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Fast Company: Want to go viral? Influencers won’t be much help if you’re trying to spread a complex idea

From Fast Company: Marketing and public relations gospel has long banked on the idea that simply reaching the well-connected people at the centers of social networks will create success. If you can just get your brilliant innovation to Kevin Bacon, then virality and riches will follow, right?
Wrong, say social network researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, who have found that influencers are rather impotent when it comes to changing the behavior and beliefs of others, and might be detrimental to some messaging.
It comes down to the fact that people only adopt complex information from influencers whose beliefs they support. For example, say you’re not a fan of the Kardashians. Because of this, your perception of any idea they support will be tarnished. Multiply that by tens of millions of people. Surprisingly, the researchers discovered that new and provocative ideas emerge at the edge of networks, from people with fewer contacts and little obvious pull. “Our big discovery is that every network has a hidden social cluster in the outer edges that is perfectly poised to increase the spread of a new idea by several hundred percent,” says lead author Damon Centola, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania. “These social clusters are ground zero for triggering tipping points in society.” Read the full story in Fast Company 

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