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5 Ways You Can Make Your Ideas Spread And Get More Clicks



What gets you more clicks?

Ideas are great. But how do you make your ideas spread? Why did that other guy’s post get so many Facebook likes? What will get you more clicks?

I asked Jonah Berger, professor at The Wharton School of business at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On.

Taking lessons from Borat, Apple’s iPod and Hump Day, Jonah offered five tips for making your ideas spread like wildfire:


1) Make People Look Good

Jonah Berger:

The more something makes someone look good, the more likely they’ll be to share it with others. If you get a promotion you pass that information on to others because it makes you look smart and in the know.

In February of this year, LinkedIn sent out an email to some of its users saying, “Hey, your profile on LinkedIn is one of the top 5% or 10% of profiles on the website.” People not only found this exciting and felt good about it, but they shared it with their friends and their social networks.

Why? Having a top profile on LinkedIn makes you look good, it makes you look special and high status and different from everyone else.


2) Make People Feel Like Insiders

Jonah Berger:

When Gmail first came out you had to know someone at Google to get an account.

It’s just email; it’s not the most exciting product in the world. It’s pretty mundane, but by doing that they made people really want it, and really want to talk about it. “Wow, if it’s scarce and exclusive, if you have to be an insider to get it, it must be really good, and when I have it I’m going to tell everyone else about it.”

They used that as a really effective strategy to build demand for the product.


3) Negativity Can Be A Positive

Jonah Berger:

You might expect that negative reviews would hurt sales, right? Nobody wants to read a terrible book or buy a horrible product. But negative reviews also do something interesting. They make the product or idea more top of mind. You’re thinking about it more than you might have been otherwise.

A number of years ago we all remember the movie “Borat” that came out, where Sasha Baron Cohen lampooned the country of Kazakhstan. He made Kazakhstan look really silly, and you’d think it would hurt the country, but actually visits increased over 300% when that movie came out, because it made everyone aware that the country existed and made it top of mind.


4) Use “Triggers” To Get More Clicks

Jonah Berger:

Sometimes one thing can remind us of something else. If I said “Peanut butter and…”, you would probably say “Jelly.” Peanut butter and jelly.

What’s neat about that is it’s almost like peanut butter is an advertisement for jelly. Jelly should pay peanut butter a kickback every time peanut butter shows up, because it triggers us to think about that related product.

Certain words make us think of the latest songs. Same thing with advertising campaigns. Geico right now has a great campaign out about Hump Day with a camel in it. When people save money with Geico, how happy will they be? Happier than a camel on Hump Day.

If you look at when people watch that video online and when people share, it gets a big spike in attention on Wednesdays. Wednesday is Hump Day. Wednesdays remind us that ad exists and it causes us to go check it out and share it with others.

The trigger factor is all about how linking your product or idea to something in the environment can trigger people to think about it, can make it more top of mind, and increase word of mouth and purchases.


5) Make It Visible

Jonah Berger:

The more visible or observable something is, the more others will imitate it. As an individual or a marketer, one of the things we need to do is make the private public. Consumption is often private, it’s often hard to see. It’s often hard to know what others are doing. We need to create public signals for those otherwise private actions.

Take for example the digital music players. When they first came out they seemed really cool but were pretty expensive, like $300.

But if other people are taking the risk of buying one, it must be worth them taking it themselves. If they can’t see what others are doing, they can’t imitate it.

The problem was that everybody had black headphones at that time, whether you were listening to a tape deck or a portable CD player or a digital music player. Everyone’s got black headphones, you have no idea what kind of player other people are listening to, which means you can’t use their behavior as information.

But if suddenly one day you’re on the subway or walking around town and you see one person with white headphones, you go, ‘Huh, that’s interesting.’ Then you see another person, then a couple more, then a couple more, eventually you go, ‘Wow, this thing with the white headphones must be pretty good.’

Indeed, that’s what Apple did, and that’s how the iPod caught on in the beginning. They figured out a way to take what was otherwise private, the fact that people are listening to the Apple product, and make it more publicly visible and make it more observable. They helped it catch on.


Did you find this interesting?

If you want the extended interview (where Jonah explains how to best establish triggers and what the most effective form of advertising is) I’ll be sending it out with my weekly newsletter on Sunday.

Join here.

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