In Contagious, Why Things Catch On (Simon & Schuster, 2013), Jonah Berger has identified, defined and analyzed, the principles that contribute to things going “viral” or his words, contagious and catch on. “Catching on”, is what we as marketers want; a change in behavior, a change share of mind, not just millions of Views, Likes or Shares that never materialize into tangible benefit to the sponsoring organization or company.
Contagious’ introduction chapter, Why Things Catch On, does an excellent job of setting the reader up to digest the remainder of the book. He discusses what it means to have something effectively go viral and then provides an outline of the six principles his research team identified after analyzing a significant data set of messages, products and ideas that have become “contagious”. Berger uses the mnemonic STEPPS to collectively describe these principles: Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories.
It’s important to notes that this is not a playbook for going viral on the internet. Mr. Berger points out that only seven percent of all word of mouth marketing (WOM) is conducted online. I met the author a number of months ago at a professional function and he pointed out that if you segmented out “young people” the percentage of word of mouth that is conducted online only rises to only ten percent.
Overall a well written, well documented, good read. One I recommend to any marketer or student of human behavior.