Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” as Want to Read:
Contagious: Why Things Catch On
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Contagious: Why Things Catch On

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  24,050 ratings  ·  1,921 reviews
New York Times bestseller and named Best Marketing Book of 2014 by the American Marketing Association

What makes things popular? Why do people talk about certain products and ideas more than others? Why are some stories and rumors more infectious? And what makes online content go viral?

If you said advertising, think again. People don't listen to advertisements, they listen
Hardcover, 210 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Simon Schuster (first published March 1st 2013)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Contagious, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Dirk Vanbeveren I read some in "Thinking Fast and Slow" And some conclusions i got out of is that people are just more likely to go with what they're used to. Like ho…moreI read some in "Thinking Fast and Slow" And some conclusions i got out of is that people are just more likely to go with what they're used to. Like how Trump did it. Everyone hear of him all the time, so even if he was good or bad, people voted for him. Others were more forgotten.

A variation of this technique is also used in radio stations. "the sandich". Where a new song is put between 2 good songs, over and over. That way people link the "good" also to the new song. I read this in a book about habits.

So basically if you apply this to how people think the way they do, it is what they hear and see all the time which makes them think the way they do. Maybe you've already heard the sayings "you are the average of the 5 people that surround you", well it explains that you become like the people around you and will be thinking like them.
Now, in the recent world we also have movies and series that people look at. So this makes people also influenced by that. This means that people will also be thinking like everything they watch, inclusing youtube.
This could be why advertisements could be so effective..(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  24,050 ratings  ·  1,921 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Contagious: Why Things Catch On
Jan 16, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: first-reads
If this material is enough to cover an entire Wharton MBA course, then I'm not sure what that says about Wharton's program. There is just not that much information in this book far beyond common sense most people already intuitively know. I had been looking forward to this book release as the topic is interesting and even possesses its own themed six characteristics, conveniently ascribed the acronym STEPPS, which the author Jonah Berger explains contributes to why products or ideas become conta ...more
Apr 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

Animated Book Review

Contagious is a well-written book for marketers, full of interesting stories. If you are interested why people talk about certain things more than about others this book can explain it perfectly.

Here is a link to the animated summary:
Sporting a business degree (advertising/PR/Marketing) under my belt means that I view the world, consumer and otherwise, in a marketing sense. Although I can predict trends and see market value; I was very curious about why ideas and brands affect us. That is where Jonah Berger’s “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” came into the picture.

“Contagious” begins with an almost 30-page introduction which appears to summarize the book instead of provoking interest, causing some trepidation. However, movi
Jun 15, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a fun book, full of ideas for advertising new ideas or products. It contains many good anecdotes about promotions that worked and didn't work. For example, there is a description of a youtube video that went viral, that advertised a blender--and boosted sales enormously. Then there is a video that went viral, and advertised a casino--but didn't boost sales at all. Why not? The video had absolutely nothing to do with the casino--it was just a catchy video!

The author, Jonah Berger, is a pr
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up in my local library, only intending to flick through a few pages. Some 50 pages later, I realised I couldn’t put the book down! I think that is testament alone to author Jonah Berger knowing what he’s talking about in regards to making something viral or “contagious”.

This book is really a study of human behaviour and psychology more than anything else, which is why I found it so interesting. I soon began to look at advertisements and social media from an entirely new perspe
Nada Elshabrawy
Dec 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was the first of many reads recommended by Udacity in a marketing course I’m talking. Needless to say after it I’m going to read all every book on the reading list
Renee Dechert
Mar 09, 2013 rated it did not like it
You'd think a book that explores the mechanics of going viral would be, well, interesting -- that it would embody the concept it was exploring. I found this dull and not terribly informative. I noticed that a number of reviewers received free copies -- I assume the publisher was attempting to generate some buzz. I paid for my copy and wish I'd spent the money on something more, well, buzz-worthy. ...more
Jay Connor
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Jonah Berger has given us a very good read that builds on "Switch" and "The Tipping Point." In essence we are introduced to a means to put into practice what were simply observations in the Heath's and Gladwell's separate takes on how to influence others. Those of us who work across sectors in community are always trying to find the magic formula for engaging and moving our respective audiences to action.

For Berger, there are six essential factors that contribute to contagious ideas: think of th
Paul Pessolano
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
“Contagious, Why Things Catch On” by Jonah Berger, published by Simon and Schuster.

Category – Business

I can’t remember the last time a business book had me up all night reading. Although I am retired I found this book fascinating on several levels.

