Contagious: Why Things Catch On – by Jonah Berger

Contagious: Why Things Catch Onby Jonah Berger
Contagious: Why Things Catch On
by Jonah Berger

Jonah Berger brings us a wonderful book about the psychology of why some things catch on while others do not. It is a big misnomer that advertising plays the largest role in consumer behavior but that is no longer the case. We are so heavily immersed in advertising that it often times is completed ignored. What’s left is listening to our peers.

Have you ever noticed why two like-minded products are created and one takes off while the other completely flounders? Or perhaps why one story seems to grab us all and “affect” us while other similar stories never even make it to table? Around these concepts Jonah forms his hypothesis for online marketing giving us a torrent of useable, informative, and extremely captivating information that will help us understand our relationship to each other and how that is used to influence our decision making.

Similar to Robert Cialdini’s Influence, this book merges both analytical research along with practical real-world stories. Jonah uses the book to cover six basic principles that steer products, news, services, and just plain old rumors to become viral and contagious. I love this book mostly because it answers the why. Many books I’ve read talk about how, what, and where but often forget about the why. Understanding the importance of WHY things catch on and how to harness these concepts to create your own viral content can literally be the difference between creating content that is barely seen, heard, or shared, and content that travels the globe several times over bring numerous opportunities for you to cash in and build revenue.

Here is a snippet from the intro to the book:

There are lots of examples of things that have caught on. Yellow Livestrong wristbands, Nonfat Greek yogurt, Six Sigma management strategy, smoking bans, low-fat diets… These are all examples of social epidemics. Instances where products, ideas, and behaviors diffuse through a population. They start with a small set of individuals or organizations and spread, often from person to person, almost like a virus… But while it’s easy to find example of social contagion, it’s much harder to actually get something to catch on. Even with all the money poured into marketing and advertising, few products become popular. Most restaurants bomb, most businesses go under, and most social movements fail to gain traction. Why do some products, ideas, and behaviors succeed when others fail?

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