I’ve written a few times about the “second customer” for content.
This is the person who isn’t the right fit to make a purchase, but they’ll happily help you get the word out to the people who are in a position to buy.
Sometimes we get lucky enough to get an outright referral. But more often, we build our audiences when other people share our content.
So what makes content publishers share our work with their own audiences?
Most of the answers to that question can be boiled down to:
We share content when it makes us look and feel smart
Helping others makes us feel good.
Sharing something excellent makes us feel powerful, confident, and, yes … smart.
So digging a little more … how can we help other creators look and feel smart when they share our content?
1. Our work has to be as useful as we can make it
There are so many real problems in this world. Solve one or two of them in a meaningful way. (And absolutely, art can do this. Sometimes, so can a gorgeous pair of shoes.)
The compliment that makes me feel better than any other is someone saying,
“Thank you, that piece of writing helped me with something I was really wrestling with.”
That’s a great feeling when I wrote the content. But it’s also a great feeling when another person wrote it and I was able to share the goodness.
When you create work that’s as useful as you can possibly make it, you make other creators look ultra smart for sharing it. And that makes them feel fantastic.
2. We need to remove friction and irritants
I’ve heard so justifications over the years for aggressive pop-ups. And I am sure they work well for some businesses.
I also know that in the ten+ years I was with Copyblogger, we nearly always refrained from linking to content with a clumsy pop-up. Because it didn’t make us feel (or look) good to share an unpleasant experience with our audience.
Not every pop-up (or other tactic) is annoying and grubby. But if you have an annoying, grubby pop-up on your site, you’re limiting the number of people who will share your work. And that missed opportunity is invisible to your site analytics.
Anything that reduces visitor trust will reduce the number of influential publishers who are willing to share your content. These can include:
- Bad site design (either a design that’s seriously dated or one that’s hard to use)
- Painfully slow loading times
- Too much sales aggression too soon
- Malware or other security warnings (this one is fatal)
3. We need to remember our audience’s path isn’t always the same as ours
Content creators always need to be on the lookout for the curse of knowledge — that assumption that our audience knows everything we do.
We often have a good understanding of their journey, because we’ve made it. But the view from where we stand isn’t the same as the view from those early points on the path.
Don’t rush your new readers. Let them get comfortable as they look around and see what you have to offer. Give them useful resources, and hold off on the hype and the pressure.
Use content sequences to walk new people through the stages of awareness that move them closer to you. Educate them on what they need to know to become great customers, and whether they’re the right fit to move forward.
Yes, you’re going to present them with an offer. Just don’t maul them with it five seconds after they walk in the door.
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