Like many marketers, we have a process for identifying winning topics, then cranking them out. But for every piece forecasted to win (e.g., shares, pageviews, etc.), there’s one we didn’t predict that really is a winner. This is the elusive “unicorn content” coined by Larry Kim, CEO of Mobile Monkey.

Only 1-3% of Top Content Will be Successful

According to Kim, content that’s a true winner is like a magical unicorn. It’s very rare to find content that performs well in SEO and PPC, generates lots of engagement on social networks, and converts like crazy. When you find it, stop the press—or content engine—and crank out variations on the winning content.

This brings the question: If there’s a formula for what to do when you spot a unicorn, what about a process to produce this elusive content? Answering this incites the consummate content marketing debate: quantity versus quality.

Success Defines Quality Content

Kim says it’s not about quality attributes, it’s about taking winners then promoting them to amplify and gain greater visibility. “No content marketer has a crystal ball. Nobody can look at a piece of content and predict its future any more accurately than I can,” says Kim.

Some say you should take more time and produce less content. “Not true,” according to Kim. “Content is a numbers game and you need quantity to find quality.” In short, ideate more, create consistently, then watch for the winners.

Amplifying Runaway Content: A Key to Your Strategy

When content takes off, drives sessions, and is a winner: that’s quality. What you do with that quality content should be a big part of your marketing strategy.

We know everyone is busy these days, but Kim’s top tips and hacks for unicorn content were shared through a recent webinar hosted by Upwork. Setting aside the 50 minutes to watch it will be a smart investment of your time, as it’s sure to be a game-changer for your organization and content efforts.

The 5 Top Unicorn Hacks

1. Don’t follow the same path as everyone else. Try the inverted unicorn Facebook ad targeting method. Instead of casting a narrow net when targeting, target an unrelated interest to increase engagement and conversion. For example, instead of targeting people who like email marketing, target the larger interest (Game of Thrones) and those who like email marketing.

Facebook targeting

Inverted targeting

Banner ad examples using this tactic

Images courtesy of Larry Kim

2. Blast out unicorn content so more people—your target audience—sees it. Here’s how to think about this tactic. If you’re an author and want to be on the NYT best seller list for more visibility, you COULD try to hit the top by buying thousands of copies of your book. If you produce content, it’s a lot easier to get that boost because you can dial into sites that generate free exposure. Examples include Digg, Hacker News, and Reddit.

Yes, this takes time and patience. But you could also tap into freelance talent.

3. Use Facebook Messenger to connect directly to users versus going through the news feed. “Facebook campaigns can perform 10-80X better than email or the feed in terms of engagement,” according to Kim. And with the right tools, you can chat-blast anyone who messages your FB page. Opt in is a must, of course.

4. Create a unicorn “slush fund” (wondering if my boss is reading this?!). This means money is set aside from the monthly PPC budget so content marketers can go into promotion overdrive when content takes off.

5. Create and promote content outside your niche. Do this early, and with regularity. Why? Because this allows you to connect with potential customers and establish a relationship before they need you. To get started, find broad topics that overlap with your niche. Then cover with content, answer forum questions to help others, and build your credibility.

Again, this is another area where freelance talent can be your key differentiator in terms of success.

Promote Fearlessly

An article, infographic, or video is content. Just content. Until you see a piece gain traction—shares, likes, pageviews—that transforms it into a unicorn that works across channels and in a myriad of formats. This is where your content “marketing” kicks in: You double down on success. Per Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media, “You syndicate—promote—fearlessly”.

Learn more with Upwork’s webinar featuring Larry Kim, CEO of Mobile Monkey.