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I want to build brand awareness using shareable content

Content was a marketing buzzword just a few years ago. Everyone’s priority was to get more content on their website, appease the Google gods and get those pages ranking more highly. As a result, the uninitiated created a deluge of badly written, poorly considered and link-strewn text, purely for the sake of it. What people failed to understand was the point of content – that it’s a subtle marketing tool, used at the very beginning of the consumer buying cycle as a way to position a company as an authority in their field, a trustworthy expert and – here’s the most important part – to raise brand awareness.

Time has passed and lessons have been learnt. Many companies have seen sense and sought expert advice from specialist digital/content marketing agencies. Now, website owners understand that content needs to be of interest to their target market, engaging and, essentially, shareable.

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An AOL/Nielsen study found that, in 2013 alone, some 27 million pieces of content were shared every single day. That’s a lot. The great thing about content – specifically branded content – is that it offers an easy way for new customers to find you. Therefore, it’s essential that everything you produce has the ‘Shareability Factor’.

Your potential reach is far, far further with fun video content than perhaps a well-researched but niche white paper. That’s not to say you should dumb-down your offering, but if you want to get your name in front of as many people as possible, raise your profile and become a recognisable brand, you need to produce a range of engaging content that people will want to share.

People want to share – but why?

Few of us like direct marketing; anything that’s ‘salesy’ and contrived will result in a bounce from your site or the email dragged immediately into the recycle bin. That said, people who use social media – estimated by eMarketer to reach 2.18 billion in 2015 – want to interact and share. There are many reasons why people share content, but at the most basic level it comes down to our innate need to gain the respect of others, solve problems and boost self-esteem.

A New York Times study cited by TripleSEO.com discovered that the most common reasons for sharing content were:

  • To bring valuable and entertaining content to one another
  • To raise awareness of a cause they care about
  • To develop and maintain relationships
  • For self-fulfilment
  • To enable others to better understand ‘who they are’

It’s crucial that these factors are taken into consideration when creating shareable content. If they are incorporated, your job is already half done. You’ve just got to produce the right stuff.

What are the best shareable content formats for increasing brand awareness?

Before we go into individual types, you need to know this: that it’s all about the visuals. Full stop. Content marketing guru, Jeff Bullas says that “one of the best ways to optimize content for sharing is to make it visual”. In his blog post, Bullas cites several incredible facts that demonstrate why you should at least pop a picture in with your article. They include:

  • Content with visuals gets 94% more total views
  • Visual content is now 40x more likely to be shared on social networks
  • People retain 80% of what they see, only 20% of what they read

Bullas carried out an experiment, comparing the performance of 30 tweets, half of which contained images. Unsurprisingly, those with images far exceeded the text versions; engagement was 581 per cent higher.

“one of the best ways to optimize content for sharing is to make it visual” – Jeff Bullas

This is why the techniques to follow are chiefly visual ones.

1) Infographics

Infographics
An example of infographic design by Pelling

These are a really effective, attractive way to communicate facts and figures without forcing people to read through pages of text (which they wouldn’t have done anyway – the average person only reads 20% of text on a standard webpage). Some critics feared infographics had had their day, but statistics prove otherwise – that they are still popular and infinitely shareable. In fact, a report published in The Drum claims the infographic is the fastest growing content marketing tactic; its use increasing from 38 per cent in 2013 to 51 per cent in 2014.

Benefits:

In addition to looking great (providing they’ve been well-designed), this medium can educate potential customers, demonstrate your knowledge and engage consumers – all increasing brand awareness.

How to create an infographic:

Subject matter is important, naturally. This can be quite some hurdle for those trying to promote a dry theme. However, with a little research and openness to doing something a bit different, you can create something interesting and ultimately shareable.  Inspire yourself and see what resonates with your audience by identifying trends on Twitter, keeping up with industry news or even considering annual events.  This is known, says Danny Ashton on SEOmoz, as ‘topic bridging’:

“By creating content with key hooks that people actually care about, and providing attention grabbing material for various audiences, you can make boring topics much more interesting.”

He cites a great example by EngineeringDegree.net, which was aimed at attracting more women to the profession. Rather than just presenting flat facts, they took the ingenious angle of ‘Girls are smarter than boys’. Ashton says this works because it’s simple, unexpected, concrete (i.e. can’t be misunderstood), credible, emotional and follows a clear story.

Quality of design is also important. The idea might be fabulous and the facts incredible, but if it’s displayed in a lacklustre way, who’s going to read it, let alone share it? There are software platforms available (usually with a subscription fee) through which individuals with no design background can create basic infographics. However (and this is the voice of experience speaking), they can be extremely fiddly, excessively frustrating to use and – now that infographics are much more popular – can look exceptionally amateur against the professionally-designed alternatives. If you’ve got in-house designers, then great! If not, then it’s certainly worth approaching an external designer if you want to encourage shares.

