Blue field like crop rows and burgundy border, saying "Don't Just Survive - Thrive
Orange book on brown woven pattern. Contagious is the name of the book

Contagious: Why things catch on

By Jonah Berger

I’ve gone viral online before, and I have a pretty trendy business. Let’s see what Berger says about that pathway to success.

  • Social transmission is key: 20-50% factor in deciding to make a purchase
  • Only 7 percent of transmission happens online
  • Must look for the most interesting thing about the thing and then share it so people share and talk about it
  • Exercise makes people more likely to share – run campaigns right after an experience (vs laying there calm and unmotivated)
  • Money doesn’t motivate – people do things because it makes them feel good

Six principles of contagious

  • Social currency: leverage game mechanics to give people ways to achieve and provide visual symbols of status. People like looking smart, rich, and cool. Think about facts on Snapple caps – you share them, and where did you hear about it?
    • Look for remarkability: it’s interesting, surprising, or novel.
    • Game it: give people something to level up with.
    • Make people feel like insiders.
    • Secrecy: don’t tell anyone – well, maybe one . . .
  • Triggers: stimuli that prompt people to think about related things. Design products and ideas that are triggered by the environment.
    • Remember that buzz is immediate and long term, play both
  • Emotion: Pick the right emotions and kindle the fire. Negative can even work.
    • Awe
    • Anger
    • Anxiety
    • Humor
  • Public: the more public a thing, the more other people also want to do it
    • Look for a place full of people
    • Make things observable – like No Shave November
  • Practical value: is it useful? So useful that others will share?
    • People share so they can help others
    • Make deals that can help others get in on a product someone loves
    • Add more value for a limited time or if there’s a limited amount
    • Remember that % is good when something is less expensive and $$ is good when something is more expensive
    • Things marked as “sale” will sell more, even if they’re not discounted
  • Stories: make the message so integrated that people can’t tell the story without your product
    • Show the reality of something to gain loyalty and limit fear of something
    • Tell stories about how people started and how they ended