Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

Jonah Berger’s 75 Examples Of Infectious Marketing

Over the past few months, we’ve covered the 6 STEPPS principles from Jonah Berger’s Contagious, with 75 real-life marketing examples:

Here’s a rundown of how each principle works, and how you can apply them to your own branding/marketing:

Make your customers feel good and give them something to brag about.

We share cool photos, videos, quotes and jokes on social media because they make us look good.

When you provide something that’ll make your customer feel exclusive or awesome, they’ll be more likely to tell their friends.

Here are three ways you can make people want to share your brand for social currency:

  • Showcase the most remarkable aspect of your brand
  • Utilize game mechanics to motivate customer engagement
  • Allow your customers to feel like insiders

Associate your brand with something that people will encounter often.

When Christmas nears, you tend to think about Santa Claus, the color red, and maybe Coca Cola.

The stronger your brand is associated with the trigger, the more likely they’ll be reminded of your brand and not something else.

Also, they will be reminded of your brand more frequently if the trigger occurs often.

Here’ are a few types of triggers you can use to associate your brand with:

  • Specific days
  • Seasons
  • Common words/phrases used in conversations

Create an emotional connection between your customers and your brand.

We often share things that are touching, amazing or make us laugh, and ignore the boring ones.

The key is to use emotions to connect with your customers, so they will feel strongly about your brand and share it.

High arousal emotions like awe, humor, and even anger can be very effective in spurring people to act.

Make your brand visible so that people will notice it and want to follow it.

When white Apple earphones first appeared, everyone saw them as being trendy and cool.

We all wanted a pair, even if they were knockoffs.

If a particular aspect of your brand/product is public-facing, it will trigger people to think about your brand.

If they feel a connection with your brand, then they’ll also want to express it as a form of social currency.

Offer useful tips to help your customers get better at what they’re doing.

We share infographics, listicles and other useful advice to help others.

By offering useful tips to help your customers improve, you’ll also allow them to see that you’re passionate about helping them.

They’ll also share it with people they think might benefit from it.

Here are a few formats to provide practical value:

  1. Listicles
  2. Infographics
  3. Guides
  4. FAQs

Embed your brand message within a compelling story/narrative.

Just like what we’ve previously learnt from Made to Stick, stories are power tools for conveying information.

Stories can come in a form of an ad, or even your real-life brand story!

Make sure that your brand message is central to the story, so people cannot leave it out when sharing the story.

Being contagious allows you to reach out to customers who are really in need of your products/services.

Jonah Berger’s Contagious has shown us that people trust what their friend’s tell them more than advertising claims.

But perhaps the best aspect of word-of-mouth marketing is that it’s more targeted. People share products and information with people who will likely benefit from the knowledge.

This allows your brand to be heard by people who are in need of your products/services.

Want more?

Check out the book here.


Samuel Hum

As a finalist in Esquire's Best Dressed Real Man contest, Samuel is ReferralCandy's fashion eCommerce expert and resident sartorialist. He is obsessed with human behavior, social psychology, and handstands. He is also the lead calisthenics trainer at Weightless.


  • carinnebird101 – Sydney, Australia 2000 – For over 20 year of working under IBM and other key vendor and Distributor Organization, Carrine Bird has marked an insightful and stable position in the IT industry with innovative digital media ideas. Loves tango and public speaking.
    Carinne Bird says:

    Thanks Samuel for sharing this informative post. It will be very helpful to me and to other readers. 🙂

  • I’m enjoying Jonah Berger’s work– and I’m also fascinated to pay attention to how it plays together with all the other social / viral analysis posts. It’s very complementary to the Heath Brothers’ Made To Stick, and both of those in turn explore ideas that Seth Godin and Malcolm Gladwell outlined in Unleashing The Ideavirus and The Tipping Point respectively. (environment, contagiousness, stickiness, super-sharers)

    This suggests to me that there’s space in the world for a book about the ENVIRONMENTS that are susceptible to things catching on. Now that would be a pretty killer business book, don’t you think? I wonder if it already exists.

Get our latest articles
in your inbox