The "Tipping Point" of Social Media and Entrepreneurship

I’m a huge Malcolm Gladwell fan. For those of you that haven’t heard of him, he is the author of books such as Outliers, Blink etc. and the first book that he wrote was The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, which I read several years ago and highly recommend for his no-nonsense writing style.  


Lately, I have been thinking about The Law of the Few” (Wikipedia Entry) and how it relates to entrepreneurs building a business.




Entrepreneurs have to rely on referrals to both run their businesses and find the expert help that they need to develop their businesses.  Ann Marie and I are grateful to our clients because they have been advocates for our public relations, marketing and social media consulting services and have enthusiastically recommended us to other current and potential clients.


But not everyone believes in the power of public relations or social media, because PR is a foreign concept and social media is relatively new; both require a certain amount of people talking about it in and the potential clients need to be convinced that it is important for their business.  


In his book, Gladwell states, “The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.” According to Gladwell, economists call this the “80/20 Principle, which is the idea that in any situation roughly 80 percent of the ‘work’ will be done by 20 percent of the participants.”


These people are described in the following ways:


  • Connectors are the people who “link us up with the world … people with a special gift for bringing the world together.” They are “a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack [… for] making friends and acquaintances”.  He characterizes these individuals as having social networks of over one hundred people. 
  • Mavens are “information specialists”, or “people we rely upon to connect us with new information.” They accumulate knowledge, especially about the marketplace, and know how to share it with others. 
  • Salesmen are “persuaders”, charismatic people with powerful negotiation skills. They tend to have an indefinable trait that goes beyond what they say, which makes others want to agree with them. 
I have been fortunate to attend a few conferences recently, including the 2010 Midwest Internet Marketing Conference, and heard a few speakers that I know (Russ Henneberry, Erin Eschen, Brad Hogenmiller, and Steve Thomas to name a few) talking about social media and internet marketing, and I have learned quite a bit from all of their presentations.  Based on my experience following each of these people, their blogs, and tweets, I would say that all of them display equal parts of these three traits in building their companies’ reputations, and they are passionate about social media.  If someone asks me who I would recommend for a particular social media or internet marketing service, then I would not have any problem enthusiastically recommending one of them.
One of the greatest compliments you can pay to someone is to give them a referral for their business and be a Connector and Maven yourself.  The challenge for you, then as an entrepreneur, is to build your network by connecting people. services, and accumulating knowledge that can help others, which will ultimately result in you gaining more business!

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