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. My next reading choice, however, 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 a controversy can exist in one book?
The point is, that three basic principals of the 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 epidemy, so the main conditions for success are the right carriers, the environment the audience is based in and connected to, and the contagiousness (or stickiness) of the virus. Gladwell turns them into three simple rules: the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor and the Power of Context. To illustrate each of these rules, the author comes up with bright examples, such 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 in the 1990s due to scrubbing the graffiti and cleaning the city dark areas. The real life cases take turns with psychological experiments on the pages, and the ideas are explained through some other common scientific theories, such as Broken Windows Theory, Rule of 150, and Diffusion model of society. Entertaining writing style makes this book even more brilliant so The Tipping Point is an enjoyable reading.
For me, as for communications professional, the main point of interest was the possibility to apply these findings to a day-to-day practice. Gladwell provides us with only two advertising and one PR cases, however, he underlines that the main epidemy he studied 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 Point theory is its accessibility for implementation. While often to make a big change communication departments raise massive campaigns, covering few themes at the same time and spend a 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: a small analysis and a bit more attention to environment, content, and speakers – and we will reach the aims with greater efficiency, 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.