Contagious Culture | Anese Cavanaugh

Summary of: Contagious Culture: Show Up, Set the Tone, and Intentionally Create an Organization that Thrives
By: Anese Cavanaugh


Adept at creating a thriving organization? Dive into the book summary of Contagious Culture by Anese Cavanaugh to expand your horizons. This summary, designed for our mobile app users aged 20-40 years, breaks down the key elements behind social contagion and how to utilize it for your product or service. With insights into the power of word-of-mouth, the importance of understanding your customers, and the six principles of contagiousness (STEPPS) – Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories – this summary will enlighten you about how to create effective marketing campaigns and generate viral interest.

The Power of Social Contagion

“Contagious content” or ideas, topics, and products that become viral through word of mouth, is a valuable tool for marketers seeking to ignite interest in their brand, but it’s not always easy to achieve. The six “principles of contagiousness” (or STEPPS) serve as a guide to developing viral ideas and products that proliferate through social influence. These principles include social currency, triggers, emotion, public visibility, practical value, and storytelling. Word of mouth provides much more effective promotion than even the best or most expensive advertisement. Social influence is more convincing than a paid testimonial, and it benefits from being more targeted. The goal is to create “contagious content” that resonates with people, making them feel extraordinary, and enticing them to share it with others. Therefore, weaving benefits integral to the narrative, visually appealing triggers, and practical value are vital when creating contagious content. Social media is not an end in itself since 93% of word of mouth occurs offline. Understanding why people talk about ideas, products, or causes, is key, and putting the six “principles of contagiousness” into action helps achieve this goal.

Unlocking the Secret of Social Currency

People talk about products that make them feel important or knowledgeable. Such products have inner remarkability, a quality that prompts consumers to share information that reflects well on them. Triggers, which can be cues or reminders, keep products at the forefront of people’s minds, making them talk more about them. Design your product or service to break patterns, offer unexpected features, or engage customers in a game, such as a mileage program. Such games and competitions carry social currency, inspiring customers to share their tactics and victories with others. JetBlue is a great example of a company that offers perks that flyers don’t expect but will certainly remember. Through social currency, you can earn more clients by turning your customers into your advocates and making them spread the word about your product.

Triggers: Understanding the Power of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Triggers are environmental reminders that prompt conversation and discussion about products and ideas. Word-of-mouth conversations occur more than 16 times per day, but not all products are equally discussed. Triggers can be immediate or ongoing and can arise unexpectedly in the environment surrounding a product. Familiarity and associations are the most potent tools in breeding word of mouth. To evaluate the effectiveness of a trigger, factors such as frequency, strength of link, normal milieu, geographic location, and time of year need to be considered.

In “Contagious: Why Things Catch On,” Jonah Berger explores the concept of triggers and their impact on word-of-mouth marketing. Triggers are little environmental cues that remind people of products, services, or ideas, prompting discussion and conversation about them. Berger argues that triggers are essential for maintaining top-of-mind awareness and creating ongoing word-of-mouth buzz.

Berger notes that products that may seem familiar or unexciting still have the potential to be talked about and eagerly sought after. However, not all triggers are created equal. Some triggers can generate immediate word-of-mouth, while others create ongoing conversations that last over time.
For instance, Budweiser’s “Wassup?” campaign and Kit Kat’s campaign pairing chocolate wafer bars with coffee were both successful due to their strong associations with familiar phrases and activities.

Triggers can arise unexpectedly in the environment surrounding a product or idea. Berger cites a study in which voters were more likely to approve a motion to raise sales tax in support of local schools if they were voting in a school. The study shows that familiarity and strong associations are the most potent tools in breeding word-of-mouth.

Berger proposes several factors to consider when evaluating the effectiveness of a trigger, including frequency, strength of link, normal milieu, geographic location, and time of year. To create ongoing buzz, marketers must identify and utilize the most effective triggers and associations to keep their products top-of-mind and actively discussed.

The Power of Emotions

Emotions play a critical role in making topics go viral. Positive emotions such as amazement and awe, as well as negative ones like anger, motivate people to share information that evokes strong feelings. However, happy or sad feelings may not increase the impulse to share. Arousal emotions such as amusement have a significant impact on pushing a topic to viral status. Even negative emotions can be effective in certain instances, such as medical messages. No matter the emotion you evoke, it inspires action. Therefore, it is vital to use emotions to connect with your audience and make your message go viral.

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