As it has been explained in previous articles as well as in the Whitepapers, the success of destinations 3.0 is based on growing and expanding a network of varied stakeholders who contribute in different ways to the destination’s business model development, as innovators, content creators, brand ambassadors, etc.

Creating and developing such a network is probably the most daunting of all the challenges in the destination 3.0 journey. Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point explains a theory on how social epidemics and trends work, through the power of influence of three types of characters: Mavens, Connectors, and Salesmen, disregarding the support of the technological means. This theory may serve as a basis for understanding how this stakeholder network development can be achieved, so long as it is possible to craft a strategy to make it happen.

The theory states that social epidemics take place following three common characteristics: contagiousness, little facts causing big effects, and the existence of a turning point in the expansion of the epidemics, also called “the tipping point”. Besides, it identifies three key rules in spreading social epidemics or trends: the law of the few, the stickiness factor, and the power of context.

“The law of the few” says that a group of people with exceptional skills are the ones who create the trend and spread it throughout their community; “the stickiness factor” says that there are some ways to make a message compelling and contagious to create an outstanding impact; and “the power of context” explains how the environment turns to be a key factor to determine human behavior. These three rules can provide us with guidance on how to reach a tipping point in spreading social epidemics.

The law of the few

Understanding why some ideas or messages turn viral and others don’t starts by understanding how people are connected to each other, and findings show that there are different types of people, who connect in different ways and bring different types of value to their community.

Connectors are individuals with an extraordinary knack of making friends and acquaintances. This type of people is important not only for the number of people they know, but also for the many kinds of people they know. They are gifted with an instinct that helps them relate to the people they meet. Therefore, when looking for a job, new information, or new ideas, acquaintances turn to be more useful than friends, because these acquaintances are more likely to live in a different social or professional environment than yours, hence more likely to know many things that neither you nor your friends know.

The closer you are to a Connector, the more powerful, wealthier or the more opportunities you are likely to get. The closer an idea or a product comes to a Connector, the more chances to succeed it has as well.

The Maven, instead, is someone who accumulates knowledge. In recent years, economists have been studying Mavens, so long as if marketplaces depend on information, the people with the most information are among the most important to research on. They are who keep the marketplace honest. They are not just information collectors, once they figure out how to get that deal, they want to tell you about it too, initiating discussions with consumers and responding to requests, becoming helpers in the marketplace. Mavens are teachers, but also students. They are information brokers who share knowledge and create the message to be spread out by Connectors.

Finally, the Salesmen are those especially skilled to persuade the community members on to their way of thinking, to adhere to the new idea or trend and join the social epidemic. What sets them apart from average people is the number and the quality of the answers they have to the objections commonly raised to what they preach.  These persuasive skills relate more to the non-verbal than to the verbal communication, and consist of the ability to express emotions and to be emotionally contagious. People with this ability are also called “senders”.

The rest of the Tipping Point theory is to be explained split in three upcoming articles.

Posted by Jordi Pera

Jordi Pera is an economist passionate about tourism, strategy, marketing, sustainability, business modelling and open innovation. He has international experience in marketing, intelligence research, strategy planning, business model innovation and lecturing, having developed most of his career in the tourism industry. Jordi is keen on tackling innovation and strategy challenges that require imagination, entail thoughtful analysis and are to be solved with creative solutions.

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