Then there’s your content.
You’re sending it out everyone on social media and via email. Yet, you’re not gaining the traction that you want.
There is a way to fix that. At least 15 of them, in fact, which we’re about to run through.
In this blog post you’re going to learn:
- What makes viral content so shareable?
- How can you replicate those shareable traits with your own content?
- What highly shared content really looks like.
What are you waiting for? Check out our top tips for creating shareable content and find success for yourself.
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As a bonus, we’ve included this fact-packed infographic with interesting stats on shareable content. Download it and keep it on hand for any time you need a reminder about what makes shareable content so important.
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1. Do Competitive Research
One of the easiest ways to create content people want to pass around is to look at what's worked for others.
So, creep on your competitors!
Looking at what your competitors are doing and what their audience is reacting to is a great way to find insights on the content your audience wants to see.
Here’s a list of what you need to do to be a successful competitor-tracking Sherlock Holmes:
- Make a list of your top five competitors and the social media channels you both are on. Where are you competitors at online? If you’re on the same channels that means that you’re directly competing with them for traffic.
- Take a look at the last six months of content that they have published. This will involve a lot of scrolling and note taking. Are they publishing blogs, videos, or some other type of content? What types of content are you publishing that are similar to theirs?
- Note content that has gotten high engagement on each channel. If videos are going over well for your competitor on Facebook take note of that. Then look at specifics, what are they doing in those videos that is causing a reaction from their audience?
- Use their high engagement content to inspire your own content. By seeing what your intended audience is already reacting too you can take those conceptions and make them your own. Take what your competitors are writing about and make it 10x better. Make your audience see that you are the best option.
2. Tell A Story With Your Content
Next, let's cover how to craft strong storytelling content. Why is storytelling an important part of creating shareable content? Because it allows your audience to see themselves in a given situation, making it more relatable to their day-to-day experience.
So how can you make your content tell a story for your audience? Craft your content so it has a clear beginning, middle, and end. At the end of it you should be able to answer the question, “Did my content relate to my audience and get them from point A to point B clearly?”
So let’s map that out. or each piece of content that you create, write down the following:
- The problem that your audience is experiencing.
- The solution that your product or company can provide.
- How are you going to tell a story that will take your audience from Point A to Point B? Think about the steps it takes for a consumer to start with a problem and arrive at a solution:
How can you create storytelling content for social media? Take a look at this post from State Farm Insurance:
Some surprises are bigger than others. No matter what, we're here to help.
Posted by State Farm on Monday, June 13, 2016
The video does a few things. First, it introduces a pair of common problems; one is that is a bit light-hearted and one more serious. Both of these problems or experiences people can relate to.
The video continues and leads viewers from Point A (being able to buy products you love and possibly having them stolen) to Point B (learning that State Farm can protect you should the worst happen to your new purchase).
The video resolves by showing the audience that no matter the situation, State Farm will be there in the good times to reward them and in the bad times to help them.
The copy is short but the video still tells a story with a bit of humor. And since it's on social media, it's naturally convenient to share.
3. Validate Your Audience’s Opinions
Another way to create shareable content is to validate your audience’s opinions. Content that reinforces the opinions your audience holds is easy to share because they now have proof from a reliable source (you!) that their opinions are correct.
So how do you create that content? You need to think back to your audience. What do they like and believe in?
For example, if I was targeting marketers, I could talk about topics I know the marketing community has polarizing opinions around. That might include something like hashtag usage on Facebook (don't do it) or using automated direct messages on Twitter (again, that's another one in the "don't" column).
I know that people in my target audience care about these topics because they’re relevant to their jobs. There’s also the fact that people will have an opinion on whether or not my observations are correct.
So how can you find that information?
- Think about your demographic, what are they interested in?
- What do people in your industry care about?
- What do they have differentiating opinions on?
What are some of the opinions that you have already posted about? What did your audience have a positive reaction towards? If they feel a certain way about something, you can probably guess they have a certain belief.
So what does this type of content look like in action? Take a look at this Facebook post from Girl Develop It:
.TechRepublic names their top 10 cities for #womenintech in the US. Nearly all of them have a local GDI chapter! http://tek.io/2nfsGWb 🙌
While Girl Develop It didn’t write the article that they shared (and that’s okay) this article would still appeal to the beliefs of their audience. Why? Because they are an organization focused on getting women involved in tech by teaching them how to code. So it would make sense that their audience would be excited about cities that higher a lot of women in the tech field.
3. How Can You Use Controversy In Your Content?
Why would you want to cause controversy with your content? That seems like the exact opposite of what you would want to do. Wouldn’t you rather have people agree with you?
