embracing viral content 1200x700 1 How Many Grumpy Cats Does It Take to Screw in a Light Bulb?

How Many Grumpy Cats Does It Take to Screw in a Light Bulb?

Not too long ago, I encouraged marketers to skip over what I called “second-tier content” that’s designed to attract views and shares, questioning if it really adds anything to your message.

There are many examples of second-tier content, of course, but the most prominent would be jokes, Internet memes, and related viral content that doesn’t really do much to enhance our business lives, even if it provides a welcome distraction for a few seconds. Of course, taking a position against viral content, was like wearing a raincoat to fend off a tsunami. I never stood a chance.

Because watching things like page views and share counts climb can be incredibly addictive, even for me, I’ve come to realize that some people are going to want to create second-tier lighter content after all. And so, I’ve set my mind to devising a handful of tips business marketers can use to take advantage of the content you do create.

Don’t get me wrong: I would still rather see you craft an insightful blog post or substantive download than invest your time in goats, cats, famous quotes and one-liners. But, if you are drawn to the dark side anyway, you may as well make the most of it:

1. Use viral pieces sparingly.

This actually doesn’t have to do with my version of lighter content. It has everything to do with your effectiveness as a marketer.

The occasional joke or image can be fun and help personalize your social experience, but too many of them can start to feel tiresome followers. Plus, the more lighter content you have, the easier it is for readers to miss your more substantial marketing content. Something too keep in mind is that those followers “Liking” or “Plussing” your content may start to change their behaviour in favour of less engagement, rather than more as the importance of your posts can potentially become diluted over time.

2. Know your audience.

Comedians don’t tell the same jokes to different audiences in different cities, and you shouldn’t either. Like any piece of marketing, your viral content should resonate with your followers.

That means you should have an idea of what they’ll find funny, amusing, or inspiring. It also means you should know what their tolerances for foul language and “grey” humour are going to be. It’s not worth it to cross these lines to try to get a cheap laugh, especially when you consider that the chances for successful marketing conversion based on viral content are pretty low.

3. Link back to your more substantiative content.

No matter how hard someone laughs at a piece of viral content you have produced, they aren’t all that likely to follow a link back to your website or blog post. However, if you don’t include any link at all, your chances of attracting them slip from slim to none.

In order to maximize the odds, you shouldn’t just include a link, but also strive to create viral content that’s at least somewhat relevant to your industry or audience. And don’t forget hashtags (great for finding similar content). In other words, you want to make things more memorable by having them associate the fun stuff, with your business or products. That might narrow your field of comedic source material, but holding on to that small bit of relevance is important.

4. An unexpected benefit.

In my experience, the unintentional (mostly) value of lighter content is that it attracts clicks, and those clicks attract search engines, which in turn attract searchers that could be your next website visitor. In other words, even though your grumpy cats aren’t likely to help you sell anything directly, they may indeed lead others to you via your posts’ popularity. To illustrate this point, I’ve inserted a screen shot from my Google Webmaster Tools account showing the impact my previous blog post has had on attracting links and boosting my site’s SEO power (please note, Social Media Today picked up the post and syndicated it).

gwt july 3 2014

Lighter content that applies to everyone and moves no one to action isn’t worth much to your company no matter how many views it attracts. But, if you’re going to generate it (original works are much better than sharing something that’s already been seen a zillion times), you can at least tilt the odds in your favour and make the most of it.

Be creative and work to turn these clicks and views into opportunities.

Bonus Tip: With each success, look for elements you can work into other parts of your content plan that help you attract new readers and followers. For more tips on content that attracts, check out my ebook (paperback as well) Findability on Amazon.


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