Looking for followers may be more predictive than looking for leaders

Ever since Malcolm Gladwell made the topic of influence popular with his book Tipping Point there has been a healthy debate between those who ‘believe’ that there are a host of influencers living amongst us, and those who believe that influence effects are rare/minimal. Check out “Is the Tipping Point Toast?” by Clive Thompson on Fast Company.

The TED video below by Derek Silver shows (in just three minutes) a great illustration of why influence (as a push phenomenon) might be less interesting that a propensity to follow, especially a propensity to follow people we are similar too.

In the video, Derek Silver is talking about leadership, but the same message is true for influence. If we had analysed the dancing man example in a big data way, we would typically assume that the first dancer was ‘influential’. But when we look hard at what is happening, we can see how important following is to the pattern.

If you found this post interesting, you might want to check out my post “Does influence exist, or is it homophily?

And, to continue the trend of finishing with a question, a two-part question. Where was the picture in the header of this post taken? Why is image of interest in terms of trends, influence, and following?