Summary-Contagious Why Things Catch On - Jonah Berger

Summary-Contagious Why Things Catch On - Jonah Berger


The fundamental idea is that people's observable actions toward others influence people's behavior and choices. When people can see what others are doing, they are more prone to imitate them. This is known as social proof.

For example, at a New York food cart, people wait in a long line simply because they see others doing so, assuming the food must be good. MBA students converge on careers in banking or consulting partly due to observing their peers' choices. In college, students binge drink not because they like it but because that behavior is apparent.

The critical factor enabling social influence is observability - whether people can see what others are thinking or doing. Things that are visible and public, like the types of cars people drive, have a more significant influence on behavior than private things like the toothpaste people use. Research found that 1 in 8 car purchases was due to neighbors' influence, especially in places where people were more likely to see what others drove, e.g. Los Angeles vs. New York.

Observable behaviors and items are also more likely to be discussed by others, further amplifying their influence. Overall, social proof - the tendency to assume others' actions signal correct behavior - depends heavily on how much people can observe what those around them do. When in doubt, we look to others, especially if their behavior is conspicuous. But we often fail to realize others may be just as uncertain and imitating.

  • Public visibility boosts word of mouth and spurs action. The more observable something is, the more people talk about it and are triggered to take action.

  • Making the private and public increases social influence and spread. General signals about personal choices and behaviors allow people to imitate each other. This is essential for the success of organizations, businesses, and ideas.

  • Movember transformed support for the abstract cause of men's health into something observable by having men grow moustaches. This generated discussion and spread awareness.

  • Making the private public correct misperceptions about social norms and decreasing harmful behavior, as in the example of reducing binge drinking by publicizing the actual model.

  • Hotmail advertised itself by including a promo message and link in every email sent by users. This provided social proof and spread awareness, helping Hotmail gain over 8.5 million users annually.

  • Companies often make their brands more observable through prominent logos, branding, and oversized logos. This transmits social proof and passive approval each time the product is used.

  • In summary, making the private public through increasing observability and designing self-advertising products or ideas is a crucial strategy to drive word of mouth and spur action.

  • Products, ideas, and behaviors can advertise when people consume or adopt them publicly. This generates social proof that influences others.

  • Behavioral residue refers to the physical traces that remain even when a product or idea is not actively used. These remnants provide ongoing social proof and opportunities for conversation.

  • The Livestrong wristbands are an example of effective behavioral residue. Their bright yellow color made them highly visible, advertising the brand and cause even when people weren't thinking about it. This helped the wristbands become a cultural phenomenon.

  • Voting stickers are another example of behavioral residue. They make the usually private voting publicly visible, providing social proof and encouraging more people to vote.

  • Retailers frequently provide shopping bags, reusable bags, and other items that create behavioral residue and advertise the brand. Some people even reuse bags from less prestigious retailers.

  • Behavioral residue works for any product, idea, or behavior. It generates social proof and word of mouth even when a product or idea is not top of mind.

  • In summary, designing products and experiences that create behavioral residue is a powerful way to achieve ongoing social proof and influence without an advertising budget. The residue advertises on your behalf.

  • Companies often give away products that provide "behavioral residue" or reminders of the brand, like reusable shopping bags, coffee mugs, gym bags, etc. These items are frequently used in public, subtly advertising the brand.

  • Online reviews, social media posts, and likes to provide behavioral residue by leaving a digital trace of people's preferences and behaviors. Many companies encourage people to like or follow them on social media to spread awareness.

  • However, making things overly public can sometimes backfire. Anti-drug campaigns emphasized how everyday drug use increased drug use in teens. Highlighting how few people pay for music may discourage people from spending. Discussing how many people break the rules can permit others to do the same.

  • It's often better to highlight proper behavior and make wrongdoing less observable. For example, signs asking people not to steal petrified wood from a park by focusing on preservation were more effective than signs noting how many others had stolen timber.

  • We tend to imitate what we can observe others doing. Companies need to make their products and ideas more publicly visible, like Apple did by flipping its logo or Livestrong did with its yellow wristbands. "If something is built to show, it grows."

  • However, for stigmatized or taboo products/ behaviors, making them more publicly discussed and visible can help them gain mainstream acceptance, as with online dating, erectile dysfunction treatments, or LGBT support campaigns. Overall, leveraging what people can observe about others' choices and behaviors is critical to shaping popularity and norms.

