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Creating Shareable Content for Your Business

Creating Shareable Content for Your Business written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Tim Staples
Podcast Transcript

Tim Staples headshotToday on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I chat with Tim Staples, CEO of Shareability and co-author of Break Through the Noise: The 9 Rules to Capture Global Attention.

Staples has developed a reputation in the marketing industry for being a creator of viral content. In the past few years, several of his video campaigns have amassed more than five billion views, and 35 of them have landed on the first page of YouTube.

In his book and on this episode of the podcast, Staples discusses what he’s learned about creating shareable content. It’s not just for big, multinational brands. Even small businesses can learn to create content that resonates with their audience and inspires them to share with their friends. It’s the creation of this kind of content that can drive growth for your business.

Questions I ask Tim Staples:

  • What’s the noise we need to break through?
  • Is there a risk in trying to do something that grabs attention but doesn’t have much to do with your brand?
  • Is there a process to start analyzing where your opportunities are to break through the noise?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • How to create content that is worthy of a share.
  • Which are the most positive, proactive emotions that can drive your audience to share content.
  • The role that demographics play in what people find to be share-worthy, and how sharing is different across generations.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Tim Staples:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

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This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Klaviyo. If you’re looking to grow your business there is only one way: by building real, quality customer relationships. That’s where Klaviyo comes in.

Klaviyo helps you build meaningful relationships by listening and understanding cues from your customers, allowing you to easily turn that information into valuable marketing messages.

What’s their secret? Tune into Klaviyo’s Beyond Black Friday docu-series to find out and unlock marketing strategies you can use to keep momentum going year-round. Just head on over to

Transcript of Creating Shareable Content for Your Business

Transcript of Creating Shareable Content for Your Business written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: This episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Klaviyo. Klaviyo is a platform that helps growth-focused eCommerce brands drive more sales with super-targeted, highly relevant email, Facebook and Instagram marketing.

John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Tim Staples. He is the CEO of Shareability and the coauthor of a book we’re going to talk about today, Break Through the Noise: The 9 Rules to Capture Global Attention. So Tim, welcome to the show.

Tim Staples: Hey John, how are you doing, man?

John Jantsch: I’m awesome. I guess the first thing we ought to define is, what are you calling noise, that we’d need to break through?

Tim Staples: Yeah, so the way I think about this book is that, 30 years ago, when you looked at communicating a message, most of the megaphones of society were owned by big corporations. So it was your movie studios or your television networks or your radio stations. So if you wanted to become famous, as an individual, or if you wanted to get a message out, as a brand, it was either really difficult or really expensive. And so as times evolved and the internet happened, everything changed. And we effectively now have with the smartphone, we basically have a movie, a studio, in our pocket.

John Jantsch: Right.

Tim Staples: Right? And so now everybody can broadcast to the world. And so we live in kind of this age where everybody’s trying to get YouTube famous and people are broadcasting from their mother’s basement. But what it means is that, in 2019 the good news is that everybody has a megaphone. The bad news is that everybody has a megaphone and they’re shouting into it all day long, every day, to the point that most people have tuned almost all of it out. And so when I talk about break through the noise, it’s how do you crash through those millions of messages and commercials and people trying to come at you all day long and actually get your message heard and out into the audience?

John Jantsch: Well, and I think sometimes people hear that breaking through and crashing through and all that means is, turn up the volume, do something more viral, forget about the fact that it has any value to the brand, you’ve just got to get noticed. And I’m wondering if we’re kind of over that, too?

Tim Staples: Yeah, we are. Yeah. I always talk about the idea that virality. And my firm, we’ve done a lot of big viral hits, so we get asked a lot to go make things viral, which is a tough thing to be asked, repeatedly. But I think we’ve kind of moved out of the age of morality, in practical terms, and we moved into what I think is the age of share-ability. And for me that’s about how do you be shareable and, specifically, how are you worthy of a share?

John Jantsch: Yeah. And is there a formula for that? Can you look at something and say, well we’ve got to build this and then it’s got to do this and then its got to do that and that’ll make people share it. Is it that simple or is it…?

