Content Marketing Step 4: Content worth sharing

Home Content Marketing Step 4: Content worth sharing

Once you have decided which content domains to focus on, you have a clear view on how content can lead to conversion and you have made a content plan, the only thing left is the execution of the plan. There is one key challenge here: people have to share your content with their network. This is the only way you can structurally grow your business through content.

Develop different layers of content

The concrete implementation of your content strategy can take place at many different levels. Talk about your industry in general. Show that you know which direction the sector is developing in. Mention new trends and fashionable insights which will confirm your expert status in the field. Your customers will be interested in sharing specific content about your company. Facts, figures and ‘did-you-knows’ can all be very useful. Furthermore, you will also be able to generate large amounts of informal content through your own staff. Make your culture tangible. Tell ‘human interest’ stories about your activities. And last but not least: remember to talk about your products. You can even use content which compares your products with those of your competitors, as long as you do so objectively.

Make the content easy to share

Make sure all your content is available in a digital format. This allows people to share it spontaneously with their friends through social networks and e-mails. Next to that, make sure that you connect ‘share’ buttons to all your content units. The philosophy is simple: create easy opportunities for your target audience to follow and share everything you say.

Make the content worth sharing

What type of content do people share? That is the 1 million dollar question which many Internet experts are asking themselves today. Research conducted by Chip and Dan Heath(Made to stick; why some ideas survive and others die, 2007) teaches us that there are six ‘sticky’ criteria. Content that successfully passes the sticky test will be shared by the target group.

1. Simplicity
Selling a single idea to your consumers is enough. The more arguments and choice you give consumers, the more difficult it is for them to share.

2. Surprise
The message must attract and hold the attention of the consumer in an innovative and counter-intuitive manner.

3. Concrete
Formulate exactly what you want to say to the consumer and do so as clearly as possible. This can involve the use of all the different senses. Make sure that people can see in a split second what the story is about. Titles and design play an important role in this dimension.

4. Credible
Advertisers often use research material or experts to make their message seem credible. This is one way of doing it, but it is also possible to personalise credibility. Credibility is one of the reasons why Obama is now in the White House. He didn’t get there simply by using a mass of statistics.

5. Emotional
Make the consumers feel what you are trying to say. If you want to stop teenagers from smoking, telling them it is bad for their health will be less effective than telling them it gives them halitosis.

6. Stories
Nobody remembers adverts; everybody remembers a good story. Right from our earliest years, we were told stories which will remain with us for the rest of our lives. Remember that when you are communicating with your consumers. Try to keep them enthralled. The average classroom presentation by a student contains 2.5 statistics per minute, but only one in ten attempts to tell a story. Yet if you ask the students in the audience what they remember from all these presentations, 63% say that they remember the stories, whereas a mere 5% remember the statistics.

To make it even more concrete, we conducted a unique study as part of the preparation for this paper. We collected all the conversations from 1,000 Facebook pages of 200 global brands. In total, we analysed about 770,000 conversations about these brands. We did a similar exercise for Twitter. In this instance, we selected a random week in June 2011 and analysed the tweets for 300 brands. This gave us about 246,000 conversations. Our insights with regard to the most frequently shared material were gleaned from the data-mining of these million brand-related conversations. These conversations were a mixture of spontaneous conversations about brands and content shared by brands. It gives you the full overview of what people share. The study gave us insights in the content people share on social media:

  • Experience with your products or services: People give feedback about their experience with your products and/or services. It is noticeable that there are more conversations about specific products than about brands.
  • Experience with offline touch-points: Offline customer experience is an important online conversation starter. The customer-friendliness of employees in a sales point is the most important conversation starter.
  • Competitions and games: Content with games/a competitive element results in many conversations. In addition to interaction, ‘gamification’ results in many ‘likes’.
  • Free: ‘Free’ always works. If people think they can get something for free, they will mention it to everyone! This is not only valid for free products, but also for free content.
  • Collaboration: Involve people in your decision-making and they will love telling others about it. If their engagement increases, so too will the number of conversations. This does not need to be complicated. Simply asking your fans a question can be enough to generate plenty of interaction. In addition, the customers can also show their enthusiasm through their ‘likes’.
  • Lifestyle: Even if this does not immediately relate to your products, people like to talk about music, eating out, sports, etc., and again show their enthusiasm for this content through their ‘likes’.
  • Positive messages: This is the value of happiness. There are more interactions as a result of sharing something positive than something negative. Consumers like happy stories and positive messages generate plenty of ‘likes’.
  • News: Your fans like to share news about your company and like to be kept informed about the developments relating to their favourite brand.
  • Advertising: There are a lot of conversations on Twitter about advertising. This is probably related to the presence of the high penetration media and numerous advertising professionals on this network. Complete reviews of advertising campaigns are sometimes shared.
  • Social media news: There are plenty of conversations on Twitter about the latest iPhone and iPad apps.
  • Employee stories: Company employees share considerable amounts of informal content via Twitter. They talk about where they work and give their followers a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes. This content is re-tweeted at a higher than average rate.

When producing content, it would be wise to take these conclusions into account. Make sure there is enough variety in your content. Organise a competition every now and then. Include a games element in your stories. Make sure that your news is news-worthy. And keep it positive!

This last aspect is crucial. Our extensive study proves that the overwhelming majority of people make and share positive content. Only 10% of the comments on Facebook fan pages and 14% of tweets are negative. It is very difficult to even find hate pages about brands on Facebook. Protest pages with a clear objective do exist and sometimes gain support. But out-and-out hate campaigns are only rarely popular with the broader public. People are put off by the negative attitude; they prefer to share positive messages.

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