• The video featured Ken Craig, an 86-year-old man, demonstrating how to shuck corn so that the corn silk comes off cleanly. • The video was meant to be for Ken's daughter-in-law's daughter teaching English in Korea. But it went viral and was viewed by over 5 million people, particularly older people over 55. • People share practically valuable information to help others. Sharing useful information is like an online "barn raising" where people come together to help build something that benefits the community. • Sharing useful information strengthens social bonds, even when physically separated. It shows you care about the other person and know their needs and interests. • Practically valuable information saves people time, money or helps them have good experiences. The receiver primarily benefits, though the sharer also feels good about supporting. • Three factors drive whether people see information as practically valuable enough to share:

  1. Saving money: Big discounts (50% off vs. 10% off), scarcity (limited-time offer), and relevance (something you need) make people more likely to share.

  2. Saving time: Simple hacks, shortcuts, and recommendations that make people's lives easier get shared.

  3. Helping others have good experiences: Recommending the perfect gift, a fantastic new restaurant, or a helpful product are examples. You share to help the other person. • The more helpful information is, the more contagious it will be. Practical value is a crucial driver of virality.

  • Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist, won the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work with Amos Tversky on prospect theory. Prospect theory says that people don't evaluate things objectively or rationally. Instead, they assess them relative to a comparison standard or "reference point."

  • For example, whether $0.50 seems expensive for a cup of coffee depends on what you typically pay. If you usually pay $3, $0.50 seems cheap. If you typically pay $0.25, $0.50 seems expensive.

  • Older people often complain that prices today seem unfair because they remember when things used to cost much less. Their reference points are prices from long ago.

  • Infomercials and retailers often set high reference points to make their actual prices seem like great deals by comparison. They may mention a "standard retail price" or say what you "might expect to pay." Then their sale price seems much cheaper.

  • In a study, simply labeling dresses as "on sale" in a catalog increased sales by over 50% even though the prices of the dresses stayed the same. The idea of a discount is so attractive that just saying something is on sale makes people want to buy it.

  • According to diminishing sensitivity, we care more about saving money when buying less expensive items. We would drive 20 minutes to save $10 on a $35 clock radio but not keep the same $10 on a $650 TV. The amount we save feels larger relative to the price of the cheaper item.

  • In summary, the psychology of deals shows that how we perceive and evaluate prices depends significantly on the context and the comparison points we use, not just the absolute numbers. What seems like a good deal to us is often quite irrational. Retailers use these psychological quirks to convince us we're getting great deals and values.

  • Only 17% of people surveyed said they would drive 20 minutes to save $10 on a clock radio purchase. But in a similar scenario involving a T.V. purchase, only some people were willing to go 20 minutes to save $10.

  • This is because of diminishing sensitivity - the same absolute difference has a more significant impact the closer it is to the reference point. Winning $10 in a lottery would make you happy, but winning $10 more ($20 total) would make you even more comfortable. But winning $10 more ($1,020 total vs. $1,010 total) wouldn't impact your happiness much.

  • Deals that highlight incredible value are more likely to be shared. They either exceed expectations or are framed to seem that way. Scarcity and exclusivity also make deals seem more valuable.

  • The "Rule of 100" states that for products under $100, percentage discounts will seem more significant, but for products over $100, absolute ($) discounts will seem more meaningful.

  • The practical value of a deal is more effective when it's easier to see. Stores could put up signs showing how much customers saved or ring a bell when significant savings happen. This offers other customers potential savings and gives people a story to share.

  • The author is risk-averse with investing and picked safe index funds for his 401(k). But he couldn't stop obsessively checking on the daily performance of a few stocks he bought, leading to emotional ups and downs. He needed help to take a long-term, hands-off approach.

The key ideas are that the perceived value of a deal depends a lot on how it's framed and presented, and making the practical benefits and savings highly visible and shareable is an effective strategy. The author's experience also shows how irrational and emotional we can be with money and investing if we focus too much on frequent fluctuations rather than the big picture.

Here's a summary: The story describes the Trojan Horse, a cunning plan devised by Odysseus to end the Trojan War. After ten years of fighting without end, the Greeks built a giant wooden horse and hid their warriors inside. They pretended to sail away, leaving the horse as a gift. The Trojans found the horse and dragged it into the city, celebrating the war's end.

The Greek warriors emerged from the horse and opened the city gates that night. The rest of the Greek army sailed back and entered the city. Though Troy had withstood ten years of battle, it fell to an attack from within.

