“Row, Row, Row Your Boat” went viral in my house last week.
This week I’ve been reduced to mime-like behavior to get a three-toothed smile and a single clap.
I have yet to develop next week’s strategy, but it will probably involve giving in and letting 10-month-old Wade fulfill his daily dream. I will let him throw the bag of dog food all over my under-mopped, overly sticky floor. The customer is always right, right?
My “Keep Wade Happy” campaign has been meeting objectives thus far because we keep the content fresh and on trend. And we don’t mess with what still works; there is value in evergreen content that consistently ups our parent ranking. Thank you Baby Einstein for puppets, thank you.
By now you’re aware that I see content everywhere (and yes, I’m a bit obsessed). No matter the medium, content defines how we interact, build communities, brand ourselves and increase our influence. And baby talk aside, the day-to-day activities of my fast-moving, fast-changing miracle showcase key lessons in developing and amplifying content for success.
1. Strive for consistency, not for perfection
I have diligently hand-washed roughly 2100 bottles, and if we are considering all the parts that make up a bottle, it’s more like 6300. Yes, I did the math (an average of seven bottles a day, 10 months, three parts per bottle). I spend way too much time with my kitchen sink. No one else has been allowed to prep bottles because, like most new parents, I live in constant panic over achieving perfection and avoiding germs. Necessary and sustainable? No.
I need to be able to parent consistently over the long haul. Burnout is not an option so I will be automating my bottle distribution from now on so I can be there for more mommy-and-me activities. Hello, dishwasher! The same applies to content distribution. Sparse and random posts, even if they are sparkling masterpieces, do nothing to strengthen your readership. Consistency equals authority and consistency equals trust. Optimize your workflow to deliver quality consistently without allowing perfectionism to slow down or compromise output.
And newsflash, every piece of content doesn’t have to be shiny and viral, it simply has to serve its purpose, at that moment in time, for the targeted persona. Bright, pricey bath toys don’t bring baby Wade back to the tub; it is the consistent, durable plastic cup he can bang on the tub walls that sealed him as a loyalist. And forget blocks, we like cardboard boxes.
2. Self-promotion in content isn’t bad
I worship the mirror. OK, that sounds bad. Let’s start over. I adore the mirror for its power to calm a teething tot. If you want to hear Wade babble with a smile and laugh uncontrollably, let him take a gander at himself. Most babies will do the same in front of the reflective glass. Do we call them self-absorbed? No we term it self-aware, and yes, adorable.
Give a little love to your brand every now and then. It isn’t taboo to mention your own products or initiatives in content as long as you keep it natural and relevant. The occasional brand integration also can help you test consumer behavior and engagement around new products or campaigns. Your baby can be self-aware, too.
3. Integrate social listening into a flexible strategy
My mini-brand’s behavior occasionally boggles my mind, and most days I wonder what’s next? What don’t I know? Am I missing valuable, sanity-saving tips? Like all brand teams should, my husband and I spy on the competition (in the battle for most viral cuteness) and crowdsourced parenting pivots.
If my current bedtime strategy isn’t working, I draw from oversharing moms via my social assets. I act quickly to adjust my strategy. Anything is worth a shot when you are raccoon-eyed from nights of zombie walks to the crib. Change in content campaigns certainly involves a bit more thought, but the key is to develop a workflow that allows for flexibility. Capitalize on trends, learnings and news-worthy events as they happen.
4. Leave space for engagement
Wade’s vocabulary may be limited. But his “ma, ma ma’s” and drawn out, high-pitched “yeahs” are delivered with purpose. I learned quickly that my drool bug listens and then speaks. He looks for a comfortable opening in the conversation. If we overpower with adult voices, he tends to babble less.
Stop telling and start engaging. When content is structured to ask for input or social campaigns are layered with meaningful questions, readers will share and comment with greater frequency. Don’t force your message. Instead, let your audience collaborate and discover it as their own.
5. A few cheap tricks never hurt anyone
We all know babies, fur babies included, garner traffic. Ignite Social Media ran a study of brand images on Facebook and those showing babies and children earned 191 percent more shares than those featuring adults. Still, it wasn’t until I experienced the distinct difference on my personal social profiles that this truly sunk in. The traction on my posts about Wade in the last six months was 64 percent higher than all of my other posts on Facebook. Cute sells. And apparently I am boring as heck on my own.
Use the tricks (we are, we admit it!) but keep it relevant. You can even poke fun at your own cheap tricks and your audience will laugh with you. Laughter is an emotion that can build and strengthen communities.
My next cheap trick (ehm, strategy) is currently under wraps. I don’t want to compromise my mini-brand’s social metrics by jumping the gun on the unveiling of his first Halloween costume. Nope, not a pumpkin. I’ve studied the interaction around his social persona and I understand what his fans want. Their comments (“ladies man”) and insights indicate something more macho is in order.
For now, his followers will stay guessing, and his father will continue to seek help for his content marketing obsessed mother.