Forget Influencers — the New Metric of Interest will be “Saturation Point

Note: this post is from Jun ’07. We’re reposting because J references it in Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation, and noting how wonderful it is that NextStage’s research presaged information overload, how people would be responding and Millennials’ quest for “authenticity” way back when….

Lots of people (including yours truly) have talked about influencers and their value in social networks and social marketing. Basically, find the people who can influence the most others and win them to your side then turn them loose.

I still accept that model to a point.

The challenge is that I’m finally having another spurt of time to catch up on all the research we’ve done over the past few years, mostly our unpublished stuff, and I noticed something about influencers and their audience.

It’s one of those confluence things, a butterfly flapping its wings things.

Our information intensive culture is making influencers less…umm…influential. More correctly, it’s decreasing the amount of time an influencer can influence a given audience on a given topic.

People reach saturation points. Saturation points on everything. You can only be in the pool for so long. You can only drink so much milk. Saturation points are kind of where information mechanics meet aversion therapy.

Eat too much pasta in one day (for example) and you don’t want to look at another bowl of spaghetti for years. You even smell tomato sauce and you get nauseous. Drink too much coffee in one day and you can’t even stomach coffee ice cream. Listen to too many stories about food shortages and you start to either non-conscious tune them out or consciously change the channel. See too many news pieces on suicide bombers and you start to either reach the channel changer or walk out of the room when they’re on.

Strangely enough, its that same way with advertising and marketing. Only more so. You see an ad and it amuses you so you pay attention. Great! See that ad ten times in the course of an evening’s viewing and you’ll never buy that product or service again.

And now there’s the internet. So many voices saying so many things about all the same thing that you get a little numb. A saturation point occurs and you don’t want to hear, read, see or talk about that topic again. Even if it’s one you’re passionate about.

Saturation points are closely tied to traditional marketing concepts. You can reach a saturation point to print and still be receptive to radio, tv and internet broadcasts. You can reach a saturation point to radio and tv yet still be receptive to print and internet.

But because of the way our culture gets its information these days — the dominance of internet as the primary information channel among certain demographics (and more and more demographics as time marches on) – you get saturated on the internet and by golly you’ve shut down to everything else.

This is an amusing (to me) piece. People will reach multi-channel saturation points on the internet because (and I don’t know why) people still consider the internet as something more personal, more private, more uniquely their own than print, tv, radio and other forms of marketing.

Blimey! All that time companies spent working at giving site visitors more personalization abilities, more customization abilities? It turns out that site visitors really did start to consider their customized, personalized webpages as their own.

So how dare you, Mr. or Ms. Company, put your advertising on my webpage.

Oops. Goes beyond squashing that butterfly, don’t you think? Makes you want to exterminate the whole freakin’ species, doesn’t it?

Please contact NextStage for information regarding presentations and trainings on this and other topics.

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