Contagious: Why Things Catch On

Contagious is an interesting read that delves into the analysis of the science of social transmissions while providing entertaining examples of campaigns that have gone viral. Using this pattern Jonah Berger shows you an outline for creating ideas, campaigns and messages that go viral – spreading contagiously.

He claims that there are six essential factors to a contagious idea, all of which are at work to make something truly successful. These are:

  1. Social Currency, “we share things that make us look good” – As individuals we tend to share things that make us look good, or compare favorably to others. Social currency is the “prestige” factor involved in an idea.
  2. Triggers “top of mind, tip of tongue” – Something that is top of mind spreads. Stories, occurrences and environment can all create trigger responses, reminding people of an idea.
  3. Emotion “when we care, we share” – When you care about something, you share. Make your idea stick by creating an emotional response associated with it.
  4. Public “built to show, built to grow” – People tend to follow others, and do things by example. Ideas need to be public to be copied.
  5. Practical “news you can use” – Everyone loves to give advice and offer tips. Make your idea have practical value, and people will move it forward.
  6. Stories “information travels under the guise of idle chatter” – As well as sharing information, people also like to tell stories. Create a story that is related to your company’s products, but make it shareable. Have it carry your ideas, brand and information.

This book offers many valuable insights to marketers, and demonstrates why advocate marketing is so powerful in the modern world. Traditional marketing methods are moving aside for viral campaigns, which send out marketing messages by tapping into consumer wants, desires and emotional needs. Advocate marketing creates a path to audiences that is more trusted and effective than direct messaging.

Advocate marketing utilizes the six parts of an effective viral campaign – necessary for contagious ideas. It provides social currency and emotional appeal, and it’s a public act, which is triggered by bigger events. Practical advice and knowledge is passed on through personal stories. By following this method campaigns can become contagious. No matter the idea, product or behavior that you are trying to spread you can manipulate these factors to help spread it.

This book is a great read for marketers looking to apply new tactics. It offers interesting insight into the viral world, and provides useful and applicable ideas along with entertaining brand stories. We definitely recommend you read it!