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Although the digitial landscape is changing all the time, nothing has been more disruptive in the last few years than the power of social media. As marketeers we have observed a fundamental shift in trends towards social platforms and understand now how important social traffic has become to getting the digital marketing message across. From a content strategy point of view, content creation for social media is a different animal to the traditional website, and it can be equally if not more challenging to keep visitors engaged when you are talking to them on these platforms.
Its no longer just good enough to create engaging content on your own website that drives traffic, you have to rock the Casbah on Facebook, Twitter et al to be considered a true guru™ of the online space. That means updates and statuses that generate retweets and likes and reshares.
Understanding the fundamentals of why a particular status update, photo upload or tweet got people to react is just as important as understanding the fundamentals of linkbait and content virility. As well as that – considering Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, unless you make waves with your content, your message isn’t going to be seen at all.
‘Social bait‘ is the NEW linkbait, as this type of content organically increases your network reach.
Obviously, the bigger your network, the more people you have to work with in the future for marketing drives. Primarily, this is the one thing you should be concentrating on, and should be at the heart of your social strategy. All too often businesses decide to self promote rather than focus on building social equity – and considering most people aren’t interested in being marketed to when they are busy chatting with friends, that’s a sure fire strategy to go down in flames – or at the very least smoulder quietly in the corner.
Yes, every marketing activity should focus on ROI, and be judged on how many sales it delivered, but you have to do it through the backdoor.
Drive engagement, and get people talking about your brand and everything else will follow organically.
One of the underlying problems I see when brands and small business take to their Facebook or Twitter page – is that they don’t know how to get their audience excited and fired up with the content they share, or worse still they just don’t know what to post – which leads to a stale and stagnating community that is as lifeless as the brand itself. This post contains everything you need to know about finding and creating social bait that will drive visitor engagement through the roof.
Don’t know what a Meme is? You can bet your life that your audience do, and a small segment of them will be involved in the creation and distribution of the same. Meme content is typically a large part of internet sub and counter culture, and extremely popular within Gen Y users of the web. If your brand attracts a youth audience, that will ‘get it’ – take a quick flick through this SlideShare, and then read this. Meme content is dead easy to create, as a number of websites exist for the sole purpose of making your own LOLcat, or riding off the back of existing hot memes.
Smart marketers have for some time been using the concept of Internet memes to further define their brands. Anyone remember this advert?
It was created by Joel Veitch, who at the time was commissioned due to his viral internet success with songs set to animated cats. The existing internet savvy audience recognised his distinctive style, and provided a link between the offline advert with the online meme. This tied the advertising very closely with the community of people online who were prepared to share the work for its creativity, and its underbelly of virality. Just recently, we’ve experienced Virgin doing something similar, with the success kid meme. To keep a brand rejuvenated, and youthful – I can only see more of this trend continuing, and if the Virgin ad is anything to go, is received warmly as a homage within the communities the meme originates. It’s well worth involving yourself within communities such as B3ta or Reddit to provide you with ideas on how you can capture social attention using Memes. This post on SEOMoz is a great read as well and contains an appropriate case study on why you shouldn’t ignore Memes as part of your overall micro content strategy.
Visually appealing images are much much easier to get a reaction with than text updates. However, understanding what constitutes a compelling image update ,and finding that content in the first place is much more important. One of my favourite methods of surfacing great image content is to let the collective hivemind find it for me. Yes. Crowdsourcing your content is one of the best ways to turn up the goods. Using the same sort of techniques I’ve previously blogged about to find great content, you can find communities and services which exist solely to find the best images on the web within your chosen website niche.
Lifehacker have a great post on finding popular images on Flickr, and considering you can search by creative commons and popular, offers a great way to turn up some gems. If you are looking for images which are popular amongst social sites such as Digg or Reddit, then Imgur.com is nothing short of awesome. Webpronews have recently written about the power of Imgur for sending traffic for e-commerce, and well – I’m going to big it up here as well. Not for traffic benefit, but for great image content discovery.
To provide a bit of background about Imgur, to those of you unfamiliar. Imgur was setup by the Reddit community, for the Reddit community. Here is the original thread, where owner, Alan Schaaf first promoted the service. It has become a crucial part of the glue that holds Reddit together, with the use of the service being seen as something of a secret handshake amongst users and has grown to become one of the largest image hosting services on the web. Typically, Imgur image posts typically receive the lions share of upvotes and karma. and best of all, considering that the site is now tightly wrapped in the dynamic of social voting – the content quality on the site is top notch.
There is also one feature that few people realise that makes it interesting to marketers – searching by subreddit. Lets say, for sake of interest you run a site about gardening. A pretty mundane topic wouldn’t you think? Well, this is the web, and social sites such as Reddit provide subreddits to satisfy that green leafed Zoda in you. See here.
You can then take this subreddit, and plumb it into Imgur.com – Bingo, you’ve found a selection of the great images posted to that subreddit, ordered by the most popular as voted by the community.
Pinterest offer standard search, domain search – and a popular images board that can contain some pretty inspiring stuff for resharing again, all niche specific. It is also fast becoming a great source of curated video content. You can use this in all sorts of awesome ways to turn up the perfect image or video, depending on what website you try it with.
Think about your competition – what images are hot on the hottest websites in your niche? Which ones are ALREADY generating interest with users on the web.. i.e. trending up and receiving likes and repins?
You can take this concept and apply it to almost any community on the web, and as such repost and populate your fanpages with great, appropriate content that is much more likely to generate buzz.
If images are a powerful force at making people, then video is the equivalent of Chewbacca fighting Natzis while riding a Giant Squirrel. It makes sense to keep on tap the video content which is rising in popular over time, and there are a whole host of services on the web that provide a great way of finding this. For starters, say hello to the YouTube Trends Dashboard – which provides insight into YouTube videos currently rising in popularity all over the web. The downfall of this current service is the inability to subscribe to newly rising videos which can be a pain. However, my own approach to this problem is simple but effective page monitoring services, which provide you with either email notifications or an RSS feed that you can subscribe to.
Doing a search on YouTube itself, and then changing the time parameter to daily, e.g. see this search for recent YouTube videos about Google – is yet another great way to keep up with content which has just been released onto the web within your topic of interest, that is often ripe for sharing due to its freshness.
VideoSift is another third party service which provides a pretty decent way to keep track of up and coming videos. It is a dedicated community of video lovers who vote purely on video content, and has numerous categories where content can potential fit. Mag.ma is another video aggregator in a similar vein worth exploring to find great video content – and finally if you have yourself an iPad, check out Squrl.
Within social sharing giants – the Reddit and Digg communities have both sub categories appropriate to Video. Here’s how to find popular trending content on Digg. And theres the subreddits /r/video and /r/videos – which by the way can be searched and filtered for example..Popular gardening videos anyone?
In short, there is no shortage of places where you can find epic content which will have your audience eating out of the palm of your hand, and engaging and resharing your social updates. The secret is to just use a bit of creativity with the readily available tools out there, and move beyond the basic Facebook strategy of posting just text based plain jane content.