Why Content Marketing is the new Viral Loop
Every business dreams of its content “going viral:” geometrically multiplying hordes of viewers sharing your golden nugget of content with their entire social network, and your profits following that “hockey-stick” rise on a graph. While there’s no fool-proof set of instructions to guide you to this marketing sweet spot, it’s worthwhile to become familiar with the basic best practices of content creation. That way, your business has the best possible chance of creating a viral loop.
How is “virality” different from “engagement?”
It’s mainly a matter of timing. Engagement is the term for the slow and steady increase in users you get from posting good quality material on a frequent basis. If content goes viral, it will spread like wildfire within just a day or two. When you’re seeking to build your audience, you plan on engagement and hope for virality.
Think in emotional terms
In order to go viral, something has to have a strong emotional component. People need to feel strongly enough about your content that they are compelled to share it with everyone they know. Emotions can be positive or negative, of course, and we’re all familiar with online memes that spread people’s outrage or grief across the web. For business purposes, however, you’re going to aim for the powerful positive emotions: amusement, interest or surprise. Social media research by two University of Pennsylvania professors shows that positive emotions are the most powerful motivators for sharing.
Start with a great image
The first step is to create a title or an image that captures interest, so that users won’t simply click on past to the next site. Research at Moz suggests that “visual, easy-to-understand, and easy-to-consume content is generally the most viral.” Straightforward images, animated gifs, or short videos fit this description. Clearly you have to make some connection with your business, but it doesn’t have to be direct selling; instead, your content should be something that you as a business have created because you think it’s going to brighten your users’ day. A classic example of this understated tie-in is Samsung’s Extreme Sheep Art, where sheep wearing LED lights created different intricate patterns.
Consider timing and channel
Social Media Today comments that many businesses forget to factor timing into their content marketing. This might mean that you post your content at a certain time of day when your likeliest buyers are online, or perhaps you tie your posting in with a specific event, so that you can ride along with its existing popularity. Also, you’ll want to give your content its best chance to reach a wide audience by cross-posting on Facebook and Twitter as well as on your blog or website. You can’t do this with every new blog post or your Facebook fans may hide your feed, but every now and then it’s fine to just spray your content out in every direction.
Connect personally with your biggest fans
If you have followers or fans who are “influencers,” with a broad following of their own, it’s worth making the effort to send them a personal tweet or comment. That way, you nurture your relationship with them by making them feel valuable, while giving your content an initial head-start out of the gate.
If anyone truly held the key to viral content, of course, they could abandon whatever other business they had and earn a fortune by simply sharing their marketing secret. Because virality is elusive and unpredictable, you have as much chance of making it happen as any big corporation does. So get your inspiration geared up and give it a try; at the very least, you’ll be building your audience and providing them with enjoyable content!