Tim Staples: Yeah. The thing that we always talk about, and the way I start my book is with a simple statement, which is that, nobody cares. And it’s basically this mindset of a default position, where just because you’re doing something that’s interesting to you, don’t assume that anyone else in the world is going to care. Right? And so I think that that’s the default mindset. It’s like, okay, now how do I actually create something that people are going to care about?

Tim Staples: Well there’s a number of things and they’re concepts I think are very consistent with a lot of things that you talk about. But the first one is real simple, it’s focused on value, right? How do I think about, okay, I want to reach this particular audience, instead of focusing on me and trying to project that out to them, how do I think about it, what they want, and then find a unique way to give it to them? Right? Which is a really simple concept, but I think one that most people miss is, what does the audience wants and how do I give that to them, in my own unique voice that will be valuable?

John Jantsch: Well, and I think a lot of the challenges is because we’re wired to think, how do I get them to buy? Or how I get them to like me? How do I get them to share? And sometimes that runs counter to what would be valuable to them.

Tim Staples: Yeah. We do a lot of work with big brands and they’re so hardwired to sell, sell, sell, first. I feel like the last 30 years has been about an advertising approach for brands where they literally beat their chest and try to project their message onto an audience, that may or may not want it. And what we’ve seen is, when you just start with value and value can be a lot of things, right? It could be education, it could be entertainment. It could be empathy. There’s a lot of different ways where you can provide value to an audience. If you take that first step and give them value first, you completely change your relationship. If you try to sell, they’re on their heels, they’re leaning back, they’re moving away from you. If you give them value, now they’re leaning forward and they want to learn more about you. And so you’ve now started a relationship that you can actually move towards a sale, instead of trying to start with a sale.

John Jantsch: I know in my own experience, and I’m sure that different people like different things, I know that I’m expecting X and I get Y, it surprises me. I know those are the things that I remember the most and I’m probably more likely to tell somebody about. Is that one of the, sort of, formulaic aspects of how you get somebody to pay attention?

Tim Staples: Yeah. So we’ve actually done a lot of research on the science side of how the human brain works. And it’s funny, it’s very consistent. Not even amongst the age groups but also across regions around the world. And we’ve identified these emotions that provoke people to share. And we’re human beings, right? We’re very emotional creatures. And the emotional piece of it is just something that’s completely lost in kind of the old school advertising. And it’s, like, okay, how am I going to connect with something and feel something? And then if I feel something, then I’ll be part of that conversation and be leaning forward. And so there’s actually five emotions that we’ve identified. They’re all positive emotions that we’ve found are the most effective, at least for us, to get people to lean forward and share. And so, I can walk you through those.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Do it. Do it.

Tim Staples: Yeah, so the first emotion is happiness, right? And I think we live in a world right now where everybody would agree that there’s a lot of polarization and people are split apart and there’s a lot of negativity on the internet, or at least it feels that way. And so giving people a smile during their day, even just a little smile as they’re going through social media or going across their phone in a break from a meeting, has a really, really powerful concept. So the first principle is happiness or joy.

Tim Staples: The second principle is, we call awe. So awe is a feeling of respect where you just go, Oh wow, that’s something I haven’t seen before. So it could be something that is, you’re literally watching a guy from the moon that you haven’t seen before. Or it could be someone doing an act of a good Samaritan act, that just makes you lean forward and go, wow, what a cool thing that they did for somebody. Completely unexpected and it kind of warmed my heart. And that’s what we mean by awe.

Tim Staples: The third emotion is called curiosity. So this is all about learning things about the world that you hadn’t seen before or you didn’t know. And there’s a lot of kind of educational content that it doesn’t feel like education, where you can provide a lot of value to the audience. The fourth emotion is empathy. And sympathy is feeling bad for somebody, but empathy is actually putting yourself in their shoes and having that shared connection. And that can be really, really powerful.

Tim Staples: And then the last emotion is surprise. And it’s basically giving something that they didn’t expect, in an unique way. And so those are the five emotions. There’s plenty more, John. Anger is a really powerful emotion but probably doesn’t fit most brands, right? Or sadness is a powerful emotion, but it shuts you down. You don’t want to share something that’s sad, right? Because you’ll make your friends sad. So, there are difference of emotions, but we find these to be the most positive, proactive emotions, when we’re creating content.

