Content is the foundation of smart online marketing, but social media sharing of that content is the catalyst to success. It’s the publicity engine that helps you build your audience and attract the links that get you ranked well in search engines.
So, how do you make that happen?
Ever heard of Upworthy? It’s a site dedicated to resharing stories with social impact (think Buzzfeed, except way less shallow). And, although it’s barely a year old, it’s being called the fastest growing media site of all time — racking up 10.4 million unique visitors a month at the time of this writing.
What’s their secret?
Well, it boils down to three time-tested concepts that have always worked when it comes to creating something remarkable. And, remarkable content is exactly what gets shared on social networks.
These three things are what have worked for Upworthy — and they’ll work for you, as well.
1. Compelling Headlines
Upworthy writers create twenty-five different headlines for each piece of curated content they find. Why? Because the headline makes all the difference when it comes to whether content is shared or ignored.
To the extent that you’re able to get people to see your headline, odds are that most people won’t bother to click through for the full story — that is, unless you maximize the desire of that person to spend time with you.
“If you write the perfect thing and no one sees it, it really doesn’t matter. It’s like giving a speech to an empty room,” says Eli Pariser, co-founder of Upworthy.
Remember though, your headline is a promise. If you content doesn’t deliver on that promise, you lose much more than if you were simply ignored.
2. Emotional Impact
Upworthy editorial director Sara Critchfield goes to great lengths to say that emotion is more important than logic when it comes to content that gets shared. And, to the tech culture of the relatively young Internet world, I guess that’s a necessary reminder.
Engineers tend to believe that people think like they do, and that certainly pervades the Silicon Valley culture. But marketers, filmmakers, novelists, advertisers, and human beings in general realize that those Spock-like engineers are often completely out of touch with the more Captain Kirk-like nature of human emotion.
Consider this: your content is always sparking some sort of emotion. Unfortunately, that emotion might be boredom, apathy, or indifference — feelings which definitely do not encourage social sharing.
You need to create content that makes people care…which brings us to the all-important key number three.
3. Strong Positioning
Upworthy isn’t shy about what it stands for. It’s an unabashedly liberal enterprise. Eli Pariser also founded MoveOn, the progressive public policy advocacy group and political action committee.
From a marketing perspective, positioning is all about your place in the prospect’s mind. From the old school unique selling proposition to Seth Godin’s purple cow concept, positioning is all about how you differentiate your brand from the pack and stand out in the eyes of the prospective customer or client.
At this point, in a world of undifferentiated offerings, positioning has become about what you stand for and believe in. To make some people love your brand, you’ll naturally make others indifferent or even hostile to you. And that’s okay.
Abercrombie & Fitch succeeds by alienating entire segments of the population (even if the rest of us find it reprehensible). So does Fox News. And so does Upworthy — which is why its growth has been so meteoric from social sharing.
Your positioning informs your headlines. It also fuels the emotional aspect of your content. In other words, your positioning is the glue that holds a content marketing strategy together — and provides the spark to social sharing by the right people.
What Do You Stand For?
Your positioning doesn’t have to be political. It doesn’t even have to be overtly controversial. Affirmatively standing for anything will bring both fans and foes — it’s just the nature of an extremely factional society that’s only become more so, thanks to the Internet.
It comes down to answering three basic questions:
- What does your company truly stand for?
- Are you willing to state what you stand for without reservation?
- Are you ready to ignore the pushback from people who don’t matter?
After answering these three questions, you’ll have an important start to a content marketing strategy that works — one that attracts the type of prospective customer or client you’re looking for and which, in turn, leads to even higher rates of word-of-mouth social sharing.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.