Contagious - Why Things Catch On, Book Review Essay Sample

Published: 2022-05-22 15:10:25
Contagious - Why Things Catch On, Book Review Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Book review
Categories: Literature Media
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1797 words
15 min read

The book, Why Things Catch On, is authored by Jonah Berger. The book is mainly about what makes some things are more talked about and shared than others. The content is tailor-made to anyone who has ideas or products they desire to launch out into the market. The tools discussed help to demystify the domineering reasons behind the success of some items, from all others. It tries to figure out why from startups, only some and not all make it to stardom. Why do some ads get a vast resounding number of responses, while other similar efforts yield little or no fruit? From the conventional methods of advertisements and marketing, quality, price and advertising were essential factors which established whether or not a launched product would succeed. Jonah though argues against these traditional methods, and radically suggests a different explanation. He claims that word of mouth and social influence are more essential tools for making a product or an idea more viral, and have a better chance of up to fifty percent to influence purchasing decisions. Berger is in support of word of mouth because it is more convincing and more purposeful in its approach. He instead brings into view an exciting finding, where only seven percent content shared on social media is from word of mouth. Such social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are just but mere tools to help in transmitting potent ideas, and not the solution to spreading more information.

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Berger suggests that some things are just plain better, that's why they get more cordial reception than do others. Why one product or idea sells more than do others, is because they are excellent in quality and content than similar goods out there, which offer but weak competition. Berger, through well thought out illustrations and analogies, draws the attention to profound lessons on why some things better catch the attention of the masses than others. He suggests a mnemonic approach of the word STEPPS to draw attention on Social currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical value and Stories.

Social Currency: Currency in financial markets showcase a store of value, and which is also used as a medium of exchange. Similarly, social currency depicts information which has value and receives more sharing among people than others. Man is a social being. In socialising, everyone likes to be perceived more informed and enlightened on a particular matter, even as we engage in our social interactions through our social currency. People love to share new information they have just recently learned, or new light regarding an ordinary matter that others haven't entirely been enlightened on. This kind of sharing makes us feel good about ourselves, boosting our self-esteem. Our sense of self-confidence is also bettered by our understanding of participation, which eventually makes us have a sense of belonging to the community. Also, people are generally self-opinionated, loving to share what they think about anything being discussed, sharing their own experiences or preferences. Berger suggests that companies that explore this trait of people sharing things that make them look good tailor the advertisements of their products and services in a manner that elicits more conversation going around. This, Berger notes, they go through the following; First, finding something unique or that which makes one's product stand out, by breaking from the norm. Secondly, through utilising existent elements to generate fun, in the process keeping the end consumers wanting more of what you offer. Thirdly, through making outsiders and consumers of your products feel more like insiders. This can be done by for instance providing discounted prices on customers of a company's distribution list. In a nutshell, getting something viral requires building and investing I quality, then leaving the product to market itself. People will always want to relate to a successful brand.

Trigger: Despite the fact that people talk about a lot of things, it is that which is readily recalled and brought to mind at instance arousal, which is deemed most valuable. The arousal may be the environment upon which the information was initially shared, or rather the surroundings so suggested by the aura of the data stored in mind. Efficacious arousals yield in information staying on top of the brain, and as thus direct much of conversations along the suggested information. This means that that which remains on top of the mind is most likely to stay on top of the tongue. While social currencies are designed to get people talking about things, triggers, on the other hand, are to ensure they keep talking about those things. Products and ideas that are connected to our surroundings are thus encouraged to be built, for they readily trigger off consumer's minds. This way, the products or ideas with triggers are often talked about, and as such gain more conversations in more social circles. These kinds of products or ideas end up getting more customers. Another means of creating simple and effective triggers is through linking products to things consumers do on a daily basis. This is the method of expanding the habitat. Berger clearly states that the effectiveness of a trigger is in its frequency of usage, and strength of the connection of the trigger to the product, idea or service. It is thus of utmost importance to consider the context and environment of the target market critically.

