Contagious: Why Things Catch On
As a digital marketing manager specializing in social media, I’m like aÂ proud parent with the “My Child is on the Honor Roll” bumper sticker: I love social media and it’s easy to idolize. But a book I read recently gave a practical reminder that social media is a supportive communications vehicle, rather than a marketing strategy. For true success, a great social media presence requires contagious content!
Jonah Berger’s book,Â Contagious: Why Things Catch On is a must-read for anyone seeking to differentiate their product or service in the marketplace and gain viral exposure through customer referrals.
In the opening, Berger hooks every reader with this stat from a study by the Keller Fay Group: only 7% of word-of-mouth happens online.
Now, before you throw your MacBook out with the bathwater, reconsider this surprising information through another lensÂ -Â there isÂ not a lack of valuable opportunities accessible through onlineÂ marketing, but rather there are evenÂ moreÂ opportunities to trigger off-line conversations about your brand through strategic digital marketing. A key take-away fromÂ Contagious is this:
Social media should be designed to support off-line conversations forÂ maximum impact.
ContagiousÂ breaks down the author’s six driving principals (STEPPS) uncovering why and how content becomes viral and, well, contagious.
- Social CurrencyÂ - People care about how they look to others. Help them feel smart and appear in-the-know by giving them something they can share with others that will boost their social IQ. Whether it’s a funny video thatÂ just broke on YouTube or the phone number for the best tax pro in town, find a way to be their next bit of social currency.
- Triggers – As Berger says, “top of mind means tip-of-tongue”. By creating a context for your product outside its typical space, you’ll be thought of by your audience when they least expect it. (Try going just one Wednesday without being reminded that it’s Hump Day a la the Geico camel and tell me that triggers don’t work.Â I dare you!)Â
- Emotion – “When we care, we share.” Emotional content reaches a place deep inside us that begs us to share it. Case in point? Every momÂ who’s watchedÂ thisÂ Publix Valentine’s Day commercial.
- Public – “Built to show, built to grow.” When your product or service leaves visible behavior residue, it’s more likely that it will be imitated by Â others.Â Whether it’s the orange Cheetos dust (literalÂ residue), a Bloomingdales big brown bag, or a yellow LIVESTRONG bracelet,Â find ways to help your products or services advertise themselves.
- Practical Value – Want your content to spread like wildfire? Berger shares the most simple solution of all:Â offer content withÂ incredible value and package your knowledge and expertise so peopleÂ can easily pass it on. From infographics and handy “how to’s”,Â people love sharing tools to simplify and solveÂ everyday problems. Help them be a hero!
- StoriesÂ - Everyday brand storiesÂ travel under what seems like idle chatter. Berger stresses that stories are vessels, just like the famousÂ Trojan horse. A narrative or story that people want to tell will carry your idea long for the ride. (Example: Think Jared from Subway.)
Can’t imagine how to incorporate all of these principles in one Facebook post? Fear not! Try addingÂ even one or two of these ingredients to your brand’s story and you’ll see a big impact.