By Lexi Rowland
The Law of the Few, explained in Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, is the notion that certain types of people can cause a social epidemic due to the certain skills or connections these people have with their peers. These types of people are called the Connector, the Maven or the Salesman. Each type of person has a specific role in creating a social epidemic which in the past has caused fashion trends, the spread of sensational stories or a successful marketing campaign for a certain type of product. How then could any one blogger use this framework to go viral?
Not everyone falls into one of the categories described by Gladwell and in the past perhaps one person could not be solely responsible for the spread of an idea or trend. Social media however, has made the spread of ideas much easier for those who are not naturally part of the Few.
The Connector: In the past, the Connector has been someone who is influential in any given community and can easily talk to the right people in order to get a message out to the community. For example, a politician is highly influential in their communities as they have many friends, allies or acquaintances who are highly receptive to their ideas. Today, such a position need not be held by an individual in order to spread an idea. Many social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, allow easy connection to a community who are receptive to the thoughts or ideas of the person they are following.
The Maven: A person recognized as a Maven is someone who has deep knowledge of a subject and is willing to share such knowledge with people who are willing to listen. Indeed, a Maven has been aided by the rise in social media as it provides a platform from which one can share such knowledge. The fashion industry is an extremely pertinent example of the reach a Maven might have in a community. In the context of today, a Maven is aided by social media as people who are interested in a certain topic may follow a perceived Maven's platform and therefore be highly receptive to said Maven's ideas.
The Salesman: Almost quite obviously, the Salesman is a persuasive individual who is able to successfully engage a community and sell an idea convincingly. This can be done in a variety of ways however, the most common way may be seen in the many successful marketing campaigns of big companies around the world. Again, social media makes persuasion much easier as the idea or campaign is much easily spread; all the Salesman needs to do be a clever marketer.
Therefore, should someone want to go viral on a social media platform today, he needs to be a combination of the above people. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and others make connections a lot easier to forge between people within a virtual community. The Maven still needs to be knowledgeable about his subject, but spreading his ideas need not be as difficult as in the past. The Salesman still needs to be persuasive however, he needs not to persuade every person he meets. Creating a receptive following, a legitimate idea and social media will do the rest.