WISDOM – The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

This bestseller by Malcolm Gladwell, a New Yorker journalist and author of several fascinating books, explores a topic all the more interesting in the age of social media: how a trend becomes viral.

In no more than 300 words

In The Tipping Point Malcolm Gladwell invites readers to consider how a trend starts. What makes something go viral is the combination of three rare factors. The initial reason if that a specific information or product encounters three type of very specific people that are labeled as Connectors (imagine your friend who knows everyone), Mavens (your other friend that is always aware of the new technologies and the best places to strike a deal) and Salesmen (the enthusiastic but sometimes annoying friend who stills the attention at diner parties). The second element that makes a viral trend is that the information is packaged into a simple and very efficient way: it sticks. Gladwell exposes how research proves that ability to achieve an outstanding level of information stickiness outsmarts the best possible creative marketing campaigns. Intense practical testing – via focus groups for instance – appears to be the only way (yet exhausting) to reach such efficiency. Finally, environment plays an extraordinarily important role into the unfolding of any trend. However, seemingly negligeable details, such as the immediate context (stressful situation, unfavorable environment, community type of organisation…) carries similar influence to the previous two factors.
In the age of social media, Gladwell provides simple queues to understand how viral content is created, and enables us to break down retroactively and understand existing or past trends. This is a powerful “How-To” that we can leverage on to promote causes dear to us or improve our marketing abilities.

Three takeaways

  • A trend is started by a very small number of highly specific people who fall into three distinct groups: Connectors (who know everyone), Mavens (who genuinely want to help) and Salesmen (who persuade others due to their mesmerizing skills)
  • There is always a simple way of packaging information to make it irresistible. Putting up the hard work to discover the right format is the most effective way to make information stick. There is no shortcut to testing: intuition can not tell you what really woks
  • Environment can have an immense impact on behavior, yet the seemingly little details tend to have the largest impact

Bridging the implementation gap

  • Identify and keep an eye on the Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen in my environment. They can play the role of canaries in the mine and help me spot trends
  • Put marketing strategies and material to test relentlessly. it is the best way to achieve maximum communication efficiency. Creative marketing can not replace this effort
  • Accept that environnement plays a major role in anyone’s behavior, including me. Focus on fixing negatively impacting elements of my environnent to ensure long term success and happiness

Do I recommend this book? It is indeed an interesting read but unless you are fundamentally interested by the research behind the conclusions, I would recommand you stick to the summary and action points

View the book (or ebook) The Tipping Point on Amazon

How does The Tipping point rank on the #neverendingbooklist project?

In this book, Malcolm Gladwell quotes a research paper that I am strongly influenced by. This paper is the Affective Communication Test by Howard Friedman published in 1980. It shows how salesmanship efficiency relies heavily on a quality that is highly difficult to measure: the ability to convey emotions. Research shows that, contrary to our intuition, this is mostly a non verbal process and that it can hardly be faked. In conclusion, charisma appears to be a gift. Friedman built a self test to assess levels of individual charisma. Such test has been proven efficient by many subsequent experience. I encourage any sales professional to use it as part of his recruiting method.
Read the paper: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f14c/36b4a59112b4dae5b9eed711c565d8ef96e3.pdf

Malcolm Gladwell on TED:

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