In 21 years, I’ve managed to create three things that went viral online. That is one viral piece of content every 7 years. Truthfully, that is a far better average than most who may never create any content that catches fire and spreads.
In order to validate the importance of creating content that becomes infectious, one must factor in the amount of revenue that was procured, directly or indirectly, as a result. In my case, those three pieces of content which totaled into the hundreds of thousands of impressions, likes, views and shares, cumulatively has netted me a whopping total of zero extra dollars. More money is to be found digging through the center console in my car.
Believe me, I wish the reality was different and I was receiving a check from, I don’t know, The Internet Corporation of the World, compensating me for my efforts. Yet as much as I tried to twist the data, zero dollars is the result for creating content that was consumed by a vast number of people.
Perhaps this revelation is not even remotely surprising for you. If that is the case, why are each of us so obsessively consumed with the number of likes, comments and views we are receiving? Why are we so concerned with vanity metrics that don’t actually move the needle forward in our business? Because what we want and what our business needs are two separate things.
We want adoration and validation for the work we do. Our business needs real prospective leads to sustain and to grow.
This article will not teach you how to go viral. Even if I did know the trick, all that would yield is having your content consumed by those who are not a part of your target audience or prospective client pool.
You need to know how to create the right content so that the right audience can consume it at the right time which implores them to enter into your ecosystem as a lead or even as a client. There has also never been a more difficult time to accomplish this task.
It used to be significantly easier to communicate a message of an offer with value to an audience and onboard a percentage as paying customers. Yet as each year passed, we as consumers on social media, became more-and-more bombarded and overwhelmed with advertisements, promotions, sponsored posts and marketing content all vying for our attention and a piece of our wallet. The result is, we as end users started to tune everything out. If we even get the whiff of an advertisement, we immediately scroll past. That is not why we opened up Instagram or Facebook.
Our reasons for even getting on social media is to see content that entertains us, content that educates us or content that inspires us. We are not getting on social media holding a credit card just waiting for the right advertisement to prompt our shopping spree.
That may seem frustrating for you, and me, as entrepreneurs trying to promote and sell our products and services — but in reality, it is an indicator that our approach on these platforms needs to mature.
First, the content we create has to achieve the needs of what our audience is looking for. Our role as a publisher is to entertain, educate or inspire our target audience. The content we create and distribute should connect to the problem we ultimately solve or the clear and specific benefit we offer. This helps position you and your business in the mind of the consumer.
Second, we have to consider where we are distributing our content. Instagram, which for many was once an effective selling tool, has now helped shape an audience with a shorter attention span than ever before. This means that any long-form or heavily promotional content will not perform well on this platform.
Thus, our usage of Instagram has evolved into the platform you use to create a quick digital introduction (a handshake) and an invitation to the audience to take a next step to enter into your ecosystem.
This step could be a request for them to message you directly to carry on a conversation or an opportunity to get off the platform and onto another platform where you can deliver different, even long-form content. This could be subscribing to your podcast, joining your email or SMS list, becoming a member of a private Facebook Group, opting into your YouTube Channel, etc.
The request for the next step, or call to action, is important because anyone who takes this action is clearly signaling back to you that they are engaged in your brand and are much closer to being a paying customer.
It will be here that you will have the opportunity to forge a better relationship with the prospect through longer-form content without the limiting attention span constrains that Instagram possesses.
It is also here that you can deliver your sales offers to a now segmented audience which has already indicated to you that they are paying attention and are willing to consume more of your content. These are significantly warmer leads.
If there is one word to hone in on for your social media strategy this year, that word is nurture. Your audience wants and deserves to be nurtured longer than they have previously. Your role is to create opportunities through your content to build trust and establish rapport.
Consumers need to be seen and heard. It is our responsibility to provide that.
James Patrick is an internationally published photographer with more than 600 magazine covers to his credit, a best-selling author, podcast host and marketing strategist. He works with professionals to help them increase their awareness leveraging the power of earned media to ultimately grow their revenue. His work can be see at https://jamespatrick.com/coaching/ or on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/jpatrickphoto/