2) Social content

Social media content

Social media provides the fastest and easiest way to share content and subsequently have your content shared by others. It works, too; Hubspot reported that 92 per cent of marketers experienced greater business exposure as a result of their social efforts, while 80 per cent enjoyed increased traffic.

“47% of social networks users state that Facebook has had a bigger impact on their decision to buy than any other social network,”
content contributor, Josefina Casas

Benefits:

Innumerable. Social content is free and instant. It’s also possible to target specific markets, to ensure you get the right content in front of the right people. Hootsuite enables you to target by location and other variables in both Twitter and Facebook. You can find and develop relationships with customers, receive instant feedback, improve rankings and share your content far more easily.

How:

There are lots of rules about what constitutes a good social media content marketing strategy. One is to observe the 80-20 rule, whereby 20 per cent of your content should be about the brand and 80 per cent about topics that would interest your audience. Another is to start personalising your content, using social analysis tools like Hootsuite or Sprout to find segments.

We’ve mentioned above the importance of adding imagery to posts. Research cited by socialmediatoday.com claims that Twitter posts with images can garner 150 per cent more retweets than those comprising text alone, and that 87 per cent of Facebook interactions are on posts which incorporate a photo or image. You might also want to incorporate other media, such as video, webinars, memes and animations. Vine – the six-second microvideo service – is extremely popular, receiving 100 million views per month. 8,333 videos are shared by Vine users every minute, so it’s worth exploring this option.

Of course, not all of these are right for every brand, so choose wisely – can you imagine brands like the BBC or Times tweeting a meme? Not likely.
The ‘best times for sharing on social channels’ is 1pm for Twitter, 5pm for Facebook, 11pm for Pinterest and 7am via email,
according to  TripleSEO writer Chris Dyson
Don’t forget you can also share other people’s content, provided it’s relevant; it doesn’t always need to be content that you have produced. Also, use hashtags, as this allows users to follow a conversation easily.

Here’s a great stat that you should remember: 57 per cent of users said that they would trust the opinion of their contacts (i.e. the content they share) – so make sure your social content is worth shouting about.

3) Contribute content to external websites

Contribute content to external websites

Guest blogging, as it is known, is where an individual (rather than a brand) writes an article for a third party website or publication. This might be a newspaper, industry press or on a commentator’s blog. It creates a positive association between the publication and the individual, which can generate credibility for both the author and their own brand.  Many marketers view guest blogging as nothing more than a backlink-building exercise, but the right content should enable you to do that and raise your profile.

Benefits:

This credibility can help grow your following, increasing brand recognition and web traffic. It can position the writer as an expert in their field and might even lead to other opportunities, such as speaking engagements. Authors can also expect their own social following to grow as a result. In fact, 90 per cent of companies that blog in one shape or form have acquired at least one new customer per day.

In terms of SEO, guest blogging can be up to five times more valuable than creating new content on your own site, according to writer, Jeff Goins. It extends your reach and boosts your reputation.

Though you’ll need to ask whether you can submit a piece first, most publications are crying out for guest content, as it means there’s less for them to do to fill their pages and it satisfies Google’s insatiable appetite for fresh content, so you shouldn’t have too much difficulty getting featured.

How:

Firstly, you need to identify the right blog or publication for your post, narrowing down those that are focused on your industry and already boast a readership you’re trying to target, Kissmetrics says. It helps if the blog or publication also has a prominent social media presence, so that your contribution can be shared with their (hopefully) thousands of followers.

In terms of actual content, your approach should be completely different to that which you would take to create your own content. Steer clear of being too self-promotional. You need to think about who’s reading the blog or publication and what they care about. You need to see if there are any topics that haven’t been covered to date or problems that need to be solved. Then see what kinds of content gets a good response – if it’s short ‘top tens…’, then follow that format. Also, don’t forget those images.

Shorter-form content is preferred by 95 per cent of B2B buyers: “One of the best ways to provide shorter form content is by providing images, charts, infographics, video or other visual content along with your text. This also prevents a ‘text wall’ where readers are more likely to switch off,”
says Mark Preston

Another effective way to grab a reader’s attention and keep it is to write a heartfelt story, according to Forbes. Known as ‘brand storytelling’, this is using consists of an emotional subject, something that proves to the reader that you are good people. It also helps you’re your brand seem that more personal and human.

Summing up

Creating shareable content can have an incredible impact on raising your profile and raising brand recognition. Get that content right, use interesting visuals and post at the right times will increase the chances of your content being shared immeasurably. Just make sure that you include sharing buttons in an obvious place, so that your readers actually can retweet, reply, repost, etc. And don’t forget to share your own content!

If you’re looking for help, advice or expertise, then get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.

Infographic vector by Freepik

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