Melissa Chadwick, on Jul 30, 2014 9:12:00 AM
alisaVW, on Jul 29, 2014 1:09:00 PM
This week is off to a roaring start. Yesterday, we opened the doors to our new office in Tyson’s Corner and now, we just learned that Merritt Group is a finalist in the PR News Platinum PR Awards competition!
We are excited to be all moved in to our newly renovated office space in Tysons Corner, Va. Our growing space is designed to reflect the new marketing, PR and creative agency we've become!
Hi there! Welcome to my new regular blog series: The Friday 5. Each week, I’ll be rounding up the top industry stories that caught my eye over the past few days. Sprinkle in a little analysis on why you should care and voilà – your cheat sheet to the week!
After taking a moment to recover, I wanted to be sure to report back on some of the exciting happenings coming out of Intersolar North America 2014. I had a great time out in San Francisco attending one of the solar industry’s biggest events, visiting the Merritt Group California crew, and satisfying my Mission burrito craving (a story for another day).
Digital, on Jul 14, 2014 5:45:00 AM
1. What do you do at Merritt Group?
Digital, on Jul 7, 2014 9:39:00 PM
1. What do you do at Merritt Group?
Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania professor Jonah Berger is an interesting guy. He is obsessive about understanding why we share – what makes digital content interesting and what makes content viral. He has written numerous papers and has even written aNew York Times bestselling book called “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” that dissects the science behind shareable content, and should be on the must-read list of all marketers.
Jonah is not alone of course. He carries on the work of great thinkers and researchers like Malcolm Gladwell, Dina Mayzlin, Shirley Brice Heath and others who have explored the phenomenon of sharing, as it relates to business and brand, from various angles. I’ve personally made it a habit of following some of this research over the years and found that there are indeed some common criteria for how we evaluate the value of content.
My personal take on it is that there are three common criteria we all look for in content. We value content that is useful, or helps us make decisions. We value content that educates and helps us learn, or stay current in our profession. We value content that is emotional,
or triggers our curiosity. I’ve found these criteria validated in my reading and in my work helping clients create great content for B2B marketing campaigns. In an era when information is abundant and time is scarce, these three criteria take on more importance for any content producer or marketer.
Back to Johan, in his book, he sets out a few criteria of his own (not entirely different from mine). He argues that there are six essential factors that make ideas (or content) contagious. According to Jonah, these are:
So, with Jonah’s ideas in mind, I thought it would be a fun exercise to look at how his six criteria – social currency, triggers, emotion, crowd-think, practicality and stories – are reflected in B2B content. More specifically, I looked at articles on our favorite Websites likeInformationWeek, ZDNet, GigaOm, Mashable and VentureBeat. In other words, in B2B tech, do Jonah’s criteria for contagious content matter?
I applied his criteria to the most popular and shared articles from those publications. With time of the essence, I limited my research to the most shared articles within a 24-hour period, between April 23 and April 24. Here’s what I found.
The most shared articles on GigaOm during the 24-hour period I measured were:
GigaOm has a large readership and had a solid amount of social shares over the 24-hour period I measured. Their content uses Triggers (relevant breaking news) to stay current and is high on Emotion (taking a stance on a topic) and Crowd-Think (to tap into existing conversations).
The most shared articles on InformationWeek were:
InformationWeek also has a great readership, but doesn’t get as many shares of their content as GigaOm. They, of course, attempt to use Triggers, but also have a lot of Practicality (with tips and advice) in their content.
The most shared articles on Venturebeat were:
VentureBeat knows that Social Currency matters, so you’ll find insider information and unique angles there that you might not find elsewhere. They also use Emotion well, like the first article pitting Elon Musk vs. Steve Jobs, to drive shares.
The most shared articles on Mashable were:
Clearly, Mashable really, really likes writing about Facebook. Which seems to be a popular topic, as it also gets the most shares on the site. They use Social Currency and Triggers, but also attempt to evoke Emotion with their content. They also tap into Crowd-Think, writing about topics that are the most discussed across the Web.
The most shared articles on ZDNet were:
ZDNet uses Triggers, or breaking news, as well as information not found on other sites to create Social Currency.
Given these are mostly news site, the trigger of breaking news drove many of the shares. But, interestingly, the second most shares, 11 of the 23 articles, offered some sort of social currency, or new or inside information that make the sharers of the article look smarter to their followers – something to consider when blogging or writing your next news release.
Some were shared because they touched on emotional or charged issues for technologists, like data transparency, privacy and net neutrality. While in the short-form online publishing world, storytelling didn’t play much of a role. But, maybe that method of getting people to shares will play differently if we evaluate more long-form content sites like The Economist, Time, Salon or The Atlantic.Practicality was generally not a factor in these publications, other than InformationWeek.
So, most of Jonas’s triggers were applicable, but we’re also still learning what works and what doesn’t in this new digital and social era of content. The publishers are learning as well, and will adopt more of these triggers as they evaluate the performance of their content. So, are we as we help our clients make their content and ideas more and more contagious.