Contagious; Why Things Catch On
With the rise of the internet, the term viral has become its own definition and has itself, become viral. Even with today’s version, social epidemics have been around as long as society itself. The phenomenon is interesting in its own right as it says something how we interact. To understand how social epidemics work, it can hold a great value because when something goes viral the effect has a big impact on behavior and the bottom line of an item.
Understanding why something goes viral is straightforward enough as it has to be something that has an impact and people are eager to talk about or imitate; for example the recent ice bucket challenge or Harlem shake. With those examples it forces us to ask: what is it that makes these impactful and ripe for sharing or imitating? However, to get something to go viral is not an easy task; as all the like and share posts on Facebook can dictate. Jonah Berger has attempted to figure out what can make something go viral in the book, Contagious: Why Things Catch On.
Berger’s research has revealed that there are six principles that can explain what causes an item to go viral. These principles are; social currency, triggers, emotion, public, practical value, and stories. I will be covering these factors in the book review.
Jonah Berger has presented an excellent idea on why products/ideas are spread by mouth. Word of mouth is the main influence from anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of purchases (Berger, 2013). Word of mouth it is more persuasive and more targeted it becomes more effective than traditional advertising. Berger believes that any product, whether an idea or behavior, can become viral through word of mouth (Berger, 2013). Below are the principles that Jonah Berger proposes that can make a message more contagious and possibly viral.
Berger notes there are to promote social currency. This is important as people enjoy to share ideas that make themselves look better. This becomes the first principle of social currency. The three ways are:
1.) Remarkability – What makes your product stand out (Berger, 2013)?
2.) Leverage – Create an item which allows people see where they are relation to others (Berger, 2013). The iPhone would be a good example.
3.) Make Them Feel Like an Insider – Encourage insufficiency and distinctiveness to make products more wanted, which creates a high supply and demand. (Berger, 2013).
Once you are able to get people talking, you want them to keep on talking rather than to forget and to move on. If they forget it, then you have already failed.
Triggers keep a product at the tip of a person’s tongue. Which allows the product to be discussed over an extended period of time. To do this, a product has to be designed to be repeatedly noticed in the person’s setting which creates new triggers. These triggers help you stay on people’s radar. Commercials are a good example of triggers. Triggers are also the reason why Apple has its own stores. The environment can trigger negative suggestions because the company no longer has control over its brand (Berger, 2013). So Apple controls triggers by controlling their products.
Contagious content typically evokes some emotion. Rather than talking about function, you need to focus on feelings. Basically, when we care, we share. The Super Bowl commercials would be a good example. People enjoy the attention of good feelings such as anticipation, enjoyment, and gratification as it makes them feel good. So by using these feeling, it can create a product that the consumer wants. On the flip side, content that raises feelings of anger and unhappiness as it will chase people away from the product, so it should be avoided. Which would be why so many people did not appreciate the Nationwide Insurance Super Bowl