An analogy with network theory defines interesting solutions for effective online marketing and brand building

Being lovable, in the digital world, is about being effective. And, effectiveness has a universal charm.

Vadipatti is a small taluk in the Madurai district of Tamil Nadu. “On average a rural adult in Vadipatti travels beyond 5km from his or her home less than once a month. In an earlier study elsewhere in Madurai district we found that of 200 entrepreneurs, less than 2% travelled beyond 20km to sell products—ever. Contrast this with our behaviour. We often travel hundreds of kilometres in a month and go beyond 5km more than once every day,” says Tara Thiagarajan, chairperson of Madura Micro Finance. “Many people reported that they interact with only 25 people through most of the year. And with such low mobility, new information coming in is rare.” Thiagarajan believes that such situations, when interactions with others are minimal, are central to understanding why people are poor.

Thiagarajan says that what matters in complex systems – and the economy is one such system – are not the individual elements but the structure of interaction between these elements.

She illustrates this insight using the example of the carbon atom: “You can’t really describe the properties of a single carbon atom because the properties only manifest on interaction with other atoms. Carbon can become hard like a diamond when the atoms form tight bonds or be soft like graphite when the bonds are more fluid.” The same element can become either a brilliant diamond or a piece of black graphite depending on how carbon atoms bond together.

Economic outcomes can be understood in similar terms: What really matters is how individual units link together in networks and how information flows dynamically along these links. The marooned lives of the poor in Madurai are a recipe for poverty, which the regular government schemes may not be able to tackle. What could help poor communities more would be interventions, products and infrastructure that strengthen the flow of information in these areas. “In impoverished communities, flow of knowledge and information is poor. The network structure and dynamics look different from those of more progressive swathes of society where networks are extremely dense with faster and more efficient dynamics,” says Thiagarajan, who is also a visiting scientist at the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore. Economists have written about how so-called agglomeration effects reduce the cost of economic transactions, give easier access of skills and offer a rich information environment. That is one reason why dense cities are economic powerhouses. Recently, economist Ricardo Hausmann and physicist César Hidalgo, both at Harvard University, US, used network science to show the richest countries are the ones with the most dense economic networks, because that allows for specialization.

So how does a microfinance firm use these insights into the importance of networks? “In microfinance, our goal is not so much to create networks as it is to use information ourselves to enable productive flow of capital,” says Thiagarajan. Yet, she adds, “We are working to take the insights we gain from the Vadipatti research and turn it into tools that can assess the risk of micro-enterprises based on the network and knowledge characteristics of the entrepreneur.
#Article Courtesy – Mint, Fri, 9-Mar-2012”

Internet is a densely connected network where people learn about, investigate, purchase & interact with brands!

And, thanks to this connected world, human beings are hyper-consuming information. As an outcome, CONSUMERS are become increasingly INFLUENTIAL in BRAND-BUILDING process.

The connected world has redefined customer journey in 3 significant ways:

  1. It must be defined through the customer’s point of view, not the marketer’s
  2. Customer loyalty is not linear, but rather a continous process of exploration and interaction
  3. It is not isolated to just one person at a time – the entire world influences it

Effectiveness of online marketing doesn’t depend on individual elements (read: Content, Communication, Design & Platforms), but the structure of interaction between these elements.

So, repetition of stimuli is the key to strengthening any memory.