He examines that moment when an idea, product, or message reaches its boiling point and postulates that a confluence of three factors is required to arrive at a social phenomenon:

  • The Law of the Few, which requires the involvement of three types of adept individuals – connectors, mavens and salesmen – to bring the right people together, serve as knowledge experts and persuade the masses respectively
  • The ‘Stickiness Factor’, assessed by how memorable something is
  • The ‘Power of Context’, which allows for the influence of environment – i.e. the right time and the right place

Certainly Gladwell’s criteria have all been at play in creating the social phenomenon [or ‘social phenom-lin-on’ if you will] that has emerged around New York Knicks basketball player and point guard, Jeremy Lin.

Lin has taken the basketball world by storm and is widely accredited with turning a disappointing Knicks season into a winning one. The result: ‘Linsanity’. His performances sparked rave reviews from players and spectators alike and, as with seemingly all modern spectacles, social media added speed to the now hurtling freight train that is Jeremy Lin.

This social wave of support is the modern day equivalent of Gladwell’s Law of the Few: social media has provided a sphere for all three power individuals required to come together, with the masses in the Lin story thus persuaded and converted into social influencers themselves.

As for his ’Stickiness Factor’, Jeremy is fast on his way to becoming a cult hero for two main reasons. To New Yorkers, there is no doubt in their minds that he is the sole reason that a once-forgettable season has been turned into what could still be a Championship winning one. There is also Lin’s ethnicity as the first Asian American to play in the NBA, his arrival during a losing streak and his tremendous basketball IQ that make him the perfect social phenomenon.

Before Linsanity began, Jeremy only had 30,000 Twitter followers. Now, he has more than 600,000. Knicks tickets have virtually tripled in cost at Madison Square Garden and the media has had a stream of front-page headlines trying out their favorite Lin puns. #Linsane indeed…  

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