Not necessarily. You can actually cause your audience to become more certain in their opinions because they want to prove that they’re right.
So how can you create the content that will play devil’s advocate to your audience’s opinions? Your exercise this time will be the reverse of the previous one. If your audience aligns their values on one side of an argument, how could you reintroduce the other side to encourage shares?
So what does this content look like? Let’s go back to the marketer targeting example from earlier. Check out this tweet from Luis Costa:
Will Writing That E-Book Really Boost Your Business? https://t.co/Vcouf7BKYD
— Luís Costa (@luiscostainfo) July 6, 2017
Often times people hear “publish your content, establish yourself as an expert in the field.” One of the ways that marketers can do that is by publishing an e-book. It makes sense right? They’re easy to self-publish and you have a wealth of information to share. But what if that ebook isn’t necessarily your best option?
That’s exactly what this article does. It takes a commonly held assumption, flips it on its head and plays devil’s advocate. Doing this causes one of two things to happen. Either:
- You’ll click the post because you want to see what this person is talking about.
- You know you’re right and you want to see where the author came to that conclusion so you can argue and reinforce your own ideas.
4. Create Incentives For Sharing Your Content
Everybody likes free stuff right? Whether it’s a T-shirt or a strategy template, free stuff often equals content shares.
People like getting a reward for the time it takes to do, well, anything, too. So, how does this relate to content?
You can help increase your shares by incentivizing your audience to take action.
So how can you find out what your audience likes? You guessed it, more exercises yay! Take a look at past giveaways, free downloads, and other incentives you’ve offered your audience. Did you incentivize anything there? If so, what did your audience respond well to?
So what does incentivizing your content look like? Take a look at this tweet from Passion Planner:
— Passion Planner (@passion_planner) May 24, 2017
They encourage shares because it’s what will enter them to win a fun prize package. And entering to win is simple, all they have to do is click a button.
So how can you do this for your own content?
- Decide what your giveaway or incentive for people to share your content will be.
- Set a date and time that their shares need to be done by. Remember to add CST, PST, especially if your fan base spans across the country.
- For Twitter, it’s relatively easy to track shares because all you have to do is count retweets. Facebook is a little more difficult to track shares because you won’t be able to see the actual shared post unless their post settings are set to public.
- Once your deadline has passed, review your content shares and select a winner.
- Send out posts letting your fans know that a winner has been selected and tag them so they can claim their prize.
For more information, this detailed guide on running social media contests from Hubspot is a great resource.
5. Appeal To Your Audience’s Values
Another way to connect your audience to your content and encourage them to share it is to create content that revolves around their values. Your audience wants to know that the values of your company or product align with theirs. Connecting their values to your content is one way to show that you care.
Okay, so that’s great advice but how do you implement it? We’re going back into your audience research.
You know what your audience believes and some of the basic demographics of your target audience. You may have to generalize a bit, but what would your target demographic care about?
For example, if you’re targeting new moms, maybe your content connects to a fundraiser for the March of Dimes. Or, maybe your audience cares about products that are made in the USA so you run a blog post on how the new line of products coming into your store
Or, maybe your audience cares about products that are made in the USA, so you run a blog post on how the newest line of products coming into your store is made in the USA only.
One way to figure out the values of your audience is to look to your past content. What values have you talked about before that your audience has made a connection with?
Now, what does that content look like in action? Take the ASPCA for example. Everyone likes cute puppies and kitties, they tug at your heartstrings and make you feel.
Here is a cute fluffy puppy to prove my point:
The ASPCA does a great job creating content that encourages people to share content because who doesn’t want to see a tiny kitten get adopted?
— ASPCA (@ASPCA) June 20, 2017
It’s simple values and content that make it easy for your audience to want to share it. The easiest way to do this is to create posts that state the values of your company. You could format them like:
- You care about [Value]. At [Brand name] we do to!
- At [Insert Brand Name] we’re constantly looking forward which is why we believe in [Value].
- Our customers believe in [Value], [Value] and [Value]. At [Brand Name] we do too.
6. Make Your Content Useful
In order to encourage shares, your content needs to be useful to your audience. This is so important that the New York Times did a study and found that 90% of users will assess the usefulness of the content before sharing it.
So how do you ensure the content you’re creating is useful to your audience? First, think about the question or problem that your content is addressing. What are you trying to help your audience solve?
Then your content needs to provide step by step information on how to solve the problem or answer the question. These steps can include your product or exclude it, depending on what you’re looking to do.
Your final step will include some sort of CTA. This could be as simple as a click-to-tweet button or an encouragement to share this post with someone else who would gain more by seeing the information you provide.
