By Alexandra Zamfir

November 21st, 2016

Probably one of marketers’ worst nightmares is the dreaded line, “Make this post go viral”. If shareable content was so easy to create, we’d all do it all the time…and then would viral really mean viral?

Now let’s get back to a marketer’s reality. Organic reach is dropping exponentially, with the latest news being that Facebook is yet again tweaking its news feed algorithm to prioritize posts that come from users’ family and friends. In one sense, virality is a fool’s dream. Socially-minded businesses should be establishing real targets for their social activities: traffic to website, in-store sales, downloads, sign-ups and other similar goals. However, for these tactics to succeed, your audience needs to engage with your posts and ideally share the content with their social circles.

So how can you sway your fans to engage with and endorse your content? There are many ways. Some are one-off flukes, but most shareable content shares common characteristics. Here are the four traits we’ve identified that differentiate truly shareable content from the standard newsfeed buzz.

1. Emotional content

When creating your next social posts, blog posts or campaign, consider this: will your message resonate with your audience, so much so that fans will experience a strong emotion? Will they be happy, thoughtful, hopeful, or maybe even surprised and taken out of their element after watching your content? Brands need to do their best to create emotional relationships with users. In a world of little differentiation, the overall experience your customers have with your brand will be the main deciding factor.

One campaign that successfully triggered a reaction and appealed to viewers’ values and curiosity about the world was Momondo’s DNA Journey campaign. Momondo, a well-known Danish travel-booking company, premised its campaign on 16 participants who had their DNA analyzed and filmed them while they received the results. Before the big reveal, the participants were interviewed on their views of the world and their personal relationship to their ancestry and nationality. The emotional moment came when the DNA results purported to show that the 16 had surprisingly diverse roots linking them to countries, ethnicities and religions they had never suspected; and that some had even denigrated during the interviews.

The campaign makes the point that we are all citizens of the world, and appeals to most people’s values and sentiments. At the moment the campaign has over nine million views on Youtube and 34 million views on Facebook, and won awards for creativity and originality.

2. Consistent content

Is that shiny new infographic or video not garnering the out-of-this-world results you expected? The simple answer could be that your audience is not used to your brand posting this type of content and you simply don’t have the fanbase for it. Consistency will help you improve your results, even if the first attempts aren’t so successful.

Try to create a reading or viewing habit. Post on a regular basis, based on a theme you specialize in and can genuinely educate readers in or create a web-series.

With its recurring video posts, food channel Tasty has become one of Facebook’s biggest publishers and has given new life to Buzzfeed. In September, Tasty’s main Facebook page was the third-biggest video account on Facebook with nearly 1.7 billion video views, according to Tubular Labs.

One driver for success is that these videos are created specifically for Facebook – meaning they’re in short-format, interesting and distributed as native; however what really is key here is that these videos are made accessible to fans on a regular basis and in a similar format. That’s what it takes to increase brand identification and recall. Beware: delicious content ahead.

3. Trendjacking content

This is one category where many marketers have tried and failed. Trendjacking can be tricky – if done right, it can reward your brand with increased exposure and engagement, and spread the word about your talents. If it misfires you risk being the laughing stock of your peers and a fixture of social media gossip, even lore in the worst cases. To avoid this and stay relevant while incorporating trending subject matters, marketers are advised to use a social listening tool to keep an eye on the latest social media buzz. You can then use those insights to create audiences based on relevant topics and see if your fans are among them.

The airline Norwegian pulled off a trendjacking coup when it created this ad in response to the Brad and Angelina break-up. The ad showcases the brand’s humor alongside some impressive newsjacking chops (the hashtag #Bradissingle dominated Twitter, with no few potential suitors expressing an interest), without diverging at all from Norwegian’s brand or basic offering of flight fares.

The ad appeared both online and in print and inspired a social media frenzy. A Norwegian spokesperson said: “We have used a playful advert to simply highlight our flights to Los Angeles and to mirror the conversations that people throughout the UK are having about a high-profile media story.”

To showcase the fun side of our company, we’ve also jumped on one of the most popular trends on social #MannequinChallenge. These types of videos can be great for bringing together your team while improving your employer branding – potential candidates know they can expect a relaxed company culture with fun co-workers.

4. Collaborative content

Content is nothing without distribution. As the saying goes, if a tree falls in a forest and there’s no one there to hear it, did it make a sound? The same goes for content. You might have the most interesting and visually attractive content, but if no one sees it, what was the point?

To increase amplification brands now partner with influencers and the latest social media craze of micro-influencers. A survey of two million social media influencers showed that “for unpaid posts, Instagram influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers have a like rate of about 8%, while those with 1,000 to 10,000 followers have a like rate of 4%. As following base continues to increase, like rate keeps decreasing.”

This is good news for all brands that don’t have the means or desire to work with Kardashian-style influencers. Even though they boast smaller audiences, micro-influencers seem to have more specialized communities and make for a more natural fit between what the brand wants to advertise and what the influencer already has in his or her feed.

ASOS has set itself apart in the world of micro-influencers by creating its own program, ASOS Insiders. The Insiders are a group of fashion and beauty experts that share more personal content on social media to increase its organic reach. The posts feature tips and tricks and style advice, and list the product code in the image caption. However, Insiders can also post non-ASOS related photos to humanize their Instagram accounts and ultimately the brand.

asos-insider

One last thing to share

In a study conducted by CMI, 70% of B2B marketers plan to create more content in 2017 than in 2016, while 25% of them will maintain the same amount of content.

CMI-research-content

That means the competition for the attention of the audience is heating up. With this info at hand, it is now even more crucial to take a look at the value your content brings. Sure, there may be more content in the works, but it will never beat quality content. This means that smart marketers now have to figure out new ways to stand out from the crowd.

However, the four traits listed here will remain common denominators in 2017 and beyond. But remember, the number one differentiator will always be creativity. I can’t wait to see what marketers come up with next.

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