Book Report – Contagious by Jonah Berger

Sandy HenageI chose to read this book originally to try and understand a little bit more about my daughter’s career which involves social media and marketing and how it influences the public. This book is divided into 6 sections each dealing with important aspects of why and how people can be influenced by buy certain products or select service providers and many other choices people need to make.

The number one message is that word of mouth is the most important method to getting a message across to the public. Word of mouth is behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions. Therefore social influence is important to get a company’s name out into the public domain. Word of mouth is a more focused and targeted method. Social media is the current mode of getting a message across but only 7% of word of mouth happens on line.

  1. Social Currency: what we want people to know must be unique and unusual so people will want to talk about it and share information about their experiences and opinions. People want to feel like they are in an exclusive club or group and they have something special to share. I think client testimonials would be perfect to get this message across.

  2. Triggers: it is important to try and figure out what “triggers” are needed to get your message out there. How do we get people to start talking and share their enthusiasm about a product or idea or experience? An example was given in the book about an experiment where French and German music was played in a store. When French themed music played people would buy French Wine and conversely when German music played they bought German wine. Interestingly, negative press can also increase sales.

  3. Emotion: people want to share positive experiences and emotions. Positive emotions create an action in people. For instance on Facebook people tend to share happy videos (like my bulldog videos) that make people feel good and make people smile and laugh. Negative emotions like sadness will stifle action and people tend to not share unhappy memories or experiences. Anger however can spur people into action.

  4. Public: this section kind of deals with herd mentality. People sometimes rely on other people to help make decisions or opinions. This can run the gamut from politics to restaurants etc. Close friends dress a like and go to the same restaurants and events. People buying patterns can reflect what they see other people buying or wearing. Clothing logos are a good example. People like to wear clothing with logos so other people will see that they wearing designer labels or carrying designer accessories.

  5. Practical Value: this section basically discussed how people want to be of service and help others. So they will share information via videos, social media and word of mouth. Careful attention needs to be paid to what message is to be conveyed and the product is really a good value and truthful.

  6. Stories: this was probably my favorite section. It discussed the importance of storytelling throughout history. These stories can inform or arouse. This section reminded me of trying to provide excellent customer service and try to be mindful and help callers whether we take their case or not. We want them to feel at a minimum that they were heard and someone listened to their situation. Maybe then they will remember Oliver Law Firm and mention to family or friends.

This section also reminded me of the documentaries that are done for some of our cases. Those documentaries “personalize” our clients to defense attorneys and insurance companies. Claims adjusters can be dispassionate.

So all in all, this was a worthwhile book to read. It just reinforced how important what we say or how our message is conveyed can influence many people both positively and negatively. It was interesting to read the anecdotes of some famous fails in advertising or other messages over the years. The “Just Say No” campaign was a failure because kids that were not doing drugs felt like they should because everyone else was.

NOTE: Oliver Law Firm has a reading program and an office library full of many great books. Our mission is to inspire, train, and mentor our work family to improve ourselves and client services.

Oliver Law Firm is located just west of I-49 off Pleasant Grove Road at 3606 W. Southern Hills Blvd., Suite 200, Rogers, AR 72758