People Share Things with Value

You have a product or brand. Your marketing budget is non-existent. How can you get people talking about and sharing your brand with friends and colleagues?

I've been reading the book Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger, and it outlines 6 factors that makes things go viral. In this article, I'll share with you my thoughts on the 5th chapter - Practical Value.


It's a bit of a no-brainer, but people share things with value. This value can be monetary, such as a sales or promotions, or it can be practical, like a simple but effective way to get that stain off your clothes.

In a previous article, we discussed how people share things that makes them look good, because the content that's shared carries social currency. Well, this chapter explores the other side of the coin, where people share things that will make the recipient feel good, or happy.


The value of the shared content depends on the person receiving it. While some might find news about a new bakery useful, people who don't like bread and/or breakfast wouldn't care either way.

So if the focus of your content is to carry some value, make sure you focus on sharing it with people who will value it.


People are irrational. On Fa Yuen Street in Hong Kong, it's a common spectacle to see someone spending a good 10 minutes bartering with the shopkeeper over few dollars. But when it comes to booking our flight or holiday package, we don't care too much if we had to splash out few hundred more.

Or when buying a product, people are more inclined to carry on with the purchase if there is a sales on, even if the absolute value is higher than they expect, or higher than their competitors. The simple fact that it's on sale drives more purchases.

As we explored in the article on Social Currency, imposing restrictions or quantity limits suggests exclusivity, and boosts its perceived value. But it doesn't just stop there, scarcity itself is a value in itself. This is partly the reason why diamonds and moonrocks are so expensive. Afterall, they're just pretty stones.

People's sense of value doesn't depend solely on the inherent value of the object, but rather their perception of it.

Another example is the news that the vaccination against MMR may cause autism in kids. This is a myth and based on bogus research, but the news spread like wildfire. Why? People it affects many people and people share with others because it's useful and of high importance to them.


Create content that makes the sharer look good, but also ensure the content carries value for the receivier - that it is useful to them.

So pick a target audience, and create content tailored to them. Make it obvious how your product helps them.

If you enjoyed this article, why not check out the others in the series?

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