Learn the key ideas of the book by Derek Thompson

Hit Makers

The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction

Is it possible to create a product that becomes an immediate success? Hit Makers looks at those few extraordinary products that have become hits, to try to find out the key to their success. Derek Thompson takes us on a journey of popular cultural phenomena and trends with the aim of revealing what sets them apart from other products that vanish into thin air.

Hit Makers
Read in 15 min.
Listen in 19 min.

How a product achieves notoriety

It is difficult to create a simple definition of popularity, like in terms of how much the mainstream likes something, because there are very few things that the majority of people actually like. Even the biggest hit in the world is actually unknown to most. From a majority viewpoint, we could say that, nothing is popular. The mainstream does not exist and culture is made up of cults.

This book is about hits, those few products that reach extraordinary popularity and enjoy worldwide commercial success in both pop culture and in the media and it aims at revealing their secret.

The first theory of the book is that a lot of consumers are both neophiles (curious to discover new things) and neophobic (fearful of anything that is too new) and that creators of the biggest hits are able to generate meaningful moments by marrying the old with the new and the desire for novelty with the certainty of understanding.

Another important thing to know if you are launching a new product is that in a world where ideas are spread by and within groups, distribution is a key aspect of a product's success. In order to bring your idea to the public, there are rules that you need to be aware of, you have to know what brings people together and gets them talking.

The revolution of the media over the last 60 years has changed the way in which videos and images come to fruition. The film industry has been replaced by television, the sofa at home has replaced the movie theater, and digital instruments have now taken the place of television.

Worldwide attention is shifting from infrequent, large and broadcast content (millions of people who go to the movie theater once a week) to frequent, small and social content (millions of people who watch social media on their phones every few minutes). The future of hits is both democratic and chaotic; anyone with a phone can create the next viral content of the week, literally anyone can be a hit maker. Millions compete for attention but very few will become big.


The key ideas of "Hit Makers"

How a product achieves notoriety
The influence of exposure on the product
The MAYA rule: the secret is familiarity with a hint of unpredictability
What power does repetition have?
Tell the product through the basic narrative arc that unites all stories
Some examples of success to copy
How to make a viral product
A product spreads more easily if it is adopted by a niche group
Facebook helps products to reach their target audiences
Take-home message

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