Contagious - Deepstash

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"Virality isn’t born, it’s made."



1.34K reads



The six principles or STEPPS, drive things to catch on.  

  1. Social Currency: We share things that make us look good.
  2. Triggers: Top of mind = tip of tongue  
  3. Emotion: When we care, we share.
  4. Public: Built to show, built to grow.
  5. Practical Value: News you can use.
  6. Stories: Information travels under the guise of idle chatter.


866 reads

1. Social Currency

1. Social Currency

Give people a way to make themselves look good while promoting their products and ideas along the way.

There are three ways to do that:

  1. Find inner remarkability;
  2. Leverage game mechanics; 
  3. Make people feel like insiders. 


739 reads

Find Inner Remarkability

Find Inner Remarkability

Sharing extraordinary, novel, or entertaining stories or ads makes people seem more extraordinary, novel, and entertaining.

  • Can the product do something no one would have thought possible (such as blend iPhone like Blendtec)?
  • Are the consequences of the idea or issue more extreme than people ever could have imagined? 


610 reads

Leverage Game Mechanics

Leverage Game Mechanics

  • Good game mechanics keep people engaged, motivated, and always wanting more. 
  • We all enjoy achieving things. Tangible evidence of our progress makes us feel good.
  • So discrete markers motivate us to work harder, especially when we get close to achieving them. 
  • Game mechanics also motivate us on an inter personal level by encouraging social comparison. 
  • People don’t just care about how they are doing, they care about their performance in relation to others. 


497 reads

Make People Feel Like Insiders

Make People Feel Like Insiders

  • Scarcity and exclusivity help products catch on by making them seem more desirable.
  • If something is difficult to obtain, people assume that it must be worth the effort.
  • If people get something not everyone else has, it makes them feel special, unique, high status. 
  • If something is unavailable or sold out, people often infer that lots of other people must like it, and so it must be pretty good.


440 reads

2. Triggers

2. Triggers

  • Triggers not only get people talking, they keep them talking.
  • Think about whether the message will be triggered by the everyday environments of the target audience. 
  • Even a bad review or negative word of mouth can increase sales if it informs or reminds people that the product or idea exists. 
  • The more something is triggered, the more it will be top of mind, and the more successful it will become. 
  • Top of mind means tip of tongue. 


392 reads

3. Emotion

3. Emotion

  • Marketing messages tend to focus on information. 
  • Rather than harping on features or facts, we need to focus on feelings; the underlying emotions that motivate people to action. 
  • More anger or more humor led to more sharing. 
  • Emotions drive people to action. They make us laugh, shout, and cry, and they make us talk, share, and buy. 
  • But people are less likely to talk about or share things that make them content because contentment decreases arousal. 


352 reads

4. Public

4. Public

  • Making something more observable makes it easier to imitate.
  • The famous phrase “Monkey see, monkey do” captures more than just the human tendency to imitate.
  • If something is built to show, it’s built to grow. 
  • Television shows use canned laugh tracks for this reason: people are more likely to laugh when they hear others laughing. 
  • Behavior is public and Thoughts are private. 


355 reads

5. Practical Value

5. Practical Value

  • Setting a higher reference point made the first deal seem better even though the price was higher overall. 
  • By mentioning $100 or $200 as the price you might expect to pay, the infomercial sets a high reference point, making the final price of $39.99 seem like a steal. 
  • Deals seem more appealing when they highlight incredible value. 
  • Restricting availability through scarcity and exclusivity makes things seem more valuable. 


340 reads

The Rule of 100

The Rule of 100

  1. If the product’s price is less than $100, percentage discounts will seem larger.
  2. If the product’s price is more than $100, the opposite is true. Numerical discounts will seem larger.

Take a $2,000 laptop. While a 10 percent discount may seem like a relatively small number, it immediately seems much bigger when translated into dollars ($200). 


370 reads

6. Stories

6. Stories

  • People don’t think in terms of information. They think in terms of narratives. 
  • Stories save time and hassle and give people the information they need in a way that’s easy to remember. 
  • Stories carry things. A lesson or moral. 
  • They provide a sort of psychological cover that allows people to talk about a product or idea without seeming like an advertisement. 


372 reads



"A good idea should be like a girl's skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest."


This book explains what makes content contagious. By “content,” I mean stories, news, information, Products, ideas, messages and videos.

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