CommonSense Blog

Following the Gravitational Pull

By David Witt | Aug 12, 2013

If you’re like most people, your online behavior often takes you to your most keen interests. Whether you’re an avid cyclist or a dedicated fan of a particular college basketball team, you tend to congregate with others who have that same interest. The fact is there’s a gravitational pull to niche, online. And, some niches (is that a word?) are larger than others.

So what, right? Here are three quick points – you will likely have others.

1)    Influencers, advocates and enthusiasts. There are influencers in nearly all communities and they are distinct from advocates and enthusiasts, in my view. For a variety of reasons, some people just have more influence. Sometimes, influential voices result from being first to the spot. However, this isn’t always sustainable in the online world. Just like a revolution, they’re quickly overrun by the more ardent. The lasting influencers often have a keen sense of “what’s next,” a logical viewpoint that’s easily expressed, or sometimes they’re just good writers. Other influencers have a knack for connecting – most of us know someone like this. When they hear something of interest, they have a skill for efficiently spreading the news to their network and it tends to resonate beyond their network.

Enthusiasts are the loyal and devoted listeners, who sometimes contribute to the conversations but more often than not, are the consistent sponges of the content. Advocates are activated enthusiasts who spread the word outside the community, usually just to their own network.

If you’re a brand, it’s advisable to know the differences in members of communities relevant to your brand. And, if you have something of value to contribute to the influencers and the congregation as a whole, you can participate and capitalize. You can operationalize these activities at scale.

2)    Adjacent or related passion areas. When you thoroughly study the conversations in your communities, you will likely discover adjacent interests. When examining the conversations of a ridiculously famous candy brand, we found that more than one-third of the conversations were about recipes. Discovering and sharing user-generated, brand-specific content around this passion area drove engagement rates significantly higher for the brand. This is replicable for most brands.

3)    Narrow targets. If you’re a brand, it’s beneficial to narrowly define your target. Doing so will assist in finding the congregations important for your brand.

So, the next time you go online and convoke with others who share your same strong interest, think about where you fit. Are you an influencer, an advocate, an enthusiast? Probably more importantly, where do your brands’ advocates and influencers congregate? They’re out there and they’re following the gravitational pull to a niche near you. Let’s find them.