Shooting the Message Because of the Messenger

by Joseph on May 22nd, 2013


You receive an email or tweet or TXT or some such from someone you know. Do you read the message because you know who sent it or because the subject line or first few words or glance catches your attention? Most people probably aren’t aware of their selection criteria. Let me invite you to be more aware (and let me know what you discover, thanks).

An interesting social phenomenon on the rise (NextStage has catalogued anecdotal evidence since 2007) indicates that an increasing number of people decide whether or not to pay attention to a message based on information content, not their relationship to the source.

Please note that NextStage has done no formal research on this. We do keep track of anecdotal evidence, though, and the number of anecdotes dealing with this phenomenon increased steadily albeit slowly from 2007 to 2011. It doubled in 2012 and we’ve already catalogued more in the first five months of 2013 than in all previous years put together.

The curiosity is around whether or not this increase in information-sort over social-sort is due to information bias or not; People are more connected than ever. Does that mean the value of social ties is less than in the past? Are we indeed too social to be social?

Or has the proliferation of content caused us to determine social value by information value? If so, keywords, taglines and the like are going to become very expensive because that’s all marketing will be. Consider how many commercials there are in which the entire conversation between actors is nothing more than a series of soundbytes.

This also means a message’s source can hurt the message’s success in a social system; people will shoot the message because of the messenger. More than that, the value of influencers will decrease sooner rather than later. An influencer’s information quality must remain high because consumers are sorting by information value, not information source. Eventually everyone will have the same “influencer” status within their social circle.

This is going to put a whole new spin on social and related marketing, me thinks.

Patrick McGoohan as The PrisonerI mean, the heck with whether or not you’re a free man (or woman). Just tell me your number or go away.


From NextStageology, Research

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