How to Get Consumers Addicted to Your Content

Tara-Nicholle Nelson, vice president of digital and content at SutherlandGold Group, presenting at SXSW 2012

This post originally appeared on NASDAQ’s blog, where I contributed articles about content strategy during SXSW 2012.

Addiction is not a subject usually pegged to positive meaning – we usually speak about addition in reference to physical or psychological dependencies on a substance, person or object.

But addiction can have a positive meaning, too. Some of us get our fix with coffee; we all know someone addicted to Angry Birds, FarmVille or Words with Friends; and there are already some Pinterest nuts popping up all over the web.

There’s a synonym for these types of addictions, says Tara-Nicholle Nelson, vice president of digital and content at SutherlandGold Group, and that word is “love.”

For content addicts, this love is usually expressed by frequenting a small group of sites on a regular basis. Just think – are there any sites that you visit on a daily basis? What exactly is it about those sites that keeps you coming back?

Nelson says that brand publishers must understand what motivates consumers to consistently return to content sites, and then take those learnings to heart. Only then, will brands learn how to create addictive content.

Every brand goes through a process to becoming a brand that is loved by its consumers. That process entails reach, trial and stick. Once a brand has reached out to a consumer, that consumer must then try it out. If these two stages go as planned and the consumer keeps coming back for more, the brand has achieved “stick.”

There are three steps to generating “stickiness,” says Nelson, and some brands are already doing a great job at it.

1. Don’t Publish Information. Fuel Aspirations.

Brands must understand what their customers want to keep them happy. People want change more than ever, says Nelson. We want to be smarter, live cleaner, be more passionate, eat better foods, be more frugal. And we are more committed than ever to achieving our goals and dreams, she says.

To achieve our goals, we want knowledge. Brands can help us make our goal achievement smoother to achieve our aspirations, she says.

There is an opportunity, then, for brands to help consumers visualize, track and reach their goals. This can be as simple as creating content – how-tos, for example – to help consumers get what they want.

Or it can be as complicated as creating new products that help users track progress towards their goals. Products like Mint (personal finance tracking), Chartbeat (real-time blogging analytics) and The Eatery (healthful eating visualization) all do this.

2. Market Your Manifesto.

Brands should create manifestos that transcend the utility that the brand provides – they should take on topics that are bigger than their brands or the verticals that they work in, says Nelson.

Lululemon’s manifesto, for example, is all about a way of life that that has very little to do with yoga and exercise, its core areas of business. Instead, it’s all about life, love, relationships, health. Here’s an excerpt:

“Do one thing a day that scares you… Stress is related to 99% of all illness… Dance, sing, floss and travel… Sweat once a day to regenerate your skin… The pursuit of happiness is the source of all unhappiness.”

Your manifesto may even become an integral part of your company’s revenue. Sound silly? Think again. Design company Holstee began offering up prints of its company manifesto (as pictured above) last year. The message went viral, and so far, the manifesto has been viewed online more than 50 million times and print sales accounted for 50% of the business’s revenue.

3. Double-down on Content Experiences.

Keep in mind that a consumer’s experience with your brand doesn’t end with a tweet or a visit to your website. Whenever possible, couple content with real experiences.

Lululemon, for example, hosts free yoga events in its store and even puts on an annual worldwide Salutation Nation yoga gathering, where yogis from all around the world gather at 9 a.m. their time to practice yoga together. Not only is Lululemon helping yogis improve their practices during the event, but it posts videos and pictures online afterwards for attendees to enjoy.

Likewise, a number of subscription-based mail services are cropping up, including poster child, Birchbox, a beauty-samples-by-mail company. Birchbox creates a content experience around the arrival of its latest beauty sampling in the mail. The Birchbox team creates video tutorials and how-to posts on how to best use the samples. And users even post their own reviews and how-tos across the Internet.

Birchbox also maintains a lifestyle-oriented blog and social media presence that follow topics that appeal to its audience. For example, the team put together a SXSW packing list chronicling the must-have items that they’d be bringing to the conference – great packing tips for fellow attendees.

Nelson’s tips are a great start towards creating a brand and content that people love. What are your tips for creating addicting content?

5 thoughts on “How to Get Consumers Addicted to Your Content

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Content Marketing Articles Right Now

  2. Your buyers value their aspirations and dreams, when it is possible to produce content that helps them become a homeowner or an entrepreneur, they will keep coming back for more. They care about the values that they maintain as part of their identity, and about being involved with brands and communities who discuss them – a button you can activate with manifesto marketing. They care about protecting what is special to them, like their kids, their wellness and their money.

  3. Pingback: Top 10 Content Marketing Articles Right Now

  4. This is a great article, it hits at the core of something I’ve been thinking about. One thing worth noting is that most people misinterpret what a “brand” is. They think it’s a logo, or your colors, or your slogan. It is in part, but it’s also something much much larger. Simply put, brand is everything somebody *thinks* and *feels* when they think of an entity. That entity can be a person, a group, or a legal entity (company).

    And because it is that, what you’re actually forming is a calculated series of touch points that make people think and feel things. If you solely focus on what you’re selling, you become a salesman. If you focus on creating a *culture shift*, you will find people who resonate with your culture and want to join. Now you have a club of like-minded individuals who feel emotionally like they belong to something greater than anything tangible. We all want to belong.

    So stepping back and writing up a manifesto is a clear step towards defining a culture, and creating a club which you can then – and only then – actively invite people into. Brands need to be more than what they want from their customers, they need to become something worth joining for true “addiction”.

    Nike: Stop whining, and kick some ass. Join us.
    Apple: We believe in challenging the status quo, we salute “the crazies” who think they can change the world. Join us.

    This all relates back to an amazing TED talk by Simon Sinek about speaking first and foremost about the *WHY*, not the how or the what:

    Also, here’s another video manifesto by Skillshare

    Notice how all of these things speak to us emotionally about our aspirations. This is so effective because we filter information through our crocodile brain first. Crap… I think this vein is a blog post in of itself. =)

    • Jeez, you could be a professional writer with your blog-like comments! Maybe you could compile a book of your best comments – would probably sell well! 😛

      Loved the Skillshare manifesto. I hadn’t seen that one. And I like the way you describe brands that make you feel like you’re joining a club. You word things very nicely.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s