Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Tipping Point: The Law of the Few

Malcolm Gladwell's best-selling "The Tipping Point" explains to us how trends, epidemics in the social arena occur.

Drawing an analogy with biological epidemics, he identifies the super-infectors in social trends.

The 3 types of people that are important to start a social trend are:

  • The Connector.

  • The Maven.

  • The Salesman.

The connector is the person with a very wide extensive social network. Whereas, average people are pick and choose their friends and have social groups of around 400-500, the connector has around 1200 people in his telephone book. Not only does he have an extensive social network, the connector's world can extend over many different areas of socialization, from science, to the arts, to politics. The connectors role allows social trends, ideas, and fads to jump between social groups. While some people collect stamps, connectors collect friends. Out of 100 friends, they may be able to influence 50 about a new trend. They are like the network hubs or switches that connect people together.

The maven are the experts, not just very good experts, but experts who are evangelists, who want to tell, who are enthusiastic about their area of expertise, and from whom people go for advice. Mavens are not just people who read specialist magazines, they write in to correct them. They may have less friends than a connector, but out of 50 friends, they may be able to influence all 50. Mavens are like network servers, that susses out the best information, and stores them like databanks waiting to disseminate them.

Finally, the salesman is the person who have the innate capacity to influence people. They somehow have this social tone, that when others meet them, others resonate to their frequency and not the other way round. They are like the social tuning forks, the drummers whose beat others march to. They are the transmitters, the base stations from which people unknown to them receive signals.

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