How being "Contagious" can be a good thing

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Unless your New Years' resolution was to delete all social networks, newsfeeds, and just about everything else off your phone, you've seen these green, yellow and grey boxes popping up everywhere.

For those who haven't seen it, Wordle is a straightforward game. You have six guesses, and the aim is to figure out a five-letter word. After every guess, you get feedback about which of the five letters you guessed correctly.

But it is the social sharing aspect of the game that has caused it to skyrocket. You can do a one-word puzzle per day, and then you can share your results on social media.

This feature made Wordle "Contagious."

In his book "Contagious" Jonah Berger explains why certain new products or ideas gain widespread popularity while others fail to "catch on."

Contagious products or ideas can be generated by making them compelling: interesting enough to spark discussion.

The book shows six different ways to do this, but Wordle does this by idea #1 - Giving People Social Currency. By making them look smart.

Social Currency

The theory of social currency is based on the idea that everything you talk about affects how people see you and impacts your level of social influence.

If you only talk about boring things, people will no longer want to talk to you. Your social influence will decrease. But, if you are constantly talking about interesting and different things, people will associate those with you, and your social influence will increase.

We inherently know this and choose topics that increase our social currency as humans.

If you want information about your product or idea to disseminate through word of mouth, make sure that discussing it gives people social currency rather than taking it away.

Wordle is the perfect example of this.

So, how can you make your product seem remarkable?

If you want people to share your product or idea, you want it to seem remarkable, making the people who share it appear more attractive as a result.

You can do this by using your marketing materials to emphasize what makes it interesting or notable.

Clearly tell the consumer what makes your product so unique.

For instance, can your product cut the time in half it takes to achieve a result? Does it do something completely contrary to how society is used to doing it? If so, make this a key element of your marketing strategy.

A famous example of this is the marketing around the movie The Blair Witch Project. The movie was initially marketed as "found footage"—the real recordings of three filmmakers who'd gone missing, possibly at the hands of a witch.

People constantly discussed and questioned whether the footage was real or not, contributing to the film's popularity.

Growing on Socials

This concept also applies when you are trying to grow your social accounts. The quickest way to organically grow is by having people engage with your content and then share it on their channels.

Looking back on our original idea of Social Currency, the primary reason someone shares something is that it makes them look more intelligent.

Before you write your next post, blog, tweet, etc., try putting on your "Contagious Glasses" (I know probably the wrong choice of words these days, but make it remarkable, right?) and think, "will this make other people look smarter by sharing it."

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