How To Really Influence People

Last Updated Jan 24, 2008 12:17 PM EST

Who matters more: the influencer or the people they influence? The answer seems obvious. But the Relationship Economics blog posted an item, Market to the Influenced! that argued the influencers are not so important as they might seem. Getting enough people sufficiently influenced to spread the word is often more important than the influencers themselves.

Relationship Economics uploaded the PDF of the research paper submitted to The Journal of Consumer Research. That was useful for drilling down to see what it says.

It pulled some quotes from a Science News article on the research, too. Those are not useful, in that they tell us things like to make viral marketing work, "make it a good idea" or "be remarkable" Duh.

Good, remarkable ideas typically are the hard part. A New York Observer article, Beloved Esquire Franchise, 'Dubious Achievements,' Becomes One, noted that the people who worked on Esquire's annual Dubious Achievements issue (may it rest in peace) did so because they were passionate about the project, and would spend months crafting the items. They might spend three hours to get six jokes, five of which would be rejected by the project's head. They did this kind of work every day for perhaps two or three months.

That is how you get the kind of remarkable ideas that will influence the influencers, and wow the influenced. Though, as we saw with Esquire, you can be so influential that you get copied out of existence.

  • Michael Fitzgerald

    Michael Fitzgerald writes about innovation and other big ideas in business for publications like the New York Times, The Economist, Fast Company, Inc. and CIO. He’s worked as a writer or editor at Red Herring, ZDNet, TechTV and Computerworld, and has received numerous awards as a writer and editor. Most recently, his piece on the hacker collective the l0pht won the 2008 award for best trade piece from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. He was also a 2007 Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellow in Science and Religion.