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Contagious: How to Build Word of Mouth in the Digital Age [Paperback]

Jonah Berger
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
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Book Description

16 Jan 2014
Why are some products and ideas talked about more than others? Why do some articles make the most emailed list? Why do some YouTube videos go viral? Word-of-mouth. Whether through face-to-face conversations, emails from friends, or online product reviews, the information and opinions we get from others have a strong impact on our own behaviour. Indeed, word-of-mouth generates more than two times the sales of paid advertising and is the primary factor behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions.It is between 8.5 and 30 times more effective than traditional media.But want to know the best thing about word-of-mouth? It's available to everyone.Whether you're a Fortune 500 company trying to increase sales, a corner restaurant trying to raise awareness, a non-profit trying to fight obesity, or a newbie politician running for city council, word-of-mouth can help you succeed. And you don't have to have millions of dollars to spend on an advertising budget. You just have to get people to talk.The challenge, though, is how to do that. This book will show you how.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (16 Jan 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1471111709
  • ISBN-13: 978-1471111709
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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It is exciting and gratifying to know that each of us can spark an idea that catches fire and spreads, as Berger demonstrates in this book --Forbes magazine

Contagious does provide some interesting insights into factors that can help make an idea, a video, a commercial or a product become infectious --Michiko Kakutani, Scotsman 16/3

'The book is an easy, breezy read, peppered with absorbing examples...Berger is clearly following his own advice with plenty of Storytelling and Emotion to sell his message...Id there was a like button underneath it, you d probably find yourself clicking it --Maija Palmer, Financial Times 28/3 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Jonah Berger is the James G. Campbell Jr. Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He studies social influence and social epidemics, or how products, ideas, and behaviours catch on and become popular. This book is based on a popular, award-winning course Berger teaches at Wharton to undergraduates, MBAs and Executives. His research has been published in top-tier academic journals in psychology, economics, marketing and management, and popular accounts of his work have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, Science, Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, Wired, Business Week, The Atlantic, and The Economist. His research has been featured in the New York Times Magazine's Year in Ideas. Berger has been recognized with a number of awards for both scholarship and teaching, including the Iron Professor Teaching Award and the MBA Curricular Innovation Award from the Wharton School and best paper honourable mention from the Journal of Consumer Research. The Marketing Science Institute named him one of the top young scholars in the field.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By Robert Morris TOP 100 REVIEWER
According to Berger, "The first issue with all the hype around social media is that people tend to ignore the importance of offline word of mouth, even though offline discussions are more prevalent, and potentially even more impactful, than online ones." I agree while presuming to suggest that many (if not most) offline discussions occur because of an initial online connection. "The second issue is that Facebook and Twitter are technologies, not strategies." I agree. However, they are immensely important enablers. "Harnessing the power of word of mouth, online or offline, requires understanding why people talk and why some things get talked about and shared more than others. The psychology of sharing. The science of social transmission." Berger has much of substantial value to say about both. What cause certain products, ideas, and behaviors to be talked about more? "That's what this book is about."

I was (and remain) especially interested in Berger's discussion of what he characterizes as six "ingredients" or principles embraced by an acronym: STEPPS. They are Social Currency (enable people to discuss with others what is most important to them); Triggers (prompt or remind people to discuss what could be of benefit to you); Emotion (reveal how much you care but the feelings [begin italics] must [end italics] be genuine, sincere, and authentic); Public (offer what is self-sufficient in terms of its appeal); Practical Value (much of its appeal is determined by its usefulness); and Stories (anchor the message in human experience with which others can identify). Berger suggests that these six as STEPPS (pun intended) during the process of crafting contagious content. "These ingredients lead ideas to get talked about and succeed...
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By Ben G.
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I love the concept of creating content that is easy to talk about and Berger breaks it down into 6 factors that contribute to creating really sharable content. These ideas are really well explained and make intuitive sense, so after the intro I couldn't wait to get into the meat of what makes these points tick and how they can be used.

