I just finished Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger. It was a very interesting book, and I would definitely recommend it, especially if you are in a job/space where creating viral content / products is vital to your success (start-ups).

Here are some highlights:


Ideas that are top of mind spread. Like parasites, viral ideas attach themselves to top of mind stories, occurrences or environments. (Mars bar sales spiked when in 1997 when NASA’s Pathfinder mission explored the red planet.)

Social currency

We share things that make us look good or help us compare favorably to others. Exclusive restaurants utilize social currency all the time to create demand.


People tend to follow others, but only when they can see what those others are doing. There is a reason why baristas put money in their own tip jar at the beginning of a shift. Ideas need to be public to be copied.


When we care, we share. Jonah analyzed over six months of data from the New York Times most emailed list to discover that certain high arousal emotions can dramatically increase our need to share ideas - like the outrage triggered by Dave Carroll’s “United Breaks Guitars” video.


Humans crave the opportunity to give advice and offer tips (one reason why advocate marketing works - your best customers love to help out), but especially if they offer practical value. It’s why we `pay it forward’ and help others. Sharing is caring.


People do not just share information, they tell stories. And stories are like Trojan horses, vessels that carry ideas, brands, and information. To benefit the brand, stories must not only be shared but also relate to a sponsoring company’s products. Thus the epic failure of viral sensations like Evian’s roller baby video (50M views) that did little to stem Evian’s 25% drop in sales.

I read this book because it was referenced in another great book I read by Ryan Holiday: Trust me I’m Lying. It did not disappoint. Ryan actually has an amazing number of seamingly good book recommendations via a newsletter than I signed up to. If you like to read a lot, I suggest you open Amazon account and start reading.

The only negative thing to say about this book is the concepts are similiar to The Tipping Point but Gladwell is more fun to read (in my opinion).