Traditional coalition building or public engagement has always been more than a little hierarchical, driven in great part by the theory and the benefit of using influentials as an organizing and driving principle.
But in the flat world of Web communication networks, where theoretically everyone can be equally informed or engaged – is the old communication strategy of seeking out influential opinion-leaders really dead?
How ’bout if you’re trying to assemble a network or coalition focused on a specific goal?
“Forget the “influentials.” You must buy into the theory that products and services reach critical mass because mere mortals spread the word for you. This defies the common wisdom that a handful of “influentials” shape what the rest of us try and what we adopt. In the online world, these influentials include Mike “I can go a week without Twitter” Arrington, Robert Scoble, Seth Godin, and to some extent me.
Reliance on influentials is flawed because the Internet has flattened and democratized information. Influentials don’t have as much special access, special knowledge, and distribution as you might think because of the growth of websites, blogs, and, of course, Twitter.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t care about influentials—if nothing else they can help you get to what some consider “nobodies.” But mark my words: (a) Nobodies are the new somebodies, and (b) it’s better to have army of committed nobodies and than a few drive-by somebodies. The most somebodies can usually do for you is a one day bump in traffic.
One more point: if enough nobodies like what you do, the somebodies will have no choice but to write about you. In this way, the buzz of nobodies begets the attention of somebodies and not vice versa.”