Yesterday I shared a blog post I wrote about a trend I noticed at a tech conference last week - and something happened that completely took me by surprise. While my write-up in no way 'went viral' by today's standards, it did connect with people of all ages and genders from around the world - 68 unique countries, to be exact! What's more is that these people didn't just visit the page, but they engaged and responded in a way I never expected. Site traffic increased by over 800% and I received nearly 320 private messages, comments, and shares (combined, across various platforms) - and engagement with this particular article is still growing.
What I'd like to do is dig into the How and Why this article gained so much traction. I'll share some of the responses I received throughout the day yesterday (keeping the sender names anonymous), then share with you some of the ways you or your brand can get the same (or greater) engagement.
First we'll look at a sample of the Facebook and Twitter engagement with the blog post:
Next, a sample of the direct messages I received throughout the day:
And now a look at the international reach of one blog post, in one day:
Themes Noticed in How People Responded:
Appreciation - People expressed time and time again how thankful they were not only for the insights and tips shared in the post, but for my sincerity and transparency.
Surprise - This particular post had over 4,000 words - a length uncommon in today's digital age. Many reacted almost astonished that someone would invest the time and energy to put together something intended to help others - completely free of charge.
Value - Because of the sincerity, transparency, and usefulness of the post, people shared that they "cherished" the piece so much that they would be saving and sharing it with everyone they know.
Emotion - The post was not a sad or heart-wrenching story - it was the opposite, in fact! But people still responded with an incredible amount of emotion. From close friends to complete strangers (of all ages, gender, & professions), many shared their hopes, dreams and fears about starting their own business, while others simply shared that reading the post brought them to the point of tears.
I had two intentions with yesterday's post. First, to respond to the young women I talked with at MozCon about entrepreneurship with affirmation that they can achieve their dreams. And second, to provide useful yet unexpected insights / tips about starting your own business that aren't commonly talked about. The incredibly moving reactions to the post have shown me that I accomplished these goals and even managed to inspire.
Support - The post was based on my personal experiences (challenges, failures, successes) and was very much from-the-heart. So to say I was nervous about publishing it is an understatement. I can't quite put into words how everyone's kind words of encouragement and support made me feel. As I mentioned, the article wasn't intended to be a tearjerker, but that's what it ended up as - both for my readers and myself as I read their responses. As a twenty-something woman in an space pretty well dominated by men, I can't deny that everyone's support has certainly boosted my confidence and is pushing me to continue with what I'm passionate about.
What These Trends Mean + How Your Brand Can Do Better:
People Value Quality Over Quantity - Digital marketers are slowly getting better at this, but the idea of 'you need more content!' still seems to be lodged in our brands and our discourse. This needs to change if only for the simple reason that people get bored with so-so content. I can't even count the number of brands I've personally blocked or unfollowed because they focused more on quantity than quality.
They Want to be Delighted - A beautiful thing happens when you take the risk of saying no to 'daily blog post for the sake of fresh content' (for example) and invest in content that actually matters to people's lives. Avoid surface-level anything, always go beyond the obvious, and be vulnerable. You are human. Your readers are human. Forget B2B or B2C. Human to human always wins.
Timeliness is Everything - There's no doubt in mind that my post would not have been as successful had I waited a few weeks or a month to get it published. The event I referenced took place last week (Monday - Wednesday) and I started writing about it the moment the idea popped in my head, actually while in-flight back to San Diego. (There's something about writing while in the air that works for me - not sure if it's the extreme need to distract myself or if it's the "I only have 2 hours before we land... get as much down as possible" that makes it such a productive setting for me.)
I spent the next 5 or 6 days working on the article - and really it became something I was excited to get back to each day after my work responsibilities. Many, many others shared great write-ups about the event throughout the week, and while it did put a little pressure on me to get this thing published, I did not allow seeing what others are doing (comparing myself!) distract me or push me into any shortcuts to get it published sooner. So the lesson here is to be agile and move quickly on great ideas without sacrificing quality.
While being data-informed will always be critical, let's not allow our marketing efforts - whether for yourself or your brand - become too robotic. Let's produce campaigns that are wholesome and add something positive to people's lives. Let's remember that "Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell." - Seth Godin. Let's take risks, show our personality, and be human. Let's put customers before conversions. People first. No shortcuts.
Have anything to add? Let me know in the comments below!