Contagious: Why Things Catch On, by Jonah Berger
Reviewed by Michelle Richmond
In this entertaining, enlightening book, Berger explains why certain ideas and products become viral. Using examples as diverse as an As-Seen-on-TV blender, a $100 Philly cheesesteak, and the suddenly cool-again Kit Kat, Berger outlines the STEPPS system for making an idea or product highly sharable:
- Social Currency – Will people feel cool and in-the-know when they share your product?
- Triggers – What will remind others to think about and talk about your product?
- Emotion – “When we care, we share.”
- Public – How visible is your product or idea?
- Practical Value – People like to share information that is helpful and practical.
- Stories – If you package your product or idea in a remarkable, interesting, and relevant story, you increase sharing exponentially.
Despite a fair amount of unnecessary repetition, the book offers clear strategies for breathing life into a campaign.
Bottom Line: Contagious is a tremendously helpful guide for anyone looking to spread brand identity and create buzz on a budget. While the ideas are useful for businesses of any size, small businesses in particular will benefit from the relatively low cost of putting the STEPPS into practice.
Related content: Dan Ariely, a Duke University professor who blurbed the book, offers clear explanations of some of the behavioral patterns described in this book in the Psychology of Money segment of his online coursera course, “A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior.” For a video lecture explaining prospect theory and diminishing sensitivity, see Ariely’s lecture on money and relativity.
Simon & Schuster, March 2013
Reviewed by Michelle Richmond, author of the international bestseller The Year of Fog and the forthcoming novel Golden State. Creator of The Paperclip Method. Follow Richmond’s reviews @michellerichmon