There are some people in the world who like to think they are “above” all the chit-chat and office gossip going on. You will have people in your workplace who you know distance themselves from all the discussions and who like to give the impression they are thoughtful and more “cerebral” than the rest of you. Indeed, these people often think they ARE more focused on concepts, ideas and information and much less swayed by the opinions of those around them.

Whoops…! They are wrong..! An ingenious piece of research from the University of California shows clearly that people who “abstract”, who are seemingly disconnected from social norms, are actually influenced by the social groups around them. Not only that, but the people who thought they were “above” all the social chit-chat, were actually MORE likely to go with the group norm. In other words, the very people seemingly rejecting group pressures and distancing themselves socially are the ones most likely to “follow the pack”.

Groups can influence those outside

This has important implications for businesses online. Many companies focus on either getting a massive social following on the likes of Twitter or Facebook, or ignoring such social networks because “not many of our customers use them”. However, this research implies that social groups have their influence way beyond the group themselves.

So, if you are not using social groups in your business, you are missing out on the wide influence they may have. It would seem that much of the impact of social networking could lie outside the social networks themselves, invisible to you – and certainly unmeasurable.

But just because it cannot be measured does not mean it is unimportant. It means that you should be using social networks, even if you think they are having no influence because people outside those networks ARE “getting the message”.

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