Is Your Brand Contagious?

It’s that time of year again. No, not Halloween. And no, not the final countdown until the holiday rush. It’s the time when everyone in the office gets sick. I fell victim to the office plague last week, and I’m still sniffling and coughing my way through it.

But something else is going around—something that brand marketers may actually want to catch: a high ranking on the Contagious Index.

The Contagious Index is a proprietary social-media monitoring tool created by marketing and technology agency DigitasLBi and University of Pennsylvania Wharton School Professor Jonah Berger based on Berger’s book Contagious: Why Things Catch On. The tool, powered by big data platform provider Shareablee, leverages public and content-level Facebook and Twitter data to form a “Contagious Score”—a metric that determines the level of peer-to-peer sharing a brand’s social content experiences versus its competitors, according to the press release.

“Contagious content from brands taps into personal social actions of consumers,” says Jill Sherman, SVP of social strategy for DigitasLBi. “The simple, but powerful, act of sharing is [a] key indicator of what’s resonated with an individual in a meaningful way. Sharing is markedly different from other social media actions—such as commenting, liking, or subscribing—not just in the way [that] it impacts perceptions among personal networks, but in the way [that] it impacts algorithms. When viewed in aggregate, over time, we begin to understand which brands understand how to consistently tap into what makes content inherently contagious.”

There are a number of factors that can impact “contagiousness,” says Sherman, such as platform use and timing. Marketers can use the Contagious Index, she notes, to better understand how to produce and distribute engaging and shared content and identify “how to win in social consistently.”

After analyzing the social content produced by brands across 10 different verticals from January to September, DigitasLBi and Berger revealed the most contagious brands on Facebook and Twitter, based on their Contagious Scores.

Most Contagious Brands on Facebook (Contagious Score out of 100)

Airline brand

Qatar Airways (95)

Arts/humanities brand

Humans of New York (100)

Auto Brand

BMW (98)

Electronics Brand

LG USA Mobile (91)

Food/Beverage Brand

Simply Orange Juice (99)

Gaming Brand

Fallout (96)

Health/Beauty Brand

Mary Kay (100)

Fashion Design Brand

Kardashian Kollection (93)

Sports Team Brand

Kansas City Chiefs (97)

Quick-Serve Restaurant Brand

Starbucks (98)

Most Contagious Brands on Twitter

Airline brand

Delta  (98)

Arts/humanities brand

The Metropolitan Museum of Art  (98)

Auto Brand

Jaguar (99)

Electronics Brand

Microsoft (93)

Food/Beverage Brand

Oreo (99)

Gaming Brand

Pokemon (99)

Health/Beauty Brand

Urban Decay (97)

Fashion Design Brand

Ralph Lauren (99)

Sports Team Brand

Detroit Tigers (99)

Quick-Serve Restaurant Brand

Taco Bell (97)

So, how can other brands become more contagious? According to Sherman, marketers need to have well-developed social and content strategies.

“Brands using their social channels primarily for customer service, broadcast messaging, etcetera, aren’t tapping into the power of the platforms,” she says. “Not having a thoughtfully planned social strategy and content strategy will inevitably lower your chances of success.”

Marketers can also test out the tool and see how their brands rank among their competitors here.

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