Emotion: Berger strives to show the place of emotions in getting things to catch on. People are wired to react physiologically to anything that is meant to evoke feelings from them. Interestingly, it is not only confident emotions that get people talking, but also negative ones. In short, everyone tends to become more emotionally involved when anything physiological-provoking occurs. Any information thus shared that evokes emotions will be more shared and talked about, than one that doesn't. The secret to getting viral is the ability of the content shared to lure human feelings of tenderness, pity, awe, misery or wrath. Berger suggests that when people care, they end up sharing. Comprehending this fact, and designing products and content that centre less on information, and more on how they make people feel, think and react to particular messages. Emotional content is always bound to evoke feelings, which also invokes talking points that evoke a large enough audience for an idea to be pitched, information to be passed, or product to be sold.

Public: Berger suggests that public visibility is another aspect that drives sharing. If something is built to show, it will grow. People tend to buy into a matter they have seen most other people subscribe about. We tend to have safety in numbers, where social proof reveals itself in that people tend to make choices based on observation of the actions fellow potential consumers. This mentality is pegged on the belief that if most people have adapted it, then it must be right, and a good adoption for ourselves too. Berger writes that "Making things more observable, makes them easier to imitate, which makes them more likely to become popular." People tend to buy into the product that came out first, even if another better comes in later, they subscribe to the idea that first come, first bought. "Social Proof", Berger defines this as the idea of viewing others, to resolve our uncertainty. "Monkey see monkey do" concept reflects in playing a huge role in what kind of ideas or products catch on. In making the private public, Berger propagates the idea that if an initially perceived private conversation is surfaced, it will end the stigma around ideas and products. Two important aspects to making something public suggested include; self-advertising through a social proof that usage is observed. Examples of this is seen at the end of a message sent from an iPhone, or logos on t-shirts and polo shirts. The other important aspect is the reputation left behind by usage or purchase of a product.

Practical value: Things are also more readily shared in our lives when they find daily usage applicability. The natural tendency to help others is a right way of making lives easier for other people. Ideas on how to save time, money or both, are more readily shared among most people. Berger points out Vanguards monthly email, which has personal finance tips. Most people tend to share these tips with others, in the process, Vanguards name is passed along. Information that is used is more readily shared. Feeling useful to others is a good feel, especially when there is a physical distance between people. This is because it makes stronger social bonds. Berger points out that practical value quite highly depends on buyer behaviour, hence most people use 'reference points' to decide on the cost of an excellent, service, or whether or not to purchase it. Since most companies do know this is the conventional method of the decision-making process among most consumers, they motivate their customers to make selections easier and faster for them. A good illustration of this method is seen while shopping t Amazon, next to a discounted price, Amazon puts up the original price next to the subsidised cost to make the customer think he is getting a better deal.

Stories: People think more regarding narratives rather than information. Since most people are inclined towards stories, Berger suggests that these stories be built around the Trojan horse model to make spreading communication more effective. The original Trojan horse narrative bore in its great narration the clear lesson of never trusting your enemies, even when they seem friendly. The idea is to have a story with parts which are the main points desired to be passed along. Stories are a true testimony that information travels under the guise of idle chatter. More people are bound to remember and share stories readily, than plain facts. This is because more people miss extra details about points, but can recall a narration easily. Content creators should thus deem it worthy to create products centred on good stories, as this will drive value and increase social influence through leveraging on the word-of-mouth transmission.

The book is quite informative and enlightening. The diverse manner of issues addressed are thus well tackled through elaborate allegories and bright illustrations. However, given the broad range of topics covered, the book ought to have been longer than just over a hundred pages long. More analysis can be presented over a lengthy discourse, than a limited one. Generally, though, the good has good practical value and is quite elucidating.

This book calls to attention common sense, as it suggests rather apparent methodologies of getting things to catch on. Application and best implementation of criteria indicated in the book depend upon strong consideration of market forces, for most of the methods different from the conventional ones on the ground.

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