Contagious: Why Things Catch on

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Contagious: Why Things Catch on

Contagious: Why Things Catch on

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Jonah Berger is the rare sort who has studied the facts, parsed it from the fiction—and performed groundbreaking experiments that have changed the way the experts think. If there’s one book you’re going to read this year on how ideas spread, it’s this one.” — Dave Balter, CEO of BzzAgent and Co-founder of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association Humans think in terms of narratives, which is why we frequently recall and share stories. If you find a great bargain, you will probably describe your entire experience when you recommend the deal to your friends. Remarkable things are defined as unusual, extraordinary, or worthy of notice or attention. Something can be remarkable because it is novel, surprising, extreme, or just plain interesting. The most important aspect of remarkable things, though, is that they are worthy of remark. … Remarkable things provide social currency because they make the people who talk about them seem, well, more remarkable … Sharing extraordinary, novel, or entertaining stories or ads makes people seem more extraordinary, novel, and entertaining. Unsurprisingly, it’s a matter of being contagious. So, what makes a video contagious? Jonah Berger has broken down some factors that make up the core of what makes a video go viral, which I’ll review below in the Contagious book summary. Contagious Book Summary Key Points The book is designed with two (overlapping) audiences in mind. You may have always wondered why people gossip, why online content goes viral, why rumors spread, or why everyone always seems to talk about certain topics around the water cooler. Talking and sharing are some of our most fundamental behaviors. These actions connect us, shape us, and make us human. This book sheds light on the underlying psychological and sociological processes behind the science of social transmission.

It is also possible to create a trigger by expanding the “habitat” that people exist in – meaning creating new habits / further associating your product or idea with things we do on a daily basis. For example, in 2007, Colleen Chorak was the Hershey brand manager tasked with revitalizing the Kit Kat brand. The candy bar’s jingle had been around for 21 years, and had run its course. To get consumers thinking about the brand again she looked at when people ate Kit Kats the most… during breaks and usually with a hot beverage. She began releasing ads that tied Kit Kats to coffee breaks at work, specifically eating them while drinking coffee. The spots did exactly as she hoped, and soon sales increased by 8% by the end of the year. Traditional marketing suggests that quality, price, and advertising are the critical factors to determine a product or idea’s ability to achieve success or popularity, but Berger argues that this misses the full view – social influence and word-of-mouth transmission are far more essential to drive “virality,” and ultimately account for 20-50% of all purchasing decisions. In fact, “word-of-mouth,” he explains, is effective because it is more persuasive (people trust what others tell them much more than they trust ads they see on T.V.) and more targeted (people share stories with those who are actually interested in the topic). The key to being successful across all of these factors, is to build intrinsic motivation within people – if something is truly successful, people will want to talk about or buy into your product or service if it means they will gain value from the product or experience, as well as look good to others. If you get someone bought in, they will likely tell their friends and family about it, thus beginning the cycle of creating something viral. 2. Triggers – “Top of mind, tip of tongue” When it comes to triggers, this refers to stimuli in the environment that are associated with other phenomena, and that remind us of them. For example, peanut butter is highly associated with jelly, and so the mention of the former often ‘triggers’ the thought of the latter. Ideas, products and behaviors that are naturally associated with triggers that we encounter more often are more likely to be brought to mind than others, thus increasing the chances that they will be both talked about and influence our behavior, and hence spread. Natural associations often work best; however, associations between unrelated items can also be established through clever advertising campaigns (such as the Kit-Kat bar being associated with a coffee break). Sporting a business degree (advertising/PR/Marketing) under my belt means that I view the world, consumer and otherwise, in a marketing sense. Although I can predict trends and see market value; I was very curious about why ideas and brands affect us. That is where Jonah Berger’s “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” came into the picture.Jonah Berger knows more about what makes information ‘go viral’ than anyone in the world.” — Daniel Gilbert, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University and author of Stumbling on Happiness

Contagious contains arresting — and counterintuitive — facts and insights. . . . Most interesting of all are the examples Berger cites of successful and unsuccessful marketing campaigns.” — Glenn C. Altschuler, The Boston Globe For example, in 1997, The Mars Candy Company noticed a spike in their Mars candy bar sales. They had not changed their marketing campaigns, yet sales were up. It turned out that during that same period, NASA was organizing a mission to Mars to collect samples and data from the planet – and with the continuous news cycle featuring NASAs and the planet Mars (the candy/company is named after the founder, not the planet), the news triggered the idea of the candy in people’s minds, and sure enough sales spiked. In Contagious, Berger reveals the secret science behind word-of-mouth and social transmission. Discover how six basic principles drive all sorts of things to become contagious, from consumer products and policy initiatives to workplace rumors and YouTube videos. Learn how a luxury steakhouse found popularity through the lowly cheesesteak, why anti-drug commercials might have actually increased drug use, and why more than 200 million consumers shared a video about one of the most boring products there is: a blender. Berger also discovered that people were more likely to share articles that evoked anger or anxiety. Why? Because anger and anxiety are high-arousal emotions.

