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Is Social Influence Real?

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Here’s an interesting take on an old saw. Your so-called social influence may be a sham. But that doesn’t mean it has no value.

I like the last paragraph of the article cited above:

If the Harvard Study is right and “peer influence is virtually nonexistent,” that doesn’t mean it’s time to throw in the social media towel. All it means is that you may need to adjust your thinking. Instead of pushing to bring new lambs into the fold, sell to the ones you already have corralled.

First, it’s long been a business principle that it’s easier to upsell to current clients than it is to sell to prospects. Nothing new there.

But the study that says that people become friends because they are already interested in the same stuff more than people interest their friends in new things isn’t really new information, is it? I mean, isn’t that how it works in the real world? You become friends with people who have similar interests. You may, once in a while, talk a friend into taking an interest in something new on the basis of your existing relationship. So what?

The so what here is that, though rare, social influence does happen. While it might be savvy marketing to put some money into that influence, there are more cost effective online marketing techniques. And they’re not hard to find.

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