Don’t just write. Ignite.

English: Buttons with just three holes. Italia...

You work like a crazy person, obsessing about the appropriate, attractive graphic, the relevance and utility, even entertainment value, of the content, the “grab” of the headline, inclusion of targeted hashtags….everything. Now, ready to post….how do you light a fire underneath it?

You’ve heard a lot from me about Content Shock…now I’m going to move onto what Mark Schaefer (whom I quote in the title of this post…) calls Content Ignition. Over the next few posts you’re going to find out about some very specific actions you can take. Not every one is right for each post, but there are enough options to cover most every scenario you run into. Overall, you need to do whatever you can to make it easy for others to share what you publish.

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How To Be More Contagious

Consuming and sharing content normally creates an emotional benefit, not a financial one. Hence the obstacle: companies try to use content to create financial benefits for themselves instead of emotional benefits for their readers. This completely overturns the traditional business view of what content should accomplish.

Studies show we’re hard-wired to talk about ourselves. Around 50% of what people talk about on social is ‘me‘ focused, and it’s not just vanity (although there are an ENORMOUS number of selfies and/or pictures of the food in front of you out there, but I digress…). Harvard neuroscientists Jason Mitchell and Diana Tamir discovered that disclosing information about ourselves is intrinsically rewarding. They found that sharing personal opinions activates the same brain circuits that respond to rewards like food and money. So how do you climb aboard those conversations?

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Fascinating Sharing Secrets You Need to Know

Although the actual act of sharing online is simple, the affect on your relationship-building efforts is huge. The act of sharing content actually helps others process your information better. Because of the implied commitment, those who share pay closer attention to what they are sharing. Another New York Times study on sharing found that:

  • 73% of participants say they process information “more deeply, thoroughly, and thoughtfully” when they share it.
  • 85% say reading content that others share helps them understand and process information and events.
  • 49% say sharing allows them to inform others of products they care about, potentially changing opinions or encouraging action.
So by creating ideal conditions for content-sharing, you build power for your brand AND create new value by helping your audience understand you and become authentic evangelists for your products and ideas.  Obviously, getting to this cannot be reduced to SEO techniques or “buy-ten-thousand-Tweets” schemes to drive traffic. Mark Schaefer says, “Shareability requires connection of some kind; your content must fill a need or perhaps even reflect on a trusted relationship.

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Why Does No One Share Your Sensational Content?

So, let me share an uncomfortable truth: generally, no one wants to share your content.

Research by Cornell University, HP Labs and EPFL shows that people typically don’t share content they read on the web, even “great” content. The vast majority are passive information consumers. For example, the average Twitter user retweets only 1 in 318 content links they receive. Facebook reports that just 0.5% of those who see a Facebook post share it.

Does this mean all your hard work to create terrific content is wasted? No…but it does suggest that actively finding and nurturing that minuscule number of the most active users is critical to spreading your information online. Popularity, the nature of the content, and audience size alone don’t predict that this passivity will be overcome and they will “click to share.” You must employ strategies to overcome this passivity and systematically find those predisposed to love and share the content you create.

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Content Shock: Liking, Sharing and Committing

It’s probably pretty clear by now that the starting line for this race is great content. Just like the expectations around customer service I mentioned in an earlier post, this no longer a differentiator, it is a given. So once you’ve created that stellar content, what happens? In a lot of companies, it gets slapped onto the web site, the Facebook Page or the YouTube channel and that’s about it.

Needless to say, that doesn’t work so well.

I’m going to cover several factors that will help your work rise up, get discovered and shared. While there’s no simple strategy that works for every single kind of business and the overall mix you use to execute your plan is up to you, each of these factors should be considered for your situation.  Then pick out a couple that fit for you and you will be ahead of the competition.

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Content Shock and the Search for Impact

So now you’ve done a bit of research and found that not only is your market saturated with content, but you’re up against some “heavy hitters”. Competition seems hopeless and you don’t see how you can make any real headway. Well, there are three tactics you can use that can provide you some leverage and opportunity. Continue reading

Content Shock, Saturation and Niche Research

Content Saturation

Unless you have a existing niche service or product, you’re heading face-first into a highly competitive environment in this content arms race….and the status quo will not work. How do you differentiate yourself and your business? How do you finish the sentence, “Only we….”? For example, I regularly hear any number of small business owners tout their customer service, but, frankly, everyone does that. Unless you deliver your customers’ products to their homes via a Rolls Royce driven by a billionaire, hand carried by an A-list Hollywood star in a diamond-crusted case and installed by a sparkling robot, with an instant, full money, no questions asked returns policy after a lifetime of use, excellent customer service is what everyone expects. It’s not a differentiator, it’s a given.
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Content Shock and Cutting Through The Noise

As if things aren’t hard enough for entrepreneurs and small business folks, the challenges of digital presence and discoverability just keep mutating. I just started reading Mark Schaefer’s new book, “The Content Code” in which he describes this evolution of digital marketing so far.

He outlines three phases that, to date, bring us here. The first was a focus on Presence. You may remember this…in the mid-1990s when AOL, Prodigy and others staked their claims on what was then the Internet? As a business, if you could just get out there and establish a web site, you won. You were So Far Ahead of the curve…
Then, however, you needed to be found. The early search engines like Alta Vista, Yahoo and eventually Google enabled this. So by the later 1990s the emphasis turned to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Discovery was the focus for the second digital revolution. Get found and you won.

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