Jonah Berger is a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He has studied Marketing and has come up with six elements that will make a product “Contagious”. The basic idea is to make a product “viral”, that is, to have the pr
Oct 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
Sock puppets move on......

Contagious: Why Things Catch On  
So I won this in a goodreads give away. 

It was an interesting book, if only because it solidified the fact that I would never want to work within any profession where this book is applicable.
It serves its purposes (FOR ME) in  explaining in a very, very basic manner the tactics used to establish the worthiness/useability of a product.
I assume it's very practical for any business person, and I assume it will be picked up and use in n
Feb 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great marketing book and a good way to see why some of the dollars you spend are not working. It's interesting to take the 6 factors discussed and review them against your corporate advertising. Does your company have any ideas that fit those factors that would make them great items to share and if not, how can you start too.

Also liked the discussion on vaccines where one physicians publication started tons of rumblings in the medical field around it being a cause of a neurodisorder. This was u
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
This book about marketing and how it works on people. Of course not all advertising works and there are examples of some of those. I did not know most of the references that the author mentioned. His book is for the world of the materialistic and I am not one of them. I was hoping for more of a book to understand "why" people fall for the gimmicks, want status symbols, and buy what they buy. I don't get trends/fads or why so many people buy the things they do. I wanted to get inside their heads ...more
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was an entertaining read and it was the perfect book for my day. The author did his own narration for the audio and he did a great job. He sounded personable without coming across as overbearing or super geeky. It felt like I was attending a class. He offered some stories about brands that one could easily identify with. Now I didn't read this thinking I would walk away with earth shattering information, so I can understand why some may have been disappointed with this book. But for me, it ...more
Nov 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Contagious is one of those books that is destined to become essential business reading, especially for the marketer. In some ways, it reminded me of "Made to Stick" and the Tipping Point, but it did have it's own messaging. (By the way, the author Jonah Berger was mentored by Chip Heath, the author of Made to Stick)

The book focuses on the reasons why things stick through the six elements of the STEPPS model presented in the book:

Social Currency - we share things that make us look good
Triggers -
Oct 10, 2017 rated it liked it
It's not particularly well written, nor is it (despite its claims) in the least scientific, but this book offers lots of cute stories and plenty of click-bait YouTube fodder. It's an extremely lightweight read. In a few years it will seem fiercely dated, but at least the advertising principles won't stop working, whatever the medium. ...more
Guilherme De Azevedo
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very useful book for anyone wishing to have an impact with ideas.
You can have a pretty good overview of the book in this 4 minute video I made with a summary on it.
Hope you enjoy:
Jurgen Appelo
Great overview of viral marketing, good stories, credible research, engaging style.
Aaron Thibeault
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
*A full executive summary of this book is available here:

It is only recently, with the rise of the internet, that the term ‘viral’ has gone, well, viral. But the phenomenon of social pandemics—ideas, products and behaviors, that catch on and spread quickly and widely—has been around presumably as long as sociality itself. The phenomenon is interesting in its own right, for it says something meaningful about our psychology and how we interact. However, und
Mar 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is useful for presenting a framework for how to think about making an idea, product or service contagious. While the contents of the book are nothing truly radical (after all marketing, in some form or the other, has existed for millennia), it is helpful to break down some of the art into easy-to-follow guidelines. Most of the examples provided are quite good, however, the book itself could have been more concise and organised. The basic STEPPS framework is as follows:

* Social Currency
Apr 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Interesting and disturbing. Does someone share a link on FB for social credit, or are they moved by something to the point they feel they must share it? (This may explain why some of my FB friends feel the need to fill the news feed with dozens of pictures & links on any given day). And, totally unrelated, why do I occaisionally crave a Kit Kat bar?

"Contagious: Why Things Catch On" addresses these questions and much more. And it makes me wonder how far into our psyches, and social media, are mar
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book is perfect for anyone getting into marketing for this first time, and wants a 101 on Content and 'Viral' marketing

The examples used are from viral videos in the late 2000's and very early 2010's. It's hard to take a book seriously when what is written in this book is now commonplace through the internet.

A 2-page TL;DR or 20-slide presentation, would have been a perfect way to digest this instead of reading the entire book. The introduction actually does a pretty good job of doing that
Ben Rogers
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quick read, but I really enjoyed it. There was one thing, however. It was like a mirror of Nir Eyal's book "Hooked" BUT if you look at the publish dates, this book was published first. SO, this was actually the original book.

