It is a genetically proven fact that chimpanzee and homo sapiens DNA differs very little. But despite this similarity, chimps do not act in the same communal way that people do. I recently attended a concert at a large hockey arena. If it had been chimpanzees occupying the seats of the stadium, it would have been utter pandemonium. Fortunately, the attendees at the show were homo sapiens who understood the importance of adhering to the culturally appropriate behaviour for the common good.
Researchers have identified that our success as a species is primarily since we work together in a way that our closest genetic cousins are unable to do. They might be stronger and faster, and better equipped for the natural elements, but we were able to work together and share ideas in a group-thinking way. This ability allowed us to overcome our weaknesses and build a dominance as a species in this world. We are communal creatures. But then, how does the Zeitgeist work? What influences our behaviour in a cohesive, seemingly unified way? How does change take hold in society?
My wife and I recently watched a movie called Yesterday, in which cigarettes, Coca-Cola, Harry Potter and the Beatles never existed. It was an interesting premise to consider, despite the movie being clothed in the trappings of a British romantic comedy. Did those touch-stones of our age and culture have an important lasting impact…and what would their absence mean to the larger cultural picture? The deeper consideration: How does marketing impact on the cultural Zeitgeist?
The notion of Zeitgeist comes from the 18th-century German philosopher, Johann Goethe. The word means the spirit of the age. It’s the movement of an invisible hand on our cultural sensibilities. In today’s use the word refers to a fad, a fashionable product or communal trend. But how do fads and changes in cultural norms and opinion take hold in the larger social context?
It seems that every decade has a unique stamp. One only needs to look at a series of photos of people to establish in which decade the photos were taken. The clues to their place in history are evident in the clothing styles and activities the photos reveal. Society seems to move in a generally cohesive way. We are communal creatures that follow general trends in thinking, acting, purchasing and dressing. Many ideas that we now hold as being correct and appropriate would have seemed radical 60 years ago. Even opinions, like fashion, move in a unified wave, pulling society along.
We all have people in our sphere of influence whom we admire, look up to and pay attention to. These may be people we know personally, or it may be individuals in a visible position. These people are known as “mavens”. They are social influencers that are the platform for market shifts and play a part in setting popular trends. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book The Tipping Point, helped to popularize the term, to describe social influencers. The word originates from a Yiddish term meaning trusted teacher, or expert.
There is no doubt that seeing movie stars smoking cigarettes on the big screen had as much influence on that social activity as the cigarette manufacturer’s marketing campaigns did in the early part of the 20th century.
Our decisions are influenced by others. We might believe that we are independent thinkers that create our own path, but the evidence is to the contrary. We follow the mavens in our life, and those mavens are influenced by social factors as well. Some of them are early adopters of technology or other societal trends, but they are the influencers in our lives. They are the guideposts we refer to. They give the green light to us in our behaviours. Understanding who the mavens are in our circles is important to evaluate in the work of a Realtor wanting to build their business.
The emergence of ranking services on the internet is becoming increasingly important as a marketing tool. Having a positive rating on social platforms or ranking services on the internet has a similar impact as a maven does in decision making. One might say that Alexa or Google are on the way to becoming the mavens of our internet culture.
The quality of the music of the Beatles, or the writings of J.K. Rowling might not have taken hold in the cultural Zeitgeist without the enthusiastic promotion from respected mavens. The industry people that understood the quality of the work pulled it up out of the world of limited exposure onto the world stage.
Once that fire is lit, the addition of promotion and marketing fans the flames. The testimony of a trusted friend or respected authority holds a lot of weight when searching for a service provider. In today’s world, that trusted friend is increasingly becoming a search engine. One of the first activities a potential consumer of real estate does is refer to the internet. They do this both in search of property and in search of a Realtor to help them through the process.
This year in April, the 5G network was introduced in Chicago and Minneapolis. This is the next generation of cellular broadband service. These test markets have shown some amazing results.
The increase in speed, data availability and usage that the 5G network will create will provide a huge surge in computing power, which will give way to artificial intelligence. Human inspired artificial intelligence will have the ability to not only use cognitive power, but also to a degree, emotional intelligence. This cognitive power will allow AI to offer opinions and ideas and help form directions and actions for society. Once the cost elements are dealt with, 5G networks will become the new reality. It will change how things work and ideas are shared or dismissed.
The question will be, will the “maven machinery” embrace the individual Realtor with the positive data it is able to collect about them, or will some disappear into the ethernet of buried information?
The good news is that we still have time to reach out to the human influencers and social mavens in our circles. That’s who we need to focus our marketing on before the big change takes hold. Build your positive presence by inviting your friends and clients to share their opinions and ratings of your service. After all, we are communal creatures and we all surrender to the power of the Zeitgeist.
Thankfully, we live in a world with the music of the Beatles and the writings of J.K. Rowling. It’s up to us to ensure that we will continue to live in a world with Realtors. For that to continue, we need to focus on the mavens, marketing and ultimately, the machines.