John Jantsch: So is there a risk in somebody saying, Oh, okay, I need to make people smile so I’ll do something that stops them, makes them smile. But maybe it doesn’t really have anything to do with our brand. Is there a risk in that or is there still value in that, because they associate that smile with, Hey look, who brought me a smile?

Tim Staples: So, we work with a division of AT&T called Cricket Wireless. And basically the wireless space, everybody hates their wireless provider, right?

John Jantsch: Right.

Tim Staples: And pretty much all of them are pretty much the same. Right? So the idea that one, if you’re on Verizon or AT&T or T-mobile or whoever asks you to be your provider, you kind of get the same experience, for the most part, right? And most times people have a negative experience. That’s what all the research says.

John Jantsch: Yep.

Tim Staples: So, you can try to just knock down your price or project a message. What Cricket says is, Hey, if we could just make people smile, just take a moment of their day and smile. That that’s going to have a big impact on our business, right? So we created this whole campaign. It was just called Something to Smile About and it’s literally having 14 or 15 different video campaigns where the whole premise, nothing to do with phones, nothing to do with cell plans or promotions.

Tim Staples: It’s all just instances where we’re taking real people and we’re making a smile through [inaudible] surprise and all on joy and these emotions, empathy. And it’s completely transformed their business. And it’s all because that little thing that seems like it shouldn’t be a big deal, is a massive deal when you compare it to what other brands are doing in that category out in the world, right where they’re trying to sell you. Now this brand has given me a smile. Whoa, why are they doing that? Now you’re leaning forward. Now you’re connecting with them in a different way than you otherwise would. Now you’re open to hearing more about their products and services. Now, you’re open to actually being a customer. And it’s all human emotion, but we found it to be very profound.

John Jantsch: Yeah. And it’s interesting, it’s probably heightened by the fact that they’re running counter, in a way, to how the people perceive the competitors. Right? I mean there’s a little bit of that-

Tim Staples: Exactly, right. And I think that’s why… I mentioned that space, it’s really tough, right? Because the people expect perfection from their cell phone provider, right? And you’re never going to be able to achieve that. So there’s always going to be some level of friction there and everybody’s going one way and you go the other, right?

John Jantsch: Right. Yeah. Well Sprint’s actually, have you noticed Sprint’s actually running ads talking about how bad all the other ads are. That everybody’s saying, they’re the best and they’re this and they’re that. And so it’s like they’ve-

Tim Staples: Yeah. One of the concepts of the book is called flip the script, which is exactly what you’re saying, which is when everybody goes one way, you go the exact opposite.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I’m not sure it’s working though. But anyway, that’s another story. I want to remind you that this episode is brought to you by Klaviyo. Klaviyo helps you build meaningful customer relationships by listening and understanding cues from your customers. And this allows you to easily turn that information into valuable marketing messages. There’s powerful segmentation email autoresponders that are ready to go. Great reporting. If you want to learn a little bit about the secret to building customer relationships, they’ve got a really fun series called, Klaviyo’s Beyond Black Friday. It’s a docuseries, a lot of fun, quick lessons. Just head on over to, Beyond Black Friday.

John Jantsch: So if I came to you and I said, okay, or we’re sitting around the boardroom trying to say, how do we break through the noise? Is there kind of a process to start analyzing where your opportunities are?

Tim Staples: Yeah, I think, the process starts with what’s shareable about me, as a person or a brand? Where can I provide a unique point of value? And so, I don’t know if it’s easier to go through a real life example, but I think, what would be example of a small business that we could talk about?

John Jantsch: Oh, you just mean category wise or something?

Tim Staples: Yeah.

John Jantsch: Yeah. So let’s go with a real true small business. Let’s talk about a remodeling contractor.

Tim Staples: Okay. A remodeling contractor and, I don’t know that space well, but I assume that most of them, on paper, look pretty much the same?

John Jantsch: Yeah. I think people would assume that, that a lot of times the conversation starts with, let’s have somebody come out and tell us what it would cost to do this project or whatever. And some are probably more professional than others, but I think the perception is, Hey, they all just drive in nails, right?

