Contagious: Why Things Catch On Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Why do certain products and ideas go viral? Dynamic young Wharton professor Jonah Berger draws on his research to explain the six steps that make products or ideas contagious.
Why do some products get more word of mouth than others? Why does some online content go viral? Word of mouth makes products, ideas, and behaviors catch on. It's more influential than advertising and far more effective.
Can you create word of mouth for your product or idea? According to Berger, you can. Whether you operate a neighborhood restaurant, a corporation with hundreds of employees, or are running for a local office for the first time, the steps that can help your product or idea become viral are the same.
Contagious is filled with fascinating information drawn from Berger's research. You will be surprised to learn, for example, just how little word of mouth is generated online versus elsewhere. Already praised by Dan Ariely and Dan Gilbert, and sold in nine countries, this book is a must-listen for people who want their projects and ideas to succeed.
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|Listening Length||6 hours and 50 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||March 05, 2013|
|Publisher||Simon & Schuster Audio|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #3,183 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#6 in Advertising (Books)
#11 in Marketing & Consumer Behavior
#11 in Marketing (Audible Books & Originals)
Reviewed in the United States on July 19, 2021
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Traditional marketing suggests that the factors that determine a business’ or product’s success are quality, price, and the advertising. Berger explains that it is much deeper than that, and that the more important factors are word-of-mouth transmission and social influence. Word-of-mouth is much more effective because it is persuasive, because people trust more what others recommend rather than what they see on T.V. or social media. This was very interesting to read and I agree with his points- and the numbers prove it accounts for 20-50% of all purchasing decisions. Shockingly, only 7% of word-of-mouth advertising is done through social media.
The author's main arguments are split up by the STEPPS acronym, and each is successfully argued with facts and experience. The first chapter starts with Social currency. This chapter puts emphasis on being “in the know” on something, and wanting to share it with others. The example Berger used was the hot dog restaurant having a secret bar hidden with a secret door in a phone booth. The restaurant and bar have done well for years because people feel like they are “in the know” and recommend it to others, as if they are a part of some big secret. The next chapter, Triggers, is about how one thing triggers another. Such as buying coffee and donuts, peanut butter and jelly, and specifically in the book it is mentioned that the Mars candy company saw a spike in sales during the time in 1997 when NASA was organizing a mission to Mars. Emotion is all about how when something provokes emotion or inspires you, you are more likely to share it. Public is about how people imitate others, with the example of how people are more likely to choose a restaurant or store that has more people in it, and to walk past the ones that are empty. Next, practical value is about how important information is more useful to share, and relies heavily on buyer behavior because people like to help others . Finally, stories explains how a good story is likely to be told especially when it provokes emotion, and thus makes people want to share it with others.
In my opinion, “Contagious: why things catch on” by Jonah Berger is a very interesting read with useful information. As soon as you pick up the book it is difficult to put it down, as it keeps the audience engaged and interested. It is very easy to understand and it allows the reader to put into perspective that marketing is deeper than just advertising on social media. This book could be particularly very useful to students who are interested in studying marketing, interested in psychology and why people are influenced by certain things and not others, or people who have plans to start a business- or just anyone on social media. “Contagious” could even be useful to people who simply do not want to be manipulated by businesses and gain the ability to see through the different marketing strategies. Not only are you given real life scenarios and statistics, but also you are shown proof on how STEPPS can help create a booming business. The stories that are provided are especially useful as they keep the reader engaged while also providing useful information. The only negative of this book I found was the way it is written, as it repeats a lot and could be interpreted as reading a children’s book, and some may get a bit bored. Readers may want to skip over parts as it repeats the same ideas during the chapter and may find it to be a bit redundant at times.
Overall the information is useful enough that I did not mind it too much as I found it just makes it a quick read on why things go viral and how businesses manipulate customers. I enjoyed reading this book, and if you plan on developing a marketing plan or strategy for your business, “Contagious: why things catch on” would be useful to test the strategies to make sure it would be successful. The author successfully explains the STEPPS to making a business successful and used his own education and research to back up the claims being made. The book did not really come off as persuasive, just informative of what works and what does not. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about how marketing strategies work and how companies can manipulate you.
