Lubricate your brand: Stickiness isn’t everything

April 1, 2009

slippery_conditionsAlmost a year ago, Kevin Dugan asked at Strategic Public Relations, “Is your brand sticky or slippery online?” To this day, that concept has stuck with me — pun intended, I suppose.

For years, Web publishers sought to develop “sticky” content that would hold people’s attention and keep them coming back. Makes sense, right? If you’re producing quality content or finding ways to keep people entertained, they’ll naturally be drawn to your site.

Then this whole social media thing happened. Folks started to recognize that if just about anyone can create content with a few clicks of a mouse, the competition for those eyeballs is going to be fierce. If your success or failure depends on attracting and keeping eyeballs on your site — that is, you’re trying to sell advertising on a CPM basis or all of your content is locked up within the proverbial walls of your Web site — you might be in a bit of a tough spot. Coming up with compelling content is but one hurdle; coming up with content that’s compelling enough to keep people’s eyes from straying is a whole ‘nother ball game.

The simpler approach is to not even try to lock them in at all. Go to where your audience already is. This is the essence of being slippery: Rather than try to create sticky content and grasp onto visitors for dear life, create content that slips into the right places at the right time.

What the hell does that mean? Don’t just build a destination for your video content; put it on a site like YouTube. Don’t just create a photo gallery on your site; set up a Flickr account. Don’t just watch the conversations go buy; leave comments on blogs and interact with people on Twitter.

Being slippery is crucial; if this social media revolution has taught us anything, it’s been to remind us to be less self-centered. Be a source of useful, relevant information, not shameless self-promotion. People aren’t often compelled to share promotion, but they’ll eagerly share information and entertainment. That is, information and entertainment allow your brand to become slippery. 

Stickiness has its place, though. As a content consumer, I want to subscribe to and closely follow certain blogs and news outlets. As a content publisher, I want to make that sort of opt-in expression of zeal as easy as possible. The key is that being sticky shouldn’t be your primary goal. Stickiness is a positive side-effect of first being slippery.

So strive for sticky ideas — ideas that stuck with me the way Kevin’s post about “slippery brands” stuck with me — that you can then make slippery. “If you build it, they will come” worked for Ray Kinsella, but if your brand isn’t slipping into the right places, you might as well take your cue from another famous film.



Photo courtesy of joelogon on Flickr