LOLcats. More cowbell. The Old Spice guy. Double rainbow. They’ve all been huge hits on the Internet over the past few years. But just because folks find an Internet link worth sharing doesn’t necessarily mean the content has enduring value.
If you’re like me, you laughed out loud at the video of a talking dog that likes bacon and sent it on to a friend. I know at least some of you did, because more than 140 million people have watched it. Still, I probably don’t need to tell you that number is dwarfed by Psy’s ridiculously catchy (annoying?) “Gangnam Style” video, with over 1.6billion views.
Other share-prone content includes news/sports/weather, music, family or vacation photos, health, home upkeep and decor, money, career, shopping and so on. Bonus points if it’s funny, or cute, or touches our heartstrings. If it inspires awe in us, we tend to invite others to join us in that experience.
A company with a vested interest in the “shareability” of online content has actually explored the psychology behind the share. There are some fascinating insights there about what people share and why.
All that said, it’s important for brands to make the distinction between what is share-worthy and what will keep a visitor coming back to your site, staying there a while, and – if you’re really playing your interactive cards right – buying what you’re selling.
You can only go so far with talking dogs, cute kids or glamorous celebrities. In order to convert someone from the status of casual visitor to that of actual customer, you have to have content that not only entertains, it also engages.
Of course, the best content does both. As Shane Snow of Advertising Age puts it, the smart brand works harder on the front end to assure engagement with its site. “Tell better stories,” Snow says. “Teach better lessons. Surprise us. Keep us reading.”