Monday 27 July 2015

What’s the social buzz word?

Quite recently, my mom asked me, ‘Can you tell me..what’s a selfie?’ I wasn’t surprised at her question, as my mom has always had a penchant to learn new things much faster than my dad. I explained the process of taking a selfie and even demonstrated it on my mom’s smartphone. Well…guess what…she wasn’t very impressed. ‘That’s it? That’s a selfie? It happens to me all the time,” she said “Sometimes I press the camera button by mistake and it clicks my picture! Why is everyone so crazy about it??”

Hmmm…she did have a point. What I couldn’t really explain to her is that while the selfie itself did not hold much value, being part of the social media buzz, where posting a selfie is a considerable achievement, is what made our lives really cool.

Today the online world is a profusion of a million voices, each one vying to grab its five minute of fame. Almost every second that we are online, there seems to be an avalanche of information. How much can we consume and what really stands out in the clutter, is the perennial question.

As PR professionals trying to reign in the wildness of the online space, this is a dilemma of our lives. What should you do to stand out? After wading through pages of advice on this topic, I have put together a few pointers for the uninitiated:

Long or short?: Do you know how much time does the average reader spend on social media? A poll by GlobalWebIndex indicated that the average user logs 1.72 hours per day on social platforms, which represents around 28 percent of all online activity. And have you ever guessed what is the optimal time that can hold a reader’s attention? Seven minutes. Here again, on an average, 3 minute posts tend to have the most views. This does not mean that we must rush to write either very short or long posts. What you write and who you write it for matters equally. For e.g a newly pregnant mother will spend hours reading posts on prenatal child care and expect details on every possible scenario. On the other hand, a young geeky professional reading up on the latest technology trends, may prefer a concise view of the latest trends and spend between 2-3 minutes, before he moves on to the next post.

Making content a conversation: If you want your post to register in the reader’s mind, remember that whatever you say, do put your heart in it. You’re telling a story. Say it like you mean it. Content should grab attention, be understood easily, be topical and considered worth sharing. Ride on the wave of what’s happening at the current moment in time, it will resonate better and have a higher chance of being shared.

Who is reading your content:  Be aware of your target audience. What age bracket do they belong to? Are they students or working professionals or retirees? Identify what they want to hear and then give them the right content which will make them listen.

Shout it from the rooftop: So you have an FB page and have been posting regularly. You have the same set of people liking it and a few shares? Obviously you’re not doing enough. Have you thought of other mediums of communication? Tag it. Tweet it. Instagram it. Say the same thing, but increase your reach by spreading yourself across different platforms. Remember …somewhere, someone is listening.

What makes content go viral? Ever wondered how a post or a video spiral out of control and goes viral? The answer is nobody really knows. There is no fixed formula on what really creates the spark.  But most posts that have gone viral have one or more of these ingredients – intrigue, emotion, information, feel good factor.

Make it visual: Want to grab someone’s attention quickly? Get visual. Research has proved that the human brain processes images faster than words. Boost your content with either a visual or an infographic. It gives more credibility to your post and increases the chances of it being shared.
So that’s my two penny worth tips on creating content that is delicious enough to be consumed and shared. There is no foolproof method, but it’s important to be consistent and to regularly revisit earlier posts to see which ones were liked or shared more than the others. This is your quickest feedback to understand what is working and will help you to develop better content.

So let’s get started…happy writing !

- Anju Verghese