Being the sort of well-informed netizens you are, I expect you’re familiar with Malcom Gladwell’s “Tipping Point” hypothesis, widely believed to be the cutting-edge theory for predicting how trends, fads and fashions propagate. [Image from Wikipedia]
According to Gladwell, fashions are started by “Influentials” – highly visible and well-connected individuals who others look to for the next big thing.
According to Duncan Watts, however, the Tipping Point is so much baloney:
“It just doesn’t work,” Watts says […] “A rare bunch of cool people just don’t have that power. And when you test the way marketers say the world works, it falls apart. There’s no there there.”
And this is not, he argues, mere academic whimsy. He has developed a new technique for propagating ads virally, which can double or even quadruple the reach of an ordinary online campaign by harnessing the pass-around power of everyday people–and ignoring Influentials altogether.
Of course, Watts has his rival theory to promote – he’s not telling us this out of some philanthropic urge. But the point is that the business of marketing is probably where we’ll see the next big breakthroughs in understanding human communication as a system.
How the results will be used remains to be seen, of course. [Via The Daily Swarm]
3 thoughts on “The Tipping Point toppled?”
I am available to head out into town wearing a miniskirt and latex top, plugging your latest fashionable electronics for a modest fee of 10 euro per hour plus expenses.
Or if you prefer, I can make a free2copy replica of your gadget in Second Life, script it to link to your site when clicked, for a mere 10.000 Lindens. My ebook reader viral SL campaign campaign really caught on.
“But the point is that the business of marketing is probably where we’ll see the next big breakthroughs in understanding human communication as a system.”
Unlikely – we’ll (marketers) be too busy arguing over the best way to go about finding it 🙂
It occurs to me that the the two theories may not be incompatible- under the assumption that we define the “influentials” in retrospect. After all, everything has to start somewhere- but it may not be possible to predict who will be “influential” next.
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