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In the past we have discussed trends found in the Content Sharing Matrix. One of these trends is giving more control over the content to the consumer, which then increases the likelihood of that content being shared. Giving consumers control means that they can either customize the content or publish new content based on a template or guidelines. 

There are likely a number of reasons this tactic works:

1. By allowing consumers to create variations of content, there is an opportunity for exponentially more pieces of content to be viewed. This can lead to ancillary content like compilations and round-ups. The best example of this is Harlem Shake. In all cases, the additional content leads back to the primary piece in one way or another.

2. A consumer who creates his or her own variation of a piece of content then feels a higher sense of attachment to the content, and therefore becomes personally invested in making sure it’s viewed. This leads to increased instances of peer-to-peer sharing.

3. Control over the content lessens the feeling of being “marketed to,” since personalization by the creator is permitted. This increases the likelihood that viewers not tied to the creator will share that content, as people won’t feel like they’re perpetuating a brand agenda.

4. In the case of Harlem Shake, a meme was the tool that drove the trend. A meme drives a sense of community, as each participant becomes a part of the greater whole. People want to be part of a trend, and this urge drives participation in the content creation feed because of the aforementioned reason.

There are exciting opportunities in giving your consumers the control. However, your brand does run the risk of “brand jacking.” Prime examples are the McDonald’s “#McDStories” and the faux Shell Oil “Arctic Ready” campaign executed by Greenpeace. In both these cases, the naysayers and pessimists took over the control created by the brand in order to drive their own agenda.

In an online medium, or any medium for that matter, there is always a risk of backlash. But as seen in the Content Sharing Matrix, the benefits can be spectacular!

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