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Contagious: Why Things Catch On [Hardcover]

Jonah Berger
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 5 2013
New York Times bestseller

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 this book, 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.

Contagious combines groundbreaking research with powerful stories. Learn how a luxury steakhouse found popularity through the lowly cheese-steak, why anti-drug commercials might have actually increased drug use, and why more than 200 million consumers shared a video about one of the seemingly most boring products there is: a blender. If you’ve wondered why certain stories get shared, e-mails get forwarded, or videos go viral, Contagious explains why, and shows how to leverage these concepts to craft contagious content. This book provides a set of specific, actionable techniques for helping information spread—for designing messages, advertisements, and information 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.

Frequently Bought Together

Contagious: Why Things Catch On + Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die + Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work
Price For All Three: CDN$ 57.63

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“Jonah Berger is as creative and thoughtful as he is spunky and playful. Looking at his research, much like studying a masterpiece in a museum, provides the observer with new insights about life and also makes one aware of the creator's ingenuity and creativity. It is hard to come up with a better example of using social science to illuminate the ordinary and extraordinary in our daily lives.” (Dan Ariely, James B. Duke professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University and bestselling author of Predictably Irrational)

“Why do some ideas seemingly spread overnight, while others disappear? How can some products become ubiquitous, while others never gain traction? Jonah Berger knows the answers, and, with Contagious, now we do, too." (Charles Duhigg, author of the bestselling The Power of Habit)

“If you are seeking a bigger impact, especially with a smaller budget, you need this book. Contagious will show you how to make your product spread like crazy.” (Chip Heath, co-author of Made to Stick and Decisive)

“Jonah Berger knows more about what makes information ‘go viral’ than anyone in the world.” (Daniel Gilbert, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University and author of Stumbling on Happiness)

“Jonah Berger is the rare sort who has studied the facts, parsed it from the fiction—and performed groundbreaking experiments that have changed the way the experts think. If there’s one book you’re going to read this year on how ideas spread, it’s this one.” (Dave Balter, CEO of BzzAgent and Co-founder of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association)

"A provocative shift in focus from the technology of online transmission to the human element and a bold claim to explain 'how word of mouth and social influence work . . . [to] make any product or idea contagious." (Kirkus Reviews)

“Contagious contains arresting — and counterintuitive — facts and insights. . . . Most interesting of all are the examples Berger cites of successful and unsuccessful marketing campaigns.” (Glenn C. Altschuler The Boston Globe)

“An infectious treatise on viral marketing. . . . Berger writes in a sprightly, charming style that deftly delineates the intersection of cognitive psychology and social behavior with an eye toward helping businesspeople and others spread their messages. The result is a useful and entertaining primer that diagnoses countless baffling pop culture epidemics.” (Publishers Weekly)

“The book is just plain interesting. Berger’s cases are not only topical and relevant, but his principles seem practical and are easily understood. . . . I have a strong feeling that this book will catch on.” (Ben Frederick The Christian Science Monitor)

“Think of it as the practical companion to Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point.” (Tasha Eichenseher Discover)

"An exegesis on how ideas really 'go viral' (hint: the internet gets too much credit) by a marketing wunderkind." (Details)

About the Author

Jonah Berger is Associate Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. His research has been published in top-tier academic journals, and popular accounts of his work have appeared in The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalScienceHarvard Business Review, and more. His research has also 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. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very eye opening Oct. 3 2013
By Sammy
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
great read. everything seemed like common sense while reading it, but it brings together the most important aspects on how to make thing viral.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Contagious Nov. 7 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Initially I picked this book up because of the value Jonah Berger seemed to place on talents like Malcolm Gladwell and the ability to engage others with storytelling. I was not disappointed. In Contagious, Berger takes commonly known facts, wraps them in related and interesting stories and then turns it all into useable insights that are so easy to understand we wonder why we never figured this out ourselves...except of course that Berger has done the heavy lifting of all the supporting research and then translated it for us. I read the book in one sitting and happily recommended it to others. A great read and practical too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome! Aug. 28 2013
By Steven
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Right in Chapter 1, he talks about a Harvard University study was conducted where students were asked to pick between:

