Have you ever noticed that something. You know, that special thing that once seen, smelled, or tasted transports you to another time or place?
Or that song that makes you think of your best friend from high school, a trip with your family, or that special someone who passed too soon.
Or can you think of certain situations that lead you to act in a certain way?
I recently noticed that when I get in my vehicle to drive anywhere, I begin to crave a cold soda. It seems that travelling just goes better with a fountain drink from a local gas station. Why? I have no idea. At some point I’ve picked up this habit, and for some reason, it’s been hard to shake.
People are interesting creatures. We spend a lot of time trying to build new good behaviors and even more time breaking bad behaviors. But some things we do without thinking because of some sort of cue we get from our environment. Jonah Berger, in his book “Contagious- Why Things Catch On”, calls these cues Triggers. It’s the “T” in his 6 STEPPS principles for why things catch on.
This concept is very important in marketing your idea, especially if you want to become the thing people thinks about in a certain situation or when faced with a choice. Even more, we want people who use our products or ideas to share those with others, or in a sense, share their own response to a trigger.
We have a need to talk about things that are top of mind, things that are on the tip of our tongues. These are the things we have to tell people about because we can’t get them out of our heads until we do, or because something we saw or heard reminded us of something that was seared into our brain before.
Jonah Berger cites a popular example from the realm of music. Do you know what song has been determined to be quite possibly the worst song ever made? Some would say it is the song “Friday” by Rebecca Black. Ever heard of her? I wouldn’t be surprised if you hadn’t. But I bet your kids have… and they hate her song (so will you if you click on the link above). But that same song has over 61 million views on YouTube. Yep, you read that right… 61 MILLION!
So why would a song that is so bad be listened to and viewed so many times? Because it has a trigger that happens every 7 days. Every week, thousands of people get on Facebook or Twitter and post something that looks like this:
The fact that the song is horrible is irrelevant. Every week someone looks at the calendar and the reality that it is Friday makes them think of her song. Once stuck in their brain they have to share it so everyone else can join them in giggling about how bad it is, but how great Friday is.
A more successful campaign from the non-profit side is No Shave November. If you see a buddy who doesn’t shave in June, you think he’s being lazy. But when you see a buddy who doesn’t shave in November you immediately see them as a crusading do-gooder raising money for charity. The difference? Someone transformed those 30 days in November into a trigger related to beards, men, and raising money for cancer.
You can use this to your advantage. By creating subtle reminders to help others think about your idea, they will also be more likely to share them. The stickier the trigger is, the better.
Speaking of sticky… anyone hungry for cotton candy? And maybe a fountain drink to wash it down…
Do you want to move your message from Common to Contagious? Keep an eye on future posts in this series as we delve into Berger’s 6 STEPPS to help things become popular.