Archive for the ‘Content Marketing’ Category

What Goes Viral?

stock-partyThis past weekend, a teen from Mississauga did what lots of teens have done in the past: announced a get-together on Facebook. Somehow, this innocent announcement of a small, private event spiralled out of control. The word spread via social media, the party eventually developed its own hashtag, and even a paper flyer went out (put together by persons unknown).

The teen’s parents ended up calling the police when droves started arriving at their home. For four hours, if you can believe it, police stationed themselves at the house and turned prospective partygoers away. The cops even sent out their own social media messages, warning visitors that they’d be met with a police cruiser upon their arrival. They claimed their word prevented even more visitors. But still.

This party gone wild is yet another example of a social media message inexplicably going viral and having real-world consequences. There are other viral instances no one wants: the politician saying something sexist, the athlete caught on video, drunk at a party. Marketers, meanwhile, would love to know just how to command an audience in the millions for their story, video or image.

So academics and social media groups have put their minds to studying the phenomenon; trying to crack the viral code so those who want to go big can do so. Here’s what the research says:

-Positive material spreads faster than negative, according to one study. Rage has the most velocity, according to another.

-Evoke emotions: shock, awe, pity, alarm. Further to the above, really — emotional content is what people want to share.

-Be practical. Service-style information gets traction. Makes sense: we all want to know how to do stuff like get healthier, live better and make more money.

-People share what they think others want to know or hear about. This really puts the social in social media.

-Studies are showing that long posts attract the most links. Meanwhile, multimedia content is more likely to go viral than text-based material.

-Be funny. Humour has been working in traditional advertising for decades. In online content, it’s key for everything but the most serious content.

If that seems like a lot of bases to cover, that’s because it is. In truth, we don’t yet fully understand what turns a get-together into the biggest party in town. But we’re getting closer to understanding the odd modern phenomenon that is viral content.

 

Can the Medium be the Message?

mediumOn Twitter, the social media world has mastered the short, pithy statement. Now, Twitter founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone are banking that online sharers will also enjoy making medium-length statements. With the quasi-launch of their latest venture, Medium, last week,  they have unveiled a service that combines photos and text without a limit of the number of words you can use.

Rather than sorting posts by author like many existing sites, Medium sorts by topic. This focus on topic borrow, in some ways from Digg and Reddit, and illustrates how presenting information via topics is gaining more traction within digital content circles.

Medium looks like a service will act like a sorting house for short blogs-like text posts, pictures with comments and Pinterest-style images. People will be able to rate content so the most popular rises to the top.

This is an interesting middle (medium?) ground between posting longer status updates on Twitter or Facebook and working around the site’s quirks (having half your story hidden on Facebook and requiring readers to click, or doing multiple tweets) and having a regular blog, which can be a lot of work for those who don’t always have a tale to share.

For marketers and brands looking to tell stories in a new and different way, Medium offers the ability to combine pictures and words in a way that marries the best of Twitter, Facebook and blogs.

Telling stories, promoting and launching new products, and highlighting events in a mid-length format could open things up for creative, visual and even risk-taking marketing content.

And since the best content will rise to the top, the push will be on for stellar content from individuals and businesses alike.

Medium still hasn’t been rolled out publicly but people interested in the service can get on the wait list by registering using (surprise, surprise!) their Twitter accounts. Time now to wait and see if going medium length is what the social media world wants.

For more on Medium’s launch, check out this blog post written by Evan Williams, as well as this Business Insider story.

 

 

Content Marketing + Social Media = The Perfect Marriage?

content marketing social mediaHave you embraced content marketing yet? Have you bought into the idea that content is, in fact, king?

It’s difficult not to feel like the role and value of content has dramatically changed over the past year. It was not that long ago that brands were getting their heads around social media; now they have to think about becoming publishers. No wonder some brands have little idea about what to do given the landscape is changing so fast.

Here’s the thing about content marketing and social media: they’re both meant to attract eyeballs and, at the end of the day, drive transactions. In other words, they’re marketing and sales tools that can be leveraged to attract target audiences to change their thinking or behaviour.

It’s really as simple as that, although it can be difficult to tell given the hype surrounding content marketing and social media.

Here’s another reality: content marketing and social media have the potential to be perfect partners because while they share the same mandate, they address the challenges in different ways.

Content marketing involves the use of content – Webinars, videos, blog posts, case studies, whitepapers, etc. – to build a brand’s profile and provide existing and potential customers with some kind of value. By creating content that resonates, brands hope consumers will think of them in a different way, establish a relationship and, ideally, buy a product or service.

Meanwhile, social media is a way to engage and have conversations with consumers by using tools that allow for two-way dialog. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Linked, YouTube, Tumblr or Pinterest, brands leverage social media to connect with consumers and, hopefully, have them connect back.

So what happens when you put content marketing and social media together?

If done right, the content created or delivered by a brand is distributed using social media services to target audiences looking to consumer content in different ways.

By using social media, brands can do a better job of getting content into the hands of people who may find it interesting or useful. As important, social media lets consumers engage with brands about this content.

In other words, content marketing and social media complement and support each other.

It explains why many brands are embracing content marketing because it provides more ammunition for their social media efforts. At the same time, social media can offer an effective distribution network for companies creating a lot of content.

Bottom line: content marketing and social media can be a powerful one-two punch.

More: For some other thoughts, Erin Nelson has a post on the “real magic” of content marketing, while Lee Oden has a post on five ways that B2B business can win with content marketing and social media.