People love topics that
- make them smile
- inspire them
- they can identify with
- Sexy (but SFW)
concepts work best on the Web.
In case your business doesn’t fall under any of those topics, you may want to adapt so that a larger audience will be able to appreciate your content.
Just follow my real life examples. Please make sure to check out the impressive share numbers on each of them.
When you’re in doubt whether or not your latest image, video or article will succeed to garner considerable attention on the Web, add Star Wars to it. In case you’re a male and between 6 and 60, you will understand why. And even though there are fewer female Star Wars enthusiasts, even women get the vibe of the good rebels vs the evil empire.
Here’s a simple example for this. On Pinterest, I collect cycling images among others.
As you’d expect, bikes are not the number one topic on a US based image bookmarking site.
Yet my most successful image on my “cycling culture” board with 44 repins as of now is an image of a stormtrooper on a fixed gear bike. Remember that Pinterest is a site still mostly used by women to collect wedding pictures and recipes.
Search for “storm trooper” on Pinterest and you’ll find lots of other Star Wars inspired images with many Retweets each. In the best case, you design a Star Wars inspired product, just check out this trashcan or these posters.
This is Captain Obvious, isn’t it? We all like cute cat images. Dogs and other pets too. Size does matter as well. Cute “little” polar bears or elephants win even more hearts. How can you use the power of cute for average topics? Sometimes it may be as simple as adding a storm trooper to your product image.
You could depict children using your products too.
In case you can’t use either pets or children, why not show cute couples happily using your stuff? It’s interesting how many traditional ads feature strange looking models that nobody is able to identify with. On the Web, cute is the new perfect. BTW cute doesn’t have to be syrupy sweet. You can get 500k ad views with Grumpy Cat too.
Funny images have been always one of the most shared kinds of content, even before social media. Most business topics are not funny at all. You can be funny yourself though. Ridiculing yourself is a good way to achieve this.
While everybody in business wants to appear as serious as possible, the few who are really good at content marketing use funny topics. And by “funny,” I don’t necessarily mean jokes.
Jokes are often exclusive, that is they can be understood only by a certain group, within a cultural context.
Everybody everywhere recognizes when you do something stupid though. One of the most successful viral marketing campaigns ever is the “Will it Blend” campaign by a blender manufacturer. Scrambling iPhones in blenders is stupid, like putting your cat inside the microwave oven but less outrageous.
So it doesn’t have to be funny in a way that people will laugh out loud while staring at the screen. That’s too difficult. It can be funny in a “what the hell they are doing?” way.
The stranger and the more novel a concept is, the less we are accustomed to it. Surprising, one-of-a-kind content ideas can win hearts and minds by simply overwhelming them. In the best case, it’s awe inspiring. Extreme sport videos often succeed at that.
People were thinking, “WTF! How does he do that?”
Red Bull does an excellent job of using sports to market its product. Not only do they create and sponsor content for the Web, they have their own print magazines published all over the world. Of course when someone jumps from space they don’t need to publish it themselves anymore.
Sexy (but SFW)
While some argue that the Internet’s purpose is to display cat images, others consider it a place for watching pron (the misspelling is intentional; I don’t want this post to get found for that keyword). Many people access the Web for risque reasons, but during work hours.
The average Internet user likes sexy images, but they need to be safe for work.
American Apparel is the king of advertising this way. They show women who are fully or at least partly closed while the images are still sexier than anything else:
Personally I think they go overboard with this, but it’s a proof of concept that sexiness does not depend on nudity. Car manufacturers discovered this decades ago. When they unveil new car models, they’re shown by pretty young female presenters.
The New York times proved it in an extensive study that people prefer positivity. So old school newspapers always looking for the one plane that crashes among millions that fly, have been wrong all along.
Web users share positive stories.
I used an example in my next post how people like to share stories on how banks got sued by disgruntled home owners. People like positive “feel good” stories.
Positive is good, but empowering is a better. What’s the difference? Empowering stories, images or videos allow the reader to improve themselves, not just read about the happiness of others. Also, empowering doesn’t have to be positive on the outside. One of the infographics that had the greatest impact on my life was “sitting is killing you” by Medical Billing and Coding.
This infographic was the biggest ass kick that made me exercise regularly.
I realized that sitting around all day actually is far more dangerous than moving. Until then, I would have avoided my new, favorite discipline, Parkour. But now, I’ve been practicing Parkour for more than two years.
Do you know who Lao Tzu is? It took me almost 40 years to learn that and understand why I should care. I read about Taoism 15 years ago, but I managed to forget the name of their “prophet”. Lao Tzu is a wonderful source of ancient wisdom. Who would imagine that it could work on the “information superhighway”?
Indeed on Pinterest, you’ll find lots of Lao Tzu quotes. Some of them are very popular. I found one added by a South American Telecom provider.