Every now and then, a piece of content goes absolutely viral on the internet. And, it’s pretty much every content marketer’s goal to produce that piece of content, the one that gets shared like crazy. We’ve all seen it happen, but we haven’t all made it happen.
Creating shareable content requires taking a step back and thinking about the process. What actually encourages people to share content? What happens from the moment you first see a headline to time you share it across social media platforms?
While the process may not be entirely predictable, there are certain steps you can take to make your content as shareable as possible. Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating irresistibly shareable content. Enjoy!
Choose the Right Topic
The first step to creating highly sharable content is determining the right topic. Content marketers often struggle with finding new ideas, never mind highly shareable ones. However, there are several ways to go about choosing the right topic.
Analyze Existing Content
By looking at existing content on your website or competitors, you can replicate what’s worked in the past and avoid or improve upon what hasn’t.
BuzzSumo lets you analyze what content performs best for certain topics, domains, networks and more. With this tool, you can determine content with the most shares on your website or your competitors to help inspire new ideas, headlines and approaches.
The tool also recently added a reporting feature that lets you dive even deeper into the data by looking at average shares by content type. When comparing different content types like video posts, infographics or how-to articles, you can see what formats are getting the most traction. This will be especially helpful when determining what style posts are well received by your audience.
Test Different Styles
Providing your audience with a variety of quality content is essential to standing out in the noisy world of content marketing. And, this means trying different formats based on what your audience has proven to enjoy and share.
One of my colleagues, Stacy Thompson wrote about this in a recent post where she reminds content marketers to leverage curated content as a method of driving social shares. Curated content is one of the best ways to get a post in front of and shared by a highly targeted audience. By mentioning key thought leaders and publications in the industry, you can generate social buzz and build relationships for potential guest contributions and other link building tactics.
Find & Answer Questions
Another way to go about creating shareable content is to consider what questions your audience is asking. As Casie Gillette wrote in a recent post, “Know what your customers are asking about and give them the answer.”
Figuring out what questions your audience wants answers to is a great way to come up with new content ideas, while ensuring that people actually care about it.
Blue Nile’s research recently released a study about the psychology of searchers, showing that 27% of searchers phrased their query in the form of a question (‘how, ‘why’, ‘where’, ‘what’, ‘which’) as opposed to a ‘statement query. The same study showed that 50% of search queries were four words or longer. So, why is this all so important? It tells us that more searchers are asking questions and using longer queries.
There are several ways you can go about finding your audience’s questions. I would highly recommend searching keywords on popular forums like Quora, exploring keywords and phrases in Twitter search and seeing what people are asking in industry related LinkedIn Groups. This research will help find valuable ideas for how-to style posts that will serve as an excellent resource for your target audience.
Make the Perfect Headline
I think we can all agree that a catchy headline is what attracts us to read any piece of content. However, catchiness isn’t the only thing that encourages people to click to your website. To make the perfect headline, I’d recommend considering the following elements.
Be Catchy, Not Offensive
There are infinite tips to write a catchy headline, but knowing the difference between interesting titles versus just plain offensive ones is crucial. Some people believe that creating negative or offensive headlines will catch people’s attention and drawn in the most clicks. Realistically, it may rub your audience the wrong way and cause them to associate your brand with that negativity. This is certainly not the best way to build a loyal following of readers.
Remember: Headlines not only attract new readers, but they will appear in front of your existing audience, whether on Google or social media. To craft a successful headline, you need to know what your audience cares about, the lingo they use and what offends them.
Here’s an infographic with 74 blog title templates from TwelveSkip that have proven to work:
Solve a Problem
Your headline should clearly explain the problem you’re aiming to solve. Readers are subconsciously asking themselves, “Why should I care?” And, if you give them a good enough reason, they will click. As I mentioned before, your audience has questions and they need to know that you have the answers. In order to write a powerful headline, you must to be ultra specific. Without solid planning and a clear vision, you’re content will likely be a failure and this all begins with your topic choice and headline.
Deliver What You Promise
Your headline is a promise to readers and your content determines whether or not you deliver it. It doesn’t matter how catchy your title is, if your content isn’t valuable – it isn’t share worthy.
Neil Patel said…
In other words, don’t write a headline just to be catchy – it has to align with the content that follows. Readers will become frustrated and distrusting toward your brand if you trick them into clicking.
Optimize for SEO
Keep in mind that your title should be optimized for search as well. The optimal length for a title tag is fewer than 55 characters. Anything exceeding 55 characters can be cut off, making it important to incorporate the target keyword towards the beginning. The title of your content is one of the most important factors for SEO, but it isn’t the only thing that readers will see in search results.
The URL and meta description are also very important aspects of producing shareable content that will also generate visibility in organic search. URLs should be as short and sweet as possible, while accurately explaining what the content is about. The optimal length for a URL isn’t set in stone, but it should explain what’s on the page without overwhelming the reader.
Although meta description tags don’t influence search engine rankings as strongly, they serve as another way to encourage clicks from search engine results. Think of the meta descriptions as an opportunity to promote your content to searchers and tell them if your content is relevant to the keyword or phrase they are searching.
While there are numerous SEO best practices to consider when crafting your meta description, it’s essential to:
- Incorporate the keyword intelligently
- Persuade the reader to click
- Be clear and specific
- Keep it less than 160 characters
Distribute Your Content
Now that you have your topic, title and content, it’s time to think about distributing it. Optimizing your social media strategy for effective content distribution is key to generating the most shares possible. But, social media isn’t the only platform you should be distributing your content.
Know the time and place to share every content asset produced:
There are countless studies available to help determine the best time to share your content on social media. However, this certainly varies across industries and organizations. You can start by digging into Google Analytics and social media data to find what times your audience is online. Once you get a better idea of this, you should test different times and confirm what works best.
Sharing your content isn’t a one-time deal, or at least it shouldn’t be. Reshare your content to drive more traffic, boost engagement and reach, connect with new followers and get to an audience you missed the first time.
For any content that refers to other people or publications, it’s worth reaching out to them and letting them know they’ve been mentioned. Mention them on Twitter with a link to the article or tag them in the update. Those mentioned in an article are very likely to share it with their relevant audience.
As I mentioned before, social media isn’t the only place you should be sharing your content. Loop back around to those blogs or forums that inspired your topic in the first place and share the content that you created to help that audience. Promoting your content in a way that doesn’t come off “spammy” or intrusive is all about your approach. Personalize each message with communication that is specific to the forum and person to avoid sounding robotic. Recognize their question or problem and provide the content that can help them. Also, provide them with your contact information for any feedback or questions.
In summary, it’s not that easy to produce new and exciting content that people want to share. But, with the appropriate preparation and planning put into the foundation of content, you’ll be getting more shares in no time. Just remember, people want content that benefits them in some way or another and your mission is to produce that content and get it in front of them. By taking these steps, you will make your content as shareable as possible.
Are there any other steps content marketers should take to create shareable content? Feel free to comment below with your thoughts and unique strategies!