In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point, he talks about the spread of new ideas and behaviours, as creating a social epidemic. For marketing this means creating a viral brand, one that spreads through word of mouth and trend setting.
Certainly in the post mass media era, if your brand does not have some viral nature to it, growth is going to be very expensive, as Seth Godin makes the case in his book The Purple Cow.
Today, many businesses measure the viral nature of their brand through a “net promoter” score.
In order for a brand to go viral, (according to Gladwell’s The Tipping Point), it needs three types of people:
1. connectors, who create the social networks
2. mavens, who create the information to be spread
3. salesmen, who persuade people to buy
On the internet, social media is a meeting place for connectors, mavens and salesmen.
Facebook, Linked In and Twitter are all based on connectors, people, who create the social networks through which mavens can spread the word.
Mavens are critical to your viral brand strategy. The mavens are the content creators, people who post to your forums, or create buzz, that either builds or erodes your brand.
While it is not authentic to “put words in their mouth”, you can work with mavens, by staging environments where they can express themselves.
Here are some ideas to tap into the brand building power of mavens:
Online communities are one way to attract mavens to create information. Any subject area charged with enough passion will naturally form an online community.
Another way to attract mavens is to start a raging debate on and off line, with an inspiring person. Create buzz in the market by working with mavens that are infectous enough to get other mavens talking.
Infectous people, like Jamie Oliver and his school kitchen project are mavens, who are so compelling, they inspire other mavens to join in.
Find out who your mavens are, or who they can potentially be.
To find out where your mavens are, listen to the conversation in the marketplace. Track it online, google alert can help here, as well as other social media monitors, some of which are free to download.
Mind map all your mavens, their key messages and the relationship between their information and your brand.
Connect with people who are already mavens, and join in their conversation. As a brand, always identify as such, be honest and passionate in all you do and say.
Create knowledge, news and concepts, mavens are drawn to sharing and adding value to new knowledge, news and concepts, in fact they find it irresistible. I should know, I am a self confessed maven.
Hearts and Minds