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At least you are consistent, Gaurav
http://servantofchaos.typepad.com/soc/2008/01/the-democracy-o.html

I am with David Reich on the Servant of Chaos comment. Publicity, which is generally less costly than advertising, can reach a relatively small group of people, to a degree.

Some combination of mass and "influentials" could work, but who knows what the magic formula is? It will probably differ in every case.

Unless I’m way off the mark here, and correct me if I am, the only debate here is whether you should spend your marketing dollars targeting your ads at a lower number of influentials or reaching a broader market. This is a debate about cost trade-offs, not the fundamental nature of social networks.

Given that the objective of most marketers is to spread a given idea in the most cost-efficient manner (and it is), given that improvements in technology will make it more cost-efficient to identify and target influentials (and it will), and given that influentials themselves will become more connected via social media tools (and they will), word-of-mouth/ social/ viral marketing practitioners will do well to continue to focus on the tipping point potential of influentials.

Bud,

Not a stupid question at all. Thank you for taking the time to weigh in and welcome to the conversation. The point of Watts' research is actually to demonstrate two things: that (1) anyone is a network can become a temporary influential if they choose to spread the information; (2) people's level of readiness to see/hear a message influences the spreading of it.

The definition of influential in the Edelman report actually supports that. If you look at the Social Media Index, for example, people who participate in a number of networks are favored. Sure, you will see the most known people measured there, but I would bet that there are many more who have a high index and good mix and are known in other circles.

With spreading I would factor in passion and right time, right place. Some examples of that is that relatively unknown bloggers have broken big news in this last year.

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