Who Are the Influentials?

25 02 2007

A word of mouth campaign is the most most basic and effective way to spread information. People believe their friends’ suggestions about products or services, particularly when the advice is based on personal experience. But even if the advice comes from someone outside our social circle, there is still something seductive about information passed on without ulterior motives. 

The same is true about the spread of ideas. When people talk about something they heard about or read somewhere, their interest in the idea is communicated along with the idea itself. That package makes the idea much stickier – and much more likely to be passed along to other groups of friends. 

The key, then, to spreading any brand or concept lies in finding ways for people to talk about it to their friends.  But not everyone is equally likely to spread the news. Some people – the influentials – are far more likely to form strong opinions and pass them along to anyone who will listen. Those people, according to Louise Rijk, co-founder and Vice-President of Marketing and Sales at Advanced Media Productions, are the 10% who influence the choices of the other 90%.

“They are sitting at the top of the WOMM pyramid and possess usually three main characteristics: larger social networks than the average person, persuasive power and the drive to disseminate product or service information within their expertise,” she wrote. 

Of those three characteristics, the third may be the most important. Today’s influentials are people who are likely to comment on a blog or forward something they like to their e-mail list. They do not have to be persuasive; they simply need to want to push ideas forward. Anyone looking to spread ideas needs to identify the influentials in their field. But that shouldn’t be too hard. Influentials don’t tend to be the types who work behind the scenes.

The important thing is to keep an eye out for them and then supply with sticky ideas they’ll want to spread.

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