October 27, 2013

Rachel Strella

“Going Viral” Doesn’t Make My Top 3 Content Marketing Tactics

content marketing rules

Photo credit: Jonathan Kim, Flickr

I was recently asked to write a guest blog about content marketing with an emphasis on making content ‘go viral.’  However, I ended up declining simply because “going viral” isn’t a goal I commonly have, especially for my small business clients. Content that “goes viral” may be good for a quick boost, but this content often lacks staying power, and merely equates to empty calories when it comes to small business branding. To me, social media is a relationship-building tool, and strong relationships take time. Here are the three most effective ways to help build those relationships: 

Offer Value and Expertise.  I'm a big believer that offering value to your audience is the most effective tactic for content marketing. Social media helps to build the know/like/trust factor.  Most people want to get to know a person who offers helpful information and doesn’t ask anything in return.  Valuable content establishes credibility which eventually leads to trust. Consider your personal expertise and offer valuable content to help enrich the lives of your audience.

Actionable questions to consider: What value can I provide to my audience with the knowledge I have? How can I educate my audience so that they better understand the value of what I offer? Are there key topics of my business that are seasonal and should be addressed at specific times throughout the year?

Frame Content Based on Need. I once read that marketing is 80 percent psychology and 20 percent strategy.  Content marketing is no exception. Fill a need both on the surface in the form of FAQ but also consider how to tap into the emotional layers of your audience’s psyche.

The best way to achieve this goal is to know and observe your audience. Find out what they want to know. Take a close look at what generates a lot of response and frame your content based on these outcomes.

Actionable questions to consider: What are my customers and clients constantly asking me about, and how can I answer those questions in a blog post? Are there ways I can streamline their time – and even mine – with a helpful blog post?

Inspire. My favorite inspirational blogger is Mark Schaefer – even though I’m sure he doesn’t consider himself to be an ‘inspirational blogger.’  Mark’s blog inspires me because he writes content based on his experiences and offers thought-provoking analysis as he navigates his way towards a solution. After reading his blog, I feel empowered – ready to conquer the marketing world with my newfound knowledge.  Your content can do this, too! Offer some actionable tips that your audience can put into place today. These small sound bites make it manageable to implement and inspire the readership to take action.  Also consider sharing a personal story of strife and how your lesson can help others in the business world.

Actionable questions to consider:  What is interesting about my business? What do people always ask me about when they find out what I do for a living? What about my business is generating buzz?

The best content strategy is a combination of all three of these, but I think if you start out aiming for one, you’re on the right track. In order to build the relationship, remember to post content consistently, as well. As a bonus, also try to keep it short, since our attention spans are thinning.  But, most importantly, play to your strengths with the knowledge you have to post relevant, useful information for your audience.

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6 comments on ““Going Viral” Doesn’t Make My Top 3 Content Marketing Tactics”

  1. This post today was so on point. I had to tweet this! 80% psychology and 20% strategy. I think where companies really miss the boat is when all they focus on are stats and gimmicks to get the public to like them. People like who they know though. Great piece, as always!


  2. Hi Rachel, nice post.

    I agree that blogging and social media is all about building relationships.

    Who would want to take on a job with their client expecting the content to go viral anyway? I'm sure, in most cases, going viral has been more of an accident than strategy.

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for stopping by! Nice to see I have a new reader!

      I think the idea that we can 'reach the masses' using social media has some people thinking they can take short-cuts. Many forget that 15 minutes of fame is short-lived.


  3. Rachel, I'm so glad someone else shares my views on the whole "viral" thing. While it's great to suddenly have one million people (or more) on my site, checking out my blog or listening to my radio show, often times what's viral today is forgotten tomorrow. At best, what's viral today becomes the "Hey remember the 'Ain't got time for that guy?'" I want to continue building my platform and growing, connecting with people and strengthening connections with communities and the arts. Like you, going viral doesn't fit on my list of goals, practices, or strategies for 2014 marketing and beyond. I appreciate your insight and candor about this. And I also appreciate the subtle dietary metaphors. Thanks.

    1. I had to re-read the blog as I wasn't sure what you meant by dietary metaphors. Then it hit me - 'empty calories.' Thanks for catching that and giving me a reason to review the blog again.

      There's credit due to virality, but it's often short-lived. To master content marketing in 2014 and beyond, relationships will be a critical.

      Thanks for reading. And Happy New Year!

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