Similar books to “Contagious” include: "Diffusion of Innovations," by Everett Rogers, “Influence” by Robert B. Cialdini, and “The Nuclear Effect” by Scott Oldford. Jonah Berger also has other books that talk about marketing and how to influence other people, such as “The Catalyst” and “Invisible Influence”. Overall, “Contagious” by Jonah Berger is an excellent book to start off with if you want to understand the aspects of marketing and advertising and what can make a company successful, especially when today it is harder than ever to find what will stick to consumers, this book brings about the most effective and prosperous ways on making your product or business contagious.
Not even close.
If a fellow foodie raves about a new restaurant you would be more likely to try it than you would if you saw an advert for it. One of the most compelling reasons for trying a different product or service is because someone you trust recommends it to you. Word of mouth is a powerful force.
With the advent of online social media, broadcasting an opinion has never been easier. Vast numbers of friends, and friends of friends, can be reached with little effort. This fact leads to the conclusion that most word of mouth has its origin through this medium.
Research by the Keller Fey Group finds that only 7%, (not 70%, not even 17%,) of word of mouth happens online! The amount of time we spend online might be high, but the amount of time we spend offline is way higher. Even if online does have greater reach, offline conversations have power way beyond the capability of online.
So why are some products, ideas and behaviours talked about more than others?
This is the question that Wharton professor, Jonas Berger, has spent ten years studying and answers in this book. His answers are not speculative or theoretical; rather they are fact based conclusions. From his own research and that of others, Berger has identified a set of six principles which cause products, services and ideas to spread like a virus.
The six principles are: social currency, triggers, emotion, public, practical value and stories. Together the principles form the acronym STEPPS and the more of these that are present, the more likely an idea is to spread.
People don’t share everything with everyone because most ideas are of little interest to them. In the same way that the car we drive and the clothes we wear influences how others perceive us, so does what we talk about. If we want to be seen as sophisticated, contemporary, successful or knowledgeable, we will choose to talk about matters that reflect this.
On the other hand, not to bore people, we choose who to tell what to, and when, in order for the social currency of our content to be most effective.
In New York City there is genuine “old hole-in-the-wall” hot dog restaurant that serves 17 varieties of hot dogs. At the far end of the restaurant is a vintage wooden telephone booth complete with a vintage telephone. Dial 2 and you will be asked, “Do you have a reservation?” If you do, a secret door on the other side of the booth will open and you enter a pub called “Please Don’t Tell.
Reservations to this pub open daily at 3:00 and by 3:30 it is fully booked making it one of the most sort after drinking spots in New York.
Knowing about the pub, and even better, having been there, gives you a social currency that makes you look good in certain groups. That is why you tell others about “Please Don’t Tell.”
Talking about the unusual pub you visited on your last trip to New York will generate interest, but can the mundane do the same? The second principle, the Trigger, shows it can.
In an experiment designed to understand how to change eating behaviour, students were shown one of two slogans: “Live the healthy way, eat five fruits and veggies a day” and “Each and every dining-hall tray needs five fruits and veggies a day.” In all they saw the slogan 20 times in different fonts and colours and were asked to evaluate the slogan they saw.
That trays need fruit and vegetables was rated “corny” and was deemed to be less than half as attractive as the “live healthy” slogan. Additionally, the live healthy was viewed as far more likely to change their behaviour.
Students who saw the “tray” slogan ate 25% more vegetables than the “healthy way” group. The reason is that they use trays to collect their food every day, and the trays acted as a memory trigger.
The slogan “Kit Kat and Coffee” revived the sales of Kit Kat in the US not only because of the memorable alliteration. Kit Kat and coffee do not go better together than Kit Kat and hot milk, but coffee is a more frequently consumed beverage than milk and so provides many more triggers each day for eating a Kit Kat.
Triggers also get us talking about a subject and the more triggers there are, the more we talk.
Clearly, if the subject also has the right amount of the right emotion attached to it, the chances of it being talked about are far higher. If the idea can be translated into something visible and public, it will spread faster. If many people have bought in already, we are more likely to believe it than if few have.
Armstrong’s Livestrong bright yellow rubber wrist bands went viral for exactly this reason – publicly visible support for a good cause – support for cancer sufferers.
Virtually anything can become contagious if the right ingredients are present. The ability to go viral isn’t born, it is made - and this is extremely important news!
Readability Light --+-- Serious
Insights High +---- Low
Practical High +---- Low
Ian Mann of Gateways consults internationally on leadership and strategy