Last summer, Jonah Berger released his New York Times bestseller, Contagious. Its premise? To explain virality; in other words, why some things catch on and others, well, don’t.
Berger, a Wharton marketing professor, asserts that there is a secret science behind word of mouth and there are some almost fail-proof tools that entrepreneurs and companies can utilize in order to get more people talking about their product or idea.
We were quite taken with Berger’s “Viral 2.0” premise and we enjoyed his appearances on everything from NBC’s Today Show to Marie Forleo’s web TV channel (which consequentially made Contagious contagious). So we were delighted to have the opportunity to sit down with the Ivy League professor to ask him a few questions and have him explain Contagious in more detail.
JB: We used the principles from Contagious to market the book, so the fact that it’s been a hit demonstrates how useful these concepts are in making things catch on.
JB: Let’s be careful. 7% of word of mouth is online. This figure comes from the Keller Fay Group, a company that analyzes word of mouth.
JB: Follow the 6 key steps, I talk about in the book: Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories. The more you build those into your marketing strategy, the more successful your launch will be.
JB: The book is actually only one day of the class. The rest is about social networks, what makes information stick, and other aspects of diffusion.
JB: Social Currency and Emotion play a big role in why people share cat photos. They love their cats, and showing others what crazy things they can do is almost like showing off an aspect of themselves.
JB: I’ve worked with a number of companies like Google, Vanguard, Coca-Cola, and others to apply these ideas. But the $100 cheesesteak I talk about at the beginning of Contagious is still one of my favorites.
JB: I don’t have a favorite but Charlie the Unicorn is a classic.
JB: Face-to-face communication. Offline is the original social network.
JB: LinkedIn used to be about business, Facebook about your personal life, Twitter about news, and Instagram about photos. But they’ve all started to move into each other’s territory. Facebook wants to own news. Twitter would like to own more of your personal life. They’re all competing for the same real estate.
JB: In part because they’re ridiculous. The more surprising or weird something is, the more remarkable it becomes. The more interesting something is, the more interesting it makes you look to share it.