Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Overall I liked this book. It was easy to read, fun, and a great addition to the developing genre of "pop psychology". Being somewhat new and uncomfortable to traditional marketing methods this book reaffirmed things I feel like most people already know but can't quite describe as clearly.
At times I felt that Berger was a bit simplistic when describing psychological studies -measuring awe in NY Times articles sounds cool, but I am not sure how subjective or this actually is. On the flip side, I don't think that the simplicity of the book takes away from the things that can be learned and applied.
Here are the STEPPS to contagious ideas.
Social Currency - We share things that make us look good. Share an article because it makes us appear smart, a video because we want to be funny, or a political meme to illustrate our strong stance.
Triggers - Top of mind, tip of tongue. Rebecca Black's "Friday" spiked each Friday, other stories about small triggers that lead to products or organizations.
Emotion - When we care, we share. To understand the emotion or human level connection of a thing ask "Why is this important?" 3 times. Why do people do Google searches? To find things quickly. Why? So they can get answers to their questions. Why? So they can find what they need to achieve their goals, dreams, and vision. Physiological arousal is what moves people to share an idea. If they are left feeling content then there is no reason to pass it on.
Public - Built to show, built to grow. When decisions or deals are made public they catch on more (think Groupon, "I voted" sticker, Livestrong).
Practical Value - News you can use. "Corn" viral video of an elderly guy shucking corn in a new way. Simply helping people out and offering good information gets passed around because we can immediately think of specific people that could benefit from it.
Stories - Information travels under the guise of idle chatter. This one is pretty obvious. Be sure the brand is an integral part of telling the story, otherwise it will be left out along with other unnecessary details (think streaker at the Athens Olympics).
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I am a graduate student in Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University. I enjoy writing, hiking, and spending time with my family.