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Connectors, Networks and Innovation Success
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Connectors, Networks and Innovation Success

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Some discussion on the idea of "connectors", studies on their real power and why should Digital Marketers care.

Some discussion on the idea of "connectors", studies on their real power and why should Digital Marketers care.

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  • As a connector who's an aspiring professional speaker, I regret it that I can't find much on this subject on the net so thanks for sharing this presentation. I am like a sponge right now. Absorbing anything I can find about connecting.
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  • 1. CONNECTORS,
NETWORKS
and
INNOVATION
SUCCESS
 by
Werner
Iucksch
 
 It
may
not
look
like
it,
but
one
of
the
most
controversial
concepts
around
social
 networks
is
that
of
the
importance
of
individuals
that
became
known
as
 “connectors”.
In
“The
Tipping
Point”,
Malcolm
Gladwell
argues
that
this
special
 kind
of
people
are
able
to
pick‐up
ideas,
values,
trends
from
one
cluster
of
people
 and
transport
it
to
another,
spreading
ideas
in
society.
As
connectors
are
linked
 to
a
high
number
of
people,
they
could
initiate
big
movements
of
behaviour
 change.
 
 
 
 In
“Linked”,
Albert‐László
Barabási
writes
that
his
research
found
that
some
 places
in
cyberspace
(that
he
calls
“hubs”)
concentrate
a
vast
amount
of
links
and
 traffic
of
information.
The
author
suggests
that
this
result
reinforce
the
theory
of
 the
“power
of
connectors”.
 This
would
confirm
a
golden
piece
of
information
to
marketers.
Imagine
the
 economies
that
would
be
possible
by
marketing
to
a
selected
group
of
people,
 subsequently
letting
them
use
their
networks
to
spread
the
news
and
drive
 adoption
of
products
or
services.

 This
concept
is
now
widely
accepted
around
the
business
world,
Procter
and
 Gamble
even
sells
the
access
to
such
group
of
people,
but
if
that’s
what
it
takes
to
 spread
the
word
and
drive
adoption
of
new
product/services,
why
most
of
them
 continue
to
die
off?
 One
of
the
most
respected
network
researchers,
Duncan
Watts,
from
Columbia
 University,
is
also
interested
in
this
question.
He
found
some
interesting
data
and
 formulated
some
hypotheses
on
why
that
happens,
when
he
conducted
an

  • 2. enhanced
version
of
Stanley
Milgram’s
“Small
World
experiment”
(the
one
that
 argues
that
any
two
people
in
the
world
are
separated
by
no
more
than
6
other
 people)
 After
starting
more
than
60,000
e‐mail
chains
to
find
18
targets
around
the
 globe,
Watts
noticed
that
only
5%
of
the
messages
passed
through
highly
 connected
people.
From
this
data
it
is
possible
to
hypothesize
that
although
 some
people
may
have
many
more
connections
than
others,
it
doesn’t
mean
that
 they
have
much
the
power
to
influence
behaviour,
for
they
are
not
relied
upon
 for
given
tasks.
Of
course
this
hypothesis
had
a
great
impact:
 
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtnR5H6AVVU
 
 If
this
is
the
case,
it’s
fair
to
say
it
takes
more
to
the
adoption
of
new
 ideas/products/services
than
simply
having
them
spread
around
by
connectors.
 But
what?

 Innovation
diffusion
is
a
new
science,
but
some
studies
point
the
way.
It’s
helpful
 to
think
about
“critical
thresholds”,
a
concept
that
basically
estates
that
 contagion
of
individuals
with
ideas
will
only
happen
if
a
certain
threshold
of
 influence
is
achieved.
 For
example,
someone
may
begin
to
use
a
product
because
it
is
interesting,
 someone
else
close
to
him
notices
that
it
solves
a
problem
s/he
has.
A
third
 friend
notices
that
two
of
his
colleagues
are
using
it
and
is
no
longer
shy
to
try
 the
innovation.
This
way
they
may
build
an
“infected
social
cluster”,
which
can
be
 connected
to
other
clusters
(groups
of
people
they
know)
in
such
a
way
that
it
 will
convert
enough
individuals
to
cascade
the
usage
of
the
product
to
more
and
 more
clusters,
until
it’ll
get
to
a
point
where
critical
mass
is
achieved
to
unfold
a
 global
infection
(or
global
adoption
of
the
innovation).

 This
is,
however,
an
extraordinarily
difficult
process
to
manipulate
or
to
predict.
 As
we
hear
so
often,
movie
studios
still
invest
millions
of
dollars
in
projects
that
 don’t
take
off
(e.g.
Waterworld,
Battlefield
Earth),
music
history
is
full
of
groups
 heavily
promoted
that
never
lived
up
to
the
“hype”
(e.g.
any
one
hit
wonder)
and
 books
as
successful
as
Harry
Potter
get
rejected
several
times
before
being
 published.

It
can
be
argued
that
professionals
involved
were
not
so
competent,
 made
bad
decisions,
but
there’s
an
additional
component
that
is
a
pretty
cruel:
 human
behaviour.
 

  • 3. 
 Another
experiment
is
very
telling
of
our
social
nature.
Some
years
ago,
aprox.
 14,000
people
were
recruited
to
evaluate
a
number
of
songs
from
unknown
 musicians
via
a
website,
downloading
whichever
they
wanted.
Half
of
these
 people
only
had
information
about
the
name
of
the
band
and
the
song,
not
being
 able
to
have
any
interaction
with
each
other
(thus
each
person
was
not
 influenced
by
anyone
else).
The
other
half
was
sub‐divided
in
8
groups.
In
 addition
to
the
name
of
band
and
song,
each
person
in
a
sub‐group
had
access
to
 a
real‐time
“quality
rating”
and
number
of
downloads
of
each
song
by
the
other
 sub‐group’s
members
(so
there
were
eight
independent
social
sub‐groups,
each
 with
their
own
rankings,
quality
levels
and
number
of
downloads.)
 If
the
publishers
that
rejected
Harry
Potter
were
so
incompetent,
the
book’s
 quality
should
be
evident
to
anyone
since
the
first
draft.
Likewise,
every
group
in
 the
experiment
should
have
evaluated
each
song
similarly,
given
the
size
of
the
 sample.
However,
the
song
ranking
of
the
first
half
(the
one
that
only
knew
the
 name
of
the
bands
and
songs)
was
radically
different
from
that
of
the
sub‐ groups.

 The
sub‐groups
results
were
yet
more
interesting.
They
were
remarkably
 different
amongst
themselves.
The
top
song
in
one
group
was
the
40th
in
another
 group
and
so
on.
The
reason:
the
top
song
in
a
group
was
well
evaluated
early
in
 the
process
and
as
other
respondents
were
able
to
see
the
ratings
of
other
 people,
they
ended
up
being
influenced
by
the
opinions.
In
other
groups,
another
 song
was
an
early
leader,
so
they
had
a
different
result.
This
is
something
that
is
 observed
in
other
areas
of
science
and
is
known
as
“Power
Law”,
or
as
the
 expression
goes:
“the
rich,
get
richer”.

 Well,
if
connectors
do
not
equal
success
and
if
it
is
so
hard
to
predict
the
 behaviour
of
networks,
what
can
marketers
do?

  • 4. From
what
was
learned,
speed,
control
and
flexibility
seem
to
be
essential.
One
 idea
to
take
advantage
of
them
is
to
launch
many
products/services
at
the
same
 time,
measure
their
adoption
in
the
first
moments
of
their
lives.
As
soon
as
it’s
 possible
to
identify
which
one
has
most
potential
to
spread,
rearrange
the
budget
 in
benefit
of
this
option,
making
people
aware
of
it,
facilitating
its
growth.
Also
 check
if
some
other
product/service
is
doing
well
within
important
niches,
 calculate
its
potential
and
invest
accordingly.
Terminate
the
rest.

 In
communication,
rather
than
having
a
big
launch
of
one
finalised
version
 campaign,
it
may
be
the
case
of
spreading
several
different
messages
and
 interaction
possibilities,
with
common
values
and
strategic
direction,
in
a
smaller
 scale.
After
some
time,
evaluate
how
each
one
is
doing
(WOM,
sales,
brand
value,
 etc.)
and
invest
heavily
in
whatever
is
considered
more
important
at
the
 moment.
The
concept
is
similar
to
that
of
beta
testing
many
versions
of
software
 before
rolling
out
a
full
commercial
version.
 If
this
is
done,
connectors
can
be
useful.
Although
they
are
not
necessarily
 influential
to
everyone,
they
can
help
to
seed
a
variety
of
messages
quite
fast.
 With
a
variety
of
messages,
it
is
more
likely
that
there
will
be
some
that
are
 relevant
by
themselves
(without
the
need
of
a
connector
vouching
for
it),
gaining
 space
because
they
reach
the
appropriate
audience
and
achieve
critical
mass
fast
 enough
and
will
live
longer,
because
resources
will
be
reallocated
to
keep
them
 growing.

 This
is
an
idea.
Science
still
is
learning
how
networks
operate
and
businesses
are
 still
struggling
to
make
the
most
of
social
networks
and
digital
platforms.
There
 are
no
proven
models
yet;
there
is
more
in
developing
a
successful
 product/service
than
speed,
flexibility
and
control;
the
way
brands
are
thought
is
 changing
with
the
behaviour
of
individuals.
There
are
lots
of
threats,
as
well
as
 lots
of
opportunities.
What
an
exciting
time
to
work
with
communications.



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