What makes one novel a bestseller, while a similar work languishes unnoticed? Why are the same few baby names suddenly everywhere? Why is everyone at work talking about that same viral video?
Welcome to the science of social epidemics: the cutting-edge study of why some ideas, products, and concepts spread wildly, while others quickly flame out.
Anyone who has ever had something to sell, a cause to promote, or a message to spread knows that there are enormous obstacles in creating a message that resonates, cutting through the clutter, and cracking the code of the social epidemic to make their product or idea the word on the street.
Enormous sums of time and money have been spent trying to answer the question of why some ideas catch on. And not only is it an ever-present challenge for businesses, governments, and organizations, but it has long been a source of inquiry for psychologists, economists, and sociologists as well.
Now, in How Ideas Spread, you can discover what researchers studying the science of social transmission have uncovered about why some messages get through, stick in our memory, and get shared with others. Taught by Jonah Berger—a best-selling author, expert in social dynamics, and Associate Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania—this enlightening course draws on lessons from business, social psychology, economics, and popular culture to give you the cross-disciplinary tools necessary to identify and promote contagious ideas that last. Across 12 half-hour lectures filled with absorbing stories and intriguing information, you’ll learn the psychological and sociological mechanisms that lead products, ideas, and behaviors to catch on, plus specific techniques that can be applied in your personal and professional life, whatever your field or interest.
Along the way, you’ll hear of clever publicity ideas, failed government campaigns, and doomed product launches, plus a wealth of surprising discoveries about human behavior. You’ll also encounter an abundance of provocative questions:
- Can someone you’ve never met have an impact on your behavior?
- Can merely seeing something multiple times make you like it more?
- What makes some messages “tastier” than others?
- Can negative publicity actually increase sales?
- Is there an elite group of “influencers” responsible for ideas and products catching on? And are companies who pay a certain reality star hefty sums for online mentions getting their money’s worth?
Study the Science and Art of Social Epidemics
Remember Livestrong bracelets? Odds are that the answer is yes, because more than 80,000,000 were sold and demand quickly outstripped supply. Well, the Livestrong bracelet is a classic example of a social epidemic. Seemingly out of nowhere, this accessory was suddenly everywhere.
How Ideas Spread explains why ideas like this worked while other ideas, despite enormous publicity, failed, such as the “Just Say No” campaign to prevent drug abuse by children. You’ll learn why a simple video about corn-husking or a blender can be shared millions of times, while seemingly more compelling content stagnates. And you’ll discover whether Disney or Cheerios generates more word of mouth, and why.
These lectures deliver one powerful case study after another in teaching you how you can leverage three main concepts—individual psychology, social influence, and social networks—to design infectious messages.
You’ll come away with actionable techniques and practical information, including:
- four key principles that make information more memorable;
- why word of mouth is more than 10 times as powerful as traditional advertising;
- how triggers in the environment can influence everything from what we buy to how we vote;
- which types of sales messaging drives consumers to act; and
- why your looser social ties are more likely to help you find a job than closer ones.
Groundbreaking First-Hand Research
In addition to describing noted studies and illuminating the wisdom of figures such as Steve Jobs, Professor Berger shares findings from a decade’s worth of his original research into why things catch on. Along with colleagues from Wharton, he has looked at thousands of pieces of online content, tens of thousands of brands, and millions of purchases, using that data for investigations into such questions as which kinds of articles make the New York Times most-emailed list, or how social influence shapes everything from the cars we buy to life-or-death decisions about our healthcare.
By applying rigorous scientific methods to these important questions, Professor Berger and his colleagues determined that there is indeed a science behind why people share. Here, you’ll learn the six key factors or psychological principles that came up again and again in this research, whether looking at products, ideas, news, or even rumors.
As a sought-after consultant for Fortune 500 companies, the best-selling author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, and an award-winning researcher and lecturer at one of America’s elite business schools, Professor Berger brings both real-world expertise and a scholarly perspective to this course, making it a highly relevant, rewarding, and entertaining experience.
Whether you’re a small business owner or a nonprofit professional seeking guidance on crafting products and messages that grab hold, or you just want insights into how viral trends work, this course will open your eyes to the power of contagious ideas.