What you can learn from #thedress to help your small business marketing

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A few weeks ago, #thedress became the latest viral phenomenon sparking a global social media debate over the color of a dress to be worn by the mother of a Scottish bride to be. The science behind why some saw the dress as black and white, which it actually is, and others perceived the colors as white and gold, is pretty fascinating in and of itself. But for marketers, far more interesting was the result in demand for the dress, which sold out in minutes once the debate over its color hit cyberspace.

While the odds of winning the lottery may be greater than becoming a viral sensation, wrote Slate contributor Chris Wilson in “Will My Video Get 1 Million Views on YouTube, some years ago; there’s no reason not to try to have your small business take social media by storm. You may not get millions of tweets and Facebook shares, but  understanding what resonates with friends and fans and what kind of content they are more apt to “like and share” can give your marketing effort and brand building a huge boost.

Viral marketing success starts by asking yourself is the content something people can connect to quickly and viscerally, according to Forbes contributor Allen Adamson in “The Secret Behind a Viral Marketing Hit.” If your customers and targets can connect with your content, there’s a good chance they will want to share it, as evidenced by #thedress.

And the potential for sharing continues to grow as people stay more and more connected through their mobile devicesShareThis reports that “mobile engagement has nearly doubled since the beginning of 2014. Mobile sharing represents nearly 20% of total activity within mobile devices, compared to only 6% within desktop environments

Know what’s shareable

When it comes to finding out what your audience finds interesting and in turn shareable, you need to pay attention. Listen to what your customers and prospects are telling you and analyze how they interact with your content. The more likes, comments and shares you get indicates what resonates with your small business audiences.

While the subject matter of your small business content has to be of interest to audiences; there are some types of content that have proven to be “highly shareable.” Keep these in mind as you develop your content strategy.

Video and images: A picture is worth a thousand words and potentially even more shares if it’s entertaining, fascinating or  informative.  Make it more compelling with some commentary and text. Video and images enables you to communicate something more powerfully than you might be able to do with words

Infographics:  Infographics do a great job of clearly conveying topics that rely a lot on data. They are generally visually engaging and colorful and can be very impactful to validate blog or website content. As long as you have data for backup; you can create an Infographic on any topic such as Plantronics Infographic on Flexible Working.

News: Become a source of breaking news about your industry or marketplace to gain the attention and shares of your audience. Add value by offering your opinion or additional background on the situation.

How to guides and lists:  How-to-guides and lists are popular for sharing. They are easier to digest than long blocks of text and readily can answer questions about how to resolve a problem.

SlideShare presentations: You can turn most any presentation you’ve already created for a meeting, conference or your own small business event into a SlideShare presentation. You’ll need to open a SlideShare account. Once you do, upload your SlideShare and easily share it across your social channels.

You never know exactly what will be the next viral sensation. But if you think about your customers’ needs and interests and what appeals to them on an emotional level, your small business may be the next “dress” or even “grumpy cat.”

About Judi Hembrough

Judi leads Americas Marketing strategy and go-to-market programs for the Small and Medium Business (SMB) customer segment at Plantronics. Judi has been a marketing director at Plantronics for 10 years in various roles focused on Strategic Alliances Marketing, SMB and Home & Home Office solutions. Prior to Plantronics, Judi was President of William-Christie Associates, Inc. -- a management consulting practice, for 10 years where she guided numerous companies such as Palm, Intuit, CBS MarketWatch and HID, in driving new initiatives.