The story illustrates the power of cunning over brute force. After years of direct assault proved fruitless, a clever trick won the war. Accounts have control because they transport us to other times and places. They also inspire emotions and generate social currency as they are retold. The Trojan Horse story has endured for centuries because it highlights the themes of military cunning, deception, and hubris that people continue to find fascinating.

Though a legend, the story demonstrates several of the STEPPS principles:

• Social Currency: Retelling a well-known legend conveys knowledge and gives one cultural fluency. Sharing stories makes us seem more excited and informed.

• Triggers: References to the Trojan horse trigger the whole story in our minds. Hearing about deception or the dangers of hubris brings the story to mind as an illustrative example.

• Emotion: The story evokes feelings of cunning, betrayal, and the thrill of victory. We can imagine the Trojans' surprise and horror at finding the Greeks emerging from the horse.

• Practical Value: The story provides a lesson about cunning strategies of deception, and the dangers of hubris or ignoring good advice.

• Stories: The legend is a vivid and compelling story that has endured for ages. Stories are the original viral content, spreading ideas before mass media. They inspire emotion and activate our imagination.

The Trojan Horse demonstrates how a single, powerful story can illustrate multiple principles of contagiousness and endure for centuries. Rumors spread ideas, shape cultures, and change the world.

Here's a summary:

The Trojan Horse was a gift from the Greeks to the Trojans, but it secretly contained Greek soldiers. The Trojans accepted the gift and brought the horse inside their city walls. The Greek soldiers emerged from the horse at night and opened the city gates to let in the rest of the Greek army. The Greeks then destroyed the town, decisively ending the Trojan War.

Here's a summary:

The dry cleaner removed the oil stains from the white shirt and made it look new again. Stories can help transmit helpful information to others, like recommendations for good routes or service providers.

Stories are essential for people to learn cultural knowledge and make sense of the world. They provide information in an engaging way that's easy to remember. Reports save time and hassle compared to trial-and-error or direct observation. They are also more persuasive than ads. Stories provide proof by analogy and are hard to argue against.

People prefer to refrain from advertising products directly to others in conversation. But stories provide a "Trojan horse" to share information about a product naturally. The story of Jared Fogle losing weight by eating Subway sandwiches is a good example. It entertainingly shares helpful information about Subway.

To build an effective Trojan horse, create a story that people will want to share while conveying essential information about your product. Dove's "Evolution" video showing the transformation of an ordinary woman into a model is a good example. It reminds viewers of the unrealistic beauty standards promoted by the media and the beauty industry. At the same time, it positions Dove as a brand that understands and values natural beauty.

The summary touches on the critical benefits of stories for learning and persuasion. It gives examples of compelling Trojan horse stories that share product information indirectly and engagingly. The Dove "Evolution" video is highlighted as an effective story campaign.

  • The video "Evolution" showed how digital editing creates unrealistic images of beauty in media. Dove created it as part of their "Campaign for Real Beauty" to promote body positivity.

  • The campaign was controversial but also thriving. It sparked public discussions about beauty standards, benefited Dove's brand, and the video got over 16 million views. Dove's sales grew significantly.

  • However, more than just creating viral content is required. The content has to relate to and benefit the sponsoring brand. Although attention-grabbing, Ron Bensimhon's stunt at the 2004 Olympics did not satisfy the sponsor because it was unrelated to the brand. Similarly, Evian's "Roller Babies" video got over 50 million views but did not help Evian's brand or sales.

  • Valuable virality means creating content where the brand or product is integral to the story. A good example is Panda Cheese's commercials featuring a man in a panda suit. The ridiculous stunt is very memorable but also tightly linked to the brand.

  • In summary, just going viral is not enough. Content has to be valuable to the sponsoring organization by prominently featuring information about the brand or product. Valuable virality, not just general virality, should be the goal.

The commercials featuring the panda are hilarious and viral. They are successful because the brand, Panda Express, is integral to the story. It's easier to tell the story by mentioning the panda or the brand. This "valuable virality" means the brand name sticks with people, and they remember the product.

The key to crafting contagious content is building a "Trojan Horse" - hiding your message inside something people want to share. Make your message essential to the story, like a critical plot detail. Psychologists found that unimportant details are dropped as rumors spread, but important information persists.

