Using Digital Gossip to Your Advantage

Gossip. We all do it. In fact, studies have shown that venting about bad behavior you’ve seen or overheard can actually lower stress levels. What is it about gossip that gets under our skin and makes us want to share?

It’s one part therapeutic and one part the rush of knowing something before anyone else does. That feeling of revealing privileged information to someone who didn’t know gives us a little thrill. In addition, knowing behind-the-scenes information that the general public has no access to gives us a sense of specialness; of exclusivity.

Now, what on Earth does this have to do with online marketing? More than you know.

digital gossip

Not too long ago, the creator of the much-beloved television show Veronica Mars had a brilliant idea. Why not crowdsource the funds needed to make a feature film? He couldn’t get the full support of a studio or producer, but the fan base? They were huge. And so the most successful Kickstarter film project of all time was born. But that’s a different story.

Part of Kickstarter’s appeal is that the “backers,” people who contribute to a creative project, get some sort of kickback for their contribution. It can range from a heartfelt “thank you” to big rewards, like signed merchandise or a guest role in a film. But the reward I want to talk about is the behind-the-scenes info.

I’ll admit it: I totally backed the Veronica Mars movie project. The show was amazing and I’m a big fan. They didn’t need to twist my arm. But an even bigger part of the appeal is that now I get first access to project announcements, behind-the-scenes tidbits, and other “secret” goodies. I even get a digital copy of the movie around the time it’s released in theaters!

And this is where gossip comes in. Even the illusion of exclusivity and getting the scoop before anyone else can ignite fans. Veronica Mars already had an enormous fan base, but you can apply the same principles to nearly any business. This is what you have to leverage with your social media. This is why people will follow you.

This is why social media works.

Think about it. When do your ears perk up the most? When you’re hearing stuff you already know, or when you’re overhearing a whispered conversation that isn’t meant for you and you hear your name? Are you going to care if you can access the same information as everyone else, or is it going to excite you more to get a first peek at something?

Give people access to something special. Figure out what they can get from your online properties that they aren’t going to find elsewhere. Talk to them. Even if you’re not talking to them directly, they’re still listening in to the conversation. Some of your best sway can come from revealing something juicy to a user asking questions on your page. They get to feel special, and everyone else around listening in feels like they got an inside look.

And best of all: people like to share “secrets.” Gossip isn’t always a bad thing!

Stephanie Wargin is the Social Media Strategist at Zenergy Works, a web design and SEO company located in Santa Rosa, California. Her friends like to brush her hair into her eyes whenever she talks about Facebook.

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