The actuality of Word of mouth as a PR tool become obvious fro me after the few last books I’ve read, however, while Gladwell and Anderson described the models excitingly and gave dozens of helpful insights in what makes some messages, ideas and products viral, they have not discussed any concrete steps to make something viral. That distinguishes “Contagious” by Jonah Berger. His book is amazingly practical, as he tries to find the exact characteristics of viral messages and explain how to create the buzz around your product.
The first and most important idea of this book is that while the source of the information and the context do matter, the message itself still plays the main role in the communication process. The viral potential lies in the content.
The author proposes 6 basic principals of contagiousness: social currency, triggers, emotion, public, practical value, and stories. While some of them sound familiar and feel like were repeated for a long time, Berger provides a convincing theoretical framework.
“Harnessing the power of word of mouth, online or offline, requires understanding why people talk and why some things get talked about and shared more than others. The psychology of sharing”, – Jonah Berger, “Contagious: How to build word of mouth in the digital age”.
Examples also look impressive: from tech to fashion, food to entertainment, beauty to traveling, – seems that any industry can apply the same principals to get their message passed along the way.
There are no surprises in this book and no revelations, but the scientific approach to the question and look at the problem of modern business from the psychological point of view states this book in the row with the literature on popular direction of economics – behaviorism. To understand, why some content is shared and passed along the way and some good quality messages stay ignored, we need to stand in the shadow and follow the logic of our target audiences. Do they see the practical advice in the information? Do they feel that message is relevant to their friends or colleagues? Is it emotionally appealing? Can it make them look cooler? Or it just comes to mind in the specific surrounding, triggered by environment? All these factors matter, and implementing at least one of them, the message can become much more buzz-worthy.
I’ve read many articles and guides on creation of viral content, however, this book seems to be the best, – easy to follow and so obvious that it just cannot be false!