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A Question [Sep. 4th, 2009|01:53 pm]
[Current Location |work]
[Current Mood |amusedamused]

While checking out Stephen Fry's website (this post, specifically: http://www.stephenfry.com/2009/08/26/servers-with-a-smile/) I had a question which I would like to put out here for the talented and intelligent memebers of my friendslist to ponder/answer:

Is there a term for a person's (or group's, I suppose) ability to drive traffic to a site by talking it up on their social networking venue of choice? I like Fry's analogy to a sort of accidental, human-generated DOS attack, caused by the frenzy of "Oooh, this person I think is cool likes this, I have to check it out so I can like it too" visits. I also was tickled by the idea that some people have so much...gravity, or internet cred, or what have you, that their interest/attempted help is actually harmful to the site. "Gah, the power of your fandom is too much for me, please turn it down!"

If there is not a term, what should it be? I've not thought of anything snappy yet. What do you think?

(Extra credit: I'd like to think there's a way for such personages to still get the word out without causing actual damage/outages. Fry comments that he now hesitates to even mention things so as not to cause problems. Isn't there some way to mention things without causing a stampede?)

[User Picture]From: catenoid
2009-09-05 12:26 am (UTC)
I'd call it 'influence'.

Was "memebers" deliberate?

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[User Picture]From: sucqbus
2009-09-05 04:03 am (UTC)

Of course

Why yes, yes it was ;-)

I would say that "influence" isattractive for it's simplicity and intuitiveness, it doesn't lend itself as well to nerdly measurement and analysis. 'Influence quotient', maybe. It's got a nice mathiness to it.
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[User Picture]From: sareth
2009-09-05 02:30 pm (UTC)
In the professional field of communications, we refer to several things when taking about this.

Certain people are "opinion leaders." The general idea is that most people are not swayed by direct advertising. What they are influenced by is key individuals. These "Opinion Leaders" have a great deal of influence, because if they decide a product is good, and say so, then the people around them will be strongly influenced to do so as well. Thus, if you really want to get word out about a product, you need to convince Opinion Leaders, not masses. Not everyone in the communications field agrees, but it has a strong following.

The other term you may be interested in is "Viral Marketing." Viral Marketing is the use of non-traditional means to get people curious about a product. An example is scrawling a web site URL on a side walk in chalk. Viral Marketing involves deliberate use of "whisper campaigns," and "word of mouth" to the word out. As such, it relies heavily on social networking (online social networking is particularly powerful.) Basically, the idea is that if they do something funky and interesting, you'll IM your friends on AIM "Hey! Check this out!" They'll then take a look, say "Cool!" and IM their friends... the awareness will spread through the population like a virus.

Some particularly famous viral marketing schemes included the initial advertising for the movie "Cloverfield" (very successful), avirginsplea.com, (a highly successful hoax), and Cartoon Network's "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" LED ads (small electronic billboards placed in odd locations were meant to get people interested in the show, and instead were mistaken for terrorist bombs.) Similar viral events *not* meant for advertising included the Susan Boyle video clip, Lonlygirl15, and the Free Hugs campaign.
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