I found myself reflecting on pivotal events of 2013 recently, and in honour of Nelson Mandela's passing, I watched again a 1992 movie called The Power of One, set in South Africa during the Second World War and featuring a young English boy raised under apartheid. It was a powerful movie about racial injustice and had an amazing soundtrack. I downloaded it to my iPod for inspiration in 2014.
The "power of one" theme seemed a fitting beginning for 2014, with the promise of the Internet as a marketing tool available to the masses, enabling that power of one to connect with the power of many. But as I reflected more, I realized for many marketers, there is a missing step in reaching the masses. Many forget that to reach the many, they first have to reach out to one, and give that one person a reason to share it with their community, thereby achieving the many.
It's a three-step process: one to one to many, rather than a two-step of one to many. When we frame it from this perspective, it becomes about others, not about you or your business.
So why do people share online? In my experience, if you can provide content that allows your readers to appear smart, connected, funny or insightful, the chances of it getting shared go up exponentially. When you're motivating others to share your content, it becomes prudent to give them something that makes them look good. It's all about them, not about you. While this is a subtle shift in thinking, it's an important one in harnessing the power of one.
Another key to getting content spread from one to many is having something that lends itself to a great headline that people will want to open, link to and ultimately share. Yet good headlines are often overlooked in social media. Writing compelling and short headlines becomes even more important when writing for Twitter, where you are limited to 140 characters. If you want your headline and link to your content to be re-tweeted, you'll need to limit the characters used initially.
So what are some ways to boost the sharing of your content?
In an abbreviated world of sound-bite communication, lists seem to resonate. (Headline example: "Ten ways to grow your Twitter following in 2014.")
The world loves a teacher especially if there is a willing pupil. (Headline example: "Five surefire ways to get publicity.")
Generally, statistics get people excited only if they're proving something unexpected. Graphic presentations work best. (Headline example: "Social media metric shows huge mobile user growth during 2013.")
In a world of "how to" advice, "how not to" can cut through the clutter. (Headline example: "Five reasons people are not reading your blog.")
Quote research from respected sources and all parties instantly appear smarter. (Headline example: "Yale University study on why women CEOs fail.")
Nothing is better than real-life application when it comes to learning. (Headline example: "Social media disasters of 2013.")
Put your own spin on a news story or break news yourself. I did this last year when online sources reported that a man named Sam Sung was working for Apple in Vancouver. His business card had gone viral, and I had picked it up from bloggers in Australia and the U.S. Since I live in Vancouver, I was able to add my own spin to the story by doing my own journalistic investigation. You can read it here on my blog. (Headline example: "Does Sam Sung really work for Apple?")
So yes, the "power of one" is a great marketing theme for 2014. And framing your content from a one-to-one-to-many perspective is critical. Just remember the reasons why people share, and give that individual person you reach out to motivation to share with the power of their many, making it about them, not about you.