“Contagious: Why Things Catch on” book review

I just finished this book by Johnah Berger. Overall from the scale of 1-5, I would give the book a 3.5 – 4. I recommend that you get a Kindle copy and you could finish the book over the weekend. The central theme is about STEPPS, a six step system that helps to explain why we could create virality or why things go viral. They are: Social currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value and Stories.

The book author got me when he mentioned that only 7% of word of mouth actually happens via online channel, the rest happens via offline. It’s true that technology helps us to share things at an unprecedented speed and reach. However Facebook, You Tube or Twitter, they are just technologies, not strategies so unless people want to talk/ share about something, you can’t engineer virality just based on the platform alone.

I am actually surprised at first to learn that 50% of all You Tube videos have fewer than five hundred views.

The author argued about the role of the so called “influencers” (the messenger) vs the message (creative idea) in creating virality, of the inherent nature of the message (something funny/cuteness?) etc…

I would not want to spoil your leisure of reading through this wonderful book. So rather than going into too much details, I would list down some of the examples highlighted in this book:

  • One of the most watched branded You Tube Channel of all time: http://www.youtube.com/blendtec. If you are a marketing director, would you want people to enjoy watching your TVC (yes the TVC) more than 500M times over the years and continue to do so since 2007?
  • The Story of “Please Don’t Tell” bar in New York that never advertised but quickly became one of the most sought out drink reservation in New York since 2007.
  • Snapple facts” : why it is to contagious?
  • The story of Rue La La
  • New York City Department of Health anti soda campaign
  • Why Cheerios get more word of mouth than Disney World?

There are many other examples and tips from the book that you need to read them to understand. The good thing about this though is that the author used data to back up his theory, use examples to illustrate his point, which is brilliant.

Doing it this way, he makes everything easy to understand, at the same time convince people easier.

Give the book a try and let me know what you think?

Chandler

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