Content marketing is being embraced at a rapidly expanding rate—including by some of the greatest marketing organizations in the world, such as P&G, Microsoft, Nike and Samsung.
According to Newscred, nine out of ten organizations market with content. This isn't all that surprising when you consider the fact that over 27 million pieces of content are being shared on the Internet and mobile devices every day. Yet many marketers continue to struggle with creating content that resonates with their audiences. And as a result, these marketers often feel that their content doesn't work.
Why does some content engage and generate shares, tweets and likes, while other content goes unnoticed? How can you make viral branded content? The answer is simply to create great content that appeals to a large audience, and to share it in a non-intrusive way, such as through native advertising. Here is an easy five-step recipe for creating amazing content that will drive more traffic to your website.
1. Capture attention with catchy titles and visuals
When it comes to content, the old saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” simply doesn't apply. In order to make a viewer click-through to your content, you have to attract their attention first. The best way to do this is to use catchy visuals and titles.
There's actually a scientific reason for this. A recent report stated that 90 percent of the information that comes through the brain is visual. Furthermore, studies have shown that content with visuals performs much better than plain text. Tweets with images receive 18 percent more clicks, 89 percent more favourites and 150 percent more retweets according to Buffer Social.
According to Static Brain, the average human attention span is only eight seconds. We love information that is quick and easy to digest. It's for this reason that short, catchy titles are the best way to grab your readers' attention.
There are some rules, however. The visuals you employ can't be generic stock photos. They have to reflect your topic and really demand attention. A great example of a brand that employs attractive visuals that capture and reflect the content is GNC. The image below was taken from their Instagram account and is immediately eye-catching with its vibrant colours and beautiful scenery. Also to note is their tasteful use of hashtags. Go through GNC's photos and you’ll notice relevant tags everywhere.
2. Build a strong emotional connection
It's seriously important that your content create an emotional connection with your audience. Studies have shown that campaigns with emotional content perform 50 percent better than campaigns with purely educational content. Your goals should be to touch your readers in a way that makes them want to share the content you produce, thus making it go viral. “There is an emotional imprinting, if you will, on the brand...People are attracted to brands we like just as we’re drawn to people we like,” says Peter Murray, a New York-based consultant and PhD in consumer psychology. According to CMI, the most powerful emotions that cause a huge resonance with the audience are: curiosity, amazement, interest, astonishment and uncertainty.
One of the best examples of emotional marketing going viral is "The Story of Sarah & Juan" by Wrigley's Extra gum, which tells the tale of two high school sweethearts. The video was quickly picked up by the likes of BuzzFeed and Upworthy and has had over 10 million views in under a month.
3. Keep up with trending topics
Have you ever noticed how as soon as something gains traction or popularity on social media, it starts popping up everywhere? A trending topic can be anything from an image or GIF to a prevailing political issue. Smart marketers can leverage these trends to create viral branded content.
A great example of this is "the dress," which went viral last spring and split the Internet into two camps: gold and white vs. black and blue. How did other content creators benefit from the trend? YouTube channels like AsapScience were quick to upload videos that explained the visual phenomenon. The channel gained a large number of subscribers simply by piggy-backing on the viral trend.
4. Create content you would want to read
If you want to create content that is shared by hundreds, even thousands of people, you have to ask yourself: "Would I share this content?" and "Would most of my friends share this content?" If the answer to both questions is yes, then there's a good chance your content will be widely read—as long as it's distributed properly. If the answer is no, then your next question should be: "What will appeal to most people?"
Sites like Upworthy have really gotten the hang of creating, curating and distributing viral branded content. In November 2013, under two years after it was founded, the site hit a high of almost 18 million unique visitors for the month. How exactly? By sharing content that people want to consume.
A great example of this is their original list-style article about five chain restaurants you should never eat at. People relate to the article because fast-food is a big deal in North America and the title hooks readers with an interesting take on popular chain restaurants.
5. Fuel the fire of content virality with native advertising
We've established so far that it's important to use catchy titles and visuals, and that the goal of your content should be to build an emotional connection with your audience. But don't forget to think about how you plan to distribute that content. Leveraging the right channels to reach the right audience is extremely important in reaching as wide as audience as possible.
When new content hits the web, often times there is only a limited time frame within which that content can go viral. In order to reach the critical mass for viral sharing, you must reach a large number of users within a certain geographic area or demographic group. While this may be tough to do with organic reach, paid channels provide the opportunity to target an audience who will truly appreciate your content. This capability is particularly prevalent with programmatic native advertising, as it favors reaching a very specific audience, using a data-driven, real-time bidding (RTB) approach.
Native advertising is emerging as the most effective paid channel. The non-disruptive nature of content delivery through native advertising can generate an 82 percent increase in brand lift. What this means is users will actually want to click-through to your content. According to Inc., 70 percent of individuals prefer to discover brands through native content rather than through traditional advertising.
So start getting those creative juices flowing, produce some awesome viral branded content and break the Internet with it using your secret weapon for content distribution: native advertising.