Tag: content

As it really happened #2: Shh. Don’t tell how to make people talk about your brand

As it really happened #2: Shh. Don’t tell how to make people talk about your brand

Marketing book review

Contagious. How to build word of mouth in the digital age

By Jonah Berger

Simon & Schuster UK LTD, 2014. P. 244. £11.00 ISBN: 978-1-47111-170-9


Published in 2014, Contagious is more than 200 pages where it is developed the STEPPS. It stands for Social currency, Trigger, Emotion, Public, Practical Value and Story, elements which help to build the word of mouth for products, ideas, brands, etc. Word of Mouth is simply when people talk about it.

He makes justice his word – of – mouth strategy. As stated on his website, John Berger is a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania with more than decade investigating how products, ideas and brands can be successful using word of mouth but in particular, looking at social influences in this matter. Contagious is an evidence of it.

Social currency. Points to how to make remarkable a product, idea or brand. Remarkable the unique selling points. Mystery, secrets, surprise and social recognition are at the core of the social currency. People want to share opinions and ideas, people listen to other for recommendations, people follow what looks “cool” and worthy to be commented.

Trigger. Why people talk about the product or brand more than others? One word: stimuli. The key is to make the people relate the brand or product to sights, smells, sounds. The senses play a huge role as they “can trigger related to thoughts” (p. 70) and place the product or brand on top of their minds. It is “inducted transference”, that is to make people associate the brand or product with a sense and/or meaning.

Emotion. It is about the benefits of playing with psychological arousal. Awe and happiness, as well as anger and anxiety impact on people’s sensitivities and make the audience remember the brand/product. Somehow, it is the rule “when we care, we share” (p. 96).

Public. A viral content should be visible and easy to be imitated by the unknowable collective. Berger assumes that people do what others do, due to the lack of information and uncertainty. It is a matter of what he calls “social proof”, that is people tend to imitate other’s behaviour because “People assume that the longer the line, the better the food must be.” (p. 131). It is easy when the brand and product are immediately visible to the people, but what about the brands, ideas or products that are private? Simple, make them public.

Practical Value. As fifth element to build the word – of – mouth strategy is to make the content useful, because it carries practical information. It is the how to do it tactic. Undoubtedly, Berger shows one of his best cards: the “prospect theory” which points out how people make decisions, their subjective point reference and expectations. It is about to take advantage of these point reference and show the deals as valuable as possible. The point reference is about how discounts are the best deal, even if the margin is insignificant.

Story. This is the last homework for marketers. A successful story when it is a narrative which leaves  a moral ending or a valuable/practical information or teaches something to the people, as if it is the Trojan horse story. The content has to make the people to talk about something because it is exchangle as a social currency, it is public, there is a transferable trigger and has an emotional connection.

In overall, Contagious is the result of a large data from conducted researches by Berger. It is a kind of informational guide to make the people talk about your brand or product. Not wondering if the book is simply viral.