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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "What causes certain products, ideas, and behaviors to be talked about more?" Here's a brilliant explanation.
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...
Published 17 months ago by Robert Morris

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some great insights hobbled by terrible execution.
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...
Published 15 months ago by Ben G.


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "What causes certain products, ideas, and behaviors to be talked about more?" Here's a brilliant explanation., 16 Mar 2013
By 
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Contagious (Paperback)
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...[however, they] are unlike a recipe because not all six ingredients are required to make a product or idea contagious. Sure, the more the better" but not every offering must possess all of them.

These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye, also listed to indicate the scope of Berger's coverage.

o Social Transmission, and, Generating Word of Mouth (Pages 7-15)
o Six Principles of Contagiousness (21-24)
o Minting a New Type of Currency (33-36)
o A Brief Note on Motivation (57-59)
o What Makes for an Effective Trigger? (85-90)
o The Power of Awe (102-104)
o Focus on Feelings, and, Kindling the Fire with High-Arousal Emotions (112-118)
o The Psychology of Imitation, and, The Power of Observability (127-136)
o The Psychology of Deals (162-168)
o Stories as Vessels (181-189)
o Making Virality Possible (193-195)
o Epilogue (203-210)

Before concluding his brilliant book, Berger observes, "The best part of the STEPPS framework is that anyone can use it." He's convinced (and I agree) that almost anyone, including those whom he calls "regular people, offering regular products and ideas," can succeed with effective use of only one or two of these ingredients.

I realize that no brief commentary such as mine can do full justice to the material that Jonah Berger provides in this volume but I hope that I have at least suggested why I think so highly of it. Also, I hope that those who read this commentary will be better prepared to determine whether or not they wish to read the book and, in that event, will have at least some idea of how create contagious products, ideas, and behaviors that attract interest, initiate online connections, and generate offline discussions.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some great insights hobbled by terrible execution., 14 May 2013
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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. So this experiment doesn't back up his point, instead it makes you think he's trying to obsfucate the truth using SCIENCE. The book and his points are worse off for it.

A few pages later Berger says things should be gamified with badges because people like to have a symbol that proves they have accomplished something - and then they share it. That's fine if it's a national medal or a Nobel prize, but digital badges passed beyond saturation point years ago. My friends' Facebook walls are clogged with foursquare and candy crush badges (and whatever else the latest games are posting on their behalf). Rather than wanting to share badges and pass them on, we're becoming hyper-aware of not spamming our friends with crap - because we know how irritating they are when they clog up our social feeds. This in itself falls foul of one of his own points - people share things that other people will think is cool to give them social capital. This point is awesome and really rings true, but it directly contradicts people's real behaviour when it comes to badges.

The book is chock so full of these contradictions and shlock science that all the good stuff gets lost.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Expected a lot more., 21 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Contagious (Paperback)
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!, 6 May 2014
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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 Incredible Book - Insightful and appliable., 21 April 2014
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I am a digital marketing expert. Always on the lookout for some inspiration I kind of stumbled across this. I can not begin to tell you how brilliant written and executed this book is. STEPPS is a brilliant methodology and I am actioning it already in my 9to5. Brilliant book. Wish it was longer.
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5.0 out of 5 stars great book, 13 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Contagious (Paperback)
except from the clever colors its considered best by many field people. I would suggest it for marketeers and even for list to read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars great exposition, 3 Feb 2014
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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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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and useful, 29 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Contagious (Paperback)
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. It actually influenced the way we launched a product and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to understand why some ideas or content gets traction online.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read and good straightforward ideas, 27 Jan 2014
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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 Excellent!, 2 Nov 2013
This review is from: Contagious (Paperback)
Excellent read, a must have for anyone who wants to truly understand why some services/products/ideas go viral.

All techniques are explained really well, with many real life examples, which is highly useful if you are looking to make an idea of your own go viral!

Thanks to the author, loved the book!
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Contagious: How to Build Word of Mouth in the Digital Age
Contagious: How to Build Word of Mouth in the Digital Age by Jonah Berger (Hardcover - 16 Jan 2014)
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