I recommend reading this book instead.

Also, the title of the book was quite intriguing with all the coronavirus talks we have lately, so that is why I picked it.

Great marketing book.

I picked up some really critical behavioral knowledge in this book that I will put to v
Cara Putman
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
The content was good, but I would have loved more depth on how to apply the author’s ideas and research. The anecdotes were helpful, but more would have helped. It was an approachable read on how ideas take off and become contagious.
Lia Silva
Jun 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: maybe, non-fiction
I really enjoy reading non-fiction and books like this remind me why. If you like marketing and advertising make sure to pick it up.

The author takes us on an exposition of how businesses get their products noticed, specially with a word to mouth strategy. The examples used are easy to follow and widely known.
Mar 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
First, I want to disclose that I received this book for free.

Secondly, I think it's definitely worth picking up. I enjoyed a lot of the references the book makes to social currency and things that have been viral hits in the marketing world. It makes the book feel very current. That being said, I'm not sure if this book would age very well. Although the author breaks things down (almost to too much of an extent for my liking) the examples are ones that are only relevant to people who have spent
Feb 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Everyone has a theory about why ideas go viral, but Jonah Berger has studied the phenomenon and it’s not all babies and cats. In Contagious: Why Things Catch On, the Wharton school professor outlines what all contagious ideas have in common. He draws on marketing campaigns and YouTube videos that have gone viral, including Google’s quirky Parisian Love campaign, Susan Boyle’s unforgettable rendition of I Dreamed a Dream, and the one of the greatest customer complaints ever, United Breaks Guitars ...more
Mar 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I received Contagious via BzzAgent. I kept it around a few weeks and looked at it and always thought, "What a great cover!" I finally started reading it on my trip to this past week. Let me just tell you, I read this whole book in a 4 1/2 hour flight! I have never been so intrigued by Berger's principles and writing style. It was very easy to understand and also to apply what he was saying to my own life. The examples he used were very current and straight forward. I loved every chapter. Each ch ...more
Apr 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013-reads
In this day and age so many people believe that advertising and/or social media drive trends. New words have even been coined to describe the phenomenon … trending or viral. But are those two things enough to explain why people would be willing to pay $100 for a cheese steak sandwich, why a certain video gets millions of hits on YouTube or one brand of blender outsells another? Not really.

In this book Jonah Berger looks at why things catch on. A look at his credentials and there is no doubt that
Bookkaholic Magazine
Sep 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
(See our full review over at Bookkaholic.) Fans of Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference will either love or hate Contagious. Berger's book shares many similarities to Gladwell's, so the comparison is inevitable, though readers may be disappointed to find that Contagious is not as innovative, well-researched, or well-written. But that doesn't mean it isn't good. It's just a little lighter, geared more toward non-business people. Berger's writing is ...more
Apr 29, 2015 rated it liked it
This was an alright book. It's interesting to learn about different products or movements (or Youtube videos, I guess) that have gone viral. But this would have been much more enjoyable if the author didn't repeat every single point twenty times. Maybe all popular non-fiction books are like that. Maybe that's why they're popular.

My other issue is that the STEPPS (the necessary elements for making something contagious) are evidence-based, but not really proven. I'm sure it's not an exact science,
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
FULL Creative Lib...: Contagious 1 15 Mar 05, 2014 10:56AM  
Goodreads All Sorts: This topic has been closed to new comments. Contagious Book Giveaway! 115 128 Apr 01, 2013 10:51AM  
To November 2nd Winners: Anyone got copy of book? 1 22 Nov 30, 2012 07:49PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products
  • Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising
  • Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy and the New Science of Desire
  • Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
  • The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk
  • This is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn To See
  • Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen
  • All Marketers Are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World
  • Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable
  • The 1-Page Marketing Plan: Get New Customers, Make More Money, And Stand out From The Crowd
  • Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World
  • Don't Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
  • Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind: How to Be Seen and Heard in the Overcrowded Marketplace
  • Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
  • Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital
  • Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us
  • Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant
  • Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Jonah Berger is a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and bestselling author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On and Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior.

Dr. Berger has spent over 15 years studying how social influence works and how it drives products and ideas to catch on. He’s published dozens of articles in top-tier academic journals,

Related Articles

Need another excuse to go to the bookstore this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our list, we...
33 likes · 37 comments
“People don't think in terms of information. They think in terms of narratives. But while people focus on the story itself, information comes along for the ride.” 19 likes
“Virality isn’t born, it’s made.” 10 likes
More quotes…