Tim Staples: Yeah. Yeah. And then it becomes a, hey, who’s credible enough to be invited to my home and then what’s the price?

John Jantsch: Exactly.

Tim Staples: Right? And it’s similar to the wireless space, right? It’s going to be heavily price-driven and about who’s in kind of your network to go, actually need. So the way we would think about it is, okay, who’s our audience? Who’s going to buy from us, in this case? It’s going to be homeowners, right?

John Jantsch: Right. Homeowners for sure. Probably somebody who’s going to stay put in their home, probably a little… the neighborhood can take a $50,000 kitchen, that kind of demographic.

Tim Staples: That’s right. So it’s slightly upscale, right?

John Jantsch: Right.

Tim Staples: And so then think about that audience and say, okay, if I was in their position, what would I want from a home remodeler? Right? And in terms of the content, and I’ve heard you talk about how strategy and content are really intermixed.

John Jantsch: Yep.

Tim Staples: Right? And they’re really the same thing. So let’s think about what would be of value to that homeowner, in the suburbs, that’s above average, from a wealth perspective. So, okay. What if we started creating content that was all about how to create more cost effective and more effective remodels of your kitchen, right? And we took you through examples and maybe we created content around what goes wrong with home remodelers or how home remodelers overcharge you or how to think about budgeting for a home remodel.

Tim Staples: And it was all a lot of trade secrets or specific content or educational content that would be really valuable to the audiences, that were maybe remodeling their kitchen. And a lot of people say, well, why would you give that away for free? Why would you spend that time and that resource? And I think, that’s where we say the exact opposite, it’s like, why wouldn’t you provide that value to the customer? So now when they’re searching online and they’re saying, Hey, I need to remodel my home, what are my look outs? What am I trying to accomplish? How do I stay on time and on budget? Now I see your video, where you’re walking me through, with really valuable educational advice and you’re satisfying my curiosity emotion, right? And now you’re building trust with me and now I’m starting to have a relationship with you. And because I’ve gotten value from you, now, when I want to go bid on a house, who’s going to be my first call?

John Jantsch: Yeah. And I think that’s one of the… Anybody who has remodeled, it’s bad. It’s not a good experience. You’re going to be living out of boxes, you’re going to plug your refrigerator in the basement, for a while. So everybody realizes it’s going to be a bad experience, it’s just inherent. So I’m sure there’s an aspect of actually playing up the experience, what they do to make it not such a bad experience, would probably be a great part of that, as well.

Tim Staples: 100%. Yeah. Though it feels like a trust category, for sure. Any category where there’s a lack of trust. I think if you can go the other way and build positive emotions, just like in the wireless space, I think it can be really powerful.

John Jantsch: So, one of the things that I’m sure that you, especially as an agency, find is that, once something starts working, it seems like everybody does it.

Tim Staples: Yeah.

John Jantsch: And so, are you constantly having to sort of zig and say, Hey, this worked this month, but it’s probably over now? Because you see that all the time on Instagram, on social networks, even in ads, it feels like the copycat syndrome is real.

Tim Staples: Yeah. And then you combine that with the way that the platforms like Facebook and YouTube are evolving and their algorithm changes and becomes more favorable for brands in the beginning and then it becomes less favorable as they monetize it more.

Tim Staples: And so, one of the things my partner and I said, kind of from day one when we started this company is, every day is a new day in terms of evolution. And just having that mindset that, no matter what we’re doing today, it’s going to be different tomorrow. And that you’re always going to be learning and you’re always going to be behind the curve, in some regard, because it’s happening so fast and the speed of change is just so rapid.

Tim Staples: I think it’s just a mindset. And I think if you can have a mindset of, whatever it is, however deep you’re into social media or not, or digital and just say, Hey, how do I go to school on it? How do I learn? How do I do research? And just continually get smarter about what’s going on in the space and always kind of challenge yourself to say, Hey, what we did today is not going to work tomorrow. And try to prove that it doesn’t work and prove what comes next. I think the advantage is always going to go to the nimble and the people that are willing to put in the work and just continue to figure it out.

