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Customer Review

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Scientific Primer on How to Create Contagious Ideas, August 23, 2011
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This review is from: Zarrella's Hierarchy of Contagiousness: The Science, Design, and Engineering of Contagious Ideas (Kindle Edition)
Zarrella begins his book with the big idea that "Ideas Don't Spread Just Because They're Good." What Zarrella has done is to try and provide a theory for how ideas are propagated, a theory which, it turns out, is very useful for anyone who wants his ideas to be shared in the new world of social media. While there are many (too many) works out there on how to take advantage of the social media to get people to read your content, Zarrella's is relatively unique because it rests upon solid science, rather than anecdote or myth. In spite of the scientific framework, "Zarrella's Hierarchy of Contagiousness" is an eminently readable book!

As an author and book reviewer who is trying to provide good quality content to as many people as possible, "Zarrella's Hierarchy of Contagiousness" is a very helpful work. I look forward to continuing to refer to it as a way to help me better connect with potential readers. Having said this, I would have appreciated more content: the book is only about 80 pages long. For example, the explanation of each principle is very brief, and more application and convincing explanation would have been helpful to me.

Though short, this is a powerful book with powerful ideas. Remember these 3 words in this order, for they represent the key to producing contagious content, and they form the basis for the structure of Zarrella's book: "Exposure, Attention, Motivation." A person must first be exposed to the content you're trying to share (for example, by following you on Twitter). Then the person must become aware of your content by actually reading it (say on Twitter). Finally, the person must be motivated by something (usually your content itself) to want to share it with others.

At each stage, you can do something to change the numbers in your favor. You can get more people to follow you on Twitter or receive your e-mails. You can create attention-grabbing content. Or you can include powerful calls to action.

Zarrella offers a few ways to gain more exposure. He begins by showing that the "big seed" theory is superior to the "little seed" theory often espoused. What this means is that it's better to expose your content to a lot of people at the beginning, rather than waiting for the statistically improbably viral tweet that starts small and then miraculously goes viral. Also, you should not be afraid to identify yourself authoritatively with words such as "guru" "expert" or "official". Zarrella offers several other useful strategies for gaining more exposure.

He then provides ways to gain more attention from readers. These include personalizing your messages (or at least appearing to!), priming the reader for the content they'll be exposed to, and some very useful information about the best times for tweeting, posting to Facebook, and blogging. Still under the category, Zarrella provides proof for the reasons why people share content. This is a very valuable section filled with tips and a lot of relevant research. In fact, this whole section was very useful, but again, I would have liked a more in-depth discussion and a little more "how to".

Finally, Zarrella concludes by using the scientific method as a framework for understanding how to create contagious ideas. This was an excellent way to end the book, but once again it left me wanting to read more.
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