As you can see, I’ve been using some of my available time these days to read more. Today’s review is of The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell.
What is the tipping point?
The main idea behind the book is that for anything to become an epidemic (and epidemic here is used for everything from actual disease outbreaks like syphilis to fashion trends like Hush Puppies to crime in New York City’s subway system) it must achieve a certain critical mass before it really “takes off.” This critical mass is what Malcolm refers to as the tipping point. If something doesn’t reach a tipping point if just fizzles out and dies. However, once the tipping point is reached, it explodes.
The 3 Rule of Epidemics
- The Law of the Few – As you may have guessed, reaching the tipping point often requires special types of people get involved. There are three main types of people that are important:
- Connectors – These people know a lot of people and can quickly convey a message to other circles. Paul Revere was a connector and therefore knew who to tell “The British are coming!” These people have large networks and are constantly putting people in touch with other people. And they don’t know just anyone, they know other well-connected and influential people in other circles. Thus they can spread an idea into new circles and environments.
- Mavens – These are people who copiously collect information and love to share that information with other people who are in need of their information. Once these people get hold of information they’ll share it with anyone who will listen, and because of their reputation as a maven, people act on their information.
- Salesmen – These people do exactly what it sounds like, they persuade people to buy into the epidemic. They are masters of human communication both verbal and nonverbal.
Even though this book was written in 2000, I think it provides an excellent framework for internet marketers who are seeking the elusive “viral” hit, especially in social media. Consider the following questions:
- Who are the Connectors/Mavens/Salesmen in your industry?
- How can you get your idea to them?
- Does your idea need a fresh context?
- Is the idea memorable?
- Does it motivate people to action?
What’s your $0.02 on the book/topic? I’d love to hear from you.