Can you make my content go viral?
Everyone that is associated with social media has heard this question at least once. People that are unfamiliar with the culture of the Internet do not quite understand what a faux pas trying to engineer viral content can be; or that the mechanisms that lead to content virility will fight against content that was created specfically to go viral.
No responsible professional will ever promise a million YouTube videos for your content marketing campaign. They can however optimize your content, and the ensuing promotion, so the investment goes as far as possible. There are hundreds of tactical and strategic choices that will give quality content a fighting chance. Here are some of the most important aspects of optimizing your content marketing techniques.
Quality Content is a Good Place to Start
There are hundreds of new blog posts and other related content that cross my social media streams every day. I see the same people make a point to do a blog post every day without regard to the quality, or the benefit that it will bring their website or business. When it comes to content marketing, it’s better to publish one piece of outstanding content each week than 10 pieces of average content every day. You can realize subtle benefits from a consistent stream of average content (and I would suggest developing a consistent stream of micro content), but it becomes easier to get lost in the crowd every day.
You may not even realize that your content is average. Here are a few differences between quality content and average content.
- Quality content takes time to produce. Research, design, planning, revisions, measurement, and observation are often preliminary steps in its creation. If it only took you two hours to create, it doesn’t have the trappings of quality.
- It is hard to replicate, and unique when compared to other content in a given genre. If everyone can create it easily, there is little value in it. Your specialized skill set makes you especially suited for a certain type of content production. People want to learn from masters.
- In written content, the finished product is more than a rant. It’s compelling, and the quality is in the detail. There is empirical data, shared precedent, explicit examples, multimedia content, and evidence.
- In artistic work, the small details add up to make a masterpiece. The attention to detail is why quality content takes so long to produce. The end user may not even realize the intricacies, but the content as a whole will bolstered because of their presence.
Would you rather spend a month developing a single piece of content that gets shared 300 times, or an hour each day writing a mediocre blog post that gets shared 10 times? In the end, 300 people will remember the organization that made the amazing content as an organization that knows what they’re talking about. The other guy is just another mediocre blogger in a sea of mediocre bloggers.
ROI is Measured, Not Predicted
Let’s say that you have managed to create a piece of high quality content. How do you go about sharing it with your followers? When moving on to the promotional aspect of content marketing, a lot of people forget the “social” in social media. This is not about how much info you can blast into the faces of those who are reading, or even about how many people you can get to “like” your page. It’s about branding, and it’s about interaction with your fans through and triggering an emotional response in them. Sharing your content is more of a response than an independent action. Others can sympathize with a response much easier than the original promotion.
But all of this is easier said than done. There is no magic formula that helps you engineer your content so it will go viral. It’s different with every community and it takes practice, research and effort on your part to see results. All you can do is optimize your content marketing strategy so your content has the best chance possible of becoming a good investment.
Too often clients ask me “How many fans can you get me for $x” or “How many new sales will I make this month based on your social media marketing?” Well, let’s compare this to past methods of advertising. When you pay to have a TV spot created and aired in the prime time for your target audience, do you then ask, “How many people will come into my store after seeing this?” When you run a newspaper ad in the Sunday paper for your appliance and electronics store, do you demand to know how many toasters you will sell the following week? It doesn’t work this way in online advertising either. Asking questions is important but learn to ask the right questions such as:
- What methods will you use to build likes and follows?
- How will you use this fanpage to represent my brand?
- How will we track our results from each campaign?
A professional will be able to answer these questions for you and also analyze the best ways for you to optimize your feed and reach your target market. For now, let’s look at some general techniques you can begin today on your own, no matter what your business is about.
This Isn’t Your Father’s Facebook
With the integration of Facebook’s EdgeRank Algorithm, you can make posts from your fan page that your fans never see. If the post is not deemed “relevant” by Facebook’s algorithm, then you may not be getting the most out your content. Relevance is a complex measurement on Facebook, but it boils down to interactions and relationships.
On other networks, users will flock to other users that they see as an authority, or those that are particularly charismatic. It takes a lifetime to really get to know someone, so casual followers will take cues from the collective when deciding if your brand is worth following or not.
Quality content has an inherent advantage when it comes to the sharing economy that social media creates. Other considerations are familiarity, and perceived value. Try and integrate the following tactics when promoting your content through social networks:
Start a Discussion – One of the best ways that a post can become relevant is to ensure that it starts a discussion. This means that people are talking about your post on your post. Ask a question that leaves the readers wanting to answer it or start a conversation by asking your readers to post their thoughts on the topic. Remember to be the most frequent poster on your own pages so reply to everyone whenever possible and keep the conversations going.
Posting Times – Find out when your target market is most likely to be on a given network, and then schedule your posts to show at those prime times for the most interaction. These times will differ based on your niche and your country so I cannot simply tell you “post at 9am and 2pm” since I don’t know your situation. Use some analytics tools to find out the best posting times and then work on having regular posts made during those times.
Posting Frequency –There are different factors that go into posting frequency. While “How often should I post?” is a very common question, there is not really a simple answer. On Facebook, 2-3 posts will suffice, but on Twitter you may need 5-10. The more interaction you have, the more often you can post because you have the engagement to keep conversations going. If you have few likes and lower engagement, then you may not want to post too frequently yet and instead focus on the quality of your posts and increasing engagement. Increased engagement over time will add a value of affinity to your EdgeRank in Facebook and generate a sense of community around your brand on other networks; it’s a positive cycle.
The Importance of Pictures and Videos
Another way to improve the virility of a post is to re purpose it as a picture or videos. A video can be played directly from the feed on almost any social network, which makes it easy for the person browsing posts to stop and have a watch. Pictures can also grab the attention of your casual reader. It’s easier to digest, plays to the visual nature of our society, and has far more mass appeal than written work.
When posting pictures and other multimedia, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Only post images you have permission to post- copyright laws still exist on social media, too and just because you see an image on the Internet does not mean you have the right to use it without proper credit or permission.
- Post tips and hints on images to your feeds- using a basic photo editing program, you can place text over top of an image and use it to share tips, hints or quotes on your profiles. Memes are some of the easiest to create, and most likely to spread pieces of content out there.
- Harness the power of cute baby animals- a recent study shows that looking at pictures of baby animals (and other cute things) could actually improve your concentration and focus.
- Be cautious of offensive images and jokes- we all love a good laugh now and then but when it comes to business, it can be risky to post any images or jokes that might be offensive based on race, religion, politics or culture. Unless your business niche is in this area (think The Onion), you may want to avoid this social media business faux pas.
When posting to your networks, each post should have some careful consideration behind it. Each post should have a purpose and a goal in mind.
Purpose: What are you trying to convey with this post? Inform? Entertain? Educate?
Goal: What action do you want the reader to take? Share it? Like it? Re-Tweet? Leave a comment?
If your post does not have a purpose, then you’re wasting your effort. Finally, make sure that you are enjoying your interactions in social media. If you’re not having fun, others probably aren’t either!
Latest posts by Lisa Clark (see all)
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- Guest Blogging Guide from Idea to Publish - November 26, 2012
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