Friday, May 07, 2004

The Tipping Point

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell is a very interesting read. Gladwell shows how adding up a number of specific little things can cause an idea or trend to flourish. He makes a comparison with the way epidemics get started. He identifies certain types of people who are key to the spread: Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen. If you pitch just these people with your idea, and they like it enough, your idea will spread to the rest of the population.

I was reading this book the same week we launched our intranet, and was happy to see how we had unconsciously implemented some of the strategies he mentions for spreading an idea. I used other little ideas to "tweak" our marketing campaign. Most notably, you want to make an idea or a product "sticky" so that people return to it again and again.

That is the on-going challenge with running an intranet or website, so I could really see how that directly applies. Our unplanned use of a mascot "Wiglet" for our intranet Wig seemed to have a really stickiness factor, so we are planning to incorporate it increasingly in our site. It is not a coincidence that, on successful intranets, the most-visited pages are those that seem to have little to do with work: joke of the day, chat room where people sell their items, or menus in the cafeteria, an example we saw in a law firm in NYC. These are not bad things--these are the things that get people hooked into checking that first page every day.

If you get a chance, I do recommend this book. It is very readable, has great examples, and since it is not aimed at a certain group, allows the reader to take from it what we want.

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