Content marketing can be a very successful tool in your marketing arsenal, if you take the correct approach. And, of course, any amount of social media exposure comes with a sense of elation. But before you jump headlong into the deep end of content marketing, you need to be aware of the difference between two of the most important popular terms in the business: viral and shareable content marketing.
In digital space, we often see the terms “viral” and “shareable” used interchangeably. This use can be a bit misleading, and perhaps devastatingly so for your business’s online presence if you take the wrong approach, as these two terms do not, in fact, describe the same type of content marketing. Let’s take a closer look.
To begin, content marketing can be a highly effective way to increase your audience and strengthen the relationship with your existing customer base. Additionally, with the proper execution, it can greatly improve your site’s ranking on the major search engines, leading more potential customers straight to your virtual doorstep. In a nutshell, viral content can bring a large amount of traffic to your site in a very short period of time, but that traffic is highly likely to drop off just as quickly. Such is the nature of the beast. Shareable content, on the other hand, has a steady online presence that builds over time, increasing not only recognition and credibility for your brand with your target audience, but also with search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others.
As mentioned above, viral content can boost your traffic practically, if not literally, overnight. However, it is also notoriously short-lived. The brevity of viral content’s success is due to the fact that it is both disruptive and arbitrary. As such, its novelty is extremely difficult to leverage, since it doesn’t specifically play to your product’s target audience.
For example, say you’re jogging in Central Park while on vacation in New York and you recognize your favorite Yankees baseball player. He notices that you’re wearing your lucky Yankees baseball cap and graciously offers to autograph it for you. After having his friend snap a photo of the two of you together on your cell phone and giving you a hearty clap on the back, he walks away. But it’s not he exchanged contact information with you. So, unfortunately for you, no relationship was formed. Likewise, viral content simply doesn’t have the ability to hold the interest of an audience long enough to form a relationship.
Therefore, one of the most important questions to ask before undertaking any type of content marketing is, “Who is my target audience?” When you want to narrow your marketing in this manner, you enter the arena of shareable content.
Shareable content is like the foundation of a home- it is strong enough to build upon and can support the weight of a growing audience. Thus, while viral content may get people to your site in a quick surge of interest, generally fueled by social media activity, once this wave of interest breaks, there isn’t likely to be another behind it. Conversely, shareable content creates a steady stream of traffic, which flows directly to your product. It isn’t as massive or as exciting, but, as the old adage goes, “slow and steady wins the race”. Shareable content is directed to a product’s target audience, ensuring that the content has the greatest possible chance of being seen by the right potential customer at the best possible time. This type of content is not usually likely to lead to a conversion on the first, or even the second, visit. What it is designed to accomplish is the building of credibility, reliability, and brand recognition with a steadily growing audience.
Neither approach is mutually exclusive, but both can be quite successful, depending on your overall marketing goal. In order to choose which approach is most appropriate in your situation, you will need to think about what, exactly, you want your audience to do. However, while viral content may create a buzz around your product for a little while, the extra work that you put into shareable content will be evident on the long run, as an increase in traffic and conversions and as a higher search engine ranking.
Do you have an awesome example of viral or shareable content that worked for you?