IDC predicts that 1.8 zettabytes of information will be created on the Internet in 2011. You’d need 56.25 billion 32GB iPads to house this much data, which if stacked one on top of the other would reach the moon and make it around a third of the way back. In short, it’s harder than ever for brands to be heard and it’s going to become more difficult as social networks and search engines evolve from hosts into filters, both algorithmic and manual.
So, what can you do to make your content stick?
Fives, tens and ‘how tos’
Readers love content when it’s neat, tidy and genuinely helpful. Providing advice and guidance step-by-step or grouping it in sets of five or ten, ensures the information is easily digestible and therefore more likely to be shared. It also makes the content more search-friendly and clickable. Headlines that start with ‘Ten ways to…’, for example,
can attract more attention than obscure titles that don’t make it clear what the reader will learn.
Short and sweet
People are time poor so keep content as short as possible. The less you ask of them, the more likely they are to use, consume and share your content. Try to keep Facebook posts below 300 characters, blog posts under 400 words and videos between 1-2 minutes.
Less is more
Whether the contact point is on email, Facebook or Twitter, the main reasons people leave a brand’s community are that content is coming too frequently or is too repetitive, according to Exact Target research. Make sure material is varied in tone, style and subject, while always remaining strategic and with purpose.
Don’t ask, don’t get
Dan Zarrella from HubSpot analyzed some 10,000 tweets and found that those containing ‘Please RT’ or ‘Please ReTweet’ were 39% and 51% more likely to be passed on respectively. That said, it’s important not to alienate your community by asking too much from them, too often. Pick your moments.
Questions and calls to action
Ask the community for its opinions but always be prepared to have a conversation. Interactions, shares and clicks are inextricably linked – if more people comment, more people will share and action the content. Just be clear on what you’re asking people to do, whether that be download, share, play, buy, or read.
Use the psychology of the unexpected
Use the basic principles of news to ensure your content passes the ‘so what?’ test. ‘Dog bites man’ is not news. ‘Man bites dog’ is. Look for counter-trends, surprising data and unique insight. Nearly all major news stories are built around conflict, danger, hardship, scandal, celebrity or novelty. Remembering that these are the basic concepts that stimulate human interest will help your content stick.
“How To Create Sticky Content” is just one technique we cover in our latest book. Visit our PR resources page to request the full ebook version or receive a printed copy of The Changing Face of Communications: 12 Digital Techniques for Modern PR. And come back and tell us what you think.