In a world where individuals seek to shape their public image online, shareable content is a valuable currency, and brands can help people of all ages define and build who they are to the world.
People are looking to start or be part of conversations online as a form of modern social validation. People actively seek out entertaining and innovative content to help win digital kudos from their peers. While aligning oneself to a brand to make an image statement is nothing new, the challenge for brands in the social media age lies in the need to enable audiences to “re-align” with them every day - without sacrificing long-established values.
This daily social content will rarely be supported by the same budget as advertising, the traditional method of establishing brand values, despite often being seen by an equal number of people. In fact, when shared at scale between peers, the audience can even well outstretch that of traditional advertising. However, it’s vital the right strategic rigor sits behind social content, or this shareability can be lost. At Splendid Communications we do just this – create large volumes of effective, shareable content for our clients every day that is rooted in strategic principles.
Start with an insight
Even the most powerful brands are required to root themselves in their audience’s world in order to make a connection. Nowhere is this truer than in social media, where feedback and action is immediate, and new, original content is released every second. The strongest brands, be they Apple, Coca Cola or MacDonald’s, see their biggest social successes when they bring to life simple creative insights that show they understand the real world their audience lives in.
Provoke an emotion
As of April 2014, 300 hours of video footage was uploaded to YouTube every minute with only a handful achieving the dizzying heights of true “viral” fame. No brand has truly cracked the formula behind viral content because, in truth, there is no formula to crack. Attempting to repeat something that is successful too often actually makes it unlikely to remain as popular; people grow tired of copycat content. However, the one constant in all shareable content is the ability to provoke an emotion in the viewer. Fear, laughter, empathy, sympathy, shock or disbelief – if the audience experiences any of these then the chances of it succeeding are much higher.
Know the share triggers
A study by the New York Times Customer Insight Group revealed the five key reasons people share – to support a cause, to build and cement relationships, to feel connected to the world, to define themselves, and to entertain.
All of these relate to our connections with others, not connections with brands. It is therefore vital that branded content remains in the world of real people, enabling connections between them, rather than being too brand orientated.
Make everything shareable
The power of peer recommendations and advocacy through social media compared with more traditional marketing and advertising formats is widely discussed, but it’s still easy for brands to forget the amplification power of a social media community. Actively encouraging and facilitating sharing at every touch point, online or offline, helps build stronger connections between a brand and its audience (Source: Ad Week).
This requires a new way of looking at the shareability of your brand, assessing how everything from a customer service tweet, a complaint letter response, an Instagram photo to a piece of POS in a supermarket and your wider advertising can all provoke sharing among peers.
Adapt and improve
Facebook recently announced more changes to its newsfeed. The implication for brands is further reduced organic reach as the newsfeed favors content engaged by individuals, such as friends, family members or general connections. Brands need to face this challenge head on - not only by investing in creating genuinely shareable content, but also ensuring the right people see it. Inaccurate or broad-brush targeting simply means a smaller proportion of those who see it will actually want to share it.
At the heart of all of these five key principles listed above, though, is the need for brands to be flexible, responsive and brave. Ability to act on the principles of sharing at a fast pace is a major factor in enhancing shareability.
Recently, Splendid saw great success on client Greggs with a fast response, creating the spontaneous reaction to Rihanna’s dress for #MetGala2015. This was just a few weeks after the ‘sausageless-sausage roll’ which we planned as part of the annual April Fool’s day conversation. Both pieces of shareable content went “viral” organically through Twitter and lead to national news coverage.
It’s not just about creating the right content for the audience; it’s about sharing it at the right time and in the right place.