People Share To Look Good

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 1st chapter - Social Currency.

Social Currency is the idea that people share things that make themselves look good.

If you know a great restaurant, you'd naturally want to share with friends and colleagues; because when they go and realize it really is amazing, you gain credibility and they'll view you more highly.

The restaurant has social currency, because sharing it makes the sharer looks good.

So how do you acquire social currency? There are three parts: Inner Remarkability, Gamification and Make People Feel Like Insiders.

Inner Remarkability

You need to find something remarkable, unique, or special about your product or brand, or engineer something.


Blendtec created a series called Will It Blend?, which are simply videos that shows the Blendtec blenders blending different items, from iPhones to cameras. This gimmick is crazy because you wouldn't normally blend a camera, but knowing that it does blend, is a remarkable fact.

People will share and talk about the videos, and thus also indirectly spreading the brand they are associated with.


Snapple attach a fortune cookie-style fun fact underneath its bottle cap that people can share. The fact was chosen to be not commonly-known so people are more likely to share it. When people share about that fact, they are also sharing about Snapple.


The idea behind Gamification is that people like to look good when compared to others. Here are some tips to implement it.

  • Leaderboards work because people don't want to be just good - they want to be better when compared to their peers - relatively as much as absolutely

  • Spend effort to treat people who uses your product or service the most, since they'll tend to be the most vocal and spread your brand

  • Use words like gold, premium, diamond, platinum to describe accounts

  • Avoid meaningless badges and empty status, give some benefits that the user can boast about (e.g. T-shirt offers)

  • Ensures the achievement is something quantifiable/visible, even better if it's instantly obvious what the achievement means

  • Holding contests where people have to lobby for votes is a great way to publicize, since the entrants will actively find people to vote for them, and in the process, introduce them to your brand/product

Make people feel like Insiders

This is all about making people feel they are getting something no one else does. It makes them look unqiue, special. It also means they'll tell others because this, in turn, makes them look special and unique.

You do this by portraying scarisity and exclusivity.

  • Scarsity increases your product's value - if something is hard to get, it must be worth getting

  • Exclusivity increases the level to which people want your product - people want to be included

    • You can actually use the lack of marketing to your advantage by suggesting this product is a 'secret' and users shouldn't spread it. It turns out people are not good at keeping secrets
    • Make your service invitation-only

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

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