6 Principles to Making Your Startup Go Viral

Contagious Viral Marketing These days I have started to reading multiple books at one go. Some of these books are about people or, to be more specific, about how people are interacting with the world around them. The title of one of these books is Contagious.

The author of this book, Jonah Berger, has pinpointed 6 characteristics that make products and ideas go viral. According to Jonah Berger, there are six STEPPS (Social Currency, Triggers, Emotions, Public, Practical Value and Stories) you need accomplish.

Ever wondered what makes things popular and what makes online content go viral? Why do people talk about some products more than others? Well, Jonah Berger’s book have 6 answers which can help you to make your ideas or your product go viral or at least very popular.

Contagious Book Jonah Berger

Principle 1: Social Currency

How does it make people look to talk about a product or idea? Most people would rather look smart than dumb, rich than poor, and cool than geeky. Just like the clothes we wear and the cars we drive, what we talk about influences how others see us. We need to leverage game mechanics to give people ways to achieve and provide visible symbols of status that they can show to others. This is social currency.

Principle 2: Triggers

Triggers are stimuli that prompt people to think about related things. Peanut butter reminds us of jelly and the word “dog” reminds us of the word “cat.” We need to design products and ideas that are frequently triggered by the environment and create new triggers by linking our products and ideas to prevalent cues in that environment.

Principle 3: Emotion

When we care, we share. Naturally contagious content usually evokes some sort of emotion. Some emotions increase sharing, while others actually decrease it. So we need to pick the right emotions to evoke. Sometimes even negative emotions may be useful.

Principle 4: Public

Can people see when others are using our product or engaging in our desired behavior? Making things more observable makes them easier to imitate, which makes them more likely to become popular. So we need to make our products and ideas more public.We need to design products that advertise themselves and create behavioral residue that sticks around even after people have bought the product.

Principle 5: Practical Value

How can we craft content that seems useful? People like to help others, so if we can show them how our products or ideas will save time, improve health, or save money, they’ll spread the word. We need to understand what makes something seem like a particularly good deal. We need to highlight the incredible value of what we offer—monetarily and otherwise. And we need to package our knowledge and expertise so that people can easily pass it on.

Principle 6: Stories

People don’t just share information, they tell stories. But we need to do more than just tell a great story. We need to make virality valuable. We need to make our message so integral to the narrative that people can’t tell the story without it.


These are only 6 basic principles but obviously, things are more complex than that.These simple priciples can only inspire you and help you to grasp the right choices for your startup. It’s up to you to figure out what works for you and your product or your idea.

The author of this article is Roldano De Persio, Co-Founder of nøørthus, a Berlin Digital Agency. He is an expert about SEO Strategy, Content Design and Web Marketing.

Contact me here: roldano(dot)depersio(at)noorthus(dot)com

Virus Image above Copyright holder http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/spb/mnpages/dispages/ebola/qa.htm CDC – Nat. Center for Infectious Diseases; Special Pathogens Branch

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *