As a digital marketer, you’re doing all the right things for your brand, including investing in content marketing, right? Of course you are.

And the difference between brands that are doing content marketing well and those who do it brilliantly boils down to one question: is your content being shared, commented on and discussed?

And apologies for the tired old phrase, but has content you’ve produced gone viral?

At Wednesday’s Festival of Marketing, the CMA explored the issue during a session on shareable content: how to make your content travel further.

I was joined on the stage by Kim Townend, formerly of Gov.UK, and Bob Fear from Virgin to discuss the recipe for share-worthy content.

It turns out we agreed that there is one role you must have on staff to give your brand the best chance: a community manager.

A great community manager needs to be your platform expert, your audience research specialist, the definitive voice for your brand and the litmus test for any social concepts or creative you want to launch.

Will an idea work? Will it flop? Your community manager, constantly monitoring the conversations around your living brand, can help you

But since we’re talking about sharing, there were a few other points made during the session that are worth repeating.

The public sector view

Kim Townend kicked off the session. As the former head of social media for Gov.UK, she found that functional, practical, informative pieces got people sharing.

Their most-shared piece of content to date, an elegant visual reminder to set your clocks, is a perfect example.

Amazingly, they’ve found that colour plays a role in how much extra organic reach a post can pick up. Blue and green content gets shared significantly more than other colours, regardless of audience demographic. 

The big brand view

Bob Fear, head of content and social at Virgin Pure, takes a very journalistic view of how content can be successful. During Virgin’s first forays into content, they created whatever they wanted.

They’d post about the bands they liked, the gigs or events they wanted to go to.

Today, Virgin has a team of data analysts that work to create insights around their audiences, their needs and behaviours. Virgin journalists and content creators are much more focussed and targeted.

Their content strategy is clearly defined: the result of careful listening to their customers and fans. 

The content marketing view

We break it down into six tenets. 

  1. Put people first – their passions and problems. What role can your brand play?
  2. Milk all insights – develop social intelligence and a strong audience understanding.
  3. Be purposeful – define principles, key audiences and objectives for each platform.
  4. Be nice, make friends – it’ll help you create warmth to your brand and increase reach.
  5. Implement social ways of working – planning is needed, but being agile a must.
  6. Build the right team – a great community manager to listen and great editors and journalists to interpret the insights. 

The truth is that audiences share content for a number of reasons: those reasons will vary from brand to brand, from demographic to demographic. Which makes it all sound more complex than it is.

Because the real insight, the most valuable learning you can apply, is to listen to the conversation.