Malcolm Gladwell’s, The Tipping Point, divulges some amazing information on trends. “Trending” is definitely a hot word right now in every industry. It especially holds weight in the journalism and communication fields in which social media and audience reaching is such a necessity.
The Tipping Point focuses on explaining why certain social trends spread so expansively. Gladwell illustrates how a single idea can spread to reach a massive group of people. As multimedia journalists, the whole goal is to have your content reach people. While reading, I found the most interesting example that Gladwell used to describe his “tipping point” theory is what seemed like the sudden drop in crime rate in New York City. He argued that the quick decrease in the number of crimes was not random at all. He concludes that there were two main factors. The first was the cleaning of graffiti in the subway system and the second was the stopping of toll skippers. While these may seem like minor offenses, they became a visible sign to the masses that even small crimes would not be tolerated. This snowballed into the effective lowering of violent crime rates because if such a small thing is being punished, then surely a major one will. This is all in line with Gladwell’s idea of the “power of context.” As reporters, we are taught that context is everything when writing a credible news story. Interestingly, Gladwell argues that in order to reach the tipping point, sometimes it is not about how many people you reach, but which people. Certain groups are just more apt to spark the newest trend. This made me realize how crucial it is for me to not only know my target audience before I post a new blog entry, but also to be aware of how influential they are. Will they be able to spread my name and ideas to a larger group? Considering context is crucial in every media endeavor.
Lastly, one of the most useful ideas for college students like myself is the “connector” portion of the book. Connectors do just that… they connect people to people. They know everyone. I can think of a handful of people whom I have become acquaintances with at the University of Florida that are exactly this way. You know this guy or gal! They have an “in” to every club, organization, and get stopped in public a million times during the day because people want to say hello to them. These people just have a way about them; a natural ability to make lasting connections with someone everywhere that they go. They are connectors. As an upperclassman in college, attempting to be a connector or at least becoming friendly with one is essential. As the job and internship search is in the all-too-real future, connectors are a major player in this arena. They may know someone who knows someone who is hiring in the exact field or position that you are dying to break into. My advice: work these connectors. If you can’t be one yourself, then get to know one very well. It could very well lead you to an incredible opportunity!