So what does that content look like in real life? Content that is useful to our audience is something that we strive to create at CoSchedule every day. We want our content to be actionable and help our readers, help themselves:
Our blog posts tell our reader exactly what they’re going to learn when they take the time to read our content, letting them decide if it’s useful to them or not.
Our social posts will also carry out the same tone that our audience is going to be getting useful information out of our blog posts that they could then share with their colleagues:
With a solid strategy in place, you can (as we say at CoSchedule), plan your work, and then work your plan with this guide: http://cos.sc/2tJzguK
7. Keep Your Content Simple
Another tip for creating shareable content is to keep it simple.
Your audience should be able to get the entire idea out of an article without having to read the whole thing. More often than not your audience is in a hurry and you need to be able to capture their attention in a short amount of time.
In fact, Hubspot published a whole infographic on how our attention span today is shorter than a goldfish—it’s 8.5 seconds long.
TL;DR (Too Long, Didn’t Read) is a real thing.
So, how do you create simple content that gets the entirely of your point across fast? First, you need a solid introduction. At CoSchedule we aim to have our blog introductions to be about a 100 words or so and follow the format of:
- Introduction to problem audience is experiencing.
- Show that there is a better process that they could use to the fix problem.
- Create a bulleted list of three points that summarize what they are going to gain or learn from reading the blog post.
It’s those three main bullet points are key to use creating a successful introduction because our audience can skim down and know if they article contains the right information that they are looking for.
You can also simplify your content by breaking up it up into short skim-worthy lists by:
- Sticking to two to three sentences per paragraph.
- Using multiple headers.
- Breaking up text or translating it to images or infographics.
8. Establish Trust And Credibility With Your Content
Your content will pick up more shares when you can establish trust and credibility.
Random websites that claim the world is going to end tomorrow probably aren’t going to pick up a lot of traffic because there is no trust there.
However, content that is thoroughly back by other credible sources suddenly seems more trustworthy.
So how can you create a credible piece of content?
Do Your Research
If you can’t back up what you’re saying with credible research, your content is dead in the water. If you can't use data or facts from other trusted sources to support your claims, why would anyone believe you (or share your content)?
Check the Domain Authority of the Content You’re Linking Out To
More authoritative sites often create more share-worthy content. To find out the Domain Authority of a site, you can use the MOZ SEO toolbar to check the authority of each site.
Use Data to Back Up Your Claims
Showing how your opinions can be backed up by other sources is another way to create your social media posts. This is what one of our Twitter posts looked like for our “best times to post” blog post:
— CoSchedule (@CoSchedule) July 3, 2017
9. Create Content That Appeals To Your Audience’s Experiences
When it comes to connecting to your audience, appeal to your audience’s experiences.
Positioning your content so it becomes relatable to your audience can help them connect to your company, and begin to see themselves using your product or serve.
So what experiences connect to your audience? It could be playing off of problems they’re currently facing and showing them how you can help. You could also play off of happy memories by recreating them in your content.
How can you translate that into your content? Think about or write down the answers to the following:
- What types of problems are my target customers facing?
- What types of problems are my current customers facing?
- What do we want our product, company or service to be used for?
- What types of experiences will our customer base have faced?
After you have those answers, ask yourself, “Does our content help solve these problems or evoke the right emotions?”
If it doesn’t does your content need to be reworked to create that connection or does it make sense to leave it as is?
What does playing off experiences look like? Take a look at Budweiser’s commercial from the 2015 SuperBowl. To say that Budweiser knows it’s client base is an understatement because this commercial hit home for any dog lover out there. They evoked those emotions and made you remember their brand.
Here’s the commercial in case you need a refresher or wanna cry:
You can also trigger those emotions with your social media messages like this one from Budweiser.
— Budweiser (@Budweiser) June 27, 2017
10. Capitalize On Trending Topics
If you’re struggling to come up with content for your brand or company it’s ok. There is a vast source of information, trends and more that are constantly changing, giving you unlimited ideas to content. What do I mean by this? Create your content around trends. If you’re a hot dog vendor, creating content around National Hotdog Day is a great way to spread the word about your business.
But with trends changing so quickly, how can you find them all? Google Trends was created to do that work for you. With a quick search, you can find all the trending topics for that day and see if any of them fit into a potential content idea for your team. Pretty slick huh?
So what does it look like when a brand or company maximizes on trending content? Take a look at this example from Ketchum PR. They capitalized on #NationalInternDay, and promoted their current fellowship program:
— Ketchum (@KetchumPR) July 27, 2017
You don’t have to use every national holiday to promote your brand, but capitalizing on ones that relate to your company are a great way to get out in front of potential followers.
