• 02.01.08

Order Versus Chaos

Duncan Watts’s research tells advertising execs precisely what they don’t want to hear: All their clever (and lucrative!) targeted viral campaigning may ultimately be less effective than good old mass marketing.


In the “two step” model of marketing, well-connected Influentials amplify a trend by relaying media messages out to the social periphery. Marketers can therefore focus on the few as a way of reaching the many.


Accidental Influentials

Watts’s theory says the emergence of a trend depends not on Influentials, but on the susceptibility of the public to the “virus.” Social-network effects are so complex, he says, that trends are basically random.