Free gift: influence and how things really spread

Posted by on Nov 13, 2008 in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Grandad tug of war2
Earlier this year, Alex and I presented a description of how things really spread through human populations, based on what contemporary behavioural science tells us.

Now we've written it up for Admap and for the next month, you can Download BentleyEarlsAdmap*

For me, the neat thing about this is turns our obsession with influence and influencers and our assumption that marketing is something we do to people (or even with people – it's better understood as something we do to help their social interaction) upside down. And it explains why the stuff that we've been discussing as a community are so powerful – giving folk stuff to do together, helping them see each other, making their interaction more interesting…etc etc

Let me know what you think!

BTW if you haven't caught up with Hugh's latest go at the Blue Monster view of this thinking, then do so immediately. Here.

*Reproduced with permission of Admap, the world’s primary source of strategies for effective advertising, marketing and research. To subscribe visit  © Copyright Admap.


  1. Tim
    November 14, 2008

    Really interesting Mark. I'm in PR- what do I do?!

  2. neilperkin
    November 15, 2008

    Thought you might quite like this…

  3. Mark
    November 15, 2008

    Hi Tim. Think you've got a sense of the answer here

    Otherwise,just have to work out what the world looks like if you're no longer a. transmitting information to the population b. using "influentials" as a stooge

    And thanks, too, Neil, for your kind words. John Griffiths first pointed Exactitudes out to me about 4 years ago: we've discussed these before here and natch in the book

    Thanks, both

  4. tim
    January 14, 2009

    Mark! First of all, thank you for enlightening me on the wonders of the blue monster. Next, here’s a great post on Word of Mouth Motivation –
    I look forward to reading more of what you’ve got going on here. Thanks, again.

  5. Greg Satell
    January 28, 2010

    Interesting. However, I noticed that there weren’t actually any network theorists involved in the research. No graph theory or network models run.
    I also thought it was strange that Duncan Watts was cited, but not his work (which actually concludes the opposite of the article)
    – Greg

  6. Mark Earls
    January 28, 2010

    Thank you, Greg.
    Think you might be reading Duncan’s work very differently. Where do you think he would conclude the opposite? Not in the work he’s published recently e.g. with Matt Salganik about music downloading. The conclusion of those piece chime very closely with what we’re saying here – that influence is much more complicated than is normally presumed, network structure rarely revealing hubs through which things might be propagated and actually to put it bluntly, propagation depending on a population of people ready to embrace what others around them are doing.
    Or have I misunderstood him?