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How to Create Sticky Social Media Content

Do you ever feel as if your tried-and-true marketing efforts are just not working as well as they used to anymore? Well, you may not be imagining things. Today’s social customer decides within 8 seconds whether or not they want to continue engaging with your content.

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This short attention span, coupled with the fact that today’s consumer is constantly bombarded by competing marketing messages and content from a multitude of channels and sources, drives the need for “sticky content.”

What Is Sticky Content?

Sticky content is content that is memorable and shareable, as opposed to disposable. Your audience finds value in what you have to say, which increases the length of time they spend engaging and encourages them to share with their friends. It also gives people a compelling reason to come back for more, perhaps without even being prompted. Sticky content can take on a variety of formats, including a catchy slogan, a clever ad, a viral video, or a witty meme. 

Why Is Sticky Content Valuable?

Consider that there are 27 million content shares every day, and in 2013, content marketing was a $44 billion industry in the US alone. The marketing space is polluted with noise, and prospects and customers have become overwhelmed by the vast amounts of marketing content. But those marketers that can break through the clutter can make a lasting impression on consumers, driving word-of-mouth marketing and influencing up to 50% of buying decisions. 

How to Create Sticky Content

Sticky ideas aren’t spread by technology –- they are spread by people using technology. But if you want to generate buzz, you must give people something to talk about, i.e. provoke a conversation. Follow these steps to create your own sticky social media content and break through the marketing noise barrier.

1) Keep It Simple

As Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” The key is to say something that is uncomplicated and direct, yet profound: Skip the clutter and lose the jargon. Make your sticky content clear, concise, and easy to understand. The reason that memes are successful, for example, is that they are short, to the point, and immediately graspable. 

2) Do the Unexpected

For an idea to endure, you must generate interest and curiosity. An easy way to achieve this? Do something unexpected or offer a fresh perspective. A great example is Erik Qualman’s annual “Social Media Revolution” video. Instead of throwing out numbers about the size of various social media sites, he incorporates social platform users and countries together into a single list (yes, if Facebook were a country, it would indeed be the largest in the world). Now the stat is memorable, and readers have context.

3) React in Real-Time

With “newsjacking,” companies can capitalize on the popularity of news stories, typically pop culture events, by putting a humorous spin on them that ties in with their brand. Remember #BlackoutBowl, when the New Orleans Superdome lost power during the Super Bowl? Within minutes, several brands had posted clever tweets that got shared thousands of times within fifteen minutes, such as Oreo’s now-famous “You can still dunk in the dark”.

B2B companies can also leverage this strategy. For example, consider new industry regulations and what they mean for you and/or your customers. Just remember to be timely, relevant, non-offensive, and unexpected.

4) Tell a Story

Humans are wired to think in stories. Use just enough detail with concrete language and actionable terminology to make your story realistic and relatable. This strategy ensures that your idea conveys the same meaning to everyone and helps each person build a visual. This is the secret behind urban legends and is exactly why they are so enduring.

5) Amp the Emotion

Play to your audience’s emotions. Know what your target market cares about and tailor the message and content appropriately. (BTW, this is why kittens, puppies, and babies are always going to win!). The ability to strike an emotional chord with your audience is what makes the content relatable. The most successful emotional triggers are humor, shock value, controversy, and fear: these are the elements that make people want to share your content.

6) Promote Engagement

Get your social media audience involved with your brand. Engage them in a conversation by asking for their input on topics or opening up to questions. Co-created content will have a much greater impact than most anything you create on your own. Also consider interactive content, such as quizzes, mobile apps, contests, and games. Ask for social engagement in the form of hashtags, likes, tags, and shares.

7) Look Past the Product

People aren’t going to engage with your content if you are just pushing product 100% of the time – it is possible to stay “top-of-mind” without being sales-y.

The key is to create content that adds value, is relevant and meaningful, and is interesting or exciting. Surely you have heard of Marketo’s “Big Marketing Activity Coloring Book” – “30 pages of pure, unadulterated marketing activity fun.” This genius piece full of puzzles, games, and activities has generated about half a million in ROI and received critical acclaim, all without pushing their product.

Download Simply Measured’s Engagement-Boosting Cheat Sheets below to start building your own sticky content and promoting engagement with it.

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Shelley Cernel

Shelley Cernel is the Senior Marketing Manager at KnowledgeTree. KnowledgeTree is a sales enablement tool that uses data science to get marketing's content used by sales. She frequently writes on a variety of B2B sales and marketing topics, including social selling, sales productivity, and about the B2B buyer.

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