5 Secrets to Crafting Engaging Content

When curating content, it’s sometimes tempting to just get it out the door, but it’s important to remember the basics of a big, beautiful piece of share-worthy content.

got-retweeted_150squareWithout good content, even the best, most compelling story can get lost. With content marketing maturing and new players entering the space, how can brands achieve real scale?

Here’s a look at common elements seen in well-crafted content that often goes viral:

1. Give Consumers an Experience

People share positive or interesting experiences they’ve had – online and offline. Before they share it online, however, they evaluate its social currency. The more brands can give a consumer a positive experience, the more likely they’ll be to pass it on.


Take Snapple, the soft drink company, they rolled out a marketing campaign that included facts under the bottle caps. The facts were so interesting that they had to share with friends.

Check out General Electric – top executives regularly post content to communicate with their audience on social media. This gives the customers someone to identify with behind the brand.


2. Activate Triggers

You would be surprised to see how often brands are being talked about. Johan Berger, Wharton professor, partnered with Katherine Milkman in a joint paper to present their research on the characteristics of what makes content go viral.

Many viral content pieces rely on triggers. For example, ever wonder why people share so many food photos? Or cat pictures? These are typical daily conversations of any broad target audience. By linking your product or business idea to these triggers that already exist in your targets environment, you’re creating an easy entryway to engage in conversation.

Think about Budweiser’s “Waaassssuuuup?!” commercials. They used a common trigger used in everyday greetings. Or check out Bud Light’s fan photos. If you have a cat meme or puppy picture, you can pretty much guarantee high levels of engagement.


3. Show Social Proof

We look to others before making our decisions about ideas to follow or products to purchase. It’s important to gain high visibility of your products and services to help sell its self. Try using design elements to facilitate more product adoption.

Take the Apple logo. It used to face the user when the laptop was closed to help the user figure out which way to open it. Soon Steve Jobs discovered this left the logo upside-down for non-Mac users.

Let’s take a look at Starbucks. During the push of a semi-new product, the Starbucks Refresher, Starbucks posted a Facebook offer on June 6, 2013 “Enjoy a Grande Iced Coffee, Iced Tea, or Starbucks Refresher Beverage for $1 on June 7.” This offer was shared by over 13,000 people.

Photo credit: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/

4. Evoke a Strong Emotional Reaction

When creating content, think about what emotion you want to target – happiness, inspiration, fear? Sparking a strong emotional response from your audience really gives you the opportunity to connect with them.

People will stop what they’re doing because they feel compelled to share this content with their friends or entire network.

So what emotions should you aim for? Positive emotions receive more viral than negative. Surprising right? After reading the news, you’d think otherwise.

Top 5 emotions to target according to Moz:

  • Amusement
  • Interest
  • Surprise
  • Happiness
  • Delight

Take Oreo’s controversial, yet one of the most successful posts ever done by this brand. It’s risky to get into political issues, but Oreo has a good understanding of its fan base and it paid off.


5. Add Value Through Storytelling

Drive shares by creating content that targets a social motivation for your information-savvy consumers. You’re a storyteller. Your story should feed your audience cravings to be educated, inspired, or entertained. Good content facilitates connection. Too much fluff could cause you to lose credibility.

Think practical and useful. Take a look at these:

Coke’s Facebook post is simple, yet informative.


National Geographic’s Google+ post shared a fact and gave credit to a well-known photographer.


With consumers hitting information overload, brands will seek out new ways to drive consumers to share their content. Managing interactions and guiding brand advocates to communicate will be a key benefit when aligning buying behaviour  By tapping into content marketing that focuses on these elements listed by Berger, we can create a new understanding of consumers.

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