nDLrZMost of us have a real love/hate relationship with our Facebook timelines. The people we love often appear in a timeline that we hate. It’s not that having a timeline is a bad thing. Timelines are the best way to browse social activity. It’s the random stuff that sometimes appears in the timeline that makes us hate it. There are two clear timeline trends that create the most problems. The sponsored story is one. Finding out that your friend liked a brand 6 months ago for the 150th time can’t really be claimed as a positive user experience or effective digital marketing content.

The other is the viral complaint post. You know the drill. Someone has a bad experience with a brand and decide the best way to deal with that is to post a rant on the brand’s Facebook page. The post gets picked up, shared, liked and commented by hundreds of thousands of people. The brand’s own response gets lost in the noise and a few million people have to read about it in their timeline.

One of these appeared in my timeline over the weekend. It wasn’t a rant this time though. It was a photograph of a frog, in a pre made salad. The post received over 100,000 likes and a similar number in comments. So far, so common that nobody would consider including the story on a digital marketing blog. That was until I noticed a common trend in the comments. There were five clear reactions that came up again and again. That got me thinking about what makes people respond to any kind of digital marketing content.

The target of all digital marketing content is to get people talking. The best way to promote your brand online is to have your fans promote it for you. Likes aren’t the only way to do that; they may not even be the most effective way to do it. Because people have gotten so used to sponsored stories that they tend to skip past branded likes. But they read comments, and often comment themselves. The key in getting that comment is creating content that compels people to respond.

Visceral Reaction

The most popular one-word comment on the salad frog post was ‘eugh’. People had such a visceral reaction to the image, they felt the need to make that single word statement of disgust. At the same time, they pushed the post into their friends’ timelines. Disgust may not be the ideal reaction to digital marketing content, but it would certainly be an effective one. The real learning marketers can take from this is that images with impact generate comments and spread posts around social media. Posts that invoke shock, awe or amusement have similar potential.

Tee up a Gag

Making people laugh is something everyone enjoys. That’s why ‘funny’ is a target for most digital marketing content. But being funny on your own may not be the only way to spread your content. The salad frog post was littered with gags about kissing the frog or about the extra protein in the salad. If you post an image that invites them, people are happy to add the gag themselves.

Start/Jump on a Bandwagon

Another common reaction was to demand that the poster sue the company involved. Or at least make a more formal complaint. People love a bandwagon. If they see something that stirs an emotion, they feel compelled to encourage others to share that emotion. If you can create content that stirs emotion, you are likely to find fans that want to jump on the bandwagon.

Push an Agenda

On a similar theme, but with an ethical twist. Many people mourned the poor frog that was caught up in this. In most cases, these were people who were already staunch supporters of animal rights. The post just afforded them the opportunity to push their agenda. Digital marketing content that hits on a popular cause could become extremely shareable.

The look of Derision

The most amusing trend in the salad frog comments was the number of people who rushed to point out that the photo was fake. Very few of them provided evidence of this, they used most of their comment to deride the people who assumed it was real. Whether the photo was fake or not wasn’t really important. These commenters just wanted their friends and the other commenters to know that they were too smart to be fooled by the fake. This is an extremely common trend in online comments. Digital marketing content that prompts this reaction, without painting the brand in a negative way, would have huge potential.

You don’t have to suffocate a frog to create digital marketing content that gets comments. You just need to post something that gets a reaction. The comments will do the rest.

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