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Content Marketing

Why Non-viral Content Can Still Be a Big Win – Here’s Why #117

A Moz Top 10 Post

A Moz Top 10 Post

Why is Mark running with scissors? Well, you never know when they might come in handy! Same thing with your content that never went viral; it too may be “handier” than you think.
In this episode of our popular Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Mark and Eric explain why authoritative, quality content can become very valuable to your brand even if it doesn’t go viral.

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Eric: Mark, let’s start with, what makes a piece of content a win for a brand.
Mark: Eric, that depends on their goals for the content, what they want it to achieve in the marketplace. If they just want to increase their audience and brand awareness, then the number of people who viewed the content might be the success measure or the number of social shares that they got. If, on the other hand, they want their content to help build a reputation and topical authority for them, then it might matter more who references, recommends, shares or links to their content.
Eric: But all too often, it seems like the main thing businesses care about is whether or not the content went viral.
Mark: Right. Yes, which typically means the content either brought a lot of traffic or a lot of social shares, or both.
Eric: But aren’t those pretty good measures of the success of the content piece, though?
Mark: That goes back to what I said earlier. Certainly, lots of traffic or social shares can indicate a winning piece of content, but they’re not the only way your content can be valuable for you.
Eric: What do you mean? What’s another way brand content can be successful for a brand?
Mark: Let me tell you something I noticed about some of our own content. Now, I’ll start with one of our recent studies as an example. You published a survey of over 900 smartphone users, asking how and where they were comfortable with using voice commands on their phones.
Eric: Yes, and it turned up some pretty interesting stuff. Did you know men are twice as likely as women to use voice commands on their phone in a public restroom? And more than three times as likely to talk to their phones in a theater?
Mark: I do now because of your study, but as interesting as we knew that data was, it got a disappointingly low number of social shares initially. Just over 190 in the month since it published.
Eric: Now, a lot of other digital marketing agencies would be delighted to have a post that got nearly 200 shares, but we’ve been a little spoiled. Most of our big studies have gained between 2,000 and 4,000 shares.
Mark: It would have been easy to label a study with only 190 a content failure, but that wasn’t the end of the story.
Eric: And I want to hear the rest of the story.
Mark: Okay. Well, over the next few weeks after the study published, we noticed that it started to get written about and linked to by some major blogs and publications such as Search Engine Land,, Street Fight Mag, and even the powerful ZDNet site. So while our social following maybe didn’t immediately see the newsworthiness of that study, some influential writers in the topic area certainly did, and exposed it to their huge audiences. Now, as of the time of this filming, the study has links from over 40 domains and those sources combined had over 1,800 social shares.
Eric: So even though our content piece didn’t get huge social shares on its own, its message and our brand’s association with it actually did get spread very widely.
Mark: And that’s my point for this episode. If you consistently invest in building high-quality, authoritative content in your space and you’ve done a good job of marketing that content over time, then much of that content has a chance of becoming a standard reference in your industry, and will be cited and linked to by major influencers.
Eric: That concept is particularly valuable for B2B content, where topical authority and reputation can go a long way in impressing potential customers. When they keep seeing your company’s name mentioned in the major publications they read, it’s bound to leave an impression.
Mark: Yes, and that kind of content can become a gift that keeps on giving when it comes to getting mentioned by major publications and influencers. For instance, my post about the effect of social media on SEO published three years ago, and your study of the true power of links for ranking published a year ago, continue to get new write-ups and links from major publications all the time. They’ve earned a reputation as go-to authoritative sources in their topic areas.
Eric: Let’s sum it up. What’s the takeaway from all this, Mark?
Mark: Well, I think it’s that being persistent and consistent in creating well-researched, in-depth content that provides meaningful insights to your target market can pay off in more ways than one. Now, sure it’s great if one of those pieces goes viral, but there may be even more value if you gain enough reputation that important publications and influencers want to cite your content as the best source.

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Thoughts on “Why Non-viral Content Can Still Be a Big Win – Here’s Why #117”

  1. Matt LaClear

    Another excellent video, gentlemen. I must admit, I have not been diligent with checking the share counts of inbound links. Usually, the only metrics I look at are Domain Authority and Trust Flow. Thanks for the quality heads up.

  2. Bhupinder kaur

    What if my content is published on a small digital marketing company’s site? Not stonetemple! Yes, is already a popular SEO consulting company and there are many influencers looking to get ideas and insights from Marc & Eric. So, they pick up the topic you guys publish and write a story about it.
    Articles published on small company’s websites only depend on the share counts. Please correct me if I am wrong.

  3. Mark Traphagen

    For a small company, a post like this should be aspirational. That is, this is what you should aim at achieving. was once a small digital marketing company, too, and had a very small audience and zero visibility to influencers, journalists, and media sites. Getting there didn’t happen by accident; it came from years of consistent, persistent hard work both to learn to create the kind of content worth being noticed, and to build the audience, influence, and reputation to get noticed.

  4. Loving the scissors! Although we all hope for a post to go viral, it seems to be only a very fleeting kind of succes and difficult to replicate reliably. Building authority and cooperating with other influencers definitely seems like a more reliable method.

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Mark Traphagen

Mark Traphagen was our Content Strategy Director for Perficient Digital until February of 2019. He has been named one of the most influential content and social media authors in numerous industry listings.

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