Hey hey and welcome back. In this week’s episode we explore Tipping Point theory.
What is it that makes something ‘go viral’ – whether that’s an idea, a piece of social media content, news, an infection, a rumour or a trend?
The author The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell invested time and energy in exploring how ideas spread like epidemics. His message is this;
‘The spread of ideas, products and behaviors can be compared to the spread of a viral infection: for years, only a few people are affected (or infected), but then, within a short period of time, it becomes an epidemic’…. and, it is only an epidemic once the Tipping Point threshold has been crossed.
In other words, The Tipping Point is the moment at which a trend turns into an epidemic and spreads like wildfire.
You may have heard of the Pareto Principle. In Tipping Point context, the 80-20 Rule describes a sociological phenomenon found in many groups of people in which 20 percent of the people tend to influence 80 percent of the final outcome. For example, in most societies,
• 20 percent of employees carry out 80 percent of the work,
• 20 percent of criminals commit 80 percent of the crimes,
• 20 percent of drivers cause 80 percent of all accidents,
• 20 percent of beer drinkers drink 80 percent of the beer.
For ideas to reach epidemic, Tipping Point Theory suggests;
Ideas spread particularly fast with Connectors, or people with a vast social network.
Ideas are often spread by people with many social ties. The remarkable part is that these Connectors usually are not only well-connected in one area, but in many different areas.
Connectors are the nodal points and idea propagators of social networks.
They know, and like communicating with, lots of different people. Their most important asset is having many so-called weak ties at their disposal. In other words, having a vast network of acquaintances from all different walks of life is more valuable to them than having close ties with friends.
Some people are born with the gift of persuasion and a knack for selling ideas. There are some people who are born Salesmen.
Usually they are people who think positively and have a lot of energy and enthusiasm, qualities that help them persuade others of new ideas.
Born Salesmen also have a special way of expressing their feelings: emotions are contagious, and Salesmen show them so clearly that others empathize with them immediately and, as a result, change their own behaviour.
Salesmen are in a position to influence people on the inside from the outside, which makes them ideal people to spread ideas.
An idea has to stick before it can spread.
If you want an idea to spread, you have to make sure it sticks first.
An idea needs something special, something catchy – something that makes it stand out from the rest of information that inundates us every day.
In order to stick, a message has to be appealing. Usually, tweaking something – even a small detail – in how the message is presented is what makes all the difference.
External circumstances have a much greater influence on our behavior than we think.
Our behavior is strongly dependent on external circumstances. The tiniest changes can have a huge impact on the way we behave in any given situation.
Even the smallest changes in a context can determine whether an epidemic takes off.
Another subtle factor that plays a role in the emergence of social epidemics is the size of a group. The rule of 150 states that only in groups of no more than 150 people can a dynamic develop that can later extend beyond the group.
In other words, if you want groups, for example, clubs, communities, companies or schools, to be incubators for contagious messages, make sure to keep them small.
We hope you enjoy diving deeper into Tipping Point Theory, you’ll find that by applying just a little of what you discover will help your ideas and messages carry a lot further.
Until next week,
Ruth, Jonny and Pennie