Option A: $50,000/year where everyone else would receive $25,000/year
Option B: $100,000/year where everyone else would receive $200,000/year

The majority of them chose Option A. They cared more about being the leader of the pack than actually making more money. Crazy! That's the kind of eye opener this book is and it all applies to marketing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the better books on virality Aug. 3 2013
By SBuckle
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I saw Berger speak at an Art of Marketing conference and bought into his thinking immediately. His book has only reinforced it. 'Contagious' is about how and why ideas, services and products spread. Based upon years of academic research, Berger has arrived at a system named STEPPS that acts as a litmus test for word-of-mouth strength. STEPPS stands for Social Currency, Emotions, Public, Practical Value and Stories and if a good idea or program checks each of these off, it has a high likelihood of becoming the next viral sensation that increases sales exponentially. Three key takeaways for me:

1) Social is not the panacea of virality. Berger, through years of peer-reviewed research, argues that social accounts for only 7% of word-of-mouth, which probably gives every creative agency and community manager jitters, but it shouldnt necessarily. Social mediums can be used as a way to spread ideas within communities already established and its these communities or trusted networks that have value. Word-of-mouth happens within these trusted networks, because the people know each other better and choose to share stuff that they know will resonate with them. If Tommy is into baseball, I'm not going to tell him about the latest baby stroller, but I will share a video of the amazing catch from last night's game - even watching the video makes me automatically think of Tommy. People skew what they share based upon others interests so reception increases. You need to light a bunch of little fires rather than one big one, which means a tweet to a million people has less value than 100 tweets to smaller bases.

2) Making a brand public is important so other people can see it, but the opposite is true for stuff you dont want to spread.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Contagious May 8 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Ce livre m'a été recommandé dans le cadre d'un cours sur les réseaux sociaux. Les exemples qu'on y trouve sont très imagés et pertinents. Mais en plus, c'est écrit d'une telle façon qu'il est toujours difficile de laisser le livre. On a l'impression de lire de petites histoires qui nous font cheminer vers l'objectif final de compréhension globale du concept à la base du livre: qu'est-ce qui fait en sorte que les produits/services/idées deviennent aussi populaire et d'autres non.

Je n'hésiterais pas à recommander ce livre à quiconque s'intéresse au marketing, à la mise en marché de produits ou services, a un esprit d'entrepreneur, ou s'intéresse à la publicité et aux médias sociaux de près ou de loin.

After reading this book, I know why it catches on!
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5.0 out of 5 stars seriously good Aug. 9 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought this book and was reading another one first, didn' t quite give it the attention it deserved. I gotta say, I learned a lot of cool tricks in this book and will definitely use the knowledge for future use. The author tends to go back to his examples quite a few time but in a way that's not bad because it helps you sink in the new knowledge . Would recommend, good read definitely
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The book is easy to digest and offers some interesting real world examples. Unfortunately those examples are really just quick mentions without any real data behind them. I felt this book would be a great intro for someone who is new to the idea of "viral" but if you are in marketing or advertising and looking for a deeper understanding behind it then this book is not it. I find it odd that an official review said that this is a great companion to "The Tipping Point" because that book offers a much more rich reading experience with more detailed narratives. I felt like I was reading a long blog post with this book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts... June 3 2013
By Reader Writer Runner TOP 50 REVIEWER
Jonah Berger packs his fascinating new book, "Contagious" with examples of viral campaigns, each explained using painstaking analysis into the science of social transmission. According to Berger, six essential factors contribute to contagious ideas; together they form a blueprint for creating ideas and messages that spread like wildfire.

"Social currency" means we share things that help us compare favorably to others; "triggers" are ideas that attach themselves to top of mind stories or occurrences; "emotion" boils down to caring = sharing; "public" describes the tendency for people to follow others' leads; "practical" taps into the human desire to give advice and offer tips; and "stories" act like vessels that carry brands and information.

This book offers plenty of advice to professional marketers but also clearly and interestingly explains to every reader how viral campaigns eschew overt marketing messages. They tap into consumer wants, desires and emotional needs, causing the consumer to share his/her experience. And this sharing ultimately reaches a much broader audience than any advertisement can.
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