few weeks.

On behalf of ClassJunky.com (a Silicon Valley startup), I’ve been going to lots of startup events, investor meetings, and so on. Often, there are events with ten startups and 30-40 angels and investors; the startups have five minutes for their elevator pitch and the dog-and-pony. You can tell when the founders do the elevator pitch; their eyes lose focus and they turn into robots as they state their mission in a flat voice, e.g., “Plooky enables emerging technologies to monetize by leveraging verticals with dynamic cloud-based solutions“.

Okay, whatever. Add a few acronyms (CRM, ERP, etc.) and they get funding.

All of you know your elevator pitch. Well, most of you know it. It’s that short sentence that summarizes what you do.

But as I work more and more with startups, I noticed that what the founders say and what others say are entirely different.

You work on your elevator pitch. You memorize it. And eventually, you can deliver it with plausible enthusiasm.

But you will never get your influencers and advocates to repeat it.

Now, why influencers and advocates? Because they’re the ones who spread your message. They have the connections and credibility. They’re the ones who move others to look for you and buy your products and services.

This is part of my research into influencers. The influencers are the 1% who create and lead an area of social activity. By social, I mean pretty much everything: Justin Bieber’s fan club, politics, research in physic, golf, Expressionism, everything. Most human activity is fundamentally social: it’s done by groups of people for themselves. Sociologists have researched this for decades. On the web, social behaviour is generally understood to be social media, and the interest in that is basically as a form of advertising. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc., don’t really care about (or even know about) structuralism, Durkheim, Lévi-Strauss, Erving Goffman, and so on. They’re just trying to make money by capturing audiences for Coca-Cola and the big banks.

It may sound odd, but there’s very little information about influencers. There are only a handful of books on the topic at Amazon. Danny Brown writes in his recent book Influence Marketing (May, 2013) that the 1% are important, but he doesn’t describe them and more importantly, doesn’t explain where they are, what they do, how to find them, or how to engage with them.

That’s what I’ve been working on. How to identify and engage with influencers and advocates.

Social Media Isn’t Sociology

Again, in Silicon Valley, everyone thinks social is something that happens in Facebook. In fact, what happens on social media is only a very small part of social behavior. As I look more and more at “social media”, I realize that most of social behavior doesn’t happen in social media. But more importantly, the most significant social activity never shows up in social media.

For example, LinkedIn likes to think it is the social site for professional networking. But it misses workers at the bottom and top. Blue collar workers rarely register on LinkedIn. No employer is going to use LinkedIn to find those workers. And the top end is also missing. Most CEOs and board members are not on LinkedIn, quite simply because they don’t need it. They already have an extensive social network into their industry. They know everyone, and everyone knows them. Why? Founder CEOs are, by definition, part of the 1%, which means they create their industry.

This means LinkedIn isn’t really a social network: it’s a database of resumes for HR and recruiters. If you depend on LinkedIn for your career advancement, you will destroy your career. You will never rise above a mid-level staffer.

Do you want to know how social networks really work? How does it work among the billionaires and the very powerful? Here’s how a billionaire used influence to buy freedom from prosecution for a global crime spree. How much did he pay the president of the United States to call off the FBI? Read the story of how Marc Rich bought his pardon. How Much Influence Can You Buy for $9 Billion?