Best Way to Spread Ideas Through Social Media – Use Malcolm Gladwell’s Theory

There are many theories as to how ideas spread, such as Jonah Berger’s message characteristics, Seth Godin’s people characteristics and Malcolm Gladwell’s network characteristics. All three of these theories makes perfect sense as to how it can be correlated to one another to make idea spreads.

The Perfect Three

From the above image, you can see how when a brand wants the idea to spread. Based on Seth Goldin’s theory, we must first know who is the audiences that are interested in listening to the brand.

Next is to craft a message or idea that will appeal to catch the attention of the readers using the different characteristics listed in Jonah Berger’s theory.

Lastly, it is to utilise the network based on Malcolm Gladwell’s network characteristics to encourage people to spread the idea and message for the brand.

Which Theory Is the Best to Spread Ideas on Social Media?

Gif from Giphy

My take on the best way to spread ideas through social media is using Malcolm Gladwell’s network characteristics which talks about the “three rules of epidemics” (or the three “agents of change”).

According to Gladwell, economists call this the “80/20 Principle, which is the idea that in any situation roughly 80 percent of the ‘work’ will be done by 20 percent of the participants“. The participants are categorised into three – Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen.

Here are two explanation as to why I said so.

You Can Have Great Message But What If There’s Minimal ‘Reach’?

Photo from iStock

A brand can create great contents and post it on social media, but if they have low followers or engagement, the idea/content will not go viral.

However, using Malcolm Gladwell’s framework, with the use of connectors, they would spread the message for the brand. With the theory of six degrees of separation and using Facebook as an example, we can see how having connectors enable the idea to spread and potentially go viral due to their connection of knowing a large group of people.

You Know Your Target Audience But What If There is Minimal ‘Influence’?

Image from Raw Pixel

A brand can identify their target audience, but they might not necessarily have the characteristic to spread the idea or content to create sufficient influence on people.

However, using Malcolm Gladwell’s framework, with the use of maven and salesman, it encourages word-of-mouth for idea and content to influence a larger scale of the audience as they serve as a reliable source of information for the target audience.

The Classic Example – Glossier

Image from Glossier

This is a screenshot of how Glossier uses social media to get anyone and everyone to talk about the brand with the three categories of people in Malcolm Gladwell’s framework.

In conclusion, my debate is that Malcolm Gladwell’s framework is the best applicable theory to spread the idea through social media. Do you agree or disagree with me? Share your thoughts with me as I would like to know too!

Signing off,


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