Join Jonah Berger for an in-depth discussion in this video Making people feel like insiders, part of Jonah Berger on Viral Marketing.
One way to get social currency is to make people feel like insiders. That hidden bar, Please Don't Tell, did a great job of this. They made people feel smart and in-the-know by having access to information that not everyone else did. Knowing about a hidden bar? That makes you look pretty cool, and so you're going to tell your friends and colleagues because it makes you look good. In fact, while most of you haven't been there, I bet that some of you are going to pass that information on even without having seen the place. So how can you make people feel like insiders? Are there other ways to do it? Well LinkedIn has done a great job of this as well.
They sent out an email a few years ago that said you have one of the most viewed profiles on the site. One of the top 5% or 10% of all people on the website. Now, people who got that email felt pretty good. Wow, I'm one of the top 5 or 10%. That gives me a lot of status. I get a little pat on the back. But they didn't just feel good. Tens of thousands of people shared this email with others because it made them look smart and in the know, because it made them look like insiders, because it made them look special, they wanted to tell everyone else. But notice that LinkedIn got to come along for the ride.
No one wants to advertise for LinkedIn, people could care less about that particular website, but because it made them look good, they pass it on. But its not just them either, let me tell you the story about the McRib sandwich. Many of you are probably familiar with McDonalds Mcrib, but let me tell you the story of how it came about. About a decade ago, McDonalds ran out of chicken. Essentially, Chicken McNuggets were so popular that they couldn't keep them in stock. So they had to come up with a new menu option to take the place of McNuggets while they sourced more chicken. They hired a chef.
His name was Renee-Arno. And after traveling the United States, he came up with a new dish. It was called the McRib. Now, the McRib is a little bit of a misnomer. If you love the McRib sandwich, you may want to close your ears at this point, in that there's not very much rib meat in the McRib sandwich. It's more partially separated pig pieces and stomach meat, but there's enough barbecue sauce poured on top that no one really notices the difference. So the sandwich comes out, and it does okay. But it doesn't do great. So then McDonald's does something interesting. They take it off the market, and they release it in certain places at certain times a year.
So sometimes it'd be in Denver, sometimes it'll be in Detroit, sometimes it'll be in DC. But never all the places, and never all at once. And suddenly, people go nuts for the McRib. People will tweet, oh, my god, the McRib is in town, we have to go. Someone set up a website called the McRib Locator, which is a map of the United States with pin pricks in it for sightings of the sandwich at McDonald's. Not the Loch Ness Monster. Not a UFO. But a sandwich at McDonald's. Why did people share that? because it made them look smart and in the know.
It made them feel like insiders. They had access to scarce information that not everyone else had. Beyonce also did something like this when she released an album of hers. Rather than doing a big marketing campaign or big PR blitz, she actually just posted something on Instagram, and everyone felt so excited that they found this information. They couldn't wait to share it with everyone else, because they were one of the first people to pass this information on. So in thinking about applying this idea to your product, your initiative, or your idea, how can you make people feel like insiders? How can you give them special information that makes them look smart and in-the-know? The more you can make them look like insiders, the more you can make them look good, the more they're going to pass that information on.
How can you make them feel like they have exclusive content that not everyone else has access to? How can you make them feel like they have scare information that not everyone else has that makes them want to share to make them look good? The more you can make them feel like insiders the more they'll pass your stuff along.
- Word-of-mouth marketing
- Harnessing the power of social media
- What makes content go viral
- Why people share some stories more than others
- Telling stories that carry your message