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.
- Berger claims viral content is spread because it makes carriers "look smart," a facet of that content he calls "social currency."
- 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).
- Viral content pulls the heartstrings. Content that evokes strong "emotion" (the threat of a tax increase, for example) is apt to spread.
- Viral content always has a "public" aspect; people witness others engaged and follow the herd.
- Viral content has "practical value," which encourages people to pass it on.
- Viral content tells "stories," prompting people, like the poet Homer, to recite that content.
But, as chefs like to say, "Great food begins with great ingredients."