Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness Book Review

During his time with Hubspot Dan Zarrella has become widely known as a social media scientist; the go to guy in social media circles for data backed social media analysis and decision making. He sets himself apart from other practitioners in that his mantra has always been to let the data do the talking. Ignore hype and educated guessing and let’s see what real social media behavior tells us. Zarrella’s latest offering is an appropriately titled book called Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness: The Science, Design, and Engineering of Contagious Ideas. It’s a book for anyone who has ever been anything from mildly curious to obsessively fascinated by the question of why some ideas and marketing efforts stick and other’s don’t.

Hierarchy of Contagiousness starts out appropriately by doing a bit of hand holding by dispelling the popular myth that ideas don’t spread just because they’re good. Ideas convert best when properly timed, communicated, and delivered to the right audience and there’s not much room for grey area or debate. Like any good and proper scientist, Zarrella leaves nothing to chance and uses real world data backed by years of research to support his claims. From the onset it’s clear that this publication isn’t aimed at those interested in run of the mill inspirational social media talk. It’s a deep dive look at raw numbers and behavior.

Over the span of many pages Zarrella takes a look at some surprising insights related to Twitter activity (such as how to gain followers and earn ReTweets), Facebook use, email marketing, words that encourage sharing, and the topic of how to increase click through rates. He tackles the question of why do people share information as opposed to not sharing information with a welcoming level of clarity. The book touches on the motivations behind why conversions are made or not made and speaks on the importance of relevancy. Using the scientific method as framework, the book even outlines a 4 step process for testing new ideas and finding success. Zarrella champions the death of social media myths and tells readers to question everything and seek out proof through science.

A non-average book by a non-average author, Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness is a refreshing spin on viral marketing. It shows no mercy when it comes to superfluous claims and might just be convincing enough to alter the mindset of even the most stubborn of marketers. For those seeking more out of social media marketing, especially the show me the data types, Hierarchy of Contagiousness is a must read from start to finish.


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