Influence people

Friday, April 19, 2013

Viral Content Cookbook

In Contagious, Wharton School marketing professor Jonah Berger offers a science-based sequel to Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, the 2000 book that put the word "viral" in everyone's vocabulary.

In 200 pages, Berger examines the "six principles of contagiousness."

He asks readers to visualize the principles as the six "ingredients" baked into every piece of viral content.

  1. Berger claims viral content is spread because it makes carriers "look smart," a facet of that content he calls "social currency."
  2. Viral content also contains "triggers," cues to some outside world; when people enter that world, they're spurred to talk about the content (for example, during breakfast-hours, Tweets mentioning "Cheerios" spike because the cereal is inextricably linked to that time of day).
  3. Viral content pulls the heartstrings. Content that evokes strong "emotion" (the threat of a tax increase, for example) is apt to spread.
  4. Viral content always has a "public" aspect; people witness others engaged and follow the herd.
  5. Viral content has "practical value," which encourages people to pass it on.
  6. Viral content tells "stories," prompting people, like the poet Homer, to recite that content.
For readability, Contagious doesn't compare to The Tipping Point; and whether you master Berger's "recipe" will depend on your culinary skills. 

But, as chefs like to say, "Great food begins with great ingredients."

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