Content can make or break a brand. Inappropriate, offensive or out-of-touch content can give your brand a bad name and scare off customers, while great content helps you connect with your audience, build positive brand associations and increase revenue for your company. But even great content has to be shared to be seen. So how do you inspire your audience to share what you’ve created? Here are six tips to help you get started!
In the Don Draper age of advertising, content was all about getting a “knee-jerk” emotional reaction from the viewer. The way we create, promote and share content might have changed a lot since those days, but the importance of connecting with one’s audience on an emotional level has not.
Take the “Following” commercial from State Farm, for example. The ad shows a man going about his daily life, but every time he sees something that tugs on his heartstrings, such as a child who needs help or a dog that needs a home, he’s followed by these entities for the rest of the day. Finally, he decides to volunteer at a youth shelter, and the crowd following him is satisfied. The ad is a compelling emotional pull for the insurance giant’s Neighborhood of Good community and volunteer initiative.
A study done by the University of Pennsylvania that studied New York Times articles showed that content that evokes emotion is more likely to be shared, even if the emotion evoked is a negative one, such as anger or anxiety. Tap into this type of emotion by being a tough editor. Constantly ask yourself whether the content you’re creating, reading or seeing makes you feel something and is worth sharing. If it’s not, some editing may be in order!
The flip side of emotional content is a negative emotional experience. Anger spreads quickly, and that can cripple a brand. In the same University of Pennsylvania study, users reported they would be more likely to share an advertisement when they felt amused by it-and more likely to share a customer service experience when it made them angry. You must be prepared for both types of emotional reactions.
One of the simplest ways to create content people want to share is to copy what’s worked for other brands. In the marketing world, it’s completely acceptable to creep on your competitors to find out what they’re doing right (or wrong). Researching what your competitors are doing and how their audiences are reacting is an easy way to find insights on what types of content your brand should create as well. Here are some tips for tracking what your competitors are doing.
Above all, your content should offer value to your potential and current customers. That value could be making them laugh or it could be actionable steps they can take to improve their lives. It’s human nature for us to share what’s helpful to others, whether that’s a coupon, a new way to clean your clothes or a cool t-shirt based on our favorite television shows. In fact, The New York Times did a study that found 90% of users will assess the usefulness of the content before sharing it. Do the research to find what’s useful to your audience, and they’ll reward you by sharing your content with their friends and loved ones.
Doing keyword research can help you discover what will be useful and informative to your audience and ensure that users are interested in sharing it with others. If you’re considering a certain topic, tools such as MOZ, Ahrefs and SEMRush should be on your research list. Look up the topics in which you’re interested to see how often people are searching for them, and learn the other related keywords they’re using. This information will allow you to create more robust content by learning the kinds of questions users are asking in the search engines. It can also help you craft a title that will both engage users and be easily discovered in search.
Storytelling is an important part of content creation because it allows your audience to relate to your product and see the relevance of it in their everyday lives. To tell a memorable story via content, make sure you have a clear beginning, middle, and end. There should be no gaps in the story; it should be mapped out clearly and easy to follow.
How can you create storytelling content for social media? Here’s what it should look like:
Be careful that you aren’t overtly “selling” your products or services; try a soft sell instead.Though cheeky hard sells have worked for some companies, usually a less obvious approach is best.
Everyone likes free stuff. Whether it’s a fun quiz, a free t-shirt, or a 30-day trial, we want as much free stuff as we can get without paying for it. Capitalize on this common trend by rewarding your audience with free “stuff” for sharing your content. Take a look at how your company has incentivized in the past, and/or research competitors and industry-leading companies that have done so successfully.
So, how do you provide a valuable incentive for your audience? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Remember, if you’re creating something you would want to share yourself, you’re on the right track. We’ll leave you with a powerful example of shareable content from Dollar Shave Club, the quirky company for people who are tired of paying drugstore prices for razors. The Club's “Bathroom Minutes” tips series speaks directly to its audience-inspiring them to get their friends involved with comment-worthy content and support.
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