If you are what you eat, the world is who you socialize with

This month's blog post comes from Kelly Krumholz, Account Planner and member of the Insights team at Slingshot.

Influence and influencers has been a popular topic for advertisers and marketers. We love to talk about how we create influence, and how we help consumers discover the right brands and products using this influence.

But influence doesn't just come from ‘social media mavens’ or celebrity endorsements. In our hyper-connected world, it is our own personal networks that have the most influence on our lives and our perceptions of the world.

Consider this: If we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with, then our immediate relationships affect how we think, how we feel about ourselves and even our decisions. It even changes our perceptions of the world and society at large, taking what is very diverse and making it feel more unified and homogenous.

There was an interesting example in a recent Washington Post article:


A fictional town is going to vote on a measure: whether baseball caps are fashionable. Each circle is colored to indicate that person’s stance on the issue. Blue circles think they are fashionable. Orange circles think they are not. The line shows who is a part of each person’s social circle.

The question, does this measure pass or fail?

Despite the majority of people considering baseball caps being unfashionable, this measure would pass if everyone voted based upon his or her own perception of the majority.

The rationale:

Because of their personal relationships and connections within the community, the majority may perceive itself to be in the minority. It’s an effect referred to as “the majority illusion” where “the local impression that a specific idea/belief/attribute is common when the global truth is different.”

This effect is especially magnified on social media networks, where according to authors, Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler of “Connected,” our personal network “generally acts to bring similar people together.” But researchers have also observed this across cities and neighborhoods that attract demographically and psychographically similar residents—all leading to skewed, hyper-localized pockets of perception.

So what’s the significance of all this? We need to remember that consumers are not omnipotent. They do not see the whole picture, they only see a small fragment which is perceived through a lens greatly influenced by whom they know.

This means contextual planning is more important than ever in order to fully understand the world that our consumers are perceiving in order to breakthrough with messaging.

Posted Mon, Nov 2, 2015 by Kelly Krumholz in News