Good content marketing is all about relevance, shareability and value to the end user and today I’m sharing a piece of content that fulfilled all three of these criteria in abundance and qualifies as a great example of how to make your content go viral and hit the headlines.
When Transport for London (TFL) announced tube strikes in the UK’s capital will go ahead during the early part of February, Londoners and tourists scrambled for information on how they might best get around on the days that the strike action takes place and what stations might be open.
Most major websites (including TFL themselves) were running the standard text based lists of the tube lines that would be running and the affected stations, however London blogger Ian Mansfield’s blog IanVisits.Com decided to produce a more visual and familiar solution for Londoners to use, an edited version of the standard London Underground tube map showing only the stations that were open on the day of the strikes.
The resulting image was so engaging that it was picked up and used by leading local and national newspapers including Londoner’s bible “Time Out” magazine and the Independent which used it as the main image in their strike news article.
As the screenshot below shows the usage by The Independent meant that Ian’s image was shown within hours in the #1 spot on Google’s web search for the term “Tube Strike” and The Independent had attribution links to both Ian’s blog and his Twitter page in the article delivering him some very high visibility and no doubt vastly increased traffic.
Whilst I don’t believe Ian’s post was intended as a commercial content marketing campaign (for one I’m not sure that it didn’t fall foul of TFL’s copyright on the map itself but given there was no commercial gain you might consider it fair use), why did this content have such a shareability factor? What could your business learn from it? How could you achieve similar visibility?
#1 Make your content incredibly relevant and valuable
The tube strike map addressed a massive pain point for Londoners that needed to know how to get to work on time on the day of the strikes to keep their bosses, clients and customers happy. For tourists that had spent money on visiting London’s cultural hotspots they needed to know how to get around the city so they didn’t miss the west end show they had booked and lose the expense of their tickets. This content was extremely well targeted, relevant and hugely valuable to those that consumed it.
#2 Make your content highly shareable
The tube strike map was visual, and created in a form that was highly recognisable to it’s target audience. The iconic tube map of London is recognised the world over so the design of the content was delivered in a way that could be instantly consumed without any instruction, you simply “got it” on first view. Being visual the content lent itself to sharing on social media and gave the mainstream press a perfect visual to use in their coverage of the news story. The image was hosted on Flickr so was easy to grab by interested journalists, bloggers and social networkers.
#3 Make your content useable and accessible
The tube strike map could be printed out, displayed on a mobile device, or pulled up on a desktop. It was a tool that could easily be accessed anywhere you had a phone signal, or you could save it as an image on your phone for when you’re stuck in a tunnel with no 3G or Wifi waiting for the signals to turn green. The content is a tool that people will refer to on a constant basis, and Ian also decided to keep revising the map as new information came in about station closures throughout the day
As today’s example shows, providing genuinely useful, relevant and valuable content to your audience will get you higher visibility in the search engines and social networks and should be integrated as a key strategy in your digital marketing campaigns.
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