In this post, we’ll unpack all you need to know about The Tipping Point, defining exactly what it is, how it is achieved and more.
What Is The Tipping Point?
The Tipping Point is the point of critical mass ― the threshold where the demand of an idea has achieved enough momentum for it to truly go viral. More simply, it is the moment when things go from moving gradually to suddenly.
What Makes Something Tip?
In his book The Tipping Point, Martin Gladwell uses the science of epidemics to decode what makes ideas go viral. He specifically outlines the three essential factors that create The Tipping Point. They are: The Law of the Few, The Stickiness Factor and The Power Of Context.
In the words of Gladwell, “Epidemics are a function of the people who transmit infectious agents, the infectious agent itself, and the environment in which the infectious agent is operating.”
Below we’ll unpack each of the three factors in more detail.
The Law Of The Few
Firstly, epidemics require the right people.
The Law Of The Few is inspired by the 80/20 Principle. It illustrates that it takes a minority of people to accelerate the spread of an idea to the majority.
The key to leveraging The Law Of The Few is to focus resources on three groups of people. Firstly, Mavens, who derive their influence through the power of expertise. Secondly, Connectors, who derive their influence through the power of their network. Thirdly, Salesmen, who derive their influence through the power of persuasion.
When a small number of highly infectious individuals ― known as influencers ― become viral vectors for an idea by adopting it themselves and then spreading the word, it marks the start of an epidemic.
“The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.” ― Martin Gladwell
The Stickiness Factor
Secondly, epidemics require the right message.
The Stickiness Factor is inspired by the broadcast term sticky. It illustrates how there are specific ways of making a message more memorable and ultimately contagious.
The key to leveraging The Stickiness Factor is to package information in a way that compels people to pay close, sustained attention to your message and then act upon it.
The process of finding a message that is sticky requires trial and error. Thus, it requires testing your message, analysing the result and then making small refinements until you succeed.
“Kids don’t watch when they are stimulated and look away when they are bored. They watch when they understand and look away when they are confused.” ― Martin Gladwell
The Power Of Context
Thirdly, epidemics require the right place.
The Power Of Context is inspired by The Broken Windows Theory. It illustrates how the environment in which a message is distributed significantly impacts how likely people are to adopt it.
The key to leveraging The Power Of Context is to distribute your message in environments that are relevant to your idea and where your message will act favourably.
Ideas that succeed in fitting the context within which they are delivered spread fast, far and wide. Ideas that fail in fitting the context within which they are delivered, don’t.
“Epidemics are sensitive to the conditions and circumstances of the times and place where they occur.” ― Martin Gladwell
The Tipping Point is the moment where the demand of an idea achieves enough momentum that it crosses a threshold necessary for it to sweep through a population and truly go viral.
The Tipping Point is the result of the right people communicating the right message in the right place.
Using this knowledge, we are armed with a blueprint for how to successfully make our own ideas go viral.