HP’s Eric Kintz has a really interesting read today over at HP’s Marketing Excellence blog. Yes, L+E does get a mention—but that’s not why you should read it. Eric takes principals from Gladwell’s Tipping Point and applies them to what he sees going on in the social network and it's a really good read:
“I have always been fascinated by the impact of viral networks on social events and marketing word of mouth. One of my favorite books is the Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell, which studies epidemics and applies the learning to explain such social phenomenon as the crime drop in NYC or Sesame Street. One of my main interests in joining the blogosphere was to better understand the emergence of viral blogging networks and other social effects of web 2.0. I was very disappointed when I launched my blog 3 months ago and did not see any real marketing blogging community that I could connect into. The Marketing community was a fragmented ecosphere with a few thought leaders such as Seth Godin or Ben McConnell.
And suddenly, a few players emerged that substantially changed the marketing social blogging network. I have been trying to think about their role in terms of the first law of an epidemic, the “law of the few”.
Eric goes on to make comparisons of some emerging players that he sees actively taking the roles of “Connectors” “Mavens” and “Salesmen”. Some of the examples he includes are Ann Handley, Mack Collier, Toby Bloomberg, Eric Mattson as well as myself. Can you guess who is Maven and who is Salesman? But then Eric goes on to conclude his analysis with some really thought provoking stuff:
“The marketing blogging social network is growing exponentially as experienced by the Alexa ranking threshold that you now need to achieve to be on the Viral Marketing ranking list. However, bloggers have a distorted view of their importance. We forget that being big in the blogosphere still doesn't mean anything to 99% of the country. The risk for vibrant blogging communities is to be “trapped” in the blogosphere, which can quickly limit their epidemic effectiveness. So what will it take to transform this emerging community into a viral marketing network beyond the blogosphere?”
“So what do you think? What will it take to spread the “epidemic” to the other 99% marketers?”
I like this last point. The Social Network is both viral and a community in the same breath. And it’s influential. But—it’s still a minority when you compare it to mainstream forces and the Forresters of the world. They still have the ear of the people we would love to reach. But that is definitely changing. Blogs are becoming a source of breaking news, refreshingly alternative thinking and of course community that entices active participation. But to Eric’s point—”what will it take to transform this emerging community into a viral marketing network beyond the blogosphere?”