Content Marketing Lessons from My Unexpectedly Viral Tweet

On July 31, I got a news alert. Scaramucci was out as the White House Communications Director after 10 days. I don’t know why but the first thing I thought of was avocados. So, my very first tweet that had the link to the news article had that reference.

I even thought it was funny enough to post as my Facebook status that morning, which received a lot of engagement. I was going to go on with my day. I needed to get ready for my flight.

Then, I got hit with a couple more ideas to post on Twitter. After all, the entire internet was on board. This was the creative relief we needed from the onslaught of, well, reality. So, I tweeted out a few different references. I used different hashtags. I sometimes referred to him as The Mooch and other times, used #Scaramucci.

A couple got likes. Some retweets here and there, but nothing major.

Until.

This was actually a throwaway tweet. I just kind of posted it as I thought about it and then posted my favorite, which had a Game of Thrones reference. I thought if any of my tweets that day got any traction, it would obviously be the Game of Thrones one.

To my surprise, it wasn’t. It was my ‘throwaway’ tweet that resonated the most with people for some reason. It was even included in a Buzzfeed News roundup.

I said RIP to my notifications and got ready for my flight.

My one “viral” tweet reinforced what I’ve been telling my clients about content marketing and social media all along. So, here are my learnings from my 24 hours of internet fame.

You have to be flexible with your content

Once you have a content strategy and editorial plan in place (and for the love of coffee, please have these in place), what you put out into the world cannot be repetitive. You won’t know what resonates with your audience until you’re putting out content that actually resonates with your audience. This means that you have to be flexible enough to play around with the wording and types of content you’re releasing into the world.

While it’s important to have a consistent voice, that doesn’t mean your voice has to be rigid.

Hashtags don’t guarantee exposure

I really thought that this tweet would be the one that got the most engagement. I was using multiple references, and #GameofThrones is still relatively active on Monday mornings.

As you can see, I was wrong.

Numbers don’t tell the whole story

My viral tweet received over 153K impressions, but what does that mean? Not much, to be honest. It means that with over 900 retweets, it made its way in front of a lot of eyeballs on Twitter, but I only got a single follower from it. 87 people cared enough to click over to my profile to learn more about me.

When you’re asking your social media manager or content manager to create viral posts, are you thinking about the implications? Just because something strikes a chord with your audience doesn’t mean it’ll lead to money in the bank for you.

Want to break down the actual ROI of content marketing? Jay Baer has a great formula. Spoiler: It involves actual math.

Don’t squander the first impression opportunity

My tweet had nothing to do with the content marketing and strategy services I offer. The audience it would drive to my profile were most likely not my target customers. But what if one set of eyeballs belonged to a small business owner scrolling through Twitter between phone calls or while eating lunch? My pinned tweet when I woke up that morning was a general post about the services I offer, linking to my website.

After the tweet picked up traction, I quickly drafted another tweet that I pinned to the top of my profile:

Cheesy? Yes. But potentially effective.

It was an unexpected experiment that was fun while it lasted. That’s the thing about content marketing and social media. Not everything will be a home run.

Amplifying your voice through the noise requires planning, tenacity, and a whole lot of flexibility.

Have you ever had a tweet go unexpectedly viral? What was your experience like?

 

Oh, by the way, are you going to Content Marketing World this September? I’m speaking about leveraging content to elevate your community with an amazing group of professionals. We’d love to see you in our session! If you haven’t registered yet, you can use BERRAKBIZ100 to save an additional $100!

#TuesdayThrees: Keys to Being a Successful Ghostwriter

I’ve always considered writing to be my passion.

My mom taught me how to read and write when I was four, and the running joke of my life has been that no one has been able to stop me since.

However, it was never supposed to be a career path, especially ghostwriting.

When I went into law, writing would be a crucial part of my career, but to get paid to be a writer? That seemed utterly ridiculous. So ridiculous, in fact, I wrote under a pen name for the first part of my freelance career.

I wrote for content mills, for local real estate companies, and for agencies that paid me next to nothing for my work.

I was essentially a glorified ghostwriter, and ironically, there’s really no glory in being a ghostwriter. (more…)

The Importance of Defining Your Company Culture

The phrase “startup culture” brings to mind images of foosball tables, fancy coffee machines, and interns flittering around in the open office. Sure, that can be an accurate snapshot of a startup company, but that’s all it would be: a snapshot. The culture of a company isn’t defined by its perks – those perks are a side effect of the values instilled in the company culture.

When it comes to strategy at the beginning of a company’s journey, most entrepreneurs will focus on sales, marketing, and product development. After all, these are the most important strategies. However, the most successful startups will also have a well-defined strategy for the company’s brand. What are the values behind the product? Who are the people you want to attract to your workforce? Are you creating a positive and rewarding environment for your employees? These are important questions every founder needs to answer in a clear startup strategy.

Your company is built in your image.

If you want to begin to understand the culture of a company, look no further than its founder. Your values, your weaknesses, and your vision are what will become the foundation of your startup’s culture.

For example, if the CEO of a company is competitive, then the company will tend to be more aggressive and competitive. If the CEO is too analytical, it may mean that the startup may have a harder time moving as fast as it should. A creative CEO will bring a more design-focused attitude to the company.

Consider these questions as you evaluate your values:

  • What are my strengths?
  • What do I value about the people around me?
  • What leads me to make good decisions?
  • Which characteristics do all of the people in my life have in common?
  • What qualities do I dislike in other people?
  • What are my weaknesses?

“We’re all stories in the end. Make it a good one.” – The Eleventh Doctor

Fast forward to two years from now.

What do you want people to be saying about your company? At the beginning of a startup, the focus is on product development and growth, which is why it’s important to look into the future. There’s no crystal ball when it comes to how successful your company will be in two years, but there are a few things you can control about your story.

Your culture. Your values. The je ne sais quoi that helps you stand out among a sea of startups.

Think about the way you want your employees to talk about what it’s like to work at your company. You want them to have a twinkle in their eye, a passion in their voice, and most importantly, a defined story.

“When you have a well-crafted, specific, controversial company story, it can guide everything from who you shouldn’t hire to how you settle arguments,” says Molly Graham, who was brought on to build a shared vision for Facebook in 2008.

Give your company culture room to evolve

Once you’ve identified your values and the story you want to be telling about your business, it doesn’t just live in a memo buried somewhere in your emails. Picture your culture as the literal backbone of your company. Just as your body allows your spine to grow as you age, you need to allow your company culture to do the same. There will be a natural growth, and once in awhile, it will be nourished by the conversations you have with employees and customers.

It should be omnipresent in everything you do, from emails to product descriptions to coffee breaks by the fancy espresso machine, and even job descriptions.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, has this to say about commitment to culture: “Many companies have core values, but they don’t really commit to them. They usually sound more like something you’d read in a press release. Maybe you learn about them on day one of orientation, but after that, it’s just a meaningless plaque on the wall of the lobby.”

Be attractive to the people you want to hire

According to Rand Fishkin, CEO and founder of Moz, company culture “has a transformative power to create remarkable companies and inspire people to accomplish great things together.”

You want to attract the right candidates to bring your vision to life. Well, it’s a two-way street. Working in a startup is tough. It requires vigilance, a lot of long days, and a certain sense of passion for the company that you may not find in a corporate environment. You want your employees to feel ownership within the company (whether that’s a feeling or real stock options, that’s up to you), which also brings a certain sense of pride.

So how do you become attractive to potential employees? Think of it as your way of releasing professional pheromones to create the right kind of chemistry. When writing job descriptions, infuse your company’s story into it, and make it appealing to the person you want in that particular role. When reading a job description, a candidate should think “Yes, this job is perfect for me!” or “Oh no, I don’t want that job.”

Your company will succeed when you have a group of employees who share the same priorities, who are committed to your company’s mission, and most importantly, feel a sense of belonging when they come to work.

Think of it this way: You want your employees to be happy when they come to work? The numbers speak for themselves: Unhappy employees cost American businesses over $300 billion each year. So it pays to make sure your employees are happy.

When your employees and your customers are talking about your company years from now, it won’t be about the shipping mishap that happened on day 43.

Your values, your mission, the impact you have on the world around you – these are the stories that will stop people in their tracks and whisper, “Oh, you had me at culture.”