Last Updated Dec 14, 2007 7:00 PM EST
"In terms of voting behavior, family and significant others are more influential than celebrities in engaging support for a political candidate. At first glance, it would appear that the money and time invested in celebrity support is wasteful."So what's this have to do with business? New research in the Journal of Advertising Research suggests that what's true in selling politicians is true in selling products. The opinions of key influencers (like Oprah) matter less than those of ordinary people. Venture Capitalist Guy Kawasaki summarized the findings on his blog:
James Coyle, assistant professor of marketing at Miami University's Farmer School of Business, Elizabeth Lightfoot of CNET Networks, and Ted Smith and Amy Scott of MedTrackAlert conducted the study... Said Coyle: "We find that trying to track down key influencers, people who have extremely large social networks, is typically unnecessary and, more importantly, can actually limit a campaign or advertisement's viral potential. Instead, marketers need to realize that the majority of their audience, not just the well-connected few, is eager and willing to pass along well-designed and relevant messages."Kawasaki agrees, and describes key influencers as, "pompous, insecure jerks who take themselves way too seriously. And I say this knowing that you can rightfully accuse me of being one of them."
(Image of Oprah and Obama by Joe Crimmings, CC 2.0)