Oct 26, 2016 | Amaresh Choudhary
One of the discussions I often have with my social media content writer is how to create social content that is sticky (which basically means creating content that is memorable) and contagious (which means more shareable). Is there any set way to produce interesting content, is there any process through which we could churn out stuff that people will absolutely read, is there any secret recipe of creating successful content on a constant basis.
Well no straight formula there, but the good news is – you do not have to be a creative genius to write great stuff on social media. What you need is to know first is what people on the other side of the screen want toreador share; and what is that will make your content stick.
What makes People Share
According to research, people share because they want to entertain others, and be useful. In the book Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect, author Matthew D. Lieberman, who is a professor of psychology, psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, explains this:
To be more precise, The New York Times Insights Group published a study that delved into the reasons of why people share content.
According to the study, the main reasons why people shared content was to –
So what sort of content should we create?
Now that you know what people like to share, you should probably know what will make your content stick. One of the most useful pieces of literature that I have found on this was the book Made to Stick by educators Chip and Dan Heath who explore why certain ideas and things stick to our mind, while others fade away.
So if I was to apply their research on what makes ideas stick to written content, it would be simply THIS –
Finally, what I have discovered through the years is that it all starts with one simple fact – producing quality content and not marketing content. Content that is high in quality mostly tends to market itself in the long run, albeit with a little social media push here and there.
From science to content writing hacks
According to a recent statistics shared by the Content Marketing Institute, while 70% B2B marketers are creating more content than a year ago, over 50% find it difficult to produce engaging content.
When you are a content creator or marketer whose job is to serve up great content everyday, the hacks matter more than the science of it.
And that is what this blog post is really about – killer content marketing ideas about how to create successful social media content.
Most social media ideas here are structured around specific goals and you’ll need to use a mix of them in any given month. The best part is that when you start using them all, you won’t have a dearth of ideas on what to post next. In fact, you’ll also have insights on what works best for your audience and schedule more of such post types. Here you go –
1. Court the Quote
One of the easiest non-confirmative tasks to do on social media is to give a ‘like’ or a ‘favourite’ to something that catches the eye. It doesn’t involve a transaction, an in-depth thought process or a strenuous physical activity. It requires a simple ‘click’ that says that you agree with something that totally makes sense or something just hit the cord and you reciprocate with a ‘like’ that allows your friends and family to know about it.
Inspirational, funny, sad or thought-provoking, quotes are an easy magnet for this action.
The stats do the talking: One search on Buzzsumo for ‘inspirational quotes’ and you’ll see the statistics of a huge amount of engagement. Most brands would love to have that level of engagement, especially now that it is getting more difficult by the day for brands to reach their own followers organically.
Needless to say, funny quotes work really well on social media.
Quotes can be momentous – shared on an occasion, event or even birth or death anniversary of a well-known personality all tend to trigger the crowd mentality.
There is also a lot of debate on the point of generating this ‘type’ of engagement and if the effort is really worth it since you aren’t targeting a captive audience. With each quote, let’s say that you manage to reach 100 of your fans and 150 new people. You have an excellent opportunity here to educate these new people about your brand.
Last but not the least, some interesting research pointed out there that there is a time for everything. Inspirational quotes, for example, work best when posted on Wednesdays on Pinterest!
2. Fill-in-the-blank posts
There is something about fill in the blank posts that make a lot of people feel compelled to give an answer. Out of the tried and tested formulas, we found these types to work the best. Go ahead and give them a try.
These posts are a great way to get your audience talking and when they do make sure it isn’t a one-sided conversation. Like and respond back to their comment to make them feel someone has heard them too.
3. Share ‘Behind the Scenes‘
The Behind-the-scenes proposition is an enticing one. It promises to show you something you don’t have access to otherwise. This makes you feel compelled to find answers to your hows and whys, especially behind a successful brand. If you are a home chef who has been dishing out orders lately, a behind-the-scenes photo of your orders lined up for dispatch can work in many ways.
4. Post a link to an old blog post
Old is gold. As clichéd as the statement might be, you can have a wonderful use for old posts on social media. Thanks to the short-lived memory of your followers and selective feed showcased by the channels themselves.
So, start by choosing which post to repost:
Turn to good old Google Analytics where you can go to Behaviour >> Site Content >> All Pages and change the date range to the last six months. And the magic begins. You’ll notice some of your blogs have generated much higher traffic than others and these can be easily be picked up for a repost.
Repost when opportunity strikes:
Let’s say you have a tech blog where you’ve written a well-researched article on bitcoins. Every once in a while when the topic hits headlines, you can re-share your post which becomes an educative center for people to refresh their knowledge and for new people to get a background on what is going on.
Repost with a new image:
A great way to increase the life of a blog on social is to repost it with a different image. Considering that most social sites are visual, there is an off chance people may notice if you keep posting an old image.
Repost it during a different time zone:
For a social platform like twitter, your news just has one hour before it gets lost in the deluge. Other platforms like Facebook may have featured your original post with limited engagement. Choose to post the topic during a different time zone and you are likely to get some new eyeballs on it.
Repost and choose your audience targeting:
Make use of the ‘what is’ and ‘what can be’ ratio. This means, if you do a repost, 10% of your followers may view the post – this is your ‘what is’. If you run an ad with the post the possibility immediately increases by a few thousands. This is your ‘what can be’. If you sponsor / boost a post or create an ad out of it, you can choose a specific target audience who may have not seen your content before.
