Posted on 4th January 2016 by Barry Adams in Content

We all know the importance of creating great content; it’s one of our favourite points of discussion at the conferences we attend and in the blog posts that we read. Despite this, most of us won’t be able to claim we have been responsible for super successful content marketing.
The main reason for this comes down to whether something is shareable. Creating a great looking graphic and whacking on some social sharing buttons isn’t really going to cut the mustard these days; there needs to be a solid strategy behind the campaign.

Being responsible for a few content flops is almost a right of passage for any person in marketing, but when budgets demand results, it’s time to produce content that has far more chance of being successful.

Finding the recipe for contagious content

If you haven’t already, I’d recommend that you pick up a copy of Contagious by Jonah Berger. He explains that: “Contagious products and ideas are like forest fires. They can’t happen without hundreds, if not thousands, of regular Joes and Janes passing the product or message along.”

Jonah’s book is full of helpful advice to get products and ideas more talked about and shared. These can be distilled into six principles, or STEPPS as they are referred to in Contagious. Here are his six principles of contagiousness to consider building into your next campaign:

  1. Social Currency
  2. Triggers
  3. Emotion
  4. Public
  5. Practical Value
  6. Stories

There is more to each of these points than a couple of sentences, but here is the quick version as included in the book’s epilogue to get you started. He says that if you follow the six key STEPPS, or even just a few of them, you can harness social influence and word of mouth to get any project or idea to catch on. Sounds tempting, doesn’t it?

Social Currency

Does talking about your product or idea make people look good? Can you find the inner remarkability? Leverage game mechanics? Make people feel like insiders?


Consider the context. What cues make people think about your product or idea? How can you grow the habitat and make it come to mind more often?


Focus on feelings. Does talking about your product or idea generate emotion? How can you kindle the fire?


Does your product or idea advertise itself? Can people see when others are using it? If not, how can you make the private public? Can you create behavioural residue that sticks around even after people use it?

Practical Value

Does talking about your product or idea help people help others? How can you highlight incredible value, packaging your knowledge and expertise into useful information others will want to disseminate?


What is your Trojan Horse? Is your product or idea embedded in a broader narrative that people want to share? Is the story not only viral, but also valuable?

One of the most valuable ideas I took away from the book was the association between a brand or product and the marketing content produced. People might be talking about your infographic, game or video, but are they talking about what’s important for your marketing goals?

He says: “That’s the problem with creating content that is unrelated to the product or idea it is meant to promote. There’s a big difference between people talking about content and people talking about the company, organization, or person that created that content.”

His examples include Evian’s “Roller Babies” – a video where babies appear to be doing tricks on roller skates to the beat of “Rapper’s Delight”. It racked up 50 million views, but Evian lost market share and sales dropped almost 25 percent in the same year.

Food for thought, right? When so much is at stake it makes sense why you should keep all of these six STEPPS in mind.

If you want to speak to me more about these concepts, get in touch on Twitter. You can find me at @HannahFButcher.

This article by was posted on 4th January 2016

Sign up to the mailing list for more info about the event
How we use the data in this form.