The Technological Revolutions of Yesterday

Research in recent decades has given us new insights into how people are influenced.

In fact, Paul Lazarfeld points out that influence comes about from what he calls “a two-step flow of communication.” In other words, he’s noticed that “opinion leaders” filter information between the mass media and “ordinary citizens.”

However, as it turns out, people used to form their opinions not from mass media, but from whom they interacted with. This was the theory many marketers relied on in yesteryears.

However, why is influence changing so rapidly? And why are many marketers, sales-people, and entrepreneurs using old-hat ideas to this ever-increasing flow of technology and how people are being influenced?

In the last 2 decades we’ve already gone through 3 technological revolutions of how people become influenced.

The first revolution of the digital age, came as broadband connections. This allowed people to create and disperse information on a great scale, then had been witnessed in times past. Citizens became publishers and broadcasting became broader — than in the past ( that is: with the way huge television and media networks responsible for huge swaths of disseminated information). Micro interactions and anonymous crowds were swaying opinions and influencing people in interesting and brilliant ways. Amateur experts with little to no credentials started to build large audiences, because of Google’s PageRank.

The second revolution is linked with mobile connections, and the increase of usage among people and their cell phones. As Mark Schaefer puts it in his book “Return on Influence,” “84% of American adults and 80% of teenagers have cell-phones, more than half of adults have laptops with mobile ties, and 11% have tablet computers. All told, 63% of adults connect to the internet on the fly.” Because people are always connected, there is more of a tendency for people to be impulsive, as they make decisions whether to send a text, or comment/post through an app on a spur of the moment basis.

The third revolution comes in the various ways social networking sites have configured information. For example, many people have responded to the attack for their attention and the over-abundance of data and information by relying on their social network and how other interact around information (reviews, comments on posts, sharing of information around layers of their peers/ peers of peers’/ peers’ of peers’ peers .) With this, new advice and peer support networks are springing up.

However, even though there is money to be made by understanding better ways to influence people, people are catching up to the manipulative ways marketers and others are bombarding and misunderstanding people.

The bottom line — as evidenced by the Pew internet project — is that people are expressing what they really want: more access and opportunities to communicate and connect to people that share their passions and interests. In turn, this allows for us to be more influenced and influential.

That said, today, a lot of how you are socially scored will determine your social status, job options, and dating life. this doesn’t mean how many like and friends and connections you have — but how you connect, and influence people. The good new it that we don’t have to rely on chance, but can choose in ways that matter.

(Next Article: How do you become more influential? And how do you measure and grow your return on that influence?)