Why Do We Share Information?

I recently finished Contagious by Jonah Berger. It’s a fascinating look at why we spread certain types of information, how to identify the factors that makes information worth sharing, and how to apply those factors to marketing.

We share information we find useful, remarkable, or valuable. We share information that makes us look good. We share information to help others, or improve our own situation.

And we’re careful about who we share information with.

We don’t share a news story or recommendation with everyone we know. Rather, we tend to select particular people who we think would find that given piece of information most relevant.

My friends would never recommend a new bourbon to me, but they do send me cool Lego stuff they find online, or weird cartoon strips, or recommendations for cyberpunk novels. If someone knows me, even a little, they usually have a good handle on what I’m into.

And I return the favor. We all do. I know exactly which members of my social circle will enjoy a comic, or a book, or a movie, or a video game. We like things that are remarkable, and things that remind us of the people we care about.

The best thing about remarkability, though, is that it can be applied to anything.

We want to talk about interesting things. We want to spread information we find remarkable. But remarkability isn’t an end to itself. You want people to remember your message, but the vehicle and the message have to be connected. Take Tom Zukoski’s Unpimp the Auto Volkswagen commercials, for example:

These commercials are nine years old, and I still love them. They’re still funny. And they were a fantastic campaign for Volkswagen - actual sales of the new Volskwagen GTI were up 150% over projected sales. But these aren’t just funny commercials. It was a successful marketing campaign because it married the message with the vehicle that delivered it.

Making something more observable makes it easier to imitate. Thus a key factor in driving products to catch on is public visibility. If something is built to show, it’s built to grow.

This is why you see logos on everything. It’s why Apple includes little stickers of its logo with new laptops. It’s why we’re willing to pay a premium for the right kind of shoes, and the right kind of car.

It’s why you see clever shopping bags like these:

Clever Shopping Bags

They’re interesting, and they turn something retail shops require into mobile advertisements for their brand. Something for people to notice and talk about. They’re remarkable.

Your message won’t spread itself, but remarkability will help it along. What makes your product special? What makes your service unique? What makes people excited about your business?

What would make someone tell their friends about you?

I'm Tyler, and I blog about marketing, programming, writing, and things I'm working on.

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