Social media in 2017 is awash with content. Some key players have steamed ahead in areas like video content and scrolling through the news feed today is less a form of socializing and more one of content consumption. For brands, this focus on content sharing - particularly video content - presents a huge opportunity. Views often number in the millions and having users share your content offers a reach other forms of marketing can’t. There are plenty of brands that its impossible to ignore - Huffington Post, UniLad, The Sport Bible, Buzzfeed, etc - and among the most popular is relatively new lifestyle zine LittleThings. By honing its content and adopting a quality over quantity approach, the New York company is leading the way in engagement and sharability.
LittleThings founded its own website in September 2014, having started as a blog within PetFlow. The growth since then has been incredible, with 12 million Facebook fans accrued in a little over a year. 55.7 million uniques makes it the biggest stand-alone lifestyle publisher (with a single URL), and all of us will have come across the site on social media, its key tool. The company creates content that is designed to be liked and shared, so on Facebook in particular it excels.
LittleThings is unparalleled in its effectiveness on Facebook. Each of the company’s posts generates around 15000 total engagements (reactions, shares, and comments), compared with just over 3000 for second-placed Buzzfeed. As a result, LittleThings is the second-most engaged page on Facebook despite having by far the fewest number of published articles. It has over 26 million engagements from just 1,748 articles - by comparison, Huffington Post’s 26 million comes from 16,543 articles.
LittleThings sees a 10 times higher engagement rate on its posts than the industry average. In a digital space that is abundant with content, engagement is far more important than volume, and LittleThings has a clear understanding of what it takes to make each piece of content resonate with its audience. The content goes through what it calls ‘Proprietary Testing Technology.’ First, its editorial team creates and curates inspiring and meaningful content, ’specially framed with the LittleThings Lens’. The content is then tested ‘with a small look-alike audience on Facebook using a regression analysis that includes engagement inputs such as likes, comments, shares, and CPC. The company claims this stringent process ensures high levels of engagement for all sponsored content published to its distributed platforms.
One thing LittleThings’ success effectively demonstrates is that branded content can actually have very little to do with the brand sponsoring it. A good example is the site’s partnership with TD Bank. The branded video focused on the Dignity Project, a charity that offers essential products and food to homeless people primarily in the Philadelphia area. The four-minute video has been viewed over 2.7 million times and has over 90000 reactions, shares, and comments. As part of TD’s CSR efforts, the bank made funds available to aid Lolly Galvin in her project, something the video mentions with just enough subtlety to avoid appearing cynical.
Branded content is big for LittleThings. Its website features 12 highly successful case studies using both video and text to promote core messages. The campaigns are either creative, inspirational, or ‘relatable’, and LittleThings clearly understands what it is that makes content sharable. Users are far more likely to engage with and share a branded DIY tutorial video than they are a product demonstration, a tone that’s difficult to strike.
Like many lifestyle blogs, LittleThings is clear in its targeting of women, and 76% of its audience is female. The publisher also segments women by age, with its categories set at 18-24, 25-34, 35-54, and 55+. Content will be produced with a particular audience in mind, and though some will be universal across the different age groups, It is most successful with the 35-54 group, with 16.3 million users. All brands can learn from this; just because the younger generations are the most tech savvy doesn’t make them the most easily engaged.
A big facet of knowing your audience is being on top of consumer behavioral trends. LittleThings has had mobile at its core since it began, and its content is tailored to be easily digestible on the smaller screen. The result is that some 85% of its content is consumed on mobile, a figure almost exactly in line with the percentage of social media time spent on mobile. The company has also gone all in on live video, knowing that Facebook and others are intent on pushing live content as much as possible. When compared with the likes of Refinery29, Good Housekeeping, Bustle, and Popsugar, Little Things is leading the way on both number of live videos and total views of live videos.
Any brand looking to chase their next viral hit should look to LittleThings for inspiration. The simple marketing practices of knowing your audience’s interests, knowing how and where they like to consume their content, and ensuring that content is both targeted and of a certain quality can have an unbelievable effect on your numbers.