The story of how Vietnamese immigrants came to dominate the nail salon industry shows how valuable virality and social influence spread success. After arriving as refugees, 20 Vietnamese women learned from Tippi Hedren, an actress who mentored them. They worked hard and spread the word to friends, and Vietnamese nail salons took off, spreading through California and the U.S.

Success stories like this are common among immigrant groups. Limited in options, they start niche businesses, tell friends, and gain dominance in industries like doughnut shops, dry cleaners, liquor stores, and clothing. Social influence and word of mouth help these industries spread. Make your content shareable by building a "Trojan Horse" and including a key, memorable message.

Here's a summary:

The story of how Vietnamese immigrants came to dominate the nail salon industry highlights several vital principles of contagion:

  1. Anything can become contagious - ideas, behaviors, products, and services. Contagion is not limited to exciting or high-tech products. Even mundane things like corn, search engines, and soap have spread epidemically.

  2. Contagion is driven by the product or idea, not just "influential" people. While individuals may provide the initial spark, contagion depends on many people spreading the product or idea. Like forest fires, contagion needs ordinary people to fan the flames.

  3. Certain characteristics make products and ideas more contagious. The STEPPS framework identifies these critical principles of contagion:

  • Social Currency: We share things that make us look good

  • Triggers: Top of mind, the tip of the tongue

  • Emotion: When we care, we share

  • Public: Built to show, built to grow

  • Practical Value: News you can use

  • Stories: Information travels under the guise of idle chatter

  1. Anyone can make their product or idea contagious by incorporating some of the STEPPS principles. It can be a manageable budget and exceptional creativity. Ordinary people have made their products and ideas spread epidemically by tapping into the psychology of word-of-mouth and social transmission.

  2. Examples like the $100 Cheesesteak and Will It Blend showed how the STEPPS principles work. These stories spread because they were remarkable, surprising, helpful, and wrapped in an engaging narrative. They gave people a reason to talk and share.

The book aims to explain how word-of-mouth and social influence spread products, ideas, and behaviors. Following the STEPPS principles, anyone can make their product or idea contagious.

Jonah Berger, author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, thanks many people who helped and supported him in writing the book:

  • Chip Heath, advisor, mentor, and friend, who taught him a lot about writing and research

  • Jordan, who edited the book and supported the process

  • His parents, Diane Arkin and Jeffrey Berger, who read and supported the project

  • His grandmother, who inspired the journey

The reader's guide provides questions for discussion on the concepts in the book - the STEPPS framework (Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories). These include:

  • Analyzing recent viral emails, videos, and products using the STEPPS framework

  • Discussing things that engage us using game mechanics and achievement

  • Whether mundane things can spread like remarkable things

  • Examples of scarcity motivation

  • Why do "Please Don't Tell" and other exclusive venues appeal to us

  • Comparing ongoing vs. immediate word-of-mouth

  • Identifying triggers that bring things to mind

  • Discussing high vs. low arousal emotions and sharing examples of each

  • How the need for privacy fits with making things public

  • Analyzing the Dove Evolution video and use of emotion

  • Which elements of STEPPS are most effective

Suggested activities:

  • Monitor the "most emailed" section of and look for patterns

  • Keep a journal tracking use of STEPPS in products, ideas, and campaigns

  • Create a viral video using the STEPPS framework

In the conversation, Jonah Berger discusses:

  • How sharing on social media makes our focus on ourselves more visible, but people have always been self-focused

  • Computer-mediated communication may lead to more self-focus and less consideration of others

  • An example of something he recently shared (an NYT article) and received (a restaurant recommendation)

  • How he helps companies use STEPPS to spread their products and ideas

  • How his students have used STEPPS to create viral videos

  • How sharing today differs from 30 years ago, with less face-to-face interaction but more digital communication, though we likely share just as much

  • How funny ads are great to watch but may fail to spread a product if there's no connection

  • How we're more aware of some STEPPS like Practical Value and Social Currency than others like Triggers and Public

  • How over-saturation of a tactic may happen, but the underlying psychology will remain

  • How no single STEPPS element is most important, but some are easier to apply in certain situations

Something related to children or animals:

We share experiences, news, and information that makes us look good to others. We talk about things that make us seem excited or in the know. Brands and organizations can tap into this motivation by creating social currency—shareable content or ideas that make people look good when talking about it. Whether posting about an exotic dish at a new restaurant or a sale on designer clothes, people share to signal their good taste, style, wealth, or worldliness to others.