11. Use Keyword Data to Ensure Your Content Solves a Real Problem
Duh, right? This seems pretty obvious. You created your content to be informative to your audience. But the key to successful content is making sure it is full of information that you audience members actually want to know.
[Mind explosion GIF: https://m.popkey.co/bf8cd9/4jeJx.gif]
So how can you be sure exactly what your audience is looking for? Two words, my friends.
If you’re thinking of developing content around a certain topic, tools like MOZ and Ahrefs (and countless others) are going to be your best friend. By searching for each topic, you’ll be able to see how often your potential topic is searched and what other related keywords people are searching for. This information will allow you to create more robust, specifically targeted content:
How do you implement this idea in your content?
I’ll turn back to our blog at CoSchedule again. We use keywords every day to determine what you are looking to read about. In fact, I did keyword research to create the post you’re reading right now. Content that is keyword driven allows you to create a more robust outline and give your readers exactly what they are looking for.
12. Create Content That Is Easy To Digest
You remember those crazy thick college textbooks, right? The ones with crazy dense paragraphs, complex text, and really tiny font that made you never want to read it. If your content looks like that no one is going to take the time to read or watch it.
How can you avoid information overload in your content? If you’re working with videos try breaking them down into shorter segments that are easy for your audience to take on and process. If you’re working with text break up those paragraphs. Highly dense text is impossible to skim and quite frankly hard to read. Break up your content with multiple headers and keep paragraphs between 3 to 4 sentences long.
13. Consider Adding Shareable Video and Images
Why are images and video so important? According to Hubspot, 33% of all internet activity is watching videos. And according to BrainRules, you’ll remember 65% more of the information you see if an image is attached to it. In other words, the media you use is important.
But how do you create images and videos for content that isn’t naturally visual?
First, look at the headline of your content. You could create a social media image that included your title. Kind of like what we do here at CoSchedule:
Which types of blog posts are proven get the most shares, traffic, and leads? Here's a data-driven analysis of the posts you can use to improve your blog like the pros. http://cos.sc/2iGlmDJ
Second, go through your content again and look for quotes or statistics that could easily be translated into images or videos that would encourage your audience to click through to your content:
— CoSchedule (@CoSchedule) July 4, 2017
Or if you have a lot of information that you’re trying to convey at one time, try using an infographic to visualize that information instead.
14. Inspire Your Audience With Your Content
Another way you can encourage your audience to share your content is if it inspires them. Check any Instagram feed and you’ll probably find an inspirational quote more often than not.
Why is inspirational content so popular? According to the Harvard Business Review, there are a variety of factors, but one is that it transforms the way that we perceive our own capabilities. Who wouldn’t want to share content that makes them feel like that?
So how do you create inspiring content? Unlike some of our other tips, you can’t force yourself to create inspiring content. You can however, trigger inspiration. Inspiration should come naturally and there are ways to find it in your content. Look for quotes that would apply to your audience in their current state or inspire them to get to a new one.
Once you have those quotes selected work with your graphic designers to create images.
Once you have those quotes you can publish them on social with the help of your design team. They could look something like this quote from the Passion Planner team:
Exercise: Answer this question! ❓❓❓ - Sit down for 5 minutes today with your Passion Planner and answer this in your Space of Infinite Possibility (or just on a piece of paper 😉): - What is something you want to do and WHY haven’t you done it yet? 🤔 - This could be something as small as telling someone something, or as big as taking a trip to Europe. 💬✈️ - What is stopping you and holding you back? - The sooner you are able to define these, the sooner you can take your first step to achieving your goals! 👌✨ - #passionplanner #why #grow #motivation
15. Place Sharing Buttons Where They’ll Be Seen
Let’s be honest here for a second. People are not going to share your content if it’s not convenient for them. Which means that you as it’s creator need to make that content as easy to share as possible.
How can you do this? Make sure that every piece of content that you publish has share buttons. These buttons make it easy for your audience to click and share in one easy motion. We even broke down where you can place your buttons in this blog post.
Your social media buttons can go anywhere on your content but the more visible you can make them the better. For example, take a look at a blog post from Social Media Examiner. Their social share buttons sit on the left-hand side of the screen and follow the user as they scroll down the post.
Now That You Know How To Create Shareable Content, What Are You Waiting For?
Now that you know what makes content shareable you can start applying these tips to your own content.
Don’t forget that CoSchedule can help you organize and publish your content faster with everything from project management tasks to social media campaigns. Schedule a demo and see what our calendar tool can do for you.