5. Ask and it shall be answered
We aren’t exactly looking for Einsteins among our followers to be our customers. Only those with an interest in our products and who take pride in solving a reasonably simple challenge.
You can create a simple question structured around a giveaway to get the ball rolling. To win it, your follower will need to demonstrate reasonable engagement (comment, retweet, like, share etc.) and also answer a simple question about your brand. The answer, of course will be on your website and thus you get to drive a lot of relevant traffic. For example, you can ask something like “Where was [your brand’s] first warehouse?”
Another simple Q&A format for posts include those where you give 3 options for answers and people get to vote on their choice. A simple one like “How do you like your coffee” can have some great choices like “Piping hot with two sugars”, “With some added mocha”, “Cold with ice cream”.
You can even ask for feedback on your products. You can put up a few new designs you are planning to launch and ask a few direct questions like-
If you were to wear one of these, which would it be?
This works well in the travel sector where you can ask people to guess the location from the photograph or the ingredients in your signature creation. Remember that if you can hang a carrot at the end of the question, you are bound to get more answers.
6. Use Infographics
This is another one where marketers try to cut corners. It first takes an interesting topic, a good deal of research content and number crunching and even surveys. Then you need a good, no great designer and a concise way to convey it all. Yes, it does take a bit of effort which eventually pays off well when the infographic gets shared widely. The thing about infographics is that it is a little ‘selfless’ in many ways. You are most likely doing your readers a big favour by assimilating some big data and presenting it in an efficient fashion. Because of this, it works on a psychological level that when people share the infographic, they aren’t endorsing the brand but the content.
Take this infographic from Justwords. It is a super concise version of this blog post which has enough triggers to read through the blog.
7. Ask for reviews and testimonials
If you have a product showcase, an accompanying good testimonial can be of a great value. It not only tells you that you have happy customers but also what they are thinking. The thing with testimonials on a website is that most people think it to be “manufactured” unless you can actually see a real life video or if it is on a third party website.
Asking for product reviews on social gives you an opportunity to make an interesting one go viral. The key here is that you need to keep your eyes and ears open and respond to each one of them.
Make sure to note that you’ll be getting an ‘I hate you’ too occasionally. Today, the customer has an upper hand with brands and can easily malign its reputation with a bad review. For someone in the travel sector, a bad review can mean the difference between a good few thousands in business. It can also mean an opportunity to turn things around and show off your awesome customer service skills.
Take the example of the restaurant owner’s response to a scathing review which went viral.
8. Share a helpful resource
Good karma. It works. That’s all there is to it. Providing a helpful resource on your own site is a wonderful way to draw attention without even bringing your sales pitch into the picture. This can be a tutorial video, a white paper or simple hacks that can make life easy.
The resources, in turn, work their wonders and can capture leads for you. You can, for example, ask people to leave their email so that you can mail the resource to them and then slowly but steadily start with email marketing for your products. You can even go off domain when you provide hacks because it just means you are trying to help (them and yourself).
Take the set of lunch ideas from Raks Kitchen. It solves a common problem of coming up with interesting dish combinations for lunch every day while gently guiding the user to its own recipes.
9. YouTube video
If a picture speaks a thousand words, a video pretty much drives the point home. With an array of tools available today, it is simpler to make a video than you think. In fact a video can just be a great slide show of some interesting pictures you’ve gathered that can be easily be converted into a video with your choice of music using Google photos.
We have found that the three types of videos that work great for brands are -
Inspirational videos: There is something about a video on the human spirit rising and conquering challenges that works so well for everyone. It makes us want to be that person. For brands, it becomes a great point to resonate with your audience.
Spoof videos: Funny and sometimes doing a sarcastic pull, spoof videos not only allows you to cash in on an original idea that went viral but also showcase your creativity and ingenuity in brand connect with the use of parody. Refer to the original hit number ‘DJ wale babu’ video and its pull off on “Fashion wale babu” done by Roposo.
DIY videos: Back to earning some good karma, this can work perfectly in a video for product showcase. For example, if you are a beauty brand, you can showcase videos on how people can get different styles by DIY makeup videos.
Similarly, if you have a new line of scarfs launched in your women’s collection you can do a DIY video on 15 ways to wear a scarf and then, of course, giving a subtle brand push on where they can buy the scarfs from. Share pictures from a recent industry event: There are startups cropping up everywhere these days. Everyone makes huge promises but you never know what you can get in your bag of apples. Showcasing creds from an industry event validates your stand among your peers and gives your customers more confidence to associate with you.
It also means that you are on top of industry developments and are working to better your craft every day.
10. Do a series
This is another great way to keep your engagement going is to provide a little bit every day and keep them coming back for more. A lot of MLMs have literally cashed in on this technique. They offer a 7-day free email hack session where they send you one email a day with a ‘surefire’ technique. Brands, when doing this on social, can create a blog series to keep the interest levels up. It can be a collection of specific recipes like ‘no bake no cook’ recipes
This also works as a perfect upsell technique. If you provide a digital marketing course module online, you can give the first few modules for free and then get people to sign up for the pro-version to complete their course.
If you liked this blog and want to know more about content creation, you might find these articles interesting.
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