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Sabtu, 02 Februari 2008

The Tipping Point 2

Chapter II: The Law of the Few – Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen

What Paul Revere did in 1774 when he ride a long miles in midnight spreading the words “British is coming” to people in small towns and villages of Massachusetts demonstrates the power of word-of-mouth. Because of such heroic action, he became one of legends in the American Revolution history. In only one single night, he started an epidemic so that people of those small towns and villages became more than ready to welcome the British.

Still the most important form of human communication, not all word-of-mouth ignites epidemic, only in a rare condition. Why? The answer lies on the man, not only the message. While Paul Revere’s message tipped, Dawes’ very same message did not resulting in people readiness in areas visited by Dawes that night. This implies that Paul Revere was different from William Dawes. Paul Revere was a great connector. One research in US, late 1960’s, revealed the behavior of social network. The central theme of the research was the role of Mr. Jacobs, Mr. Brown, Mr. Jones – the role of connectors.

The research revealed that in average every single person separates from each other by six other persons. This means in average Joe can reach an unknown person Fulan through person A, B, C, D, E, and F. However, average is not the most revealing indicator, since there are outliers like Paul Revere – a very small number of people, the connectors – who seem to know everyone and bring the world together.

Connectors are people who know everyone. They are people specialists. Generally, the older know more people. The upper incomes know more people. Another factor is profession. Furthermore, people with more roles and subcultures like actor Rod Steiger know more people than people with less roles and subcultures like actor Kevin Bacon, even though more popular. However, amazingly, a true connector is more born than deliberately developed. A connector has an unusual social behavior, collecting people like collecting stamps and maintaining the strength of weak ties.

Another kind of roles in social epidemic is mavens, experts. Unlike connectors who are people specialists, mavens are more than experts or information specialists. They are people who peruse the price and compare it to the actual price of everyday-low-price products AND act promptly if it is not as promised. They are people who obsessedly observe and collect information about a product or concept or subject. They are people not saying that it’s hot yesterday but saying that it’s 95 degree yesterday here and even 97 in the city center.

While connectors connect people, mavens connect people to the marketplace. While connectors spread the epidemic, mavens often start social epidemic. Just like connectors, they are rare and born rather than developed. Needless to say once again, they are not acting, by they have the gene, the personality.

Last but not least, there are salesmen. They are good in persuading their peers and others. An example is Thomas Gull who says he loves his clients and perceives his clients family and loves helping his clients wholeheartedly, obsessedly, let alone highly optimistic. A research (1986, Syracuse University) conducted an analysis of facial expressions of three newscasters during Ronald Reagan (Republican) and Walter Mondale (Democrat) campaign (1984). Peter Jennings (ABC News) had a significant bias in favor of Reagan. He always smiled when mentioning Reagan.

Another research revealed that simple actions like nodding and shaking toward an argument have a significant effect toward accepting or rejecting the argument. Nodding is so much like Jennings’s smile when mentioning Reagan. Moreover, another research (William Condon) conducted a study of cultural micro rhythm, i.e. synchronization between conversations and physical micro movement, concluding simple physical movements have significant impacts. In other words, persuasion is more than just words. Parallel with the researches, salesmen have reflex persuasive personality. They are charismatic persons, good in sending their emotions to others even without conversation.

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