In today's race to be the next best thing in social media, companies are struggling to get noticed and rise above the rest of the noise. No longer can you just churn out meaningless content for the sake of having words on a screen that will have you ranking high in the search engines. Today, perceived value matters and value is measured by way of sharing, commenting, voting, and reviewing. So how do you make content that's valuable to your audience?
Give Away a Little Bit of Yourself
When you give just a bit of yourself, whether that's information, your time, products, or even services, the end result can be quite rewarding. When your audience sees that you are willing to share your knowledge and be receptive and open to their thoughts as well, a trust begins to build and two-way dialogue opens up.
When that trust is built, amazing things start to happen. Your audience wants to share your knowledge with their own networks. Why? Because you are helping them become a valuable resource as well. Basically, this creates a win-win situation. The point is, to be successful in social media, you have to give the community a bit of yourself, but be wise about what it is you are giving away. While you want to prove your value, you also need to make sure your audience comes back.
Everyone wants to smile and laugh. Think about what you see people sharing in their Facebook News Feeds lately. Between the ICanHazCheezeburger cat pictures, holiday related pictures with captions, current events (think Charlie Sheen) antidotes, and politicians, there's a lot of humor that is shared within social networks. Understanding what makes your audience laugh and want to share can be a tricky thing - a lot of companies don't want to offend their audiences; that's why listening to your audience is very important when you are considering utilizing humor in your strategy.
Learn what makes your social media community want to share a smile and create content that reflects the desires of that community. Remember that every community is different, but putting a smile on someone's face or making them chuckle is a universal desire that can be just as valuable as giving them information or discounts.
People like to consume things in easy-to-read, or bite-sized chunks. That's why lists become so valuable. You can print them off and pass them around, and they are easy to remember. People refer to lists like "Top Ten Reasons to Sell Your House Now," "The Most Interesting Places to Visit on Halloween," and "5 Ways to Unclutter Your Life." The more you can tie in pictures and video, the more interactive the list becomes as well as the desire to share it within a social network.
Lists tend to spawn rebuttal pieces too, which in turn creates more interest in your original content. Even starting a series based on lists can keep bringing the community back for more. Remember, though, to keep the ideas fresh and relevant to your audience because after a while audiences will tire of "Top 10" lists.
"How-to" pieces of content can become extremely valuable to niche audiences and shared over and over again. Audiences want to know how to utilize things in different ways; they like to pick up different tips and tricks that can put added value into their lives. That value can take several forms such as saving time in someone's schedule or showing multiple uses for a product or service that wasn't known before.
How-to pieces of content don't have to be articles either. Some of the most engaging and shared how-to pieces of content are videos and images. Even the most boring and mundane topics can come to life with how-to videos or pictorials. Who would have thought that a topic as mundane as bad breath could generate so much interest and sharing as Orabrush's "How To Tell When Your Breath Stinks" video? This clever piece of content has been viewed over 16 million times, shared countless times over, and even has "response" videos from customers.
Orabrush "How to Tell When Your Breath Stinks" video on YouTube
Use Infographics and Photos to Illustrate a Point
Infographics tend to have the propensity to go "viral" pretty quickly, especially if they hit on a touch point of a specific audience. Infographics take numbers and data that seem overwhelming when just laid out in a spreadsheet or on a piece of paper and make them easier to consume because the audience can now conceptualize what exactly "45 percent" means to them in everyday terms. That's valuable to community members because the data turned into images is something very easy to share and to get a point across.
The more you can take hard-to-understand numbers or raw data and put it into picture form that correlates an idea or trend, the more likely your content is going to be shared and become valuable. Creating infographics or photos to create a point or concept that is difficult to comprehend also sets you up to be the authority on the subject, which in turn makes you even more valuable to your audience.
America According to Twitter Infographic by InboxQ
Meet Your Favorite ClickZ Contributors
Many of ClickZ's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Jeremy Hull, Lisa Raehsler, Andrew Goodman, Bryan Eisenberg, Mathew Sweezey, Aaron Kahlow, Stephanie Miller, Simms Jenkins, Jeanne S. Jennings, Dave Hendricks and more!
Liana "Li" Evans is the author of the award winning social media marketing book, "Social Media Marketing: Engaging Strategies for Facebook, Twitter & Other Social Media" and she is the president and CEO of Da Li Social, as well as an adjunct professor for Rutgers University's Mini MBA Program. Liana has also been featured in the books "Online Marketing Heroes" and "Video Marketing An Hour a Day." As an established online marketing industry veteran with over 15 years of experience she's focused her unique skillset to specialize in integrated marketing and how companies can successfully strategize integrating all online marketing channels as well as offline traditional media. Her deep technical combined with a public relations background enables her to partner with clients for establishing successful online marketing campaigns that combine cross-channel tactics cohesively.
Li was the search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing architect for such companies as QVC and Comcast (Fancast) and has consulted with several other different sized companies such as AOL MovieFone. Her wealth of knowledge in dealing with large e-commerce and content sites allows her a wider perspective into what it takes to launch successful marketing campaigns in the online space.
March 19, 2014