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Contagious: Why Things Catch On Hardcover – March 5, 2013
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“Why do some ideas seemingly spread overnight, while others disappear? How can some products become ubiquitous, while others never gain traction? Jonah Berger knows the answers, and, with Contagious, now we do, too." (Charles Duhigg, author of the bestselling The Power of Habit)
“If you are seeking a bigger impact, especially with a smaller budget, you need this book. Contagious will show you how to make your product spread like crazy.” (Chip Heath, co-author of Made to Stick and Decisive)
“Jonah Berger knows more about what makes information ‘go viral’ than anyone in the world.” (Daniel Gilbert, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University and author of Stumbling on Happiness)
“Jonah Berger is the rare sort who has studied the facts, parsed it from the fiction—and performed groundbreaking experiments that have changed the way the experts think. If there’s one book you’re going to read this year on how ideas spread, it’s this one.” (Dave Balter, CEO of BzzAgent and Co-founder of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association)
"A provocative shift in focus from the technology of online transmission to the human element and a bold claim to explain 'how word of mouth and social influence work . . . [to] make any product or idea contagious." (Kirkus Reviews)
“Contagious contains arresting — and counterintuitive — facts and insights. . . . Most interesting of all are the examples Berger cites of successful and unsuccessful marketing campaigns.” (Glenn C. Altschuler The Boston Globe)
“An infectious treatise on viral marketing. . . . Berger writes in a sprightly, charming style that deftly delineates the intersection of cognitive psychology and social behavior with an eye toward helping businesspeople and others spread their messages. The result is a useful and entertaining primer that diagnoses countless baffling pop culture epidemics.” (Publishers Weekly)
“The book is just plain interesting. Berger’s cases are not only topical and relevant, but his principles seem practical and are easily understood. . . . I have a strong feeling that this book will catch on.” (Ben Frederick The Christian Science Monitor)
“Think of it as the practical companion to Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point.” (Tasha Eichenseher Discover)
"An exegesis on how ideas really 'go viral' (hint: the internet gets too much credit) by a marketing wunderkind." (Details)
Amazon's editors selected this title as a Best Book of the Month in business & leadership. See our current Editors' Picks.
More About the Author
Jonah Berger is a Marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He has published dozens of articles in top-tier academic journals, and popular accounts of his work have appeared in places like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Science, Harvard Business Review, Wired, BusinessWeek, and Fast Company. His research has also been featured in The New York Times Magazine's annual "Year in Ideas" issue.
Berger has been recognized with awards for both scholarship and teaching, including being named Wharton's "Iron Prof" in recognition of awesome faculty research. He received his Ph.D. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Top Customer Reviews
There are six essential factors that contribute to contagious ideas, shows Jonah, and a quick look at some of the most successful viral campaigns reveals each of them at work:
Social currency. We share things that make us look good or help us compare favorably to others. Exclusive restaurants utilize social currency all the time to create demand.
Triggers. Ideas that are top of mind spread. Like parasites, viral ideas attach themselves to top of mind stories, occurrences or environments. For example, Mars bar sales spiked when in 1997 when NASA's Pathfinder mission explored the red planet.
Emotion. When we care, we share. Jonah analyzed over six months of data from the New York Times most emailed list to discover that certain high arousal emotions can dramatically increase our need to share ideas - like the outrage triggered by Dave Carroll's "United Breaks Guitars" video.
Public. People tend to follow others, but only when they can see what those others are doing. There is a reason why baristas put money in their own tip jar at the beginning of a shift. Ideas need to be public to be copied.
Practical. Humans crave the opportunity to give advice and offer tips (one reason why advocate marketing works - your best customers love to help out), but especially if they offer practical value. It's why we `pay it forward' and help others. Sharing is caring.Read more ›
On a personal note, his New York Times study featured prominently in Contagious was the final piece of the puzzle behind the theory in my second book. Jonah goes back to the results in this mammoth study a number of times throughout this book to give you a full understanding of the fascinating results.
In full disclosure, I obtained an early copy of Contagious. As a blogger and Internet marketer my livelihood depends on being the first to understand the newest social contagion theories. Because of that, I requested an early copy from Jonah and he was nice enough to oblige.
First, what I disliked about Contagious, and there were three things:
1. Much of Contagious is an explanation of his work in a more organized, concise, and interesting manner. Because of that, not a lot of the material is new if you've already read his studies.
2. The book is based on 6 principles: social currency, triggers, emotion, public, practical value, and stories. Each principle is described in detail and are the major sections of the book.
I was disappointed with the practical value section as I felt that it was a rather superficial overview of what's now become known as behavioral economics. Jonah describes "prospect theory" originally put forth by Daniel Kahneman and uses it to explain how irrationally we behave in our purchasing habits. In particular, he discusses how we value goods and services relative to a precedent and how that precedent isn't necessarily an accurate portrayal of the actual value of the product in question.Read more ›
If discussing something makes you look interesting or cool or special, then that something provides you with "Social currency'.
If there is built into a product or idea easy cues that can trigger it to come to mind, then it has a strong 'Trigger'.
If the brand/concept can evoke emotions of anger or good will/ happiness (but note NOT sadness - since we don't want our friends/family to be sad and therefore are not inclined to share something likely to invoke sadness), then it has 'Emotion'.
If your product or cause can be broadcast to others, it is 'Public'.
If it provides 'Practical value', it is more likely to be shared.
Lastly, if a memorable story can be spun around it, then it has the added benefit of having a 'Story'.
Now, let's apply STEPPS to the book itself: 1) Clearly, the answer the book claims to explain (Why do certain products and ideas go viral?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a great book for concisely gathering all of those suspicions you have bout how things work in relation to viral uptake of things. Read morePublished 4 days ago by Amazon Customer
I heard Jonah Berger speak recently at a conference and bought his book after the presentation. I was not disappointed. Read morePublished 14 days ago by Meganbere