Google news and six reasons why your content isn’t going viral

7 06 2011

News this week

Eric Schmidt discusses the state of online platforms, claiming that the four leading online platforms are controlled by, “Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon. In discussing Microsoft’s conspicuous absence from this list, Schmidt stated that, “Microsoft is not driving the consumer revolution in the minds of the consumers””

And the featured guide this week
Six reasons why your content isn’t spreading from Search Engine Journal
Below the jump
1. Lack of Promotion

Quite often, a lot of time is put into content worth spreading but it just never gets seen, or rather, it never hits that crucial tipping point where the spreading takes over and becomes “viral”. Certainly some content will need more of a push than others. And content with a high viral potential needs only a little push, while lower potential content may need a shove…or four. The fact is: all content needs (at least) a nudge. Otherwise you’re left with a great piece that too few will ever see.

If you don’t already have a strong enough user-base, you need to do your due diligence and network before you decide to start pushing your content. Be sure to show a willingness to return the favor, and others will line up to help you spread yours. If you don’t have the time or patience to get this done (believe me, it requires both), find someone who does.

2. Your Title is Boring…

One of the first things all internet marketers need to learn is the art of writing a compelling title. Even if you’re writing a boring article like: the mating patterns of Japanese beetles, it benefits you to be a little sensationalist. Give people a REASON to read your article, and just in case they don’t: give them a reason to spread it. You’ll find that either way, 90% of your ‘readers’ won’t bother to read the entire thing and their judgment will be based solely on the title. So if you want your content to spread, even if it’s the most fantastic and interesting article ever written, you’re going to need a fantastic and interesting title.

3. You’re Being Too Commercial

Link bait, blog spam, viral advertising. These are just some of the “words-of-death” that you might hear when your social marketing piece falls flat. If you’re hearing them, you’ve done something wrong. Something very specific. It’s not necessarily that your content isn’t good enough. But what probably happened is that you were too worried about the marketing benefits of your campaign that you got in the way of your own success. Perhaps you have too much advertising on your site. Maybe your revenue generating call-to-action form is too prominent. Sometimes it might just be that your brand message is too in your face.

Some brands may be able to get away with more than others. Nike (for example) can probably get away with more than Wal-mart. Why? Because their brand is sexier and more fun. You need to understand the limits of your campaign goals and what you can get away with. Conversion optimization may work great for your PPC campaign, but in social media you need to keep a balance between your marketing goals and the viral potential of your campaign.

4. Design flaws

Pro tip: If you aren’t a designer, you may want to hire one. Once users get past the title of your content, they’ll take only 3 seconds before they decide what they’re going to do. Read or skim, interact or run, spread or bury – and the look and design has everything to do with that first three seconds.

Just to clarify: aesthetics isn’t everything. You can have a beautiful design that does nothing but send your users running for the next link. You need to remember why you want them there, what action(s) you want them to take, and be sure the UI and layout is optimized for those actions first. Then make sure the aesthetics is up-to-par, but more importantly, appropriate for the content and message you’re trying to convey.

The three most important social design features:

Make sure the message or content’s intent is clear, front, and center
Make sure the action(s) you want them to take are clear & prominent enough
Make sure the content is easy to access & read and isn’t too intimidating for your average user who has limited time and a shrinking attention span.
5. You’ve Missed your Target Audience

It’s OK for websites or brands to step out of their normal content comfort zone online. While I’d never recommend creating content that deliberately alienates your current base, going a bit outside the box can be an interesting exercise in testing the limits of your market. It can be a great way to expand your audience and spread your brand to new demographics. The problem is, when you do this, you can’t always rely on your current user/customer base to help spread the word. And if you go too far outside, before you fail, you might want to consider why you’re doing it in the first place.

If your target audience for your brand is normally, say, women between 20-40, depending on your brand it’s probably wise to either continue targeting women, or perhaps you might target men of the same age. Either way, the further outside your normal zone you go, the more challenging it becomes to create content that spreads. As always: tread carefully.

6. Misuse of social media tools & networks

One of the more common mistakes I see on a daily basis is the misuse of the available social media tools. Make sure before you start using any particular service, tool, or social media site, that you take the time to get to know the ropes. More specifically: some of the “unwritten rules” of the service. Understand the limits to what kind of “push” or promotion is acceptable and what borders on spam.

Also, while it may be tempting to create content and submit it to as many services as you can, the truth is, you might be wasting valuable time. You may be better off creating content for a specific network and focus on spreading on that one. For example, some content does better on Twitter than it does on Facebook. And if you want to do a simple poll, perhaps a Facebook widget is the way to go. Bottom line: get to know the spaces you’re promoting your content in or (again): find someone who already does.




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