Do you remember how in the movie Shrek, the title character compares ogres to onions, saying that ogres have layers too? (If you don’t get the reference, go watch Shrek again!)
Well, like onions (and ogres), content also has layers. There is the first layer, the layer you see without engaging with the content at all, and then there’s a second layer which is what people see when they investigate. This could be clicking on the tweeted link, playing the banner ad video, going to the originating Facebook page, or anything else that expands the message of that content. And there could be more layers beyond that, depending on your consumer journey.
The holy grail of content marketing right now seems to be making content into bite-size bits that we can engage with and pass on, supposedly furthering the ends of the content creator. Many brands are trying to piggy-back off of popular web memes, like Wonderful Pistachios and their Psy/Gagnam Style Superbowl Ad.
But this misses out on that second layer of interaction. People see things and pass them on, frequently without reading or investigating them first. Just think of all the fun or interesting images you’ve seen on Facebook in the past week that you’ve then reposted, liked or commented on. How often did you read the full description of the image and click on through to the originating Facebook page? If you’re like me, and many other folk, probably not too often. After all, what you’re sharing is that image, not the page, right? This type of behavior is encouraged, too – One click sharing is common on all social networks.
People also can add layers to the content, adapting it to their own purposes. When I re-share images on Facebook, I often add my own message. But am I furthering the purposes of those brands? On a certain level, yes. I am literally forwarding the link on to my friends. But will my friends click through to those pages, or just admire the image and my witty comment?
So on one side, people often add layers to content already in existence and otherwise engage with it by sharing and liking, but on the other, they are not investigating. The danger with this is that their knowledge and understanding of your brand has not been expanded. In order for that to happen, they must investigate your content, click through and explore the second layer, and possibly other layers beneath that. But at the same time, sharing is probably the best way to increase your brand profile.
So how do you create content that will help your brand transform engagement into investigation? Here are 4 tips for the marketing content creator:
- Make every layer self-sufficient. If your image has your main message, then it’s okay if people don’t click through to see your Facebook Page, or even read the descriptions you’ve attached to it. It’s right there in the image. This can be tough though as you are forced to perhaps hit people over the head with your brand, limiting the content’s shareability. This is the tactic that Wonderful Pistachios has taken. You just watch the fun videos and you know what their message is.
- Make content that people want to investigate, not just engage with. I like Kraft Foods as an example of this. Their Pinterest Page is full of lovely images of yummy foods – as a foodie and cook it’s hard to resist sharing these images. At the same time, they are clearly labelled as recipes – and are just a click away from the recipes themselves on the Kraft website. So not only do they encourage engagement (sharing) but also investigation (clicking through).
- Piggy-backing off of point 2, use the data and tools you have at your disposal to make content more personally relevant for people. For instance, you can use real time data such as weather and time of day to present people the type of ads they are going to be more interested in. If it’s rainy, show me sunny vacation destinations. Or a rain coat. Technology is becoming a third part of the classic Art and Copy creative team. Take advantage of it.
- Don’t be limited by your industry. Yes, some industries seem more prone creating content people should investigate rather than share, such as the real estate market. But, Zillow has managed to make real estate and home maintenance fun, with a top layer of Eye Candy and Tips and Advice columns that combine information with pretty pictures. Their articles are fun reads and easy to share, getting their message through quickly and clearly: Zillow is a fun place to talk about real estate (and they’ll also help you find or sell a house, too).