Marketers have long accepted the fact that successful content is that which is helpful to the business’s audience and not overt brand advertising. We know that if the content we produce is to be consumed and shared, it must entertain and inform our audience, instead of simply selling to them. As more and more businesses produce such useful content, however, making your content more relevant has become a new challenge.
Drew Bernard, the founder of Facebook app development firm Action Sprout, recently shared his “lessons learned” on content creation and how to make it more appealing (and thus viral) for advocate marketing. He says not only must content be relevant and informative to its audience, it must be “something that fans want to be personally connected with as it becomes part of their online personal narrative.”
Below are the five content strategies for advocate marketing he recommends to do just that.
1. Bring a smile
While we all love a post that makes us smile, marketers often feel pressure to stay on message. This often translates into being serious because organizations fear that making light of something could cheapen their brand. If you’re creating content for an organization with a serious mission, look for tasteful ways to inject humor into your Facebook posting regimen and you will find that overall reach and engagement will go up.
2. Be Inspiring
Look for content that will inspire hope or other positive emotions. Inspiring content consistently does well because Facebook users want inspiring content to be part of their personal narrative. One way to inspire people is to celebrate success.
The Sierra Club’s “Thank the California Fish and Game Commission Protecting the Gray Wolves” posts celebrate success and inspire hope while providing fans a way to inspire their own friends. As this post performed well organically, Sierra Club chose to promote it as well, which resulted in a very high return on investment: more than 1600 people signed up to receive email communication from Sierra Club from this post.
3. Help your fans become a trusted source of information
It’s long been known that one of the best ways to build a large and loyal network on Facebook is to be the trusted source of information on a topic which people care about. The real magic here is about fans wanting to be the trusted source of information to their friends, which leads them to share your content with their network. Infographics with interesting facts and figures are a good example of posts that typically outperform average content as they help fans show their friends they are a trusted source of information.
4. Empower people
Roughly 10% of people who engage with a given Facebook post that includes meaningful content are willing to do something beyond like, share or comment. Because fans almost certainly view your organization as working to bring about change they want to see in the world, they are willing to take an action that results in greater viral sharing and, in the process, sign up for email communication.
Posts that empower people to make a difference help them show others who they really are. Simultaneously, these posts work to deepen relationships as people sign up for future direct communication.
5. Run special offers that align with your mission
Contests and draws are proven strategies to boost engagement. To avoid engaging with people more interested in the value of the offer than your organization’s mission, I recommend offering the potential to win by taking an action (whether it’s simply clicking like or signing a petition) to tap into the power of offering something of small monetary value (e.g. your organization’s t-shirt) while still keeping it relevant. This keeps both engagement and quality high. The most effective of these campaigns make your fans feel like they are doing their friends a favor by inviting them to participate, too.
The practice of advocate marketing must become a more subtle science. Consumers have become less likely to share brand or product information – however useful it is or however much they love the product – if it does not align with their personal brand narrative. That’s the common thread in this list: Content marketing that goes viral isn’t just about good content but the audience’s perception of how sharing that content will influence their personal brand among THEIR audience.
We’ve all become conscious of the fact that our social media posts form the basis for the world’s perception about us as individuals – professionally or personally. Your consumers will share more of your content if it elicits a more positive impression of them or if it more closely aligns with their personal values.