Contagious: Why Things Catch On

Contagious: Why Things Catch On

Jonah Berger

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 1451686587

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The New York Times bestseller that explains why certain products and ideas become popular. “Jonah Berger knows more about what makes information ‘go viral’ than anyone in the world” (Daniel Gilbert, author of the bestseller Stumbling on Happiness).

What makes things popular? If you said advertising, think again. People don’t listen to advertisements, they listen to their peers. But why do people talk about certain products and ideas more than others? Why are some stories and rumors more infectious? And what makes online content go viral?

Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger has spent the last decade answering these questions. He’s studied why New York Times articles make the paper’s own Most E-mailed list, why products get word of mouth, and how social influence shapes everything from the cars we buy to the clothes we wear to the names we give our children.

In Contagious, Berger reveals the secret science behind word-of-mouth and social transmission. Discover how six basic principles drive all sorts of things to become contagious, from consumer products and policy initiatives to workplace rumors and YouTube videos. Learn how a luxury steakhouse found popularity through the lowly cheesesteak, why anti-drug commercials might have actually increased drug use, and why more than 200 million consumers shared a video about one of the most seemingly boring products there is: a blender.

Contagious provides a set of specific, actionable techniques for helping information spread—for designing messages, advertisements, and content that people will share. Whether you’re a manager at a big company, a small business owner trying to boost awareness, a politician running for office, or a health official trying to get the word out, Contagious will show you how to make your product or idea catch on.

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surprisingly, then, remarkable things get brought up more often. In one study, Wharton professor Raghu Iyengar and I analyzed how much word of mouth different companies, products, and brands get online. We examined a huge list of 6,500 products and brands. Everything from big brands like Wells Fargo and Facebook to small brands like the Village Squire Restaurants and Jack Link’s. From every industry you can imagine. Banking and bagel shops to dish soaps and department stores. Then we asked people

people to think more negatively about abortion or gay marriage? Could voting in a school lead people to support education funding? To test this idea, Marc Meredith, Christian Wheeler, and I acquired data from each polling place in Arizona’s 2000 general election. We used the name and address of each polling location to determine whether it was a church, a school, or some other type of building. Forty percent of people were assigned to vote in churches, 26 percent in schools, 10 percent in

work faster and more efficiently. Luckily my colleague Katherine Milkman suggested a vastly improved method. Rather than pull this information from the print newspaper by hand, why not automate the process? With the help of a computer programmer, we created a Web crawler. Like a never tiring reader, the program automatically scanned The New York Times home page every fifteen minutes, recording what it saw. Not only the text and title of each article, but also who wrote it and where it was

easier for her daughter to see, she posted it on YouTube. And along the way she sent the clip to a couple of friends. Well, those friends sent it to a couple of friends, who also sent it to a couple of friends. Soon Ken’s “Clean Ears Everytime” video took off. It collected more than 5 million views. But unlike most viral videos that skew toward young people, this one skewed in the opposite direction. Topping the charts of the videos viewed most by people above the age of fifty-five. In fact,

25 percent fail within twelve months of opening their doors. Sixty percent are gone within the first three years. Restaurants fail for any number of reasons. Expenses are high—everything from the food on the plates to the labor that goes into preparing and serving it. And the landscape is crowded with competitors. For every new American bistro that pops up in a major city, there are two more right around the corner. Like most small businesses, restaurants also have a huge awareness problem.

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