Learn the key ideas of the book by Jonah Berger


How to make a product or idea go viral

What causes some products and ideas to take hold and become popular?  Why are some stories shared much more than others?  Why do some indiscretions spread contagiously?  What makes things “viral”? In Contagious, we will find out the characteristics of a contagious messages, what the mechanisms that make people share ideas and products are, and how to apply them to our products to  - potentially - make them viral. 

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Foundation. Why do “things” take off and go viral?

There are lots of examples of things that “catch on”: examples of social epidemics where ideas, products and behaviours have spread like wildfire throughout the population.  They begin with a small group of individuals and they spread, often from person to person, just like a virus.  But why does this happen with some products and not with others?  In some cases, these products that become popular are simply better than the rest.  Sometimes, we are attracted by the price.  Often adverts can have an influence on the popularity of a product, because we only buy something when we become aware of it.  And what about ideas?

These reasons are not enough.  Let’s think about a YouTube video that gets a million views, or a baby name that becomes much more widely used.  To really understand how something “goes viral” we can’t just look at how it is distributed, we need to examine the characteristics that make people talk about it and share it with others.

There are six characteristics that contribute to how catchy something becomes.  These can be summarised by the acronym STEPPS.  These factors don’t guarantee that our product or idea will become viral phenomena, but they can contribute to its popularity.  Furthermore, not everything that goes viral has each of these 6 traits, but they generally have at least one of them, depending on the type of product or idea.


The key ideas of "Contagious"

Foundation. Why do “things” take off and go viral?
What makes us seem “cool” and how can we take advantage of this factor to make our products more viral – Social Currency
What stimulates us to want to share a product with others? – Triggers
What do we feel when we share something with others? – Emotion
Why is it important for others to see people using our product? - Public
So, when we find something that we think is valid, why do we decide to share it with others? – Practical Value
How narrative becomes part of our need to share – Stories
STEPPS – the “viral” formula
Take-home message

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