You don't need to agree with someone to listen to their point of view. Listening is one thing, but I'm curious how many of us read books from those opposite to our own beliefs and from authors who challenge our current philosophies.
If you couldn't already tell from my previous posts, I'm a pretty big fan of Malcolm Gladwell. Although, my latest read of Outliers was not the easiest of reads. I found myself forcing my subconscious to listen to the points he was making about the elements of one's success, waiting for him to mention the other side of the coin, the one where you find your own opportunity no matter your current situation. You see, Gladwell identifies different cases of success throughout the last few decades and attempts to explain the underlying elements that add to one's success. He concludes that we do not make our success alone, and that there are multiple external elements, often unique to the individual that make it possible for them to succeed to such an extent.
For example, in the book he analyzes Bill Gates's back story, and discovers he had access to computers at a very young age when even most universities did not. By the time he was in college, he had already surpassed the normal 10,000+ hours mark needed to become an expert in his field, and ended up dropping out to form what is now Microsoft. He also mentions Steve Jobs, as to give some backing for his claim. He explains Jobs did not come from as privileged of a family, but he did although live near Silicon Valley and had the opportunity to gain experience and knowledge at a young age from some of the top tech companies in the country based on his geographic location. Gladwell cites these underlying elements as key points to consider when analyzing the "why" behind massively successful individuals. He expresses this focus on situational characteristics time and time again, and I can confidently say that I agree 100% that these elements definitely add to one's success, whether they are cultural or socioeconomic.
Although, the problem I faced with this book was not necessarily that I disagreed with his analysis, but more so that I felt like he left out a core element in analyzing one's success, that of the behavioral nature. Sure, there will always be external elements to consider, but whatever your definition of success might be, those who strive for the win also possess an attribute that can only be described as one who consistently looks for new opportunities. You will never find yourself being able to take advantage of such luck or opportunity, if you don't first position yourself to find it. Yes, having access to computers and programming at a very young age will obviously give you an edge as you begin to compete for that win, but it takes something of an individual to seize that opportunity and follow through with it to begin with. You might come from royalty, or you might come from the ghetto, but at the end of the day it's not the opportunity alone that defines your ability to succeed, but your aptitude to search for and seize such opportunity.
Connectors, market mavens, and salesmen are the keys to spreading an epidemic. For marketers and communication professionals, The Tipping Point is a great read to help broaden your scope of understanding when it comes to identifying the individuals from your audience who are responsible for igniting a movement, as well as what type of content is needed to engage such members of your audience.
Starting with the first brand of individual Gladwell identifies, connectors occupy multiple worlds and subcultures and are able to do so because of their curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy. Connectors are the ones who connect us to new people, whereas market mavens are the ones who connect us to new information. These individuals thrive on their ability to make priceless connections and gather valuable insights, while also brokering such connections and insights to others. Similar to the explanation of social currency from my previous blog on Jonah Berger's book Contagious, these connectors and market mavens find value in sharing information because it provides them with a means to mint their own social currency, thus providing them with a sense of status in their various circles.
Salesmen are the last of the three interest groups marketers and communication professionals need to consider when designing contagious campaigns. Unlike market-mavens, salesmen persuade their audiences to adopt whatever new information they are presenting. Inevitably, some ideas will not catch on immediately, and these ideas take a little more persuasive maneuvering to push a product, service, or cause to its tipping point. Salesmen are the ones who see an idea or product they like, and they feel the need to convince those around them that it's the next big thing. As long as they are on board with your idea, they will do everything in their power to get their audiences on board as well.
“Why is it that some ideas or behaviors or products start epidemics and others don’t? And what can we do to deliberately start and control positive epidemics of our own?”
Taking into consideration these three select groups of individuals whom add to the tide of an epidemic, Gladwell proposes that the content these individuals share must posses what he calls the stickiness-factor, or the reason behind why some things stick and catch on, and why others don't. As a brand strategist myself, I found his theories to be very helpful in helping me to broaden my scope and consider the little things when crafting content for the brands I represent. I definitely recommend this great read from Malcolm Gladwell so that you too can broaden your creative ability to create contagious campaigns and drive brands to their tipping point.
Word-of-mouth can be your greatest asset or your worst enemy. Maybe you post an entertaining video about the razors you'd like to sell the general population and it ends up going viral and launching your company (Dollar Shave Club). Or on the other hand, maybe a major crisis occurs involving your brand and you're not equipped with the knowledge of communicating effectively across the social platforms used by your customer base (Asiana Flight 214).
On that note, have you ever wondered what fuels word-of-mouth movements?Contagious, a book written by Jonah Berger, explains why things catch on and how these powerful movements ignite. He focuses more on the art of creating campaigns that go viral, as I mentioned above with the Dollar Shave Club example, but his concepts also parallel with the needs to protect one's brand as seen with the Asiana example above.
There is no perfect formula for taking your content viral, but this book will give you the variables needed to make that social currency we converse with on a daily basis, which will help provide the tools for any advertiser to craft contagious content.