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Brand engagement, Social media marketing

A book review with a difference: Contagious by Jonah Berger (Part One)

Ok so this is a book review, of a book, called Contagious.  So far so simple.

So where’s the difference?

Well, I’m going to be writing and updating the review as I read the book.  Rather than provide an overview of my thoughts at the end, I’m instead going to be picking out key elements that I find interesting along the way.  I’ll even reference the page numbers so they are easy to find should you decide I’m not reading it fast enough for you and you want to take it on yourself!

So here goes Part 1:

We plunge into it with the $100 cheesesteak.  What a great way to start a book!  This intro is indicative of Jonah’s easy writing style, meaning that, unlike many other social media marketing books (which is, in essence what this is about), it’s very easy to get into.  The book is as engaging and entertaining as your social media should be.

One of the first areas he deals with is ‘Social transmission’ ie the act of sharing information word of mouth.  Jonah points out that most people ignore the importance of offline word of mouth (p12) – think watercooler moments, chatting on the phone, catching up over coffee.  Apparently only 7% of word of mouth takes place online (p10).  How has that been measured you might ask?  Well you’d need to ask the Keller Fay Group that as they did the research.

Next Jonah talks about what makes people want to pass on a piece of info/titbit? ie how does some stuff go viral?  A lot of ‘experts’ will tell you that it’s down to chance and that it’s impossible to predict.  Or that certain traits will make content more shareable, e.g. cute cats or humour.  Jonah disagrees, with a pretty compelling point that these theories:

“…ignore the fact that many funny or cute videos never take off.  Sure, some cat clips get millions of views, but those are the outliers, not the norm.  Most get less than a few dozen.” p 14

(btw he points out earlier that only 0.33% of YouTube videos have over 1 million views.  50% have less than 500 views each p12).

So just what does make some content (or cats) more shareable than others?

Jonah uses the Blendtec example as one way to do it (click here if you’ve not seen the Will It Blend series, this particular one with an iPhone still makes me cringe!).  Blendtec made something that is considered boring and normal to be utterly remarkable.

And remarkable is the key word here. It’s a theme that will run throughout all social media chatter. The more remarkable you can show something is, the more likely it is to be shared.  That isn’t the only factor though. Jonah has identified 6 steps to virality called STEPPS (p22). They are:

  • Social Currency
  • Triggers
  • Emotion
  • Public
  • Practical Value
  • Stories

He will assess each of these in different chapters of the book. And that is where I’ll leave it for now.  I am very excited about reading on.  And as soon as I get my next lunch break I will!


About chichomarketing

Straight talking marketing from a team what works too hard but has lots of fun along the way! Websites, marketing strategy, social media, motion graphics and corporate animations for Small Businesses and Start Ups.


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