Last year I read Contagious, and I have to say, that book made me see virality with another perspective. I was fascinated with it. In the time I saw Jonah Berger launched Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces That Shape Behavior, I ordered it right away. And yes, this book is fantastic as well.
As in his other book, Jonah Berger talks why things catch on and how we behave in a certain way. This book and Contagious should be in the bookshelf of every marketer. Because understanding the basic patterns of virality and how social influence works, is a must.
You will understand things such as when we talk about ourselves, we don’t admit that social proof is a determination of buying something, and many more.
The book is full of examples, but here is some of the best content pulled out directly from it:
Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of all decisions are shaped by others. It’s hard to find a decision or behavior that isn’t affected by other people.
People recognized that social influence had an impact. Except when it comes to them. People can see social influence affecting others’ behavior. But not their own.
When people feel uncertain, relying on others makes sense. Others’ opinions provide information. And particularly when people feel unsure, why not take that information into account? When we don’t know what to do, listening to others’ opinions, and shifting ours based on them, is a reasonable thing to do.
Watching someone else engage in an action activates the same cortical region as engaging in that action. (Learn more.)
Knowing others liked something also encourages people to give it the benefit of the doubt. Appearing on the best-seller list provides an air of credibility. If that many people bought it, it must be good.
We don’t need to be in the majority to feel comfortable expressing our opinions, we just need to feel like we aren’t alone.
People often avoid things when too many other people like them. The more other people who own or use something, the less interested new people are in buying or using it.
Distinction is valuable, because it provides definition.
But, social influence push us to be the same and different. Imitating others and distinguishing ourselves from them. Not too different, nor too similar.
Want to be like these people? Buy from us. You’re not purchasing a product, you’re buying a ticket to certain lifestyle and everything that comes with it.
The more costly something is, the more likely it is to retain its value as a clear and accurate signal. And by reducing the likelihood of adoption, costs simultaneously increase a signal’s value in distinguishing people who have a certain characteristic from those you don’t.
The more you see something, the more you like similar things as well.
While familiarity is good, people also have a competing drive for novelty. Humans have an innate preference for stimulation: what’s fresh, original, or inexperienced. Anyway, too novel and it’s unfamiliar. Too familiar and it’s boring. But in between it’s just right.
By choosing similarly to those around us, or groups we want to be part of, we satisfy our need to fit in. But by no choosing the exact same thing, we satisfy our need to be different.