Want to increase your web presence and improve your brand's organic search results? Tell a secret.
Today I searched Google for the phrase "Neiman Marcus" and got 275,000 results. Next, I modified my search to "Neiman Marcus" and "cookies" and got 135,000. In other words, about half of Neiman Marcus's web presence is related to the chocolate chip cookie recipe some woman allegedly posted on the web and emailed to friends.
According to the story (or urban legend) a woman asked Neiman Marcus for its cookie recipe. Neiman Marcus abliged, but later charged her $250. The woman was shocked. She didn't want to pay that amount, but because she had already seen the recipe she had no choice. To get even, she sent the recipe to all her friends and family via email, who sent it to their friends and, before you know it, the recipe was everywhere.
Neiman Marcus decided to benefit from the buzz and now posts the recipe on its own website.
What's Your Secret?
Think about your brand's web presence in two ways: Your Message (what you want people to know about your brand) and Your Secret (what people might want to know).
To discover your secret--that information that the public may find interesting enough to share--do a content audit by sifting through the information you've gathered while running your business in order to identify interesting tidbits you could leak and share.
Suppose you operate a restaurant chain. You've invested loads of money and time researching how to make the perfect steak. Then you distilled all of that knowledge into a procedure your cooks follow in the kitchen. "We make the best steaks" might be your message; the one you pay to distribute on the web. Your secret, though, may involve one or two of the things you learned through that research like a special spice or whether to cut the meat with or against the grain. You don't need to share everything, but if you reveal one or two of those lessons, then consumers may quickly spread your secret along the web and your brand message with it.
If you leak your secret in the context of your brand message, you can get consumers to spread them both. For example, when you leak the secret say something like, "One of the reasons (restaurant name) makes the best steaks is we always (secret). The next time you're making steak at home, try it for yourself..."
We live in a copy and paste world. If you leak your secret in a paragraph that also includes brand's name and message ("we make the best steaks") then people are likely to share it verbatim--repeating your name and brand message each time. Give it a try and tell me about your experience.
Spread the fire. GS