Our 2019 summer read was The New York Times Best Seller, Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger. An interesting take on why certain types of content become popular (and why others don’t), this book sparked a fun discussion in the Evive Book Club. Whether crafting messages rooted in behavioral science or sharing stories of benefits love, we’re always trying to engage people—and when those communications truly catch on, we know we’ve done our job.
Over the course of the book, Berger describes six factors that make content popular:
- Social currency
- Practical value
…or as he calls them, STEPPS. So we asked ourselves, how do these factors come into play for us as consumers? And, from there, how do they affect our work day to day?
Our top takeaway
Many of us were quick to identify emotion as a key player in what makes us share content. If something evokes a powerful feeling within us, we’re more likely to tell others about it.
However, Berger’s research found that not just any emotion will do the trick. Viral content comes down to specific types of emotion that spur physiological arousal: positive or negative—think excitement and awe, or anger and anxiety. As we began to share our own experiences of being affected in those ways, we realized we were practicing another one of the STEPPS: stories.
The better the story, the more likely we are to share it—and it quickly became apparent that this approach connects directly to our work.
Simplifying the complex
Benefits technology is a complicated subject. So when it comes to explaining what Evive is all about, we value storytelling. The big data and predictive analytics are important, but the real-life results that come out of it are what matter most to people at the end of the day.
These are the stories that pique interest: stories like Linda from The Home Depot who got a life-saving mammogram after her incentive program nudged her to do so. Berger’s book challenged us to think more about why that story resonates so well with people, and why it’s critical to keep sharing stories like it. It validated that by showing the life-changing results, we can better communicate the impact benefits technology has on so many lives.
With a simple use of the STEPPS, we’re transforming a complicated topic into something people can feel compelled to talk about—and that excites us every day.