A recent article referenced from ars technica has some really interesting things to say about how ideas spread among networks.

There are two factors in how fast an idea spreads and is adopted. The first and most commonly thought of is getting the word out.  The idea’s been pretty standard that if an idea is good, and connected, it will spread.  It seems common sense but….

… The spread of innovations may work more like a game where players are gauging whether to adopt something new based on what others immediately surrounding them do.

And this suggests another factor. Call it more than just the “facebook like factor.”  Because facebook just counts the “like”.  It would be more powerful if facebook told you “Most of your friends like this…”  or “Nearly all of your friends like this!”  But it doesn’t. Thank goodness!

This phenomenon does suggest how to get an edge on the marketing though.

Basically, if your marketing materials can create the aura of popularity, of adoption, of crowd-think then perhaps you can get an edge up in adoption.  Why is this?

The study also suggests…

… a social enclave where everyone has perfect information about what everyone else is doing would never adopt anything new. If people only made decisions based on that others were doing, none of the [friends] would ever see changing as the best strategy,

What this means is that the everyone else is doing it too approach, if it is subtle and not at all obvious, might be an effective strategy to jumpstart the spread of a new idea. Whether it be just an idea, some service you want to provide, a reputation, or a viewpoint, or your product.

People ask me for bits of marketing insight all the time, and I think I’m going to put this one into my own groundswell thinking as well.