As a social media consultant, I’m always looking for new and exciting marketing research, especially about online psychology and how to help my clients get more reach from the time they invest in their social media marketing.
The book that most excited me in 2013 was Jonah Berger’s, Contagious: Why Things Catch On. After reading Tipping Point, marketing professor, Berger, wanted to delve deeper into the science of why people share content and why some things go viral over others.
As a blogger, I highly encourage you to apply the 6 principles from his book to your posts and social media activity. Before you hit publish, see if you can inject one of the principles into your blog post or blog title. Similarly, with your social media marketing- schedule your posts in Hootsuite, and then look back and see how you can improve their shareability by injecting one or more of the 6 STEPPS into the copy accompanying your post link.
Here’s an overview of how I recommend you can specifically apply the 6 STEPPS as a blogger. This is not an exhaustive list, rather ideas to get you thinking about you can apply contagious content principles to your blog.
You won’t necessarily apply all of the principles, but you will most certainly find a principle you can naturally leverage well.
1. Social Currency
There are three parts to social currency: how it will make people look when they share content, make people feel like insiders, and demonstrate a product’s inner remarkability.
How does it make your readers look when they share your posts? i.e. When readers like or share a Facebook post about a designer brand, it makes them look prestigious by association. When readers share posts with the latest information or development about a product, it makes them look smart and in the know.
When bloggers Instagram and hashtag themselves at exclusive events, it’s the social currency in action- they’re leveraging off the association of being at that event and the exclusivity of it. How, in turn, as a blogger, can you make your readers feel like insiders or exclusive so that it will make them talk about you to their friends?
A simple online example is adding a Twitter follower to a list that has a flattering name. The follower gets notification they have that been put on the list, which feels special and is more likely to engage, follow, and share your content. Another way is to create a blog newsletter sign up calls to action that offers the reader exclusive content.
What is the inner remarkability of your blog? Think about ways to showcase what’s different about your blog and what you could do to demonstrate that.
Last year I published my posts on my blog every Monday at midday, with the tagline, MWSG every Monday at Midday. See how that has a ring to it? People remember that because the top of the mind is the tip of the tongue. And my google analytics proved most of my readers came to my blog around Monday at midday. The same principle can be applied to your newsletters.
Blogs regularly run competitions on social media themed around a day such as, “Want this Win This Wednesdays.” To leverage this, even more, give these triggers hashtags, and watch them grow wings. Timed triggers give followers a reason to return to the Facebook page every Wednesday, and hashtags make the competitions searchable across social media.
Triggers can also be related to the association between things. i.e. when we see a pink ribbon, we think of support for breast cancer. Think of your blog’s niche, what visual, symbol or thing you can get people to know you for, and how you could use it to trigger people to think of your blog.
When people care, they share. So instead of just focusing directly on the topic of a sponsored post, think about what emotions you can illicit about the topic.
Not all brands can leverage emotion, but as bloggers, you’re in luck because I believe emotions are one of the most powerful ways to get content shared and one of the easiest ways to optimise your posts, and most bloggers have the freedom to use emotion.
There’s a wide gamut of high-arousal emotions from excitement, love to triumph over adversity and sadness you can tap into. Anger and controversy always get a lot of virality but consider using this approach as it can sometimes backfire, and you need to be prepared to manage the conversations they will elicit.
Have a look at the copy you’re adding to your social media posts when promoting them on social media. You’ll be amazed at how flat they may have been before you injected some emotion- especially when you’re solving your reader’s pain points. Delve into the emotion of the problem you’re solving and include that in your copy.
I started on my blog on a recent resume writing series; I could have just promoted it on social media with, “New resume writing series to help you write effective resumes.” Instead, I wrote things like, “Struggling to update your resume. Here’s an easy guide that will take the pain out of resume writing.” When I was promoting a competition for a holiday, I drilled down to all the reasons why people felt they needed/wanted a holiday and included that in my social media promotion. This has more traction than simply linking to a post, “Win a $1000 holiday voucher.”
Sure, when a woman purchases a pair of red-bottomed Louboutin heels, they advertise themselves as she lovingly struts them down city streets. But as a blogger, how do you leave a public residue that a reader has engaged with your blog?
A reader sharing your post on social media is obvious, but this is about how you get them to do that in the first place. Some great ways to leverage the public principle are creating blog badges others can add to their sidebars, hashtagged competitions, and social media initiatives around your blog, like Fat Mum Slim’s photo a day.
One of my personal favourites is branded images/quotes on social media. Why not create your own branded series of quotes on images or a manifesto around your blog, and then add your blog’s URL to the bottom left-hand corner of them. Quotes and images perform extremely well on social, and as people share them, your blog URL is being carried along for the ride.
5. Practical Value
We know the key to a successful blog is often to solve readers’ pain points or provide value to their lives. In particular, infographics are a great way to present such information to readers (and you can potentially leverage 3 of the 6 STEPPS principles at once).
Infographics go gangbusters on social media because readers can easily digest complex information, bringing clarity to what may have been too confusing or taken too much time to digest in text form.
Don’t forget to add your logo or URL to the bottom of your infographic to also leverage off the public principle at the same time. And suppose you’re able to create an infographic that covers breaking news or the latest developments in your industry/niche in a timely fashion. In that case, you can leverage social currency with readers sharing the information because they like looking like they know.
Stories are what bloggers create every day, especially when writing sponsored posts- often bloggers link their own story with a narrative arc to engage the reader with the product they are advertising for their sponsor, versus just writing about the product’s features.
As an aside, I also suggest looking at the story principle from another angle- hijacking current stories around your blog’s niche on social (especially ones that carry emotion or offer you the ability to provide information that solves problems).
Add the keywords of the types of stories you want to be following to a Twitter tab in Hootsuite, so you can see new stories as they arise and join the conversation, offer value and raise your blog’s profile to new audiences as you are retweeted, or become known as a thought leader/subject matter expert.