The Impact Equation

The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise?

by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

The Impact Equation explains how to rise above the clutter, particularly in the cluttered world of social media. Here’s the formula:

Impact = C x (R + E + A + T + E)

  • Contrast is about differentiation. This is the multiplier—the most important component of the equation. By definition, when contrast is zero, impact is zero. “Realize that in life and business, it’s always what stands out that gets remembered.”
  • Reach is the size of your audience.
  • Exposure is frequency.
  • Articulation is about clarity and brevity. “It’s tapas, not a buffet.”
  • Trust refers to credibility. The authors, who wrote Trust Agents three years prior, have a lot to say about this topic. “Quality is the core of Trust. Never forget that.”
  • Echo is about relating to your audience and making your message resonate.

Beyond these components, the authors emphasize three parts of visibility: ideas, platform, and the human element. Regarding ideas, they discuss a competitive ecosystem where your audience will be ever more discerning, but they add, “feedback helps produces better ideas faster and more often.”  Regarding platform, “thinking of yourself as a TV station is a good starting point… Platform is important because, without it, you are far too dependent on other people’s delivery methods.” The human element refers to building relationships and community.

If there is a weakness in this book I would have to point to the contrived acronym CREATE in the equation.  Using E to represent two different variables makes no sense mathematically.  But since the book is about marketing—not algebra—I guess we can let that slide.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book.

Order from Amazon

Brogan, Chris, and Julien Smith. The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise? New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2012. Buy from


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