No, that headline wasn’t a copy-paste mistake. This week’s post is a bit of a curveball. It’s my last week writing this series on social media marketing lessons we learned from various pop culture topics. This series was an experiment of sorts, and I thought it was a good time to take a step back and share our findings after a few weeks of testing it. In other words, let’s get meta.
Here are the 3 lessons I learned from doing this 3 lessons series:
1. People still love lists
The most obvious lesson: lists have become one of the most ubiquitous ways to package content on the Web. Spatially appealing and easy to digest, lists take advantage of our seemingly limited attention span, organizing a bunch of data in the most rapidly digestible form. As the great XKCD web comic demonstrates, even very complex things are easily understood when presented in this format:
Philosopher Umberto Eco uses the creation of lists to explain how humans rationalize death, further stating that “the list doesn’t destroy culture; it creates it. Wherever you look in cultural history, you will find lists. In fact, there is a dizzying array: lists of saints, armies and medicinal plants, or of treasures and book titles. Think of the nature collections of the 16th century.” As content creators, we often want to disprove these popular notions of what content works with today’s audience. We want to prove that a lengthy diatribe, if well-written, will outperform a listicle. The reality is, this is most often untrue. Don’t shy away from a format that works because of your principles. Lists work.
2. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
This is something we already touched upon in an earlier article praising the design of the macaroni noodle, and something that still rings true in the formatting of this series. When the structure of your content is simple, you don’t get to hide your bad ideas in formatting and lengthy copy. Simple content forces the writer to be clear and to the point, to say exactly what he or she means without beating around the bush. Any half-baked ideas, jargon or poorly thought out concepts will stand out, since your readers won’t be skimming through your simple list. A simple structure may help you create better content, and may even help you become a better writer.
3. Everyone is a marketer in the social media age, from Kraft to your mom
From growing hockey beards, to my friend who always posts pictures of his salads, there are marketing lessons to be learned from everyone. This is because everyone now has a public audience (whether they want one or not), which, in a way, has turned us all into marketers. We market ourselves through our Instagram posts, our Facebook updates, and our nonsensical snaps. The next time you need an idea for your content strategy, look at what is trending. Look at which Instagram profiles are the most popular—and figure out what they do that works. Look at the latest viral video, and even the latest fail video, and see what information you can garner. Why are they shared, why did they make an impact, and who benefitted. Never stop learning; and what’s more, don’t stop finding new sources of inspiration. Take these lessons and apply them to your brand and your content.