She danced in an airport. She was sporting red pants, a gray shirt, and ear buds pumping a jam. She danced like no one was watching. Of course it was the baggage claim area at LAX, so there were plenty of people to watch. Many simply ignored her, while a few were aghast, and cast glances that said as much. However, she wasn’t dancing for a couple hundred passengers awaiting luggage… she was dancing for 4.6 million YouTube watchers. The message? This girl has some serious confidence. The video is clearly a promotion for the lady-friendly site HelloGiggles. It also clearly struck a nerve and went viral. More importantly, it tells us something about creating good content: write content like nobody’s reading and create content like nobody’s watching.
Sign of Good Content
In corporate circles, content cycles through an endless maze of revisions and approvals. Videos are edited and polished. One syllable words are the center of much agonizing: words are altered or replaced with key words.
This is all in an effort to create the perfect, pithy pitch that will captivate information consumers and compel them to share on social networks.
More often than not, these cycles have the opposite effect. They strip out the emotion, tone down the personality and leave the content seemingly edgy, but not too edgy. Seemingly edgy isn’t enough and creative ideas are crushed before they even have the opportunity to compete for traction.
In the comments of a controversial blog post on social PR, Geoff Livingston wrote, “I was afraid to press publish, which is usually the sure sign of a post worth publishing!” Even Livingston might agree, we can write with emotion, still be diplomatic and appeal to the people that matter to us most.
Everyone desires serious confidence.
Two Sides of Content
However it doesn’t take a Jedi or mind tricks to produce content that moves. It just takes a little confidence, some music, a flip cam, and an unlikely venue for videography, for one lady to appeal to strike a chord to a massive following.
If she had taken the offline social cues – the eye-rolls – from those nearby, she might never had made an internet sensation. Fortunately she did, and the subsequent online social clues tell a dramatically different story.
Long-winded Emotion Moves Content
longer and emotional pieces have a greater tendency to go viral
My contention for emotion and for the unvarnished viewpoint in content marketing isn’t simply my opinion or based solely on my experience. There’s data to back this claim up.
In a post for SEOmoz titled, Why Content Goes Viral: the Theory and Proof, Carson Ward points to academic research that draws an important conclusion: longer and emotional pieces have a greater tendency to go viral.
- “The first finding is that longer articles tend to be shared far more often. The correlation remains strong even after taking the amount of site exposure into account.”
- “Content that inspires low-energy emotions like sadness is less likely to be shared, where content that inspires high-energy emotions like awe, anger, and anxiety is far more likely to be shared.”
Emotion Conveyed is Emotion Captured
The indications of how emotions move content are all around us. Love him or hate him, emotion is how rapper Eminem connects with his audience. We can disavow his lyrics, while giving him credit for speaking his mind with passion. His music is a true story.
Politics aside, of the last several Presidents, those that connected with the public had a greater sense for emotion. Ronald Reagan, dubbed “The Great Communicator” had it, as does Clinton and Obama. Neither Bush 41 or 43 has it, though I believe George H. W. Bush, remains one of the most dignified, and diplomatic, chief executives the country has ever seen.
We see it in the business world as well among those excelling in content marketing. Red Bull and Coca-Cola appeal to humor and to inspiration, but more importantly, they convey emotion and in return, they captivate emotion. It takes real courage to transform a corporate website into an online magazine.
The Key to Content Marketing
I’m not advising people completely toss out their processes for developing content, but I am suggesting we all take a step back. Put the editorial calendar on hold and focus instead on developing pure ideas. Set the list of key words aside and face an empty page without it the crutch. Write something we are, as Livingston said, afraid to publish.
Dancing like no one is watching is the HelloGiggles paradox: for every person nearby that either doesn’t seem to care, or is appalled at our actions, there may be a million out there that identify with the same independent sense. And that’s when content moves.
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What do you think? What content has moved you lately? Are you struggling with moving beyond the editorial calendar? Is the red pen destroying your content strategy? Share your thoughts in the comments.