Snapple's "Real Facts" capitalized on this idea. By printing oddball facts on the inside of each bottle cap, Snapple gave people an exciting and shareable social currency. They shared an interesting Snapple fact that made people seem bright or in the know. As a result, Real Facts became famous and helped propel Snapple's success.

Wharton research shows we share more exciting or seemingly important information with close friends and family. We want to seem most knowledgeable and worldly to those who know us best. When sharing news or the latest buzz, we follow the Goldilocks principle: not too dull or weird—we share things that are just right to make us look good to the people we care about.

In summary, if you want to create messages that spread, focus on giving people social currency. Provide shareable information, stories, or ideas that make them appear attractive in the know and plugged into those they care about most.

The summary uses a variety of STEPPS techniques beyond social currency to provide a nuanced perspective:

-Reciprocity: We share to signal our taste, style, etc., to others, not just to be helpful. Sharing is a form of social exchange.

-Scarcity: We share "interesting" and "unusual" information that seems scarce or exclusive.

-Triggers: The Snapple facts acted as triggers, reminding people to share interesting information.

-Emotion: We share to make others feel good about us and to strengthen our relationships. Emotions drive much of our sharing behavior.

-Practical Value: We share valuable information with others to be helpful, not just to make ourselves look good. Providing practical value encourages sharing.

-Stories: The discussion of Brian opening a new restaurant and wanting to spread word-of-mouth highlights how stories

-Public: We share in public forums like social media to reach a wider audience, not just with close friends and family. The broader platform magnifies the self-enhancing effects.

To boost sharing, incorporate a range of STEPPS, not just the most obvious ones. A nuanced, multi-pronged strategy will resonate most strongly with audiences.

Here is a summary of pages 192 to 205:

  • Psychologists found that people often distort stories to make them more exciting and entertaining. Surprise, controversy, and mysteries effectively generate interest and drive word of mouth.

  • The Blair Witch Project used a handheld camera and realistic acting to make the story seem authentic and generate buzz. Renova sells black toilet paper in Europe by highlighting its uniqueness and uniqueness.

  • Frequent flier programs are designed to motivate customers through progress markers and make them feel they are achieving more by providing smaller milestones. Burberry generated interest in its brand through an online contest allowing customers to share photos of themselves in Burberry Trenches.

  • When something is difficult to obtain, people tend to perceive it as more valuable. Cookbooks that are out of print often sell for high prices. McDonald's McRib is only offered for a limited time, making it seem more desirable.

  • While paying people can undermine intrinsic motivation, not paying them means they have no reason to complete a task. There needs to be a balance of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

  • Some brands and topics are more triggering than others, facilitating word of mouth. Honey Nut Cheerios gets more word of mouth than Walt Disney World. We share stories and information that are most accessible in our minds.

  • Environmental cues can also act as triggers, influencing what comes to mind and spreading related concepts. The Mars rover landing increased toy rover sales. In-store music affects product choice.

  • Core beliefs and contexts can act as triggers, priming related thoughts and behaviors. Where people vote can influence how they vote.

  • Rebecca Black's "Friday" video went viral because it was a near-perfect trigger, spreading rapidly from person to person. Frequently triggered products get more immediate and ongoing word of mouth.

  • Kit Kat's "Give Me a Break" jingle is one of the most well-known earworms or songs stuck in people's heads. First introduced in 1973, the tune helped increase brand awareness and sales.

  • Ideas, like songs, can spread through environments. When people are frequently exposed to an idea, it is more likely to be adopted.

  • Emotion drives sharing and social transmission. Articles that evoke awe, anger, anxiety, or other arousing emotions will likely make the New York Times' Most Emailed list. Content that evokes high arousal emotion, whether positive or negative, is most likely to be shared.

  • Public visibility influencers social contagion and adoption. Seeing others eat at a restaurant or vote in an election makes people more likely to do the same through social influence. Preferences, opinions, and behaviors spread through environments.

  • Simplicity and a clear message are essential to social influence. Apple's successful "Think Different" and "iPod" campaigns focused on simplicity and clarity to shape perception and drive adoption. Complicated messages are less likely to spread.

  • Backlash can arise when content evokes highly negative emotions like disgust. While arousal drives sharing, messages that evoke extremely negative feelings may trigger an adverse reaction. The Motrin "Painfully Hip" ad that targeted "overly attached" new mothers caused a Twitter backlash and had to be pulled.

