It's all about you, looking at me, looking at you

The Fifth Law of Marketing in the age of Zipfluence: It's not a network, stupid

Let's talk about networks. Then we'll talk about effects.

The network. The social graph. The six degrees of separation. These are arguably the most important ideas to emerge in marketing and communications over the past 25 years.

They lay at the heart of Facebook's revolutionary new business model

The social graph. That ability to map relationships. Trace the connections. Monitor behaviours. Target individuals based on their unique aspirations and preferences.

But what if the whole idea of mapping the network isn't so much wrong but simply naive?

What if these network maps. These network trees. These communal blueprints. These social graphs are a regressive way of thinking? Of understanding the dynamic nature of socio-economic behaviour?

What if, rather than talking about networks, we should be talking about complex adaptive systems?

You see the problem with network maps is they are static constructs. They may well work well in the context of finding the right train station on a rail network or connecting flight across a global network of air routes. But they are totally useless when it comes to describing what happens in nature when we watch a flock of sheep being shepherded by a dog, a school of fish being schooled by Dolphins, or a murmuration of starlings casting shadows across the late afternoon skies in response to the circling hawk, or the global financial market's reaction to economic data.

You see in all our excitement in our ability to map static networks we have forgotten the business of marketing is about signalling and proactively influencing market behaviour.

It's all about creating movement. The vigorous art of applying stimuli to motivate the market to move in the right direction. Your direction. Away from the competition.

Not bringing the market to rest on a map.

And the key to motivating the market is the look. Or, more accurately, the art of signalling is: "all about you, looking at me, looking at you".

What makes Facebook special isn't the social graph. It is the game of lists, likes, followers and shares it has wrapped around the simple act of owning a web page. Facebook is a new signalling platform. Just like Google did a decade ago it has changed the game of signalling. Consequently it appears we have little choice but to play by these new rules of signalling

Today the advertising and marketing world is playing the Facebook game or the Google game. An infinite and extremely profitable game of Lists, Likes, Followers and Shares

The problem is, in this brave new world of big data, Gamification = Garbage

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