John Jantsch: Do you find that there are significant differences in terms of, not only what they see as valuable or as entertaining, but what they’re willing to share between different age groups?

Tim Staples: For sure. And I think with the younger demographic, they’re just sharing in completely different ways to… And it’s funny, a lot of it’s starting to come off platform with the really young kids, they’re sharing via direct messaging, right? And so they’ll see something on Instagram or they’ll see it on Facebook or TikTok, but they’ll send a group text or it’ll be on Messenger or on Snap. So you never actually see the actual share, it doesn’t actually register because it’s via direct messaging. And so there’s a whole new rhythm that’s happening with people that are under 20 and how they’re consuming and sharing content.

Tim Staples: And then much more reliable, as you get a little bit older, right? And I think Facebook has kind of become the go to platform for the over 40 set. Right? So you see kind of a more traditional, Hey, I saw a piece of content, I like it, I commented, I share it with my friends. And in some ways, targeting say moms, 30 or 40 year old moms, is much more predictable and scalable and easier to kind of crack than to understand how to get inside of the mind of a 17-year-old girl in Chicago.

John Jantsch: So are there some elements that make something more inherently shareable? Are there things that you kind of check the boxes and say, yeah, we need to make sure we have these in there? Because it may not be viral, as we talked about, but at least it makes it more shareable.

Tim Staples: Yeah. So I think the core of us is, how do you find a piece of value, which we talked about, how do we combine that with a shareable emotion and really lean into the emotion, so that we’re getting awe or we’re getting happiness or we’re getting surprise? And I think one of the pieces, and you talk about this, but is finding that voice that you have. What is your strategy, as a person or as a brand, where you can offer unique insight into the world that other people don’t? I think those are the pieces that are kind of fundamental.

Tim Staples: And then once you understand what that is, what your value proposition is, then you get into a more tactical side where we always talk about, and it’s a chapter of the book, it’s called Crush the Headline. And, basically, what that means is, if you treat a piece of content, if you’re launching a video and you treat it almost like a newspaper article and you have to really understand what the headline of your video is. What is the one sentence that will be immediately understood? And so people can engage with it and be a part of it.

Tim Staples: Because, the atmosphere right now is that, I always say that people are rolling through social media, like a serial dater on Tinder, right? They’re just swiping and swiping and swiping. It’s pretty crazy to watch young people go through social and they’ll swipe by everything and they’ll stop for a half second and they’ll see if they’re interested and they’ll keep moving. So you have to be really clear with the headline of what your video is. And so then the headline needs to connect to the visual that they see and they need to be able to immediately understand what the value is for them. So that they’ll check it out. And I think that’s a really important kind of tactical thing is, being super clear with what your value is right away. And then getting into the video, we call it a concept, giving up the dough. And, basically, this is the idea that you put the best part of your video in the front of the video. Because, either you’re going to grab peoples attention in the first five to seven seconds, or they’re going to be gone forever.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I see that on a lot of really good YouTube, how to videos. The first five seconds are going to be, here’s what you’re going to get from this and how much money it’s going to make you. And then they get into the thing.

Tim Staples: That’s right.

John Jantsch: I think you’re right. And in terms of the sharing, I know we have a lot of clients that want to share, here’s what we did, here’s our new project, here’s our blog post, and then they share the, Oh, by the way, so and so won an award or had a baby or found a really weird thing on this project. And that’s the stuff that gets shared, because it’s the personal stuff. It’s the culture stuff. And so, in terms of share-ability, you don’t have to look very far to see what gets the most engagement is kind of the more of the personal stuff.

Tim Staples: Yeah. Well, yeah. If the company is talking about the company, nobody cares, right? The company’s talking about the audience or the company members and share the personal stuff, and then those people are definitely going to care, right? And it’s a whole different perspective, in terms of how it’s received.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Awesome. So, Tim, where can people find out more about your work and about Break Through the Noise?

Tim Staples: Yeah. So, Break Through the Noise, you can find on You can find me on Twitter @micodala and you can check out the company Shareability at

John Jantsch:  Awesome. And hopefully we’ll run into you soon out there on the road, Tim.

Tim Staples: Awesome. Thanks. Thanks for having me, John.