  • Integrating multiple strategies—emotion, public visibility, simplicity—produces the most significant social influence. While each factor contributes, combining them maximizes impact. Apple's successful ad campaigns featured highly emotional yet simple messages while raising public visibility.

  • Social influence affects many behaviors like consumer choice, alcohol consumption, tax payment, laughter, etc.

  • The term "social proof" refers to people's tendency to look to others in uncertain situations to guide their behavior.

  • Studying kidney donations, Juanjuan Zhang found donors were more likely to donate to people in their ethnic group, showing the influence of observability.

  • Koreen Johannessen decreased college student binge drinking by making students aware of pluralistic ignorance, where people privately reject a norm but incorrectly think others accept it.

  • Items that are more observable, like Livestrong wristbands, can spread through social influence. Their public visibility and behavioral residue (signaling to others) drove their success.

  • Prospect theory shows how framing options as gains or losses affect decision-making. Mental accounting causes people to value options differently based on subjective categorization.

  • Saying an item is "on-sale" or limiting quantities can increase perceived value through the practical value heuristic (things that are scarce or hard to obtain seem more valuable).

  • A discount's absolute and relative size impacts the practical value heuristic. More significant discounts and comparing a sale price to a regular price will make a deal seem more valuable.

Social influence and several heuristics significantly impact human judgment and decision-making in many domains. Observability and visibility drive social influence, while heuristics like practical value depend on subjective classifications and comparisons people make.

Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Misinformation about the link between vaccines and autism caused harm. Studies have debunked this claim.

  • The Trojan Horse story likely occurred around 1170 BC, based on estimates of an eclipse in The Odyssey.

  • Stories help us understand the world and are more persuasive than facts alone. They are "transporting" and make it harder to counterargue.

  • Jared Fogle lost weight, and Subway featured his story in ads, leading to success. Tim Piper created a viral short film, "Evolution," for Dove showing unrealistic beauty standards.

  • Only 2% of women consider themselves beautiful. Dove's "Evolution" film led to tremendous success, with double-digit sales growth and becoming the most viewed online ad.

  • Stunts, like Ron Bensimhon's tutu prank, can generate publicity. But Evian's "Roller Babies" viral video led to a sales drop, showing viral success does not always translate to business success.

  • In one ad, a father shopping with his kids speaks about a blender for over a minute without mentioning the product. Valuable virality comes from content that is intrinsically interesting, not just buzz.

  • Allport and Postman showed how rumors spread. Stories are more persuasive than facts alone. Emotionally resonant stories are transporting and make it harder to counterargue.

  • Thuan Le helped popularize Vietnamese-owned nail salons. Other immigrant groups have dominated businesses, e.g., Cambodians and donuts, Koreans and dry cleaners, Chinese and restaurants. Cultural learning and word of mouth help drive these trends.

  • Duncan Watts compares influentials to Paul Revere, but in reality, the network spreads ideas, not just select influencers. Word of mouth comes from the herd. Here are the key points summarized:

•Effective word-of-mouth marketing campaigns generate social currency, resulting in people talking about and sharing information about a product, service, or idea. Generating social currency leads to increased popularity and adoption.

•Triggers are stimuli that prompt people to share information or engage in a behavior. Companies and campaigns can utilize triggers to increase word-of-mouth sharing and popularity. Triggers include public visibility, associations, moments of transition or change, and provoking thoughts or emotions.

•Emotional and arousing information is more likely to be shared and spread. Content or ideas that evoke awe, excitement, happiness, anxiety, or anger produce more word-of-mouth.

•Greater public visibility leads to increased sharing and popularity. The more public or observable something is, the more people know and talk about it. Publicity and exposure are vital to generating social currency.

•For information or ideas to spread, they must be practical and valuable. People share useful, helpful, and actionable information that provides value or benefits. Functional value drives sharing.

•Stories are shared more than facts or statistics alone. Stories infused with narrative have emotion and drama, which makes them more exciting and spreadable. Adding stories and storytelling elements increases sharing.

•Successful word-of-mouth marketing understands how social currency spreads and utilizes this understanding to shape how people share and talk about products, services, and ideas. Six principles—social money, triggers, emotion, public, practical value, and stories—drive how information spreads.

That covers the book's key highlights and main takeaways on why things catch on and spread through word-of-mouth. Let me know if you want me to clarify or expand on any summary part.


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