Solid content, packaged properly and promoted innovatively, is all it takes to create a blockbuster content marketing program.
You know that and I know that.
But what is that mysterious X-factor of a hugely viral piece of content that makes it ridiculously popular? Obviously, it’s a mix of many factors that depend on the business niche. There’s no one magic bullet.
Many marketers tend to think in a rut when it comes to making standout content. Either they think that a viral piece of content is simply a stroke of good luck and cannot be intentionally generated. Or they think that runaway awesome content is a simple mathematical formula – follow the steps, and voila! Viral content!
Both are true. But both are not completely true.
The complete story is more nuanced. And, believe it or not, it requires going back to the basics.
You’ll see what I mean as I discuss it in the four points below. To gain this information, I dove deep into some successful marketing campaigns and drew upon my personal experience and data.
Here are the four crucial factors you must pay attention to in order to make your content really stand out.
1. Establish a solid story angle
It all boils down to the story angle, believe me. Sample this: You’ve heard of GE, but do you know what kind of content promotion it’s up to?
One recent campaign was around The Liberty Drone Race – 2,400-plus drone pilots seeking to qualify for the U.S. National Drone Racing Championships. GE was a sponsor of the event.
Drone racing is a futuristic sport and, one day, owning a drone may be as common as owning a smartphone. Therefore, the potential for a brand to connect with something that can change our lifestyles is phenomenal.
GE invested in such a futuristic concept. I realize that you are not GE and I’m not asking you to sponsor an event.
All I’m asking you to do is get your creative juices flowing.
Let’s say, for example, you are an affiliate for a vegan food supplier.
How will you connect your products to something futuristic or something that can make people understand how the products or veganism will make a difference in their lives or to the planet?
Based on some quick research from Google, I produced this list of possible titles:
- Why Veganism is the Future (a futuristic concept)
- Regular Meat Consumption Can Kill You (fear marketing)
- Evidence that Veganism Saves The World (hot trend – environmental friendliness)
- Increase Your Sex Drive Now – Go Vegan! (general piece to work like a magnet, attracting even intergalactic eyeballs)
Based on this vegan research, I could have created three to six outstanding posts and spread them on Facebook and Twitter pages, groups, and relevant hashtags.
I also would have followed many vegan sites because millions of vegans are active on social media and the number is growing by the day.
The media format I would use in this vegan example would be videos and text – horrifying videos of animal culling, interviews with doctors who believe meat consumption causes cancer, facts that illustrate how meat consumption harms the environment, and data to support how a vegan diet improves longevity and sex drive, etc.
A solid story angle can turn your brand around and catapult it into the big league.
A solid story angle can turn your brand around and catapult it into the big league says @neilpatel
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If you create a fantastic story angle, the audience will make you the Pied Piper.
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2. Shoot amazing photographs that delight the audience
Let me go back to GE and talk next about content promotion tactics. Every post these guys upload has something amazing about it.
The written content is awesome, the video transports you into another land, and the photographs simply delight you.
Check a couple of photographs that GE posted to its Instagram account:
Yes, I know, you don’t work for GE and you probably don’t have its deep pockets. But don’t let that stop you from using your imagination during a photo shoot.
Every photo you upload must ring a bell (think angles, perspectives, concepts, situations, sets, colors, focus, lights, etc.).
When capturing images for your brand, think angles, perspectives, concepts, lights, and more says @neilpatel.
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If it does, your post will be shared, and you will be followed like crazy.
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3. Leverage your expertise and network
You are an expert in your niche. Why not share your knowledge with potential customers who may be craving it? Why not use your connections to provide valuable content to your users?
The idea is simple: Use your expertise and network as a content promotion framework.
Here’s an example: MAC Cosmetics shares information from Hollywood and celebrities on a unique and trendy pop culture blog. It also posts many how-to’s on the blog.
MAC Cosmetics spreads each post on social media channels through groups, hashtags, community pages, company pages, etc. Results? It’s generated, among other things, 15.5 million “likes” on Facebook.
Even if you were to share your expertise and connections (in a way that doesn’t negatively impact your business) and manage to bag 5% of the “likes” that MAC Cosmetics has gotten, it would make a huge difference in your potential audience reach.
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4. Ensure that your content is trendy
Are you posting content that’s been-there-done-that? Then content promotion will not help much.
You have to ensure that your content is creative, trendy, and edgy. Remember the story angle I talked about in the first tip?
Here’s how you can get in on the trending topics:
For the veganism example, I searched “vegan” using BuzzSumo which clued me to the most-shared content. BuzzSumo shared 10 results for free (viewing the rest is a pay service). I learned that 40% of the results were recipes. It was easy for me to infer that recipes (text, videos, pictures) of great vegan food could work in a big way.
You can apply the same formula in your niche to learn what is trending and then get creative to formulate a solid story angle before producing the content.
The types of content that typically work best are lists, how-to’s, guides, tips, insider news, and topics and headlines that rock and shock. However, you are the best judge of what works best in your niche.
You are aware of the regular content promotion tactics such as influencer outreach, helpful social media interaction, email marketing, promoting posts on specific social networks in your niche (if any exist), and others.
Now, you can realize that a bigger emphasis on creativity in the production and distribution of content really helps ensure success.
Once you develop a sensational story angle and give it the right form (text, videos, slides, podcast, e-book, app, white paper, infographic, or flow chart), success will follow.
The story angle is the soul, the quality of the content is the skeleton, and the actual promotion is the flesh. Think of content promotion in these terms.
The story angle is the soul, content quality is the skeleton, & promotion is the flesh says @neilpatel.
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What not-so-obvious methods have you tried to improve your content’s virality?
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute
Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).