If Social Currency is about information senders and how sharing makes them look, Practical Value is mostly about the information receiver. On the mechanical side of things, understanding why something goes viral is straightforward enough: it must be something that has an impact, and that people are eager to talk about or imitate. But this just forces us to ask: what is it that makes something impactful, and ripe for sharing or imitating? We may think that our intuitions can carry us some way toward answering this. Nevertheless, getting something to go viral is certainly no easy task (as many a would-be influencer has come to find); and therefore, we may benefit from a more methodical, scientifically-minded attempt to understand the phenomenon. It is just such a project that Wharton marketing professor and writer Jonah Berger has been engaged in for much of his career, and in his new book Contagious: Why Things Catch On, Berger reports on his findings. Triggers and cues lead people to talk, choose, and use. Social currency gets people talking, but Triggers keep them talking. Top of mind means tip of the tongue. 3. Emotion Standing out in today’s market is harder than ever as advertising clutter projects 4,000 – 10,000 ads and brands at American consumers every day. But the most effective and prosperous ideas have been empowered and supported by one or more of the 6 STEPPS in some way. Leveraging good stories that are useful, engaging, and that drive value will help you and your product, idea, cause increase social influence and word-of-mouth transmission and propel it to be the next big thing.

When it comes to CTV, sharing metadata and contextual information is key, as are traditional TV metrics such as about time of the day and where and how to best reach the audiences. This information can be all put together to create a relevant ad experience for consumers. Whooping cough is less severe in older children and adults but coughing may cause problems including:Diminishing sensitivity reflects the idea that the same change has a smaller impact the farther it is from the reference point. People like to pass along practical, useful information. News others can use. Offering practical value not only helps make things contagious, but it also strengthens social bonds. Emotional content evokes feelings, both positive and negative, that drive people to share and act on those emotions. Tax hikes, price increases, new iPhone releases, elections and policy stances – all evoke positive and negative outbursts that drive people to talk about it with those around them. In many cases, it can drive activism in politics, switching from one product to another, or writing a Yelp review online to encourage people to eat or not eat at a certain cafe. He emphasizes the importance of creating narratives. You should have stories that you can use to explain your product or idea and not just cold, hard facts. Narratives are more interesting than statistics, anyways.

the SSTEPS model:Social Currency; triggers; emotions; public; practical values; stories. Is very practical, and has small utility for those NOT in PR firms, biz people etc. That said it's always interesting why one product is well received over another, and what standards (cost, especially) are determined by way of a very simple and predictable (now that I read the book) process. The use of well known products are utilized to further help the reader understand the books content. Why do some ideas seemingly spread overnight, while others disappear? How can some products become ubiquitous, while others never gain traction? Jonah Berger knows the answers, and, with Contagious, now we do, too.”— Charles Duhigg, author of the bestselling The Power of Habit It's also research based, so that is a strength of the book. Chapter notes (at the end of the book) are similar to any sort of journal/text book that you may be used to. It breaks the chapters into sections, and allows one to further his or her reading. For this reason, it may be particularly useful in an education setting.Stories - People do not just share information, they tell stories. And stories are like Trojan horses, vessels that carry ideas, brands, and information. To benefit the brand, stories must not only be shared but also relate to a sponsoring company's products. Thus the epic failure of viral sensations like Evian's roller baby video (50M views) that did little to stem Evian's 25% drop in sales. Berger calls the concept of looking at what others are doing to resolve our own uncertainty, “social proof.” Individuals imitate actions, because other’s choices provide information that helps them decide how to do something. Berger provides the example, of looking for a restaurant in an unfamiliar city: we look for restaurants that are full of people (because it must be delicious or hip), and we walk by the restaurants that are empty (food too expensive or bland). Thus, it is important to think about context of the environment of the people you are trying to target: whether seasonal (candy corn and Halloween); geographic (cheesesteaks and Philadelphia). 3. Emotion – “When we care, we share” While social currency gets people to talk about things, “triggers” keep ideas and products fresh in the minds of consumers, ensuring that they keep talking about your idea. How do you promote your book, and how do you grow your brand? How do you get more people to come to your author’s signing? Also, How do you create a buzz around your podcast?



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