Triggers: top of mind, tip of tongue (Contagious, part 2)

In my last post, I talked about the first of six STEPPS to crafting contagious content: Social Currency. Here is #2.

Triggers: Top of mind, tip of tongue

Triggers are “stimuli that prompt people to think about related things,” according to Berger. For example, if you asked people what comes to mind when you say “peanut butter,” many people would say “jelly.”

Sometimes a trigger may be an event. Berger says that sales of Mars bars spiked when NASA was working on the Mars Pathfinder mission, just because people were thinking about Mars.

Triggers have a big impact on what we buy and what we talk about. In a grocery store experiment, more people bought German wine on the days the store played German music and more French wine when it played French music.

Frequent triggers are better.
People don’t talk much about, say, Disney World because visits are rare. They may talk more about Honey Nut Cheerios because they eat breakfast every day. Each morning they have a trigger to think about cereal.

Connect the trigger to the desired behavior.
College students ate more fruits and vegetables when the message was “Each and every dining-hall tray needs five fruits and veggies a day.” This was more effective than a message that simply reminded students about eating fruits and vegetables. The tray was a trigger for them to think about their diet.

Place the trigger near the desired behavior.
Both of the grocery stores where I shop have posted signs above the door: “Did you bring your bags?” The signs are a trigger to remind me to bring my bags in from the car.

The six STEPPS are from Contagious: Why things catch on by Jonah Berger.

Read about step 1 here.

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