For our newest venture, the Longmont Compass, we knew that our social media had to be spot on. We have seen many media outlets post links to their articles with a bland excerpt, and we have seen the response they receive: minimal. We set out to create an engaging and enjoyable social media presence for our company by creating contagious content.
We chose to differentiate the brand identities of our Facebook page and our website. The voice on the site, and the wealth of information provided, give it a certain identity. It is a resource. For our Facebook page, which has different interaction than our site, we decided we needed to exhibit that knowledge, but not focus on it. We needed to be light, easy to consume, and enjoyable.
Ambient news may be a buzzphrase, but it aptly captures the zeitgeist; as newspaper readership continues to fall, consumers increasingly rely on content delivery systems that are ‘all-in-one’ and that satisfy their appetites for social interaction, news and entertainment at the same time.
Starting out we had to decide the nitty-gritty of the look and feel of our content. We settled on a little-used font that we would feature in all of our posts, a slightly self-deprecating, but witty tone, and a cut-and-paste aesthetic for our images. It was a ragtag identity, but one that people latched onto as it grew and developed. Within weeks we had users posting to our wall asking for our next post, or for information about what was happening in town that weekend.
We were quickly reminded that the best ways to encourage people to interact with anything is to make them feel a strong emotion. Whether it is happiness or anger, laughter or fuming, a person is more likely to “like” or comment on a post if it has an effect on them.
We started with humor. One of our first humorous, and modestly viral, posts was a jab at a neighboring town. In just a day, it had reached around 1000 people at a time when we had fewer than 300 fans ourselves. We carried on with the yuks for a while.
We eventually found out that the most contagious content is that which is controversial. Some of our most popular posts concern issues such as fracking, and the new mall being built in our town. When presented with an opportunity to present one’s point of view, our fans jumped at that chance. They began to interact not only with our posts, but also with other fans in the comments of our posts. Conversations were struck up, and we were the facilitators.
An important element of social media posting that we have focused on is our presentation.
It was important for us to keep our content clean, design-wise, though we did stray to some very busy postings at times. Interestingly enough, our two most successful posts occupy both ends of this spectrum.
One is the perfect example of minimalism: a bright white background with two lines of text, “If lovin’ this town is Wrongmont, I don’t want to be Boulderite”. The sentiment, the presentation, and our brand’s identity as a proud Longmont company vibed very well with our fans, and resulted in significant page growth.
The other, which strays from minimalism, and looks more like a collage, reached over 11,000 Facebook users organically. It was a fund raiser for a local charity group. We promised to donate one dollar for every share of the post that we received to a group of firefighters who go above and beyond in their duties. The drive resulted in 534 shares for the post (and a nice check for the local fire department!)
The “Continue Reading” link on posts has proved to be invaluable. An interesting hook, cut off by “Continue Reading” yields better engagement than one that quickly gets to the point. Many social media strategists will say that content should be short and sweet, readily consumable, and recycled into the back of a potential customer’s mind as a time bomb. We think that’s right sometimes.
Most of the time, we prefer to curate and deliver valuable, contagious content, form relationships with our fans, give them an expectation, and over-deliver on it.
Our strategies have brought us more than 4,200 likes in just a few weeks, an average of 12% engagement with posts, the best relative engagement of any media provider in town, and a loyal following.
Oh, and did I mention we did most of this without a product?
Now, with fans across the county, our readership on some posts soars past 25,000 people and we have managed a million views in five months.
How’s that for contagious content?
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