The secret behind contagious content

I took part at an event organised by PR Moment around the concept of ‘contagious content‘ (or viral marketing) on Wednesday.

What motivates popularity, shareability and is it actually worth it?

Big data

Anna Salter from Kantar Media provided the data, neatly summed up in a handy acronym that defines the perfect storm of viral marketing: REACH – Relevance; Emotion; Ambience; Currency; Handiness.

If you tick these 5 boxes, then you’re in with a chance of a hit.

Rational and emotional

Marshall Manson from Social@Ogilvy highlighted the key aspects of all online successes: emotion or rationality.

He picked out recent hits like Walter the Labrador, which is just fun!

And, of course, things spread because they touch something primal inside us (fear, anger, humour or sadness), but usefulness is just as important.

Views of ‘how-to’ videos on YouTube – whether that’s cooking an omelette or replacing an iPhone screen – far outstrip most of the big cat videos we obsess over. They’re just not as sexy.

Science vs Storytelling

Then came Jeremy Waite from Salesforce who threw the whole thing up in the air.

None of this is new. We’re all doing the same thing now as we have been for decades – the medium has changed slightly.

To prove it, he produced a book he’d found in a second-hand bookstore dating back to 1857 on marketing in the 19th century.

The advice dispensed by the unknown author didn’t differ from anything we say now.

Where things have changed is the level of detail and time packed into the likes of Psy’s Gangnam Style (which was so far from a viral hit it’s untrue).

Even in 1857 the advice was to ensure you have a clear goal or action in mind for your content – something I’m not too sure most content teams have when producing most of what appears online.

On the panel

Then I joined the panel to debate the general merits of content marketing and where it’s likely to end up.

Touching on the very merits of content marketing, and onto the value in demonstrable actions or outputs, as against mere reach, the panel all agreed on one thing.
No matter whether we all end up with chips embedded in our brains or not, we’ll always need to tell great stories.

And that’s a great sentiment to finish on.

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