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Zarrella's Hierarchy of Contagiousness: The Science, Design, and Engineering of Contagious Ideas (Book Review of the Week-ish / Back to School Beach Reads Edition)

In honor of the last week of summer, we’re doing a something a little different this week here at Thinks. Long-time readers know our regular “Book Review of the Week-ish” series. This week, we’re posting only reviews of books worth noting in a series we’re calling “Back to School Beach Reads”. Enjoy today’s review—Dan Zarrella’s “Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness: The Science, Design, and Engineering of Contagious Ideas”
—and check back each day this week to enjoy the entire series.

It’s no secret that the social media landscape is filled with snake-oil salesmen Which is a real shame. Because social media offers great opportunities for businesses to tell their stories to the right customers in ways that truly work for both the business and the buyer. Happily, Dan Zarrella understands how to separate the myth from the magic in social media—in fact, he may even shudder to hear me refer to it as “magic.” His latest book “Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness: The Science, Design, and Engineering of Contagious Ideas” looks at the methods, meaning and, God love him, metrics of social media marketing—what actually works and what’s just superstition and snake oil.

Zarrella gets right to the heart of the matter, using data to back up his thoughts on why ideas spread—and, as he says, it ain’t ’cause they’re all winners. Building on several years worth of experiments, Zarrella explores why it’s better to be an “expert” than a “guru” and why being negative decreases your follower counts in social circles. These experiments build on and expand his earlier work (you can read the Thinks review of “The Facebook Marketing Book” here), but bring a fresh spin to the data and the details.

Of course, my only complaint about the book is that it’s a little short. Part of Seth Godin’s new Domino Project collaboration with Amazon.com (Full disclosure: I’m an Amazon affiliate), the books within the project—including Derek Sivers’ “Anything You Want”,
Steven Pressfield’s “Do the Work”,
and Godin’s own “Poke the Box”—all err on the short side. To be fair, all are reasonably priced and filled with excellent information. I suspect it’s a sign of how much I enjoyed and learned from “Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness: The Science, Design, and Engineering of Contagious Ideas” that I wanted the book to continue. On the positive side, there’s very little fluff. You can put the lessons in this volume to work quickly and easily, beginning right from the beginning of the book.

Grab a copy today. You may not emerge a “social media guru.”. But you’ll learn what the experts do so well and how to put those techniques into practice to grow your business.


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Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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