Berger is passionate about having testable scientific rigour to underlie his points. This was another great hook for me - things should be proven, repeatable and solid. Sadly this is where the book falls flat - because his examples are often naive or just poor science that fails to deliver on his premise.

For example, he mentions an experiment to support the idea that people like to talk about themselves (I think we can all agree that people love to talk without the need for an experiment to prove it, but hey ho). The unforgivable sin is that he chooses an experiment that doesn't show that. The test asks people to take a paid survey and at some point they are given a few minutes of boring downtime. They can choose to wait it out, or they can choose to take less money for the survey but be allowed to talk about themselves during that downtime instead. The paper's authors claim that because their participants will sacrifice money to talk, it means that we find talking about ourselves so beguiling that we'll give up money to do it. All it really proves is that people will pay to avoid boredom. To back that up, many free to play videogames base their entire income on forcing people to wait or pay money to skip the wait. People find that BOREDOM abhorrent enough that they will pay to avoid it - making the game company millions of dollars.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The STEPPS to Contagion 20 Sep 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book uses the story of a restaurant opening in Philadelphia, which used a $100 Philly Cheesesteak to get people talking about the brand. Berger uses his STEPPS framework (social currency, triggers, emotion, public, practical value, stories) to dissect how the best content (his word for products, services, news, etc.) can become contagious. A key point Berger makes is that, whilst are lives are increasingly dominated by the internet, we still spend about 8 times more per day offline in the real world. So, in order to spark contagious content and get people talking, we need to follow the STEPPS framework and the best way to do this is to encapsulate our message in an emotional story, or Trojan Horse, for it to spread.

This is a useful point of reference, which I found complimentary to other marketing tools.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read and good straightforward ideas 27 Jan 2014
By J Blake
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Really like this book as it is easy to follow and has lots of good ideas and clear examples of how to apply them. Am using it for everything from my day job through to helping my partner promote his band.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! 6 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you are searching for the secret recipe on creating viral content then this is the place to start. Concise, well written, lots of awesome examples. A new marketing modern classic, it should be read by anyone involved in digital marketing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars great exposition 3 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Jonah Berger provides a compelling analysis of how word of mouth works. Full of memorable examples, laid out in prose of exemplary clarity. Great reading for anyone who is launching a new product and needs inspiration in telling their story. And for anyone interested in how society works today. It's Contagious stuff!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very helpful. Interesting view of word-of-mouth marketing from Malcolm Gladwell's TIPPING POINT observations.
Published 1 month ago by Anami Kabir
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read for internet marketers
Very interesting book and essentail to those in internet marketing.
Published 2 months ago by Mazzie Purvis
4.0 out of 5 stars ... (by the author) on youtube somewhere which is a good summary of...
There is a talk (by the author) on youtube somewhere which is a good summary of the book. It's short and sweet and to the point.
The book drags on a bit. Read more
Published 2 months ago by M. Goroshkevich
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Book - Insightful and appliable.
I am a digital marketing expert. Always on the lookout for some inspiration I kind of stumbled across this. Read more
Published 5 months ago by StevenGradidge
3.0 out of 5 stars Expected a lot more.
I was not very impressed with this book at all, full of fluff and no concrete, solid information. I certainly won't put this book on the list of my favourite business books.
Published 7 months ago by tabsade
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
except from the clever colors its considered best by many field people. I would suggest it for marketeers and even for list to read.
Published 7 months ago by iproute
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and useful
I read this in a few nights and found it a helpful guide for how to think about 'social' content on websites and in other areas. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Guy Morrissey
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
Excellent read, a must have for anyone who wants to truly understand why some services/products/ideas go viral. Read more
Published 10 months ago by hakJav
4.0 out of 5 stars Learn common sense from the know to how guy
Really good value book, makes the info very is ple and easy to understand and learn. I highly recommend it
Published 13 months ago by Mr. I. A. Ross
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