Tag Archives: Contagious: Why Things Catch On

Why Social Influence is Important in Business: Q&A with Jonah Berger

We were lucky enough to recently catch up with one of our
favorite conference speakers Jonah Berger, who is well-known as a Wharton
Professor and Bestselling Author of Invisible
Influence
and Contagious:
Why Things Catch On
.
Berger shared some key insights about why social
influence is key to business from his new book Invisible Influence.

Here’s what Jonah had to say:
What is ‘social
influence’?
Berger: Social
influence is the impact people have on others around them. We vote if our
spouse is voting, run faster if someone else is watching us, or switch our entr??e
if someone at the table orders the same thing.  In each instance, others’
behavior influences or affects our own. Those others can be spouses and
friends, but also people we never even talk to, like the stranger sitting next
to us on the plane.  Social influence effects small things, like the food
we eat, but also big things like the career we choose or whether we save money
for retirement. 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.
Why is social
influence important in business?
Berger: If we
understand how influence works, we can harness its power. We can convince
a client, change the boss’ mind, and motivate employees to take action.  One section of the book, for example, talks
about how being a chameleon can make you more successful. Researchers looked at
what makes someone a good negotiator. 
What makes them more likely to reach a deal when all looks
lost. And they found that one simple trick led negotiators to be 5x as
successful. That trick?  Imitating or mimicking the language,
behavior, or facial expressions of their negotiating partner. If their partner
crossed their legs, they did the same.  And if their partner leaned back
in the chair, they did so as well. Not obviously, but subtly mirroring
their partner.  Turns out the same trick works in a range of
contexts. Waiters or waitresses that mimic their patrons’ orders get 70%
higher tips.  Mimicry increases liking, trust, and affiliation.  It
deepens social bond and makes people feel a kinship that turns strangers into
friends and acquaintances into allies.
Why is social
influence key to reaching the right customers?
Berger: Word of
mouth is 10x as effective as traditional advertising. People trust it more and
its more targeted.  So, to reach the right customers, we have to turn our
existing customers into advocates. Use social influence to get them to
talk about and share our message and bring new converts in along the way. 
 
How can individuals
harness the power of social influence to make better decisions in their
personal lives?  
Berger: If we
understand how influence works, we can take advantage of its benefits and avoid
its downsides. Following others can provide a useful shortcut that saves
time and effort. If lots of people chose or did something, it’s probably pretty
good. So, others can be a valuable source of information, a heuristic that
simplifies decision making. Other times, however, following others can
lead us astray.  So, simple tricks like considering whether others have
the same preferences as we do can help us avoid going the wrong way.
Have you ever been personally affected by the power of
social influence? What is an example?
Certainly. I was telling lawyer friend of mine from DC about
the book and he was lamenting the effect of social influence on his
colleagues. He said the first thing new lawyers in DC do when they make
partner is go out and buy a BMW.  I said that was interesting, but then
pointed out that he himself was a DC lawyer and drove a BMW. He said yes, but
they all drive grey BMWs. I bought a blue one.
What I love about this story is that it perfectly
encapsulates the tension inherent in social influence.  People often think
being influenced means doing the same thing as others, but it’s more complex
than that.  There’s more than one flavor of influence. Sure, sometimes we
imitate those around us, but we also care about standing out and being
unique.  So, when do we do the same thing as others and when do we do
something different. 
In your book, you
share an experiment about cockroaches and how their behavior changed when they
had an audience.  What insights can you share about how we behave when our
actions are observed?
Berger: It makes
sense that people and animals might work harder when there is a
competition.  If two pigeons are racing to get the last piece of bread, or
two people are competing to win a golf tournament, the desire to achieve the
reward or win the competition might lead people and animals to work harder.
Even the mere presence of others though, can have similar effects. 
Cockroaches, for example, ran faster through a maze when
other cockroaches were watching them, even though those others weren’t directly
competing.  People behave similarly.  The mere fact that someone is
watching us can increase motivation and performance.  But for new or
difficult tasks, others can sometimes have the opposite effect.  Having
someone else in the car when we’re trying to parallel park, for example, makes
it harder for most of us to fit in the spot.  So, whether others presence
helps or hurts depends on the nature of the task.

Contagious: How to Make Products, Ideas, and Behaviors Catch On

11/02/15
TMRE Keynote Presentation
Contagious: How to Make Products, Ideas, and Behaviors Catch On
By Jonah Berger, Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School
at the University of Pennsylvania
Berger starts the keynote session by playing a game, Which
is Tastier
? Where two images are shown: broccoli and a cheeseburger.
The vote is cast: the majority vote, you guessed it, for the
cheeseburger. The point is simple. We all know we should eat more broccoli but
the cheeseburger beckons us.
The analogy of tasty then gets turned to ideas. Which ideas
are Tastier?
Some of the ideas are like broccoli’they are good for us,
but not desired, not catching on.
The curse of knowledge plagues the researcher.  We have to overcome what we know and
communicate in a way people will try and spread it. 
As an overview, we will explore these three, key points:
1.    
How we make ideas tastier
2.    
How we craft our insights that make people more
likely to listen
3.    
How we can use word-of-mouth to spread the idea
He asks the audience: What is the science of why people
share? Let’s tour the main points. Let’s learn about the science of social
transmission through storytelling.
Berger showed a slide proving that word-of-mouth is at least
twice as effective as advertising, according to a McKinsey study.
The first hack he shared was based on his experience in
academia. Two copies of the same book were sent to him; the second had a note
encouraging him to pass along to a colleague who may enjoy it. Berger’s point:
find the influencers and give them something to spread, and it comes across as
a recommendation.
So, why do people
share
? Here are the top driving six factors:
1.    
Social currency
2.    
Triggers
3.    
Emotion
4.    
Public
5.    
Practical Value
6.    
Stories
One way to get others to share our ideas is to make them
look good, look smarter’this is the basis of social currency.
We share things that send desired signals of who we are, our
ideal self. So do brands. How can you make your brand tribe feel smart and
in-the-know, on the inside track? If people feel special sharing our stuff,
they will.
One facet of social currency is finding the Inner
Remarkability’something surprising, novel, or interesting. Berger used the
Blendtec blending an iPhone example as the Will it Blend campaign. Blenders
sales went up 700% as a result.
The more you can show rather than tell, the more powerful.
So, what is a Trigger: something that is top-of-mind
because it is tip-of-tongue.
Consideration is 80% of purchase, and getting in the
consideration sphere is the most important part of the strategy.
Here are the four questions for getting value from triggers:
1.    
Who do we want to triggers?
2.    
When do they want to be triggered?
3.    
What is in the environment at that time?
4.    
How can we connect to the environment?
The last tactic discussed is Stories. Facts and data bore
everyone. Stories are vessels of information, a Trojan Horse, a carrier of
information. Stories imbue the emotional shorthand of a brand. Stories are the currency
of conversation.
Berger’s advice: first, find your kernel. What do you want
to pass on, to share? Then, how can you make others feel special about it,
in-the-know, and share.
Michael Graber is the
managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an innovation and strategic
growth firm based in Memphis, TN. Visit
www.southerngrowthstudio.com to learn more.

Six Key Factors that Drive Word of Mouth: Podcast

‘Contagious’
Author Explains How to Make a Message Viral
By Marc
Dresner, Senior Editor, IIR
It’s
well understood that word-of-mouth is an extremely influential marketing
medium, but just how powerful may surprise you.

According
to Wharton Professor of Marketing Jonah Berger, $1 invested in WOM may actually
be worth up to 10 times that of a
conventional ad dollar

Jonah Berger

‘Word-of-mouth underlies most of the decisions people
make.’
‘Word-of-mouth underlies most of the decisions people
make,’ he told The Research Insighter.
As such,
a good read on WOM may be one of the most valuable forms of consumer
intelligence one could hope for, but are we really getting one?
Researchers
and marketers have increasingly fixated on passive capture of WOM through
technology’social media analytics, NLP, etc.
But
despite all of the hype around Facebook, Twitter, etc., Berger’author of the
best-seller ‘Contagious: Why Things Catch On”points
out only about 7% of WOM
happens online
.
This
isn’t to say that social media isn’t a good WOM proxy, but Berger advises not
to get too hung up on technology and media platforms’they come and go.
‘We need
to stop thinking in terms of technology and start thinking in terms of
psychology.’

‘We all understand word-of-mouth affects sales, but most businesses aren’t
being scientific about how to harness it and use those customer insights to
drive their sales,’ he explained.
‘We need
to stop thinking about WOM in terms of technology and start thinking in terms
of psychology,’ Berger said.
In this podcast for The
Research Insighter 
interview
series, Jonah Berger
 shares his ‘STEPPS’ framework and the six
factors that prompt people to pass something on…
Listen
to the podcast!

Download
the transcript!

Editor’s note: Jonah Berger will be speaking at TMRE 2015‘The Market Research Event’now
in its 13th year as the largest, most comprehensive research conference
in the world taking place November 2-4 in Orlando.
For information or to
register, please visit
TheMarketResearchEvent.com.

Ps. SAVE $100 when you register with code TMRE15BL!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR/INTERVIEWER
Marc Dresner is IIR USA’s sr. editor and special communication project lead. He is the former executive editor of Research Business Report, a publication for the marketing research and consumer insights industry. He may be reached at mdresner@iirusa.com. Follow him @mdrezz.