6 Ingredienser Till Viral Spridning

Jonah Berger writes in his book Contagious – How Things Catch On about the ingredients needed for things to spread.

These are not really surprises, but sometimes it can be good to learn a structure, even if you may know something intuitive, you may not have taken the time to think through the topic to shape your own answer.

So today we will go through the 6 ingredients that can increase how much your ideas / products / etc are spread via word of mouth, email, facebook, youtube, what it is now, and what you can do concretely to use them.


  1. S ocial Currency
  2. T riggers
  3. E motion
  4. P ublic
  5. P ractical Value
  6. S tories

There you have the pieces of the puzzle. We dig a little deeper…

1. Social Currency – Social Currency

In a nutshell, this is about: 

”How cool are you considered by talking about a product / idea?”

Every time Zlatan does a new miracle in a national team match, the whole of Sweden talks about it the next day. Even people like me who do not know a thing about football. We want to be part of the gang.

When was the last time you had a discussion about what type of toilet paper you buy?

If you do not want to talk about your product / idea because you are afraid of appearing poor / unintelligent / embarrassing / other negative things, then it is difficult to spread.

How do you use this information?

Think about whether there is something you can adjust to increase ”how cool” it is to talk about your product, and implement it.

2. Triggers

Triggers are about reminding people to talk about you. Our brain is constantly busy thinking about things, how often do you manage to trigger other people’s brains to think about your product?

If I say McDonalds, can you finish the next sentence? “Life has ……”

I personally think Triss has succeeded very well with his slogan ”Suddenly it happens”. Every time I think triss, I think ”suddenly it happens” and the urge to find a triss castle strikes!

In the USA, a study was done to see when discussions about cheerios (a certain brand with flakes) were held the most. As you can imagine, the discussions peaked around 8-9 in the morning, and on the weekends a little later around 10-11.

When it was time for breakfast, the conversation was triggered around flakes.

I can also make a wild guess that people are discussing mustaches a whole lot more when the November campaign starts every November in many places in the world.

How do you use this information?

Is your product connected to something that triggers memory?

Can it be linked to something you think about more often? Imagine if you thought of your product every time you ate breakfast, instead of eg every time it was full moon. Every day vs. one day a month.

What would that mean?

If you already have a very well-known product, the next question is: how do I trigger a statement that makes you more inclined to buy? As Triss has succeeded. You persuade yourself that the chance of winning is very small, but SUDDENLY IT HAPPENS! 

3. Emotion – Feeling

When we watch a video on youtube, a feeling is evoked. What feeling it is can determine if we will want to share the video or not.

What Jonah Berger came to was that feelings that were evocative, both positive and negative, were shared much more.

Practically speaking: what is shared most evokes anger, or delight. Humor is also high on the list.

What evokes sadness is least shared.

If you share something fun, then you will be fun. If you share something that makes you angry, you are proving that you are against what you shared, which you can gain respect for.

But if you share something that makes you sad, you do not gain from it in the eyes of others, therefore we do not.

How do you use this information?

To evoke emotions to order in your audience is not always the easiest thing.

We suggest doing things that inspire, or if you do not mind the ”bad press” then just play on anger as it spreads like fire!

4. Public – Public

Another piece of the puzzle that can feel quite crystal clear.

Public is about how easy it is to see your product and thus follow others who use it.

If we return to the charming example of toilet paper, it is a product that is not publicly displayed.

If you take a nice watch, on the other hand, we wear them with pride, and tell friends and family.

How do you use this information?

Think about how your product is used. Is it seen by others, or is it only used when you are alone? What can you do to further encourage public use?

5. Practical Value – Practical Value

How much benefit do you get from your product?

Just a while ago I found a site called unroll.me

You enter your email address and it searches your inbox and spits out a list of all newsletters, etc. that you subscribe to.

You can then go through the list and cancel your subscriptions with just one click.

We all receive regular emails from sources we no longer read, for various reasons. It was VERY easy to get rid of all of them. So I updated my facebook status with a link to unroll.me because it had high practical value.

How do you use this information?

This can be difficult to exploit. If you do not already sell a product that is terribly useful, do you already have plans to do so?

6. Stories – Stories

And we end with the idea that stories are much easier to remember than just a principle or a product description.

Apple’s story about how Steve Jobs and Woz started in the garage of Jobs’ parents is remembered, but how did Siba start? I do not know.

How do you use this information?

If you have a unique story behind what you sell, behind the company, behind a particular product, tell it. Do it nicely, do it well.

The company Holstee wrote a manifesto about their view of life, and made a poster of it, and then they even made a video. 

The manifesto went viral, and now it looks like their biggest source of income is posters on their manifesto (there’s one hanging on the wall behind me).

There we have the 6 pieces of the puzzle that contribute to things spreading. The more you manage to score, the better odds you have, but it takes a bit of luck as well.

As I said, we think that they can feel quite obvious, but that it also feels like ”how things are spread” is something you have not actually thought about to arrive at a good answer.

Now you have a couple of questions you can ponder.

Good luck!

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