Few weeks ago I took the book called «How hits happen» in the University library in hope that it will explain me the complicated nature of the trends and audience’s preferences. However, it was so boring and unoriginal, that I returned it back after three chapters. Can I imagine that it was the right choice as the next one I started revealed all the secrets I was seeking for. The theory of Tipping Points, in the end, is quite simple and logical, but the cases, analyzed by Malcolm Gladwell, may shock and seem radical. How such controversy can exist in one book?
The point is, that three basic principals of tipping point – the turning moment when given idea, attitude or product becomes extremely popular, – are well-known to anybody working in communication or medical industry. The author presents the way of growth and spread of ideas as an informational epidemic, so the main conditions for success are the right carriers, the environment the audience is based and connected to, and the contagiousness (or stickiness) of the virus. Gladwell turns them in three simple rules: the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor and the Power of Context. To illustrate each of these rules, the author turns to such bright examples, as the beginning of the American Great Revolution because of communication skills of the single person, the success of Sesame Street TV show and its educational power, or the decrease in crime rates in New York of 1990s due to scrubbing the graffiti and cleaning the city dark areas. The real life cases mixed with psychological experiments and the idea is supported by some other common scientific theories as Broken Windows Theory, Rule of 150, and Diffusion model of society. Even more brilliance to this books adds it’s entertaining writing style that makes reading enjoyable.
For me, as for communication professional, the main point of interest was the possibility to implement these findings in day-to-day practice. Gladwell has only two advertising and one PR cases, however, he underlines, that the main epidemic he studies was the birth and spread of the word of mouth.
“<…> we are about to enter the age of word of mouth, and that, paradoxically, all of the sophistication and wizardry and limitless access to information of the New Economy is going to lead us to rely more and more on very primitive kinds of social contacts”, – Malcolm Gladwell, “The Tipping point”, 2000.
Another important idea behind the Tipping Points theory is its accessibility for implementation. While often to make a big change communication departments raise massive campaigns, aimed at few points in the same time and spend the fortune on such promotional activities to reach the part of the audience, the price of the effort could be much smaller.
“Starting epidemics requires concentrating resources on a few key areas. <…> There are times when we need a convenient startcut, a way to make a lot out of a little, and that’s what Tipping Points, in the end, are all about”, – Malcolm Gladwell, “The Tipping point”, 2000.
We all have the power to make the difference, just a little analyze and attention to environment, content, and speakers, and we will reach the aims with greater results, following the tips from “The Tipping Point”. At least, I want to believe in this.
“We have, in short, somehow become convinced, that we need to tackle the whole problem, all at once. But the truth is that we don’t”, – Malcolm Gladwell, “The Tipping point”, 2000.