contagiousA few months ago, we went to hear Professor Jonah Berger talk about his book, Contagious. The book is a useful primer on how to make your product/service more likely to receive word of mouth (WOM) advocacy from your customers. Having spent time consulting for Procter & Gamble’s groundbreaking WOM group, Vocalpoint, we know the importance of having both a message that’s easy to amplify along with well-networked connectors to act as amplifiers. Berger’s point is that even if you don’t have access to a large pool of connectors, having a spreadable message can still facilitate some great WOM advocacy. Berger identifies six levers that brands can use to enhance their chances of generating WOM, and he uses the acronym STEPPS: 1. Social Currency 2. Triggers 3. Emotion 4. Public 5. Practical Value 6. Stories There were a several points that Berger made that especially resonated with me: 1. “Narrow content may actually be more likely to be shared because it reminds people of a specific friend or family member and makes them feel compelled to pass it along to those people.” I spend a fair amount of time preaching the benefits of focusing narrowly and it is always great to see others talk about it too! 2. Not all WOM is created equal: There is a difference between achieving virality and achieving Valuable Virality. The latter needs to include the product or brand benefit as an integral part of the WOM narrative. This is the key to having WOM that works hard for your brand. 3. It’s important that you have a high quality product in order for it to be WOM-worthy. You want a product that elicits discussion of how great it is, now how disappointing it was. The book is great for walking readers through the basics. If your entire team read Contagious, it would provide a super foundation for a productive conversation about how you could make your own product or brand more WOM-able. If you want to try before you buy, you can read the five-part book excerpt featured in Fast Company. Either way, you are bound to think about your offering differently after being exposed to Contagious.