The science of social transmission, i.e., why some ideas, concepts, and products stick in our cultural consciousness, is a mix of marketing, psychology, and sociology that businesses and organizations will forever attempt to understand. A YouTube video goes viral in many ways: because it appeals to someone on an individual level (based on some internal psychology), via social networks (how many other people that individual will share the video with), and based on social influence (how much other people want to conform with that individual). Jonah Berger presents a wide variety of case studies and examples of popular ideas and products most of us have already bought into.

If you’re looking to market yourself, your idea, or your business, this may be a useful book for you. Creating a message that resonates and spreads can be tricky, and I think this book offers some great specific guidelines. But the basic concepts of marketing aren’t my particular cup of tea, and I find most of the book less than inspiring.

I am very impressed of the The Great Courses lecture series, and when I read the title, “How Ideas Spread”, I purchased the book without hesitation. Unfortunately, the title markets this book a little too widely, and my expectations of its content are let down. I want more of a grand exploration of why certain viewpoints on politics, society, religion, health, and technology have risen and fallen around the world and throughout the course of history.

Recommended as an introduction to marketing in the real world. If you’re on the fence, check out a Ted Talk by Jonah Berger first!

“By understanding the science behind social epidemics, you can make your ideas and your products more successful.”