Yeah, just cool. Wow.
Yeah, just cool. Wow.
Quick note, I use this blog for mainly professional-ish related content. But I’ve started a new project for February that is a bit more personal.
The 29 Days Project is a blog I created to try and do or post something interesting everyday for the month of February. I’m mainly focusing myself on doing/trying new things that I’ve never done before in the twin cities. I did this for two reasons 1) force me to get out there during the main winter blues month 2) see more of the city I live in.
So, check it out for a bit of my personal life.
In the latest issue of Fast Company there is an article that is creating a little bit of a stir, “Is the Tipping Point Toast?” The guts of the article is that Duncan Watts is taking The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell and other influencer marketing sources to task saying that the current state of using influentials to spread messages/trends is a waste.
There has been some good thinking on the subject already. Noah weaves some thinking around engagement, or participation, of what is being spread and how Strong vs. Weak ties within social networks drive viral. I’ve been doing some of my own work on the idea of Strong vs. Weak ties and have found that yes ,you can identify the spreaders or influentials within networks. For me, they are the weak ties across networks. The reason a weak tie is the influential is that they are the ones that have the best opportunity to continue the spread of a message to a wide range of individuals. Now while they are easy to identify on paper, much more difficult in reality for a couple of reasons. But there are a couple of problems with this thinking. First, just because on paper someone is a weak tie, i.e. has multiple social points they participate in, doesn’t mean they are an ‘active’ membrane for messages/ideas/trends. They could just be by-standers in different groups. The other problem is, and you could say it is the human factor, the ties (Weak or Strong) are in a constant state of flux. And I think this is the point that Mike Arauz is getting to. That influence and influentials are part of a very complex relationship system.
Scott Monty is right that really to make influential marketing work the right pieces need to be in the right place at the right time. But it wasn’t until I read Armano’s post that it clicked in for me. Armano pointed out that influentials must work because he didn’t read the article against influentials (even though he saw the Fact Company headline) until an influential pointed it out to him. That’s when it clicked – context and relevance.
So the influential equation might look something like this – the message needs to be context and relevant, delivered by someone who has access to multiple audiences and is a participator within their multiple audiences. When identifying an influential strategy we need not just to identify influentials, but the audiences to which the influentials will interact/engage with and apply that learning/insight to the message/idea/trend we want to spread.
Update: Have you noticed the number of articles/post of influentials lately? Just saw this one on automotive influentials.
Co-worker of mine said that quote in passing, half joking, half teasing me because of the area I work in (she also has a nick name for me that plays off my name and viral diseases…because I “spread” things in social media…I’m sure it’s meant to be endearing). But whether she realized it or not, I think that there is some actual truth in her statement.
In my own observations, I think we have hit the tipping point within the general masses of people feeling comfortable blogging. For the sake or argument, I’m staying in the blogging world…I think this trend actually holds true across all consumer created content. I say this because the same girl who said that quote has just started blogging more on a regular basis. Her friends are the same way. I’ve noticed that co-workers who have teased me in the past about having a blog…have now started their own. They post fairly regularly – pics, videos, etc.
Fueling this I believe is the combination of several trends;
In an interesting spin, I think Facebook became the Trojan horse and catalyst for people to get into blogging. For the sake of argument lets say that Facebook is basically a personal content aggregator to all your friends. It opened the door to let a group of people know that you’ve been tagged in a photo. Mentally, this helps people get over the hump of having themselves published on the internet…and actually they think it is not that bad. But while Facebook is great for aggregating content, it doesn’t really have the ability to create content, allowing for people to express themselves beyond just a photo tag. Creating a simple blog does. For the 80% of 18-42 year olds who have broadband (rough summary/estimate from this emarketer report), blogging is now just another simple login. With news stories of people micro-publishing, a la twitter, the masses also get comfortable with the idea that they don’t have to publish the next great novel on their blog.
Given, this trend is all from the observation of space 967 on the 9th floor of 110 North 5th Street. But if my co-workers who just gotten into blog stick with it…we just might be on to something. We might be able to ladder this up and say this is part of a larger trend and that ’08 will be about mass adoption of people creating their own content, growing the content creators past the 1-10% range…but that’s another blog post.
Update: Thank you Heather for the edits.