Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Smiles, Epidemics, and Learning from the Mormons

A lot of people talk about the Jewish media, but the Mormon media is, like, so much better.

LIKE, so much better.

I love it.

That's Jonah Peretti. He presented this morning on viral marketing.

He thinks Judaism is a great religion, but he's unimpressed with its growth. Population wise, the Mormons caught up in 2007. And that's ridiculous. In 1950, Jews outnumbered Mormons 11 to 1.

What happened?

The Mormons went viral. They baked evangelism into the Mormon "user experience," and they grew. Judaism tried to grow with product quality and product quality alone, and, despite a perfectly solid product, they didn't grow. They lost market share. Lost it to institutionalized evangelism and a some stories about white native North Americans, a long winded angel, and a failed fortune teller with an exceptionally generic name.

And that was one of Jonah's points: study the Mormons; they're good at viral marketing.

Another point (one that really hit me hard given my recent thoughts about change, smiles, and rock and roll) relates to silliness.

In order for anything to spread virally, it has to be contagious, and Jonah believes, based on his own exceptional (and, apparently, originally, accidental) success at creating contagious content (Nike Sweatshop Shoes, The Rejection Line, Black People Love Us, Buzz Feed), that one way to get contagious is to get silly.

Focus on people that are bored at work. Give them something that'll wake them up, something that'll snap them into action and inspire them to forward an email.

Shock works sometimes. Horror. Nudity. Kittens. And silliness.

Once again, I think of Stephen Stills:

Fear is the lock and laughter the key to your heart.

Posted by email from Radical Transparency (posterous)


Cheryl said...

Judaism doesn't actively seek converts, which is why it doesn't grow. That's the reason. It isn't out to gain adherents, just to hopefully keep the ones it has and to encourage the practice of the faith, and for future generations to be born into it and to observe it.

Jake de Grazia said...

Right. Exactly. And the Mormons have institutionalized evangelism. So they do grow. The Mormons have enabled the "send to a friend" features on their websites, and they celebrate the users that grow the community. Judaism's website is heavy on the professionally produced content: users consume but don't do much sharing (except with their kids, if they're into it). The Jewish method is FAR more my style when it comes to religion. But it's definitely worth noting the Mormons' ability to grow and grow fast.