Sometimes the turn of a phrase or even just the lack of a single word can be all the difference between delivering a powerful and highly proficient viral marketing message or missing the boat entirely. Gord Hotchkiss has recently posted an excellent breakdown of what turns a rumor or message into that successful viral entity all marketers hope for.
Gord begins with “Jumping The Weak Ties”. This is the concept of creating an idea compelling enough that it will have the ability to transcend a social group and leap out to other groups, creating the viral buzz. Gord also addresses “Moral Hazard” at the same time, which is the idea that even a compelling idea, when laden down with conditions, may fail to be able to break the barrier of the initial social group and ultimately fail. Gord does a nice job of covering historical research on these ideas as well as offering up some well thought out and useful examples.
Gord then moves along to cover two topics which may interest marketers even more. “Juicy Rumors” and “Negative Rumors”.
When discussing juicy rumors I believe Gord hits upon the key element for marketers and that is; can a marketer deliver an idea to a person who feels constantly compelled to be in the know? These are the types of people who are then able to easily and successfully spread the rumor all the while sharpening and fine tuning the rumor–or in this case marketing an idea into something that people want to talk about not only in their own social network but across all networks.
Finally Gord touches on how negative rumors can more often than not be more compelling and more easily spread across social networks. Touching on the idea that it is human nature to want to build oneself up through the misfortune of others as well as the altruistic sense of responsibility that one might feel to protect their social peers from whatever negative misfortune may be befalling someone else.
In either event, I think the concept strongly suggests just how important reputation management is to a marketer. Don’t get buzz killed, while trying to create a buzz, may be the moral to the story.