June 15, 2016
The amount of content we see each day continues to increase. So how do we separate the valuable stuff from all of the noise?
Marketing in a digital world can be unpredictable. You may spend hours creating a bold content strategy plan for your business only to receive a few likes on the content itself from employees and other friends. Meanwhile, when you post a grainy picture of your dog at the beach, the internet goes crazy with likes, comments and shares.
So what makes people want to share content that a business is creating?
A study conducted by The New York Times Customer Insight Group uncovered five key reasons people decide to share content with others. This study gives us valuable insights into the psychology of sharing and digital word-of-mouth phenomenon. Businesses willing to learn from this data can use it to make better marketing decisions. These important insights may be all that you are missing in building traffic to your website or creating an effective social media marketing strategy.
Not surprisingly, the driving factor of sharing content has less to do with the content itself and more to do with building valuable relationships.
People buy products and share content from people they know, like, and trust. While we like to think that our expertise and business savvy is enough to inspire people to share our content with their friends, the data shows that readers care more about their relationship to other people (for example, their followers or friends) than their relationship to you and your business.
The primary reasons people share information and content:
- To bring valuable and entertaining content to others. 49% say sharing allows them to inform others of products they care about and potentially change opinions or encourage action.
- To define ourselves to others. 68% share to give people a better sense of who they are and what they care about.
- To grow and nourish our relationships. 78% share information online because it lets them stay connected to people they may not otherwise stay in touch with.
- Self-fulfillment. 69% share information because it allows them to feel more involved in the world.
- To get the word out about causes or brands. 84% share because it is a way to support causes or issues they care about.
Knowing that these 5 drivers can help you make your corporate content more shareable, let’s consider some small but powerful changes to your marketing strategy to put this knowledge to work.
Always Create Value
Before writing another blog or Facebook post, ask yourself, “what are my followers getting in exchange for their time spent reading this content? It is worth their time?
If the answer is no, re-consider your strategic approach. Content that is valuable might be practical and actionable advice that helps your potential customers improve their lifestyle. It also might be informational and share your expertise with them in a way that is unique and thoughtful.
Good content also needs to be more entertaining or visually attractive than the competition. Avoid generic stock images, and consider creating custom infographics, videos or images that put your content into context.
Before you say that’s too expensive or time-consuming, remember that valuable and entertaining content is the number one reason people share content. Consider making one piece of high value content rather than a number of low engagement pieces of content.
Connect Readers To Each Other
Social media networks were created to connect people. Our basic human need to build relationships is why social companies are some of the most profitable in the world.
Online, we often build emotional connections over shared content. When a friend shares an article or image that resonates with our own beliefs, we share it in to show solidarity.
Create content that resonates and speaks to an individual and you will find more people willing to share your content. Maybe it’s helpful career advice, or images of your local city that resonate with other proud citydwellers.
While we don’t recommend creating controversial posts for your business, catchy headlines that imply controversy perform well and increase shareability. Think about headlines like “10 Mistakes You’re Making in the Kitchen” or “What Your Job Performance Says About Your Boss.” These don’t need to be offensive posts, but create anticipation.
Brand partnerships to build brand awareness can be an opportunity for bringing readers together around a topic or passion. Consider promoting a good cause or increasing awareness for an important event that aligns with your business goals.