Contagious: Why Things Catch On – A Review

Contagious is a book that tries to break down why certain content goes viral and some does not.

Contagious is a book that tries to break down why certain content goes viral and some does not. Jonah Berger makes the argument that for content to go viral it must fulfill all categories of his STEPPS acronym. Listen to me air my grievances about the book and my final recommendation to see if this book is for you.


  1. I definitely understand the practical value part of the book. I find that I’m usually sharing things that are of practical value for me. I also really like your humor throughout the podcast.

  2. I enjoyed your explanations they were very detailed yet simple and easily understood. I never knew that about no shave November… makes sense but I wonder if every male who participates knows. I feel like a lot of professionals ego’s get to them when writing… I mean it is their work and practice but some tend to be less humble than others. Especially when what they say can easily be argued such as things that go viral being practical value… not sure when this was written but wonder what he thinks about fake news.

  3. I read this book last year! I found it really helpful, especially since I read it for my Intro to Adv class. I liked the “No Shave November” example to be a really good public example because almost every guy participates. It was a small idea that transformed into a Nation-wide epidemic. It brought a concerning health issue to the public eye and made people more aware about it. This could help businesses figure out what they can do to achieve a good public act.

  4. I read this book last year and enjoyed it to an extent. I agree that the tone the author uses can kind of rub you the wrong way but his content is definitely helpful. I appreciate that you not only explained how the strategy is useful but also how it relates it to successful examples in real life.

  5. The STEPPS acronym seems pretty accurate when thinking of branding in 2017. The idea that everyone loves a good story seems to be spot on. The brands that people relate to the most are the brands that they feel emotionally connected to. The “No shave November” example was a cool example to introduce, I always participate but never knew the history behind it.

    Very good, honest review!

  6. I’ve listen to a podcast by Jonah Berger where he discusses the STEPPS model. His STEPPS model is a useful framework when describing viral content. I think STEPPS can be useful for creating digital content and I enjoyed your review. As we know, digital marketing is growing and every brand wants to “go viral.” This book may be able to help content creators who are trying to make their brand “go viral.”

  7. I love the use of humor throughout, Sean! I never really knew the meaning behind of “No Shave November” and I find it very interesting. It caught on and spread like wildfire around the world, yet, I wonder if all who participate actually know what it is all about. I will definitely consider this book when I’m ready to begin reading a new one!

  8. Really great job reviewing the book and Jonah’s thoughts. I feel that a lot of these marketing books aren’t saying anything ground breaking. Although they do give some awesome ideas, it’s usually pretty topical and I see this in what you were saying about Jonah’s ideas. I think his idea within the story chapter was interesting as you see many big companies using storylines in their advertising that are totally unrelated to their product, which Jonah would say is a no-no, but they are still super successful companies. I think big companies who’s goal of advertising is to simply put their name out there and say “hey remember us”, don’t necessarily have to tie their product into the storyline of their advertising, because people already know the product really well.

  9. I find Jonah’s STEPPS model particularly interesting because I’ve always wondered why certain ideas, phrases, and images go viral. I’m currently taking a social media marketing course and while we briefly covered viral posts, we never got down to nitty gritty about why some social performs so well. What really stuck out to me is the idea of social currency. I never thought the exchange of content for likes and shares in the form of currency, but it ultimately makes sense because it’s the natural give and take of all content online. It seems as though in order to make content that holds valuable social currency you need to create content that’s worth sharing. While that seems obvious, clearly many advertisers and content creators miss the mark.

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