Monday, March 3, 2014

What Makes Ideas Spread? Review of Contagious by Jonah Berger

We are bombarded with ideas all day long. What makes some ideas take on and spread and others die off? This is the subject of Contagious by Jonah Berger.  As a PR professional and a blogger, I am very interested in what makes ideas spread. This book explains why some ideas are more shareable than others.


According to Berger, there are six key STEPPS that cause things to be shared:
  1. Social currency: we talk about what makes us look good
  2. Triggers: we talk about what is top of mind
  3. Emotion: when we care, we share
  4. Public: the more observable something is, the more we share
  5. Practical value: we share what is useful
  6. Stories: We don't just share information, we wrap it in a story
The book discusses each of these STEPPS in detail as well as the psychology behind these principles. 

Obviously, the more of these elements included in your content, the more shareable it will be. The book provides practical information with good examples of businesses that have had success using one or more of these principles. 

Two things I thought were missing:

  1.  It is not clear whether the organizations were strategically employing one of these principles or just had good luck.
  2. The author doesn't describe how these ideas were launched, in other words how did that initial spark get out there? 

Putting it into practice.
  1. In developing a content strategy, as well as choosing content you want to curate, analyze how well your chosen content scores with these STEPPS to increase engagement potential. 
  2. Practice by checking off which STEPPS are included in the pieces of content that are shared with you or that you want to share over the next week. What buckets get shared more frequently? 
  3. Review your own copy and see if you can add an element or two to make it more shareable. 

Good luck! I'd love to hear how it works for you.