What makes a brand worth sharing?

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Everybody wants their brand to be talked about – and most of us have used social media to spread the word. But what would happen if you reversed the process?

What makes a brand worth sharing?

I’m fairly certain it was Grenville Main, a master of the memorable phrase, who once referred to Twitter as the “talkback radio of the internet”. I recalled the comment when an article arrived in my inbox referencing research done by MIT into why some tweets do the rounds, and others don’t (thanks Blackland PR). Perhaps by studying what people are most inclined to chatter about, it’s possible to engineer a brand that is simpatico with our very human need to share – or at least to draw some conclusions about what might lift a brand’s social attraction.

The nine key factors that, according to the research, decide a tweet’s success are:

  • Brevity – no surprises, given that 140 characters amounts to communications’ fast food. Made to snack quickly and often.
  • Attention grabbing – the communication itself talks to something the reader is already interested in
  • Inviting opinion – the best messages encourage interactivity. That makes them ‘socially useful’
  • Humanity – messages that feel personal and that share experiences and reflections are shared by people who feel the same way or have experienced the same or similar feelings.
  • Positivity – everyone loves good news
  • Useful – people want to pass on information that helps others for all sorts of reasons – not the least of which is that it raises the estimation of them with their peer group
  • Saving money – people want to see others benefit.
  • Relevance – references to what’s happening “today” have an immediacy and a currency that suits this tweet today, gone tomorrow medium
  • Narrative – we all love stories for their truths, their drama and their ending.

It’s interesting isn’t it to compare what people want to talk about and what companies want to talk about. You look at the list above and much of what emanates from the corporate world lacks the simplicity, humanity and optimism that is clearly so valued here.

The Blackland guys are absolutely right when they conclude that, “The results … show that the most successful communications are those that help people personally or socially.” So how should we conclude that brands need to communicate overall if they are to succeed socially? Here’s how I see it:

  • A socialising brand expresses an attitude that its customers hold (or will hold) dear;
  • It brings a refreshing point of view around what’s happening and the issues of today that people want to share with others;
  • It reaches those viewpoints by drawing on experience and experiences in its conversations;
  • It is optimistic;
  • It feels current – in and of the moment; and
  • It speaks in, or references, stories.

These ideas hold true for the condensed epitaphs of Twitter but they equally frame how brands should be strategising their advertising, their content marketing and perhaps even their PR. Increasingly brands need to express more than just an idea. They must actually contribute to, in reality or by projection, a wider life philosophy. And for that reason alone, every brand must be social now – in the wider interpretation of that word. It’s not about what you tweet or advertise or discuss. It’s about what you signal. The ability, not just the willingness, to share isn’t even about informing consumers anymore. It’s about reminding people that your brand is relevant and interesting.

Content is the new refresh key.

Photo of “Red refresh” taken by Christopher (Mr Thomas), sourced from Flickr

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