Sometimes being contagious is a good thing.
Most of us have seen videos of a cat playing the piano. Or David after he went to the dentist. Or a dress that is white and gold (or is it blue and black?). But why does that content go viral while other posts never get seen?
Sure, television advertising becomes popular around the Super Bowl, but no one seeks out television advertising. They wait until someone posts about it and then share it. Soon it’s viral.
Jonah Berger, an associate professor of marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, has spent most of the past decade researching this phenomenon. His findings are behind his debut book, Contagious: Why Things Catch On. He looked into the New York Times’ most-emailed list to determine why those stories made the list and why certain products get shared throughout social media platforms and others do not. He also explored how social media affects our lives and influences the things we purchase and even the names we give our kids.
Contagious describes how six basic principles propel anything from YouTube videos, workplaces rumors and simple products to take on a life of their own and spread. Berger explains the concepts behind social media and word-of-mouth dissemination.
The book provides case studies on why anti-drug commercials might have increased drug use and why more than 200 million people shared a video featuring a blender. Berger offers clues to help your content or information spread throughout social media.
Contagious is for businesses of all sizes and could help candidates running for public office or public officials who need to distribute important information.
Berger specializes in consumer behavior and social influence, and in how products, ideas and behaviors become contagious. He has consulted for such companies as General Motors, Google, Kaiser Permanente and Unilever.
Contagious: Why Things Catch On was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, and was named the Best Marketing Book of 2014 by the American Marketing Association.
It is available in hardback, paperback, as a Kindle e-book, as an unabridged audiobook and as an